Lent Penitential 4
To celebrate the Sacrament of Reconciliation, as a
preparation for Easter
The Act of Sorrow written large
Areas of the school where priests can speak to individual children
towards the end of the service
A tape of children's hymns to play while children are waiting in the
hall to speak to a priest
A sheet of Sorry Prayers (see Ideas section) for children to say while
waiting to see a priest
The theme of this service is 'courage'.
If several priests are present, the parts can be shared amongst them
This would be possible in a school which is fed by a number of parishes
Depending on the number of children, it might be best for the children
to return to class after the service and then to return to the hall for
non-Catholics) a class at a time
This service can be adapted for Advent, by changing just a few words
PRIEST: Peace and joy to the friends of
Jesus, who gather here to ask forgiveness for their sins. Peace be with
ALL: And also with you.
PRIEST: Father, we are your children. You
watch over us with loving care.
Sometimes, we do wrong and turn our backs on you - but you never turn
your back on us.
Sometimes, we forget you. We are too busy thinking about ourselves -
but you never forget us.
Sometimes, we forget about the needs of other people. We want to be
first. We want the best for ourselves - but then you gently remind us
to "love one another".
Sometimes, we find it difficult to admit that we do wrong. The word "
sorry" sticks in our throats - but you wait patiently. You do not
condemn us. You wait for us to come back to you; then you welcome us
and forgive us.
CHILD 1: Father, sometimes we forget to
love you - but you go on loving us and we are glad.
We know that the wrong things that we do hurt you - and others - and
ourselves. They spoil the love between us. We have come here to think
about those things. We are sorry for them.
We want you to forgive us. We want to make a new start. We want to
accept the second chance you are giving us. We want to accept the
helping hand you are offering to us.
PRIEST: To do all of those things - to
know that if we can truly say we are sorry, God will forgive us - to do
that, we must trust God.
We must believe that he really is waiting to help us; all we have to do
is ask and have faith.
The Bible tells us of a time when Simon Peter was in trouble. He asked
Jesus for help - and received it straight away.
"After feeding the five thousand, Jesus sent the people away. He told
the disciples to go on ahead of him, to the other side of the lake.
Then he went up a hill by himself to pray. When he was ready to join
the disciples, he could see that they were exhausted with rowing
against the wind. He went out to join them, walking on the water.
The disciples were terrified. They thought it was a ghost, but Jesus
spoke to them at once, "Courage!" he said. "It is I. Do not be afraid!"
Then Peter spoke up. "Lord, if it is really you, make me come out on
the water to you."
"Come!" said Jesus. So Peter got out of the boat and started walking on
the water to Jesus. But when he noticed the strong wind and the fierce
waves, he lost his nerve and began to sink. He cried for help, "Save
At once, Jesus stretched out his hand and saved him. "Why did you
panic?" he asked. "What happened to your faith?"
They both got into the boat and the wind died down. The disciples knelt
before Jesus, saying, "Truly, you are the Son of God!"" (Matthew 14)
CHILD 2: Peter must have felt very
frightened when he thought he was drowning. One of David's Psalms, in
the Old Testament, is about a man who nearly drowned. He must have
walked into a river or the sea and gone too far. He is out of his depth
and prays to God for help.
CHILD 3: Save me, 0 God, I'm drowning! The
water is up to my neck!
I'm standing on soft oozy mud, and my feet are beginning to sink.
I cannot stand up, for the waves push me down, and the water is getting
Save me, 0 God, I'm drowning! The mud is sinking below me, the water is
pushing me over! Save me, or I will die! (Ps. 69)
CHILD 4: When Jesus saved Peter, Peter
must have felt very relieved, like the person in this Psalm:
"I was slipping. I was falling. I could not help myself, as I fell into
that deep and oozy pit! Help me, Lord!
The Lord bent down and he pulled me up. He heard my cry.
I felt the solid earth beneath my feet again - and I praised God,
singing a song of joyful thanks." (ps. 40)
PRIEST: In those Psalms, the words
drowning and slipping and falling could mean "sinning". Sometimes we
feel out of our depth, because we have done so much that is wrong. We
feel that there is no way out. But, of course there is. God is there to
save us - and he won't keep us waiting; he will help us as soon as we
But sometimes we find it difficult to ask. We don't like to look at
ourselves and our behaviour; we might not like what we see. Everyone in
this room is a sinner, but it takes courage and humility (and maturity)
to admit that we ARE all weak sinners.
There is a saying "It's not falling that is the worst, but staying on
the ground.". (Quoist).
The important thing is that we admit our failures and say sorry for
If we are truly sorry, God will forgive us - and we can then make a new
beginning. Our sorrow will be followed by joy.
PRIEST: Now we are going to think about
the wrong things we may have done.
The response is "We are sorry.".
If we have said no to God our Father... Response
If we have used God's name disrespectfully... Response
If we have been careless about praying... Response
If we have done anything to harm God's family... Response
If we have been mean... Response
If we have spread gossip... Response
If we have judged others harshly... Response
If we have told lies... Response
If we have lost our patience with somebody... Response
If we have stolen something... Response
If we have damaged something on purpose... Response
If we have caused trouble at school... Response
If we have started rows at home... Response
In many ways, we hurt God, others and ourselves.
There are times when Jesus would like us to do more.
There are things we do, which we know we should not do.
There are things we know we should do, but do not do.
Together, let us say sorry, with the Act of Sorrow.
ALL: 0 my God, I thank you for loving me.
I am sorry for all my sins,
for not loving others and not loving you. Help me to live like Jesus
and not sin again.
PRIEST: May the blessing of almighty God,
Father, Son and Holy Spirit
be upon you, now and forever. Amen.