The First Communicant’s Catechism, by Father M V Kelly, C.S.B.

Sacrament of confessionOn The Manner of Making a Good Confession

What should we do on entering the confessional?

Kneel, make the sign of the Cross, and say to the priest, “Bless me, father;” then add, “I confess to Almighty God and to you, father, that I have sinned.”

Which are the first things we should tell the priest in Confession?

The time of our last Confession, and whether we said the penance and went to Holy Communion.

After telling the time of our last Confession and Communion, what should we do?

Confess all the mortal sins we have since committed, and all the venial sins we may wish to mention.

What must we do when the confessor asks us questions?

Answer them truthfully and clearly.

What should we do after telling our sins?

Listen with attention to the advice which the confessor may think proper to give.

How should we end our Confession?

By saying, “I also accuse myself of all the sins of my past life,” telling, if we choose, one or several of our past sins.

What should we do while the priest is giving us absolution? .

From our heart renew the Act of Contrition.

An Act of Contrition

Oh my God! I am heartily sorry for having offended Thee, and I detest all my sins, because I dread the loss of heaven and the pains of hell, but most of all because they offend Thee, my God, who art all-good and deserving of all my love. I firmly resolve with the help of Thy grace, to confess my sins, to do penance, and to amend my life. Amen.

Chapter I – God

Who made you?


Where is God?


Why do we not see Him?

Because He has no body.

What is He then?

A spirit.

Do you know of any other spirits?

Yes, the angels.

Any others?

Our souls.

Who made the earth, sun, stars and everything we see?


Before He made these, where was He?

In heaven.

How long was God in heaven before He made the world?

He was always there.

When did God begin?


When will He come to an end?


When will your soul come to an end?


Did your soul have a beginning?

Yes, it began when I began.

Is there anything God cannot do?

No, He can do everything.

What things does God know?

He knows everything.

Chapter II – The Blessed Trinity

Who was with God before He made the world?

The angels.

Who was with God before He made the angels?

No one.

How long was He in heaven?

He was always there.

Is God just one Person?

No; there are three Persons in God.

What are their names?

The Father, the Son, the Holy Ghost.

Is the Father God?

Yes; He is the first Person of the Trinity.

Is the Son God?

Yes; the Second Person.

Is the Holy Ghost God?

Yes; the Third Person.

Are they Three Gods?

No; They are all one God.

Three what, then?

Three Persons.

Which of these three Persons is the oldest?

They are all the same age.

Can the Father do anything which the Son or Holy Ghost cannot do?

No: They are equal in every way.

Which one knows the most?

They all know the same.

Is the Son ever away from the Father?

No: They are one and the same God.

Is the Holy Ghost ever by Himself away from the Father and Son?


Are the three Divine Persons always together?

Yes; They are one God.

Are they like three men standing side by side?


Why not?

Because God is one spirit and has no body.

Chapter III – The Incarnation

When God made this world, had He a body?

No; God is a spirit.

Had He a head, hands and feet?

No; since He had no body.

Did He eat, drink or sleep?

No; a spirit does not eat or drink.

Who was the first man God made?


Had Adam both a body and a soul?

Yes, like every other man.

Suppose God wished to take a body like Adam, could He do so?

Yes; God can do everything.

Could He live here as we do and people would not know He was God?

He could do anything He wished.

Did God ever live on earth in this way?

Yes; many years after Adam.

Was He a man or child when He was first seen on earth?

He was a child.

What was the name of the child?


Who was His mother?

The Blessed Virgin Mary.

Which Person of God was that child?

The Son.

When was He born?

Christmas Day.


In a stable at Bethlehem.

Who was the husband of the Blessed Virgin?

Saint Joseph.

Was Saint Joseph the father of Jesus?

No; God is His Father.

Then Jesus is the Son of God?

Yes, since God is His Father.

Did the little Infant who lay in the manger make this world?

Yes; He was God.

Could that Infant do all things?

Yes; certainly.

If that Infant was God, who was the Mother of God?

The Blessed Virgin.

Chapter IV – The Death and Resurrection of Jesus
detail from Transfiguration by Raphael, c.1519Did the Child Jesus grow up?

