My requirements for my children’s First Confession and First Communion prep are above and beyond whatever the parish will require (first “victim”/guinea pig: AH, this coming Spring). I’m using as guideposts the many things that I wish that someone had taught me — or at least introduced me to — at that stage in my spiritual life, the many things that Catholics often get wrong as they mature, and — quite frankly — what Catholic children used to be taught before the mass confusion set-in. I’m finding it a satisfying exercise, but my husband took one look at my list before masking a grin, wrapping his arms around me, and telling me not to put too much pressure on myself. 🙂 No, I don’t expect to turn my smart, funny, sweet 7 1/2 year-old into a zealous 35-year-old Catholic woman by this summer — Heaven forbid! — but I do hope and pray that she will at least know the essentials, know what she doesn’t yet know, and know where to find it when she’s ready.

Here’s my first stab at it:

First Confession/First Communion Preparation

My child must recite and/or understand before his/her First Confession:

•    the definition of sin
•    mortal v. venial sin, especially as relates to the state of grace
•    why sin – even venial sin – is bad
•    The Ten Commandments
•    The Great Commandment
•    the Spiritual and Corporal Works of Mercy
•    summary of the precepts of the Church
•    daily habits (examen, particular examen)
•    how to do an examination of conscience from memory
•    why and how to find good examinations of conscience
•    the importance of Confession
•    the rite of Confession (what to expect of the priest and what to say)
•    the penance, reparation and resolutions
•    handling forgotten sins and other problems
•    frequency of Confession
•    how to explain Confession

My child must recite and/or understand before his/her First Holy Communion:

•    Who we receive in Communion
•    why we receive Holy Communion and its benefits
•    the importance of being in a state of grace/when not to receive Our Lord
•    the source of the words of Consecration and of the Holy Mass
•    how to participate reverently at Holy Mass
•    preparation and thanksgiving for each Holy Communion (and examples of appropriate prayers)
•    how to receive the Body (and the Blood) reverently
•    what to do if the Host falls or if you observe something potentially sacrilegious
•    frequency of Holy Communion
•    Spiritual Communion
•    how to explain Holy Communion

My child must have general and at least some practical knowledge of:

•    the Trinity
•    the Bible, Catechism of the Catholic Church, and Tradition
•    basic events in salvation history (the Fall, Israel’s sin and repentance cycle, prophecies of the Messiah, etc.) and the life of Jesus (especially the 20 Mysteries of the Rosary)
•    the types of prayer (ACTS)
•    devotions (the Rosary, Liturgy of the Hours, Adoration, meditation, lectio divina, etc.)
•    the name and importance of the seven sacraments
•    the saints and patronage
•    the basic structure of the Church
•    how to select good reading/reliable sources