My name is Veronica.
I just turned 11 years old and I live in beautiful Colorado. I feel really honored and excited to have this amazing opportunity to share some things about my Catholic faith with you. Recently, my mom, my brother Simon, and I made a visit with Jesus in our parish Adoration Chapel. I prayed and asked Jesus what He thought I should write about on my Catholic Kids 101 Page.
Soon after that visit I was looking through some storage boxes under my bed when I came across the book I used to prepare for my First Confession. As I flipped through the pages I saw the section on how to make an "Examination of Conscience for Kids." I remember how much that really helped me when I made my First Confession. What I learned still helps me when I go to Confession now.
Then at Mass the following Sunday morning the Gospel reading was from the Gospel according to Saint John. Jesus is talking to His Apostles and He says to them: “If you love me, keep my commands.”
That line really jumped out at me when I heard it! It was like it went into my ears and then straight into my heart! I kept thinking about that line all day long: "If you love Me, keep My commands." That’s when I decided that I wanted to write about keeping God’s commands. This really important because we want to always love Jesus!
After I had my idea, I went down the hall and knocked on Simon’s bedroom door. Simon is one year older than me. He’s a really great brother. He’s really nice and is never mean to me. I love him a lot.
Simon also has a CK101 page. I asked him if he knew what he was going to write on his page and he said that he was still thinking about it. Then I told him my idea. He really liked it! We talked for a long time. We decided that since keeping God's commands is such an important thing to know and that we wanted to explain it in just the right way, we would split it into two sections. I’ll explain the first part of what we want to tell you and then Simon will explain the second part. Simon says we can be like a "tag team." I'll start the race and he'll bring it over the finish line!
Simon and I worked on our pages together over a period of about 6 weeks. When we had questions, our parents helped us and then we took everything to our pastor for his approval. We sure learned a lot along the way and we are excited to share everything we learned with you!
So this is how we decided to do our pages. First we'll explain why we need to follow God’s commands. Then we'll explain what an Examination of Conscience is. Then we’ll tell you how to do an Examination of Conscience (so you make a good Confession!) Finally, we’ll explain what God’s commands are by going through an "Examination of Conscience for Kids." That way you can follow them and show Jesus that you love Him! Remember He said, "If you love Me, keep My commands."
WHY WE NEED TO FOLLOW GOD’S COMMANDS
Remember in “The Story of Luke and the Incarnation” where Luke tells his mom about Adam and Eve? God loved Adam and Eve so much. He gave Adam and Eve so many wonderful gifts. But the most wonderful gift of all was something that He put into their souls. This gift made their souls so much more beautiful and so much more like God. This great gift is called: sanctifying grace. What makes the soul most like God is sanctifying grace. Sanctifying grace gives the soul a new kind of life. This new kind of life makes the soul share in the life of God Himself. It makes us so pleasing to God. Only souls with this great gift of sanctifying grace can enter Heaven! Simon and I wanted to make sure you knew about this because it's so important.
After God gave Adam and Eve this great gift of sanctifying grace, He placed them in the beautiful Garden of Eden that He had made for them. He wanted them to be happy in this beautiful garden until it was time to take them home with Him to Heaven forever. But first Adam and Eve would have to keep a command that God gave to them. Do you remember what that command was from Luke’s story? God gave them the command to "not eat the fruit of a certain tree” that grew in the garden where they lived. It wasn’t a hard command. They could eat all the fruit they wanted from any of the other fruit trees. God wanted Adam and Eve to show Him that they really did love Him by obeying that one command that He asked of them.
And you remember what happened, don’t you? Yes, they disobeyed God’s command. Because of that sin, Adam and Eve lost the most precious, beautiful gift of sanctifying grace in their souls. Now they could not go to Heaven. They also had to leave the beautiful garden. And it was all their own fault. Luke was right. That sin of Adam really messed things up!
Adam and Eve leaving the Garden of Eden
Fr. Miguel, our pastor explained to us it's kind of like when a President of a country declares war. If we are citizens of that country then we are at war too. The sin of Adam was like a declaration of war against God. Original Sin entered the world and every baby ever formed in their mother’s womb after Adam and Eve had Original Sin on their soul. That is, except for one person. Mother Mary.