Yes; like any other child.

How did He spend His time on earth?

He went about doing good.

How old was He when He died?

Thirty-three years.

How did He die?

He was nailed to a cross.

Who nailed Him to the Cross?

The Jews.

Could He have stopped them from doing this if He wished?

Yes, He is God.

Why did He not stop them?

He wished to die for us.

Why did He die for us?

That we might get to heaven.

Could anyone get to heaven without Him?

No; only for Him every one would have been lost forever.

What day did He die?

Good Friday.

Where did His soul go?

To limbo.

Who were there?

The souls of the good people who died before Him.

Where did His Body go?

It was buried.

Is His Body still in the grave?


How long was It there?

Three days.

Who took It out of the grave?

No one; He rose Himself.

Can people rise from the grave when they are dead?

No; no one can.

How could Jesus do It?

He was God.

What day did He rise?

Easter Sunday.

Where did He go then?

He remained on earth.

How long?

Forty days.

Who saw him during these forty days?

His Apostles and many others.

Where did He go then?

To heaven.

On what day?

Ascension Day.

Who saw Him go to heaven?

The Apostles.

Where did his Body go?

To heaven, too.

Is It still in heaven?

Yes; It will be there always.

Is It anywhere else?

Yes, in the tabernacle of the Altar.

Chapter V – The End of the World

What will happen when we die?

Our souls will leave our bodies.

Where will our souls go?

The good to heaven or purgatory, the bad to hell.

How long will the good stay in heaven?


How long will the bad stay in hell?


How long will our bodies stay in the grave?

Till the end of the world.

What will happen then?

Our souls will come back to our bodies.

What next?

We shall arise and come back to this world again.

Why shall we all come back to this world again?

We must all be judged together.

Who will judge us?

Jesus Christ.

Who will come from heaven with Him?

All His Angels.

After that where will our bodies go?

With our souls.

How long will the bodies of the good stay in heaven?


How long will the bodies of the wicked suffer in hell?


Chapter 6 – Baptism

If an infant a week old dies without being baptized, where will it go?

It will never go to heaven or see God.

Can an infant a week old commit sin?

No; it does not know anything.

What will keep it out of heaven then?

There is a sin on its soul.

Who committed it?

Our first parents.

Who were they?

Adam and Eve.

What did they do?

They ate the fruit that God told them not to eat.

Is every infant punished for their sin?

Yes! their sin is on every child when it is born.

What is it called?

Original sin.

How can it be taken away?

By Baptism.

Suppose the infant dies just after being baptized?

It will go to heaven.

If it lives and grows up, will it be punished any more for the sin of Adam and Eve?

Yes; every day.

In what way?

By sickness, pains, troubles, temptations, etc.

Chapter VII – The Blessed Eucharist

Have you ever seen any person going to Communion?

Yes; every Sunday at Mass.

What did the priest put on the people’s tongues?

The Host.

What did it look like?

Like bread.

Was it only bread?

No; something very much greater.

What was It?

The Body and Blood of Jesus Christ.

Did the priest put God on the peoples tongues?

Yes; Jesus is God.

Which Person of God was That?

God the Son.

Who was nailed to the Cross?

God the Son.

Did the priest put on the people s tongues the very same Body that was nailed to the Cross?

Yes; the Host is Jesus.

Who was the little Child that was born in the stable?


When you go to Communion, will you receive that Infant on your tongue?


Does each person at the railing receive the whole of Our Lord’s Body or only a part of It?

All of It.

Can ten different people each have the whole of the same apple at the same time?


Then how can each person at the railing have all of Our Lord’s Body?

Because Our Lord’s Body can be in as many places as He wishes at the same time.

After Our Lord died, where was His Body placed?

In the grave.

Where is It now?

In heaven.

Where else is It?

On the Altar in the tabernacle.

Who placed It in the tabernacle?

The priest.

Where did the priest get It to place It in the tabernacle?

He changed bread and wine into the Body and Blood of Jesus.

When does he do this?

During Mass.

Who gave him this power?

Jesus Christ Himself.

