Second-Grade Children Speak: Artistic Expressions of Sin and Forgiveness in the Sacrament of Reconciliation

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Despite a long-standing historical debate in Catholicism about whether second grade is an age-appropriate time to receive the Sacrament of Rec­onciliation, there has been a virtual absence of Catholic children’s own voices and perspectives about this sacrament and its spiritual and moral effects. Joining a growing number of religious scholars who stress the need to engage in child-centered research, I conducted a qualitative study interviewing Catholic second graders about the Sacrament of Reconcili­ation. The purpose of this article is to analyze their drawings of this reli­gious ritual. According to many psychologists and art therapists, children can best capture how they think, feel, and visualize through the medium of art. Because I was interested in exploring how this sacrament impacted children cognitively, affectively, morally, and spiritually, asking them to draw about their experiences seemed to be most the promising medium for children to express in depth what occurred during Reconciliation.


Alternate citations indicate this article was published in Practical Matters, no. 3: Ethnography and Theology (March 2010): http://practicalmattersjournal.org/2010/03/01/second-grade-children-speak/