You see, God loved Adam and Eve very much. He loves all of us more than we could ever know! He created us. He is our Father. We are precious to Him. It grieved Him when Adam and Eve didn't show their love back to Him by disobeying.
He is sad when we do the same.
God knew we could never make it to Heaven on our own. So He had a perfect plan to help us. He would send His Son, the Second Person of the Blessed Trinity, to save us from our sins. There are three Persons in one God. Think about what we say when we make the Sign of the Cross. The Father is the First Person, the Son is the Second Person and the Holy Spirit is the Third Person. Jesus, the Second Person of the Most Blessed Trinity, would open the way to Heaven for us again. Jesus would restore the great gift of sanctifying grace to our souls!
So now comes Mary. God created the perfect woman so His perfect plan would be able to happen. When God created Mary, He gave her a soul that was completely and totally free from Original Sin. Her soul was full of beautiful sanctifying grace. Do you remember the very first thing the mighty Archangel Gabriel said to Mary when he greeted her at the Annunciation? If you said: “Hail Mary!” you wouldn't be wrong. The Archangel Gabriel continues with: "Full of Grace." That's because Mary's soul really is full of sanctifying grace.
Mary's soul was free from Original Sin and full of sanctifying grace because God was going to ask Mary to allow the Second Person of the Blessed Trinity to come into her womb through the power of the Holy Spirit. That is how Mary would give the Second Person of the Blessed Trinity, Jesus, His body. Then Jesus, true God and true Man, could save us from our sins!
Mary was saved from Original sin by Jesus. He is the Savior of every single person who ever lived and who ever will live. It’s just that Mary was saved by “the foreseen merits” of Jesus’ death on the Cross. This means that the sanctifying grace that flooded Mary's soul from the first instant that her soul was created was granted to her by God because with His absolute knowledge of the future in each detail, He knew, He knew for sure, that all the grace He was granting to Mary before her Son was born, would one day be paid for with her Son's Blood. Mary was saved in this special way so her soul would always be snow white pure and clean so she could be all that the Mother of God should be. Father Miguel said all we have to do is stop and really think about how holy God is and then Mary’s always and forever sinless, pure-white-as-snow soul makes sense.
You know that Mary said, “Yes!” to what God asked of her. She only wanted what God wanted. She loved God with all her heart. She told him with her words. But even more she showed Him by her actions. She always followed God's commands perfectly. She did this because she loved God.
When Jesus died on the Cross, His Precious Blood was shed to take away all our sins. When a person is baptized, Original Sin and all the sins that the person committed if they are not a baby are completely washed away. The soul is now pure as snow. The great gift of sanctifying grace that was lost because of Adam’s sin is now restored to the soul. It is so beautiful!
Sanctifying grace makes us adopted children of God so now we can go to Heaven!
"Therefore go and make disciples of all nations
baptizing them in the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit."
Once we heard our pastor explain it this way. Imagine Jesus as a little Child. He is looking out the window up towards Heaven. He opens His arms and cries out, "My Father!" Then with open arms Jesus looks out towards the world and cries out, "My brothers and sisters!"
Jesus died on the Cross to restore all that was lost to us because of Adam's sin. He came to restore God's family. Because of Jesus, we are now adopted children of God through Baptism. The great gift of sanctifying grace is restored to our souls! We are members of God's family again!
"For He rescued us from the dominion of darkness,
and transferred us to the kingdom of His beloved Son,
in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins."
You might be wondering what happens if a person commits sins after they are baptized?
You probably know that a person receives the Sacrament of Baptism only one time. So now what? How can a soul become pure as snow again?
Jesus has the answer! He knows how easy it is for us to commit sins. He feels very sorry for us when we sin because He understands how terrible sin is. He gave us a way to get rid of our sins through the Sacrament of Confession.
Now Simon and I want to tell you something here that is really important. All sin is bad. All sin offends God. But not all sins are the same. Lesser sins are called “venial sins.” Big sins are called “mortal sins.” Lily explained about mortal sins on her CK101 Page. You can go to Lily's page and read it again if you are forgetting. But what Simon and I want you to remember is this part of it:
If a person is baptized and then afterwards commits a venial sin, they do not lose the great gift of sanctifying grace in their souls like Adam and Eve did. It stains the beauty of their snow white soul. It’s not good. But it’s not deadly.