Can every priest do this?

Yes; Jesus gives all the priests the same power.

When was it done first?

At Our Lord’s Last Supper.

Who did it then?

Our Lord Himself.

Who were with Him?

His twelve Apostles.

Could they do this?

Yes; after Jesus gave them the power.

When did they get that power?

At the Last Supper.

Who does it now?

Our Lord Himself, through the priest.

Does the Sacred Host contain the Body only, or both the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ?

Both the Body and Blood.

During Mass, what does the priest pour into the chalice?


Later in the Mass when the priest drinks from the chalice, what is in it?

Our Lord’s Body and Blood.

When does the change take place?

After the elevation of the Host the priest consecrates the wine.

Is the Blood in the chalice the very Blood that ran from the Hands and Feet of Jesus on the Cross?

Yes; the very same Blood.

Is His Blood in the Host?

Yes; His Body and Blood are always together.

Is the Body of Jesus in the chalice?

Yes; since His Blood is in the chalice.

Did your parish priest always have the power of changing bread and wine into the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ?

No; he could not do that when he was a boy.

Did he get it by studying, or by praying?

No; not by either.

When did he get it?

When he became a priest.

How did he get it?

By receiving Holy Orders.

Suppose a person went to Communion with mortal sin on his soul?

He would commit a terrible sin.

What would he have to do before Communion?

Go to Confession.

If Confession takes away our sins, what does Communion do for us?

Jesus comes to help us in many ways.

Name some ways?

It makes us think of Him. Makes us love Him and try to please Him. Helps us to pray and do good. Makes us wish to do good to others. Keeps Satan from leading us astray. Makes us more and more like Jesus.

How long should we stay in church after Communion?

At least a quarter of an hour.

What doing?

Talking to Jesus Who is in our hearts, thanking Him, reading prayers after Communion, etc.

Chapter VIII – Confession

Is it wrong to talk? To laugh? To sing?


Is it wrong to tell lies? To steal? To quarrel?


Why is it wrong to do one thing and not wrong to do another?

It is wrong to do what God does not like.

A sin, then, is what?

To do what God does not like.

Why, then, is it a sin to tell a lie?

Because a lie offends God.

Are some sins greater than others?

Yes; some sins displease God more than others.

What are the greater sins called?


What are the lesser sins called?


If a person commits a sin, how long will it stay on his soul?

Until God forgives it.

If he died with a venial sin on his soul?

He would go to purgatory.

If he died with a mortal sin on his soul?

He would go to hell.

Would he go to hell for one mortal sin?

Yes; every mortal sin is as bad as that.

If a person commits a mortal sin, can he have it taken off his soul?

Yes; there is no sin which God will not forgive.

How can he have it forgiven?

By going to confession and being sorry.

What do we do at confession?

Tell our sins to the priest.

Why do we tell them to the priest?

The priest can take them away.

Who gave him that power?

Jesus Christ.

What sins must we tell?

All our mortal sins.

What about our venial sins?

It is good to tell them, too.

Suppose a person committed ten mortal sins, told nine but would not tell the tenth. How many sins would that Confession forgive?


If he committed the same sin many times, what must he tell?

He must tell how many times.

When he tells all his sins and the number of times, are his sins sure to be forgiven?

No; that is not enough.

What else must he do?

He must make himself sorry for them.

What do you mean by saying “I am sorry for my sins?”

It means “I wish I had not committed them.”

A man stole a hundred dollars. A week after he was sent to jail and then he wishes he had not done it?

That would not be enough to make a good Confession.

A boy told a lie. Next day his father found it out. Then the boy was sorry for it. If that was the only reason why he was sorry, his sin would not be forgiven. Why, then, should he wish he had not done it?

Because he had offended God who is so good.

Is there any other reason why he should be sorry?

Yes; because it made Our Lord suffer so much.

Suppose he is sorry because his sin would send him to hell.

That would be a good Confession.

How would you make yourself sorry for your sins?

Chiefly by thinking.

About what?

Our Lord’s suffering and death.

Anything else?

Yes; about heaven and the pains of hell.

