Once I used this in-classroom penance service (followed by later individual confessions): We talked about the beach and I asked who had ever written or built something in the sand, only to have the waves wash it away? (Most everyone, of course.) Then we transitioned into talking about how God is that way with our sins. I had taken a big piece of purple silky cloth and put it in a large baking pan (artfully draped and arranged to cover the pan) and filled it with sand. Then each child came up and wrote something in the sand that they were sorry for, and then erased it by passing their hand over it. It was a real light-bulb moment for the kids and I could see by their eyes that they really got it. Another involved those “trick” candles on cupcakes. I lit the candles and then went around the room and asked each child if they could think of anything wrong they could do that would extinguish God’s love for them. . . they named the worst thing they could think of, then blew out the candle, only to have it reignite, of course. (This worked well for several until years until one year, when Father just happened to be in our class when we were doing this exercise, and one one kid’s candle actually DID stay out . . . so Father deadpans, “Wow, you must have done something really bad!”) One caveat. . . have a glass of water handy for extinguishing when you are done because they will keep reigniting forever, causing a lot of smoke and threatening to set off the fire-alarm (not that I neglected to think of this myself the first time . . . ok, ok, I did forget, but it ended okay!). Mary Grace McCoy, Iglesia Catolica de Santa Julia/St. Julia’s Catholic Church in Siler City, North Carolina
Mary Grace McCoy
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