If a person commits a big serious sin, a mortal sin, then they do lose that precious gift of sanctifying grace just like Adam and Eve did. It is deadly.
Our souls have two kinds of life. The first kind of life is called natural. This is the kind of life every soul has. Every soul receives this kind of life as soon as it is created and the soul will never lose it. A soul will live forever because of this.
The other kind of life the soul can have is supernatural life. This is when a soul possesses the great gift of sanctifying grace! It is this wonderful supernatural life that a baptized person receives. They can lose this wonderful gift only if they commit a mortal sin.
Mortal sin kills the supernatural life of a soul just like a bullet kills the natural body of a person.
So how can we get our souls snow-white-clean again? If a person commits a mortal sin, how can they get the great supernatural gift of sanctifying grace restored to their soul? Here is how!
You know what happened on Easter Sunday. That is the day that Jesus rose from the dead! It was the happiest day for Jesus and for us too. Jesus died on the Cross on Good Friday to take away our sins. One of the first things He did when He saw His Apostles on Easter Sunday was to give them the authority to apply what He did on Good Friday by giving them the power to forgive sins! Jesus breathed on them and said, “Whose sins you shall forgive, they are forgiven.” The power to forgive sins has been passed on to all the priests of the Catholic Church from the Apostles for over 2000 years. All of our sins can be forgiven by going to Confession to a priest.
One of the first things Jesus did when He saw His Apostles on Easter Sunday was to give them
the authority to apply what He did on Good Friday by giving them the power to forgive sins!
Besides receiving Jesus often in Holy Communion, Simon and I want you to know two very important things that you as a kid can do so you don't lose the great gift of sanctifying grace as you grow up. The first is to learn how to make a good examination of conscience (we are going to help you learn!) The second is to try and go to Confession at least once a month. Since kids usually don't commit mortal sins, if you do a good examination of conscience and confess your venial sins to a priest once a month, Jesus will give you graces through this Sacrament to help you stay faithful to Him. If you keep doing this throughout your life, you will be on the path of becoming a Saint!
WHY WE NEED
"A WELL-FORMED CONSCIENCE"
We know that when a person is guilty of committing sins, they have not kept God's commands. Jesus says if we love Him then we will keep His commands. So this is really important! But how do we know what God’s commands are? How do we know if something is a sin?
Some sins are really obvious like if a person robs a bank and steals a bunch of money. But other sins are not quite so obvious like telling your friend a secret about another friend. When is it okay to tell and when is it not okay? How do we know right from wrong?
That is why it is so important to have a well-formed conscience! We need to know if we are following God’s commands. We need to know what His commands are in order to obey them because we really want to show God that we love Him!
That is exactly what we are going to do when we get to Simon's CK101 Page. We are going to go through an "Examination of Conscience for Kids" using the 10 Commandments as our guide according to the teachings of the Catholic Church. This is how we learn what is right and wrong according to God's commands.
In the rest of my page we'll tell you just a few more things that you need to know before we actually go through an "Examination of Conscience for Kids."
WHAT DO THE WORDS:
"EXAMINATION" and "CONSCIENCE" MEAN?
First Simon and I looked up the meaning of the word “conscience” in my First Confession book. It said: Our conscience is our “inner sense”, that “understanding”, the “inner voice” that guides us in following God’s ways in what is right or wrong in the way we behave.
That makes sense, doesn’t it? That’s why it’s so important to know what God’s commands are so we have a well-formed conscience.
Then we looked up the word examination on the computer. Here is what we found: examination means to check out, consider, delve into, explore, inspect, investigate, ponder, probe, view, dig in, pore over (“pore” means “to study”), sift through, go over, go through, review, look over, scrutinize and take stock of. Wow! That about covers it all, doesn’t it?
So when we make an Examination of Conscience, we are examining (thinking about, looking over, reviewing, etc.) our life to see if we have committed any sins according to the commands of God.