A person says he is sorry for a sin, but does not make up his mind to stop it.

He is not sorry.

When he tells all his sins and is sorry for them, what does the priest do?

He gives him absolution.

What is that for?

It takes away his sins.

What else does the priest do?

He gives him a penance.

What does the priest tell him to do for a penance?

Say certain prayers, make the Stations of the Cross, etc.

Suppose he did not do his penance?

That would be a sin.

When you are preparing yourself for Confession, you pray, then examine your conscience. Are you ready for Confession then?

No; the biggest thing has still to be done.

What else must you do?

You must be sorry for your sins and decide to stop them.

Chapter IX – Examination of Conscience

First Commandment: “I am the Lord, Thy God.” etc.

Have I missed my morning and night prayers?

Have I refused to learn my catechism?

How often?

Second Commandment: “Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord Thy God in vain.”

Have I cursed or sworn?

Have I used bad words?

How often?

Third Commandment: “Remember that thou keep holy the Sabbath Day.”

Have I missed Mass on Sundays or holy-days?

Have I been late for Mass?

Have I laughed or talked in church?

How often?

Fourth Commandment: “Honor thy father and thy mother.”

Have I disobeyed my father or my mother or my teacher?

Have I played truant?

Have I been idle in school?

Have I grumbled or given back answers?

How often?

Fifth Commandment: “Thou shalt not kill.”

Have I been angry?

Have I quarrelled or struck anyone?

Have I been sulky?

Have I been in a bad temper?

Have I refused to forgive?

Have I hated any person or been spiteful?

Have I insulted anyone?

Have I caused others to sin?

How often?

Sixth Commandment: “Thou shalt not commit adultery.”

Ninth Commandment: “Thou shalt not covet thy neighbor’s wife.”

Have I thought of naughty things?

Have I said naughty words?

Have I done naughty things?

By myself or with bad companions?

How often?

Seventh Commandment: “Thou shalt not steal.”

Tenth Commandment: “Thou shalt not covet thy neighbor’s goods.”

Have I stolen?

Have I kept what did not belong to me?

Have I broken anything on purpose?

Have I in j ured or wasted what is not mine?

How often?

Eighth Commandment: “Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbor.”

Have I told lies?

Have I carried stories?

Have I made people think less of one another?

How often?

Have I eaten meat on Fridays or fast days?

Have I been proud?

Have I looked down on others?

Have I been jealous?

Have I been lazy?

Have I eaten too much?

Have I done anything I should not have done?

Chapter X – Our Daily Prayers
woman at morning prayersWhen we say our prayers, what are we doing?

Talking to God.

At what different times every day should we pray?

Morning and night.

Before and after meals.

When we begin any work.

At the Angelus.

When we are tempted or in danger.

What prayers should we say every morning?

At least nine:

Our Father.

Hail Mary.

I Believe in God.

I Confess.

Act of Contrition.

Act of Faith.

Act of Hope.

Act of Charity.

The Morning Offering.

When should we say these?

Before leaving our room.

How long will it take us to say these nine prayers?

Less than three minutes.

Do you know any person so busy that he cannot spare God three minutes every morning?

What about a person who will not take time to say his morning or night prayers?

He tells God he cannot be bothered talking to Him.

The Lord’s Prayer

Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be Thy name: Thy kingdom come; Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread; and forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us; and lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. Amen.

The Angelical Salutation

Hail, Mary, full of grace! the Lord is with thee; blessed art thou amongst women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus, Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners, now and at the hour of our death. Amen.

The Apostle’s Creed

I believe in God, the Father Almighty, Creator of heaven and earth; and in Jesus Christ, His only Son our Lord; Who was conceived of the Holy Ghost, born of the Virgin Mary; suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died and was buried. He descended into hell, the third day He rose again from the dead; He ascended into heaven; sitteth at the right hand of God, the Father Almighty; from thence, He shall come to judge the living and the dead. I believe in the Holy Ghost, the Holy Catholic Church, the communion of Saints, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body, and the life everlasting. Amen.

– text from The First Communicant’s Catechism, by Father M V Kelly, C.S.B.; The Basilian Press, c.1939