Note: The Forgiveness Booklet is available as both a PDF and editable word document.
Title: Great Lent Forgiveness Booklet
Subject: Forgiveness, Confession, Preparation for Great Lent
Age: 13+ years
Liturgical Time: Triodion or Beginning of Great Lent
Direct Aims: This lesson aims to deepen the student's relationship with Jesus Christ by exploring what is gained throughout Great Lent, rather than what may be lost. An action plan for Great Lent is created by each student to grow in prayer, fasting, almsgiving, and confession.
Indirect Aims: Students will see the sacarament of confession as a blessing rather than as something to be feared;
Materials for the Lesson: Forgiveness Booklet
REAL ISSUES Facing Orthodox Teens
Why DO Lent? It is an opportunity to renew and rebuild our relationship with God. We are about to embark on an incredible spiritual journey through Great Lent!
What are You Going to Gain?
“What are you giving up for Lent?" How many times have you heard that? Ultimately, Lent is not about loss, but about gain. The focus can easily be reduced to, 'abstain from food, cut down on entertainment, go to church, go to confession, receive Holy Communion, then rinse and repeat every year.’ This is not the intention of the Church!
The question we should really ask is, “What are you gaining this Lent?”
The hope is that your Lenten Journey will help grow your faith by a renewed relationship with Christ, giving and receiving forgiveness and love, growing in our relationship through prayer, fasting and almsgiving.
My Action Plan for Great Lent: What I will gain?
(Setting aside time to be still with God. Taking time to pray and making every effort to attend Liturgy each Sunday and special services throughout Great Lent)
(Not just from food … but consider fasting from video games, facebook, TV, etc…)
(Giving to others… at school, on the street, in my family)
Receiving the Sacrament of Confession is an important part of our journey!
During Lent, let’s be attentive to our words, actions, attitudes, and habits. Tonight we celebrate Forgiveness Vespers. Come to church with your family. You’ll start your Lenten Journey in the best way possible!
“We rejoice; in the company of our friends we can run this race. It is good that it begins with forgiveness.” Fredrica Matthews-Greene
“Without mistakes there is no forgiving. Without forgiving there is no love.” Mother Teresa
Who do I need to forgive?
From whom do I need to ask forgiveness?
For what are specific things do I need to say, “I’m sorry… Please forgive me?”
This week’s FORGIVENESS teen challenge: Today you will receive a small bag of stones. Carry the stones in your pocket today and throughout the week. each time you forgive someone or ask forgiveness, remove a stone from from your bag.
Renewing our Relationship with God through Great Lent
“You are the people of God; he loved you and chose you for his own. So then, you must clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience.” Colossians 3:12
Let’s get REAL about CONFESSION
The Sacrament of Confession is a tremendous blessing! Confession is NOT terrifying … and it is never meant to be a scary encounter, either. Confession is a wonderful opportunity to confess our sins to God in a safe and holy place.
Consider the following: if the frequency you washed your clothes or took a bath were the same as the frequency you go to confession, how comfortable would you be? How long might it take before you noticed your really close friends keeping some distance from you? Just because you don’t look dirty doesn’t mean you don’t need a bath or that you don’t need to wash your clothes. What makes you think your soul is any different? Just because you can’t think of anything bad you’ve done doesn’t mean your soul is free from sin.
Unfortunately, some of us avoid going to the Sacrament of Confession because we’re scared: scared of admitting our faults to ourselves, worried about honestly confessing them to another person, and (sometimes) afraid that we’ll be judged by our priest.
LET’S BE REAL…The underlying reason for our hesitation to go to confession isn’t some traumatic fear… it’s pride. Sometimes, we’re too proud to acknowledge our sins personally and we’re certainly too proud to admit them to another human being.
Shh…. It’s private, between YOU and GOD
During the Sacrament of Confession, your priest serves to simply be a witness before God. It’s important that you remember who you’re talking to throughout the Sacrament of Confession. It is Christ Who forgives you.
Don’t worry! Are you worried that you’ll be the topic of conversation the next time the priests get together for coffee or will tell your parents? Not gonna happen, EVER! A priest is bound by the seal of the confessional to never reveal what is said during confession…Ever…to anyone…ever!
Before going to Confession, reflect on your feelings, thoughts, words, acts, attitudes, habits, values, priorities, goals, direction and way of life. What needs to be cleaned? What needs attention? What needs forgiveness? What needs healing?
Ask your parish priest when he is available to hear confessions throughout Great Lent.
Prepared by Presvytera Patricia Tsagalakis