A well-formed conscience is so important to be able to do this well!
THE HOLY SPIRIT
There is a very important thing that we want to tell you about making an Examination of Conscience. It's the one thing you must always try to do! You must ask the Holy Spirit to help you!
The beautiful Holy Spirit window behind the main altar at Saint Peter's Basilica in Rome, Italy
Simon and I made up a story to help you understand what we mean. It goes like this:
Let’s imagine a boy named Pedro is playing a game of hide-and-seek with his sister, Juanita. Pedro decides to hide in a little shed in the back yard that his big brother uses for his carpentry projects.
Pedro has been sitting in the dark shed for almost 5 minutes and Juanita still hasn't found him. They agreed if she doesn’t find him within 10 minutes, then she will pay Pedro a quarter. But if Juanita finds him before 10 minutes, then Pedro will have to give her a quarter.
What is Pedro doing? He is putting his hand in his pocket and pulling out a quarter. Oops! He accidentally dropped it.
You hear the sound of the quarter falling on the table. You see Pedro feeling around the top of the table but he can’t find it. It’s too dark. Maybe it bounced on the ground.
Pedro kneels down and starts to feel around on the soft dirt ground. He hunts for his quarter but with no success. He thinks about opening up the door and letting some light stream in but then Juanita might find him. Pedro decides to keep searching in the dark.
Maybe it slipped into one of his brother’s tools. Did it fall in the bucket? Pedro tries to explore every inch of that little dark shed but he just can’t find his quarter!
This is what can happen to us if we examine our conscience before going to Confession without asking the Holy Spirit to help us. We are often in the dark just like Pedro. Our sins can remain hidden to us.
To examine our conscience in the right way we must try to remember always to ask the Holy Spirit to help us. We can pray: “Come Holy Spirit! Help me make a good examination of conscience. Please help me make a good Confession.” You can you use your own words. Just make sure to ask the Holy Spirit from your heart.
When we do this, the Holy Spirit works like a beautiful clear light in our minds and illuminates our memory so we can see things as they really are. He will help us not be too harsh or too soft with ourselves in seeing the truth of our sins. He will help us see our sins in the light of God's commands and Christ’s great love for us!
The Holy Spirit will also help us decide to never want to commit these sins again. The Holy Spirit will faithfully guide us along the path of holiness with each examination of our conscience that we make. The Holy Spirit will then help us make a good Confession.
Here is a picture Simon and I found for our story.
This is "Pedro" and he is the main character in our story.
Pedro is sitting in the quiet little shed again. Except this time Pedro isn’t there playing with his sister. He went there to make an Examination of Conscience. It is the first Saturday of the month and soon Pedro’s father will be taking his whole family to Church. Every first Saturday Pedro’s family goes to Confession.
Do you notice the lantern on the table? We can think of the lantern as representing the Holy Spirit.
Imagine Pedro asking the Holy Spirit to help him remember all of his sins so he can make a good Confession. Imagine Pedro making a prayerful examination of his conscience. Imagine Pedro telling Jesus that he is sorry for his sins. He tells Jesus that he love Him very much! Pedro wants to show Jesus that he loves Him by trying to follow His commands even better in this coming month. Pedro is asking the Holy Spirit to help him do this.
Sometimes Pedro takes a little piece of paper and writes down his sins. He brings the paper with him to Confession. That way he's not nervous when he stands in line thinking about what he is going to say. Instead, he can think about Jesus and pray while he waits. After Confession he tears up the paper into little pieces and throws it all away!
Simon and I decided that we would end our story by saying that when Pedro was done examining his conscience and stood up to go, he happened to look down and there was his lost quarter in plain sight! He easily saw it now that the lantern was lit.
So that brings us to the end of my CK101 Page. Simon's CK101 Page is next. There we will go through an "Examination of Conscience for Kids" with you. This is how we form our conscience in the right way. Then the Holy Spirit will bring what we learn to our minds whenever we need it.
One of the titles for the Holy Spirit is: The Sanctifier. This means the Holy Spirit will help us to grow in holiness. The Holy Spirit will help us to be Saints!
Now it's time to go over to Simon's CK101 Page! See you there!
Love your CK101 friend,