Here’s a short discussion activity you can lead prior to a fuller lesson on the Sacrament of Penance and, perhaps, participation by your students in the sacrament itself.


  1. Hang four wall posters with the following words at equal intervals along the wall (or place in equal intervals in an open space on the floor): 1) strongly agree; 2) agree; 3) disagree; 4) strongly disagree.
  2. Say:

I am going to read several statements. For each one, register your opinion by standing near the sign that corresponds with how you feel. For example, if you strongly agree with the statement, “I have to go to Confession before receiving Communion” you should stand as close as possible to the “I Strongly Agree” sign. If you are not sure about your opinion, you might stand somewhere in between “I Agree” and “I Disagree.” No matter where you choose to stand, however, be prepared to explain your position. We will spend time discussing each of the statements before moving on.

  1. Read the following statements one at a time. After the students have positioned themselves according to their response, randomly call on one person and question his or her response. You may pick more than one person to discuss each statement. Repeat the process for the other statements.


  • Confession is scary.
  • I never know what to say when I go to Confession.
  • It’s just as good to confess my sins to God without going through a priest.
  • I prefer to confess “face to face.”
  • I can recite an Act of Contrition from memory.
  • Catholics are required to confess serious sins at least once a year.
  • I’m worried that the priest will think less of me if I tell my worst sins.
  • I believe that Jesus acts through the priest in the Sacrament of Penance.

Add your own statements if you wish.

  1. Continue with a fuller presentation on the Sacrament of Penance, including addressing explanations and answers to the open-ended questions from the discussion. If possible, invite a priest to participate in all or part of this lesson.