A Free Printable Confession Checklist, Gus’s Squeaky Clean Soul, a Giveaway, a Request

by | Apr 6, 2014 | Sacraments | 54 comments

Gus, Gus, Gus. The boy of whom a priest once remarked, “Well, if you didn’t want him to give you trouble, you probably shouldn’t have named him Augustine.” Touché.

Gus is athletic and earnest and affectionate and goofy and confident. Really confident. Really, really confident. He has a natural rapport with teen-aged girls. And my good friend Hope Schneir (of the best Folk band this side of the Head and the Heart) says that if she weren’t already married to Mr. Schneir, she’d marry Gus. Which seems only natural to him.

His favorite things are running faster than everyone else, snuggling, making non sequitur comments, and touching soft stuff. At night, he sleeps with an old ermine-fur collar that belonged to my grandmother.

That Gus . . . had his First Reconciliation on Saturday.

Father Paul Donlan, who I would nominate as “Person I Know Who Is Most Likely to Be Canonized,” heard all of our confessions. But Gus got to go first. When I came out, Gus said, “Wow, that must have been a good one. You were in there a really long time.” I’m not really sure how to respond to that.

Anita felt disappointed that she couldn’t go to confession, because after all, “Even though I’m four, I did once lie about being sick.” But Father Paul told us that she COULD go to confession, she just couldn’t receive absolution. She’d get a blessing instead. Same goes for non-Catholics. You can go to confession, lay down your burdens, and receive a blessing. Who knew? Not me. (For the requirements to receive absolution, see here.)

Afterwards, Nana and Grandad took Father Paul and Gus and all the rest of us out for a special dinner complete with giant cookies EVEN THOUGH IT’S LENT. Score one for the sacraments.

To celebrate Gus’s first reconciliation, I’m going to give away a copy of my book: A Little Book about Confession for Children. I used it to help Gus prepare for the great event. It has the Gus Seal of Approval. I’ll ship anywhere in the world . . . so, bring it on, internationals.

As a free bonus {not available in stores} you’ll also get a little notepad of write-on checklist pages.

This checklist didn’t make the final cut of the book, but it has been useful to my own kids. So, I’m going to make it available to you here on the ol’ blog.

You can download it for free as a photo by right clicking on it and selecting “Save image as . . .” then, have it printed as a 4×6 photo on photo paper (or just laminate it with a laminator or packing tape). Your child can write on it with a dry- or wet-erase marker before his confession. Then, he can wipe it clean with a tissue or baby wipe afterwards . . . just as his soul has been wiped clean by the Sacrament of Confession.

OR, you can download it for free as a pdf document.

Click here to download it as one checklist per 8.5×11 page.

Click here to download it as four checklists per 8.5×11 page.

Then, print the pages at home as needed, in color or black and white. After his confession, your child can shred the paper, or burn it. My kids like to burn them. And it really helps them to understand that the sins that were on that page are just as gone as the paper they were written upon.

Finally, if you have the book already, would you take a moment to leave a review on Amazon? My sincere thanks to the five folks who have reviewed it already.

To enter the giveaway, please leave a joke for Gus in the comments. Be sure to check back next Sunday, April 20th, to see if you won.

The giveaway is now over, thanks to all who entered and congratulations to Bethany, the winner and Amelia and Betsy, the runners-up! Please feel free to keep leaving jokes here for Gus. :0)


  1. Lady Ithildin

    Why did the cowboy get a daschund? Because he wanted to get a long little doggie.

    Congratulations on your squeaky clean soul, Gus!

  2. Neely

    Hey, Gus – what time is it when an elephant sits on your fence?
    Time for a new fence! Eh, eh? Congrats on your first confession!! 😉

  3. Shauna

    What does the Little Mermaid drink?
    ….Ocean Spray!

    Congratulations Gus! My daughter made her first confession today too! We still could use the book though! Thank you!!!

  4. Kim Chrisman

    Congrats Gus!! What did the judge say when the skunk walked in? "Odor in the court"!!

  5. Isabelle Lubbock

    So nice of you to think of us internationals, so I'm going to enter even though I won't need the book for a few years!

    Why did the bald man paint rabbits on his head? Because from a distance they looked like hares.

    Congratulations Gus!

  6. She Simply Sews

    Congratulations, Gus.

    Here's your joke…How do you make a tissue dance?

    You put a little boogie in it! (You can do your best dance move right about now.)


  7. Kelle

    I'm a new reader of your blog. My second child just made her first Reconcilliation as well, but I've still got at least 3 more kids to use this book in the future. Love your blog! I am at A Pew All Our Own. theadventuresofacatholicmom.blogspot.com

    Where does a mummy sit in a movie theater? Dead center 🙂

  8. Sarah

    Congrats, Gus! My Michael received his First Reconciliation this year, and sounds a lot like you. He has a big name to live up to as well (Michael Collins). Bet he would love to run a foot race with you!
    Here's your joke: Who won the fight at the candy store? A: Not sure, but the lollipop got licked!

  9. Patrick Craine

    From your description, my son Noah and Gus share a great deal in common.

    Thank you for your great blog. Because of you, we're having an owl party here next week!

  10. Anonymous

    This is my husband's favorite: What's brown and sticky?
    A stick.

    And the runner-up: Did you know you can tune a piano but you can't tune a fish?

  11. Amelia Bentrup

    How do you explain to your kids what are bad shows, bad books, bad magazines or bad music? Maybe I'm just unsure of that myself, but we don't really have any books or magazines or music in the house that would be "bad" and we don't have "cable" so really (right now) they couldn't do this, even if they wanted to.

    I really like that list. Especially how it talks about the 10th commandment as I have a hard time explaining that to my kids.

    Gus: What animal cheats during tests?
    – A cheetah! 🙂

    • Kendra

      When I was writing the book, I really struggled with whether to even include stuff like this. My kids have no idea what a Ouija board is, and until recently what a "dirty magazine" was (that one came thanks to a cartoon illustration in the Baltimore Catechism!). Why would I want them to know about it? But eventually, I decided that I should include some references to those things, because some children ARE familiar with them. Also, because I want my children to be a tiny, tiny bit familiar with them. Just enough to know what they are and what to think about them.

      As far as how to deal with, specifically what are "bad" magazines/shows/movies etc. I'd deal with that according to my circumstances. If it's a kid who asks about things he sees on billboards or on magazines at the grocery store check out (I've had one of those), then I explain why that's inappropriate and that when we see something like that we need to pray for those young ladies and for the people for whom they might be a near occasion of sin. If it's a kids who is oblivious to those things (I've had those too), then I keep things more vague, just that there are some shows that are good for people to watch and some shows that aren't good and we only watch the good ones in our family.

      Amelia, you have older kids too, how do you deal with it? And Gus' favorite animal is a cheetah (fast AND soft!) so he loves your joke!

    • Amelia Bentrup

      Hmm…well we did tell our kids that there are some pictures/videos out there on the Internet (and in books or magazines) that are immodest and disprectful to the person/people in them. That it is wrong to look at those because they don't respect the dignity of the pictured person who is made in the image of God. We told them that if they ever see it by accident, they should tell us so we can help make sure they don't accidently see it again. We do have parental controls on our computer and their computer is in a very public area, but I know that isn't 100%.

      I hadn't really given much thought to magazines, because I feel like the Internet is the greatest danger.

      Billboards haven't really come up, because we rarely see billboards advertising anything "questionable". They just don't have those in our area and so far my kids have seemed fairly oblivious to magazines in the check-out line, but if they asked I would tell them the same thing as above.

      And, honestly, the thought of telling them about Ouija boards or other bad things, hasn't really crossed my mind. I do give a quick gander at any books they want to check out of the library just to see if there seems to be anything questionable in them and there have been occasions where I've asked them to put something back because I thought it might be inappropriate or "talk about something that is sinful or bad like it is good". But, that's reallly all I've said about it. Thankfully, my oldest (12) is still happy reading books in the kid's section of the library…the "teen" section sorta scares me.

      I guess when it comes to other things (like Ouija boards) I would just tell that it's wrong to do things or play games that involve "trying to have special powers, so things lke trying to see into the future, speak to dead people, do magic spells etc." But, I haven't really mentioned that to them because it hasn't come up.

      At this point, my kids are still pretty sheltered. Not necessarily on purpose, but just because of the way we live our life (no TV, we don't listen to music, no playing with kids in the neighborhood because there aren't any, etc.), so their exposure to this is really minimized. But, I know as they get older or our situation changes, that could change, so we do need to be prepared and prepare them.

    • Amelia Bentrup

      Oh…and here's another joke my daughter just told me last night (she learned it at Edge group). It's just perfect for the occasion of Gus's First Confession.

      Q: Who was the first person to break all Ten Commandments?
      A: Moses!

  12. Betsy

    Gus sounds like a fun kid! Here's a joke for him:
    What kind of cheese isn't yours?
    Nacho cheese!

  13. Theresa @ OrdinaryLovely

    This one always makes me laugh… even when there's no one else around to hear the joke:
    Did you hear the news last night? Two peanuts were walking down Main St. One was assaulted!! 😉

  14. the DeLisland

    Congratulations on the sparkly soul Gus! My little girl will be doing the same in a few weeks!
    Thanks for the checklist Kendra, I think that will be really helpful for my little ones!

    Knock knock
    Who's there?
    Smell mop
    Smell mop who?
    Yuck, no thanks!

    (Hopefully you're not offended by poo jokes, this one's my kids' fave)

  15. Elizabeth@SuperSwellTimes

    This was a favorite of my students in Nashville:

    Q: Are fish good at basketball?
    A: No! They're afraid of the net!


    Q: What's an alien's favorite place on the keyboard?
    A: The space bar!

  16. Melissa

    Okay, here is a joke for Gus. It's more like a witty comment than a joke, really, but it's very versatile, as you will see. And it's clean and suitable for all ages from about four on up!

    You kind of have to wait for the right time to pull this one off. Somebody has to ask you something like this: "Gus, do you feel like a cookie?"

    Then you say, "No, do I look like one?" HA!

    See how it can be adapted?
    "Gus, do you feel like a milkshake?" "No, do I look like one?"
    "Gus, feel like a swim?" "No, do I look like a swim?"

    Endlessly recyclable. Expires after two uses per day. Void where prohibited by parents. Excessive use may lead to older sibling exasperation.

  17. Bethany Sonnier

    Two muffins are baking in an oven. One turns to the other and says "Wow, it's getting hot in here." The other one says "Ahhh! A talking muffin!"
    Congratulations on your first confession!

  18. Rachael

    Knock, knock.
    Who's there?
    Boo who?
    Why are you crying?

  19. Karen Lewis

    What did the Mama Tomato say to the baby tomatos? Come on, ketchup! Congrats to Gus

  20. Jenny Cook

    Why don't hot dogs wear pants?
    Because their buns are too big.
    [That joke invented by my brother when he was about 7 or 8 years old.]

    (I'm not entering the drawing, I just wanted to share a joke with Gus)

  21. CharleneRehder

    I would LOVE to win your book! I am a 2nd grade catechist and treasure new resources!

    Gus~Can bees fly in the rain?

    Not without their little yellow jackets!!!!

    Congratulations on your First Reconciliation! What a beautiful day for you and your family!

  22. MarieC

    Your book looks great; and I L<3VE your checklist.

    Knock, knock.
    (Who's there?)
    (Utah who?)
    U-talkin' to me?!

    Congratulations, Gus!

  23. Nanacamille

    I was one of the group going to Confession along with Gus to Fr Paul. When I came out he asked me my penance and I said what do you think. He said a rosary? I asked him how bad do you think I am Gus? My answer was only two prayers

  24. S. Kate

    Knock knock
    Who's there
    Cows go
    Cows go who
    Cows don't go who, cows go moo!

    YAY! Gus!

  25. Danielle

    When we were little my dad would always say, out of the blue, "What're you eating under there?" And of course we would fall for it everytime saying "Under where?" His response, "you're eating underwear?!" Gah!

    Just a quick note: the 19th is actually a Saturday 🙂 Its my sons 1st or I never would have noticed. Not really a big deal but I thought I'd mention it. Thanks for the giveaway!! 🙂

  26. Dara

    Here's my favorite joke as a kid:

    Why did the elephant sit on the marshmallow?

    It didn't want to fall into the hot chocolate!

    Thanks for the contest. I checked out your book on Amazon and it looks just right for kids.

  27. Anonymous

    Hi Kendra! I am not good with jokes, especially when I should be doing my own lesson plans…

    But I wanted to comment and thank you for the great printable! We're all heading to Confession this week, and I'm going to give each of my girls one of the checklists. Thanks! -Gina

  28. Tiffany

    Hi Kendra! I'm new here; I just found you during your "66 Awesome Ideas to Make This Lent Super-Rockin'" or whatever post, and since I gave up FB (except Sundays!), I've been reading your blog instead. …I realize that's not entirely acceptable, but it's been good for me, because your blog is great. Anyway, I'm finally posting so I can enter your contest, and since we'd totally be friends IRL, I'm totally going to win. I guess that was my joke. Kidding! I found a good one for St. Patrick's Day… "What do you call a diseased criminal?" "A leper-chaun!" Hmm. Maybe it was just funny after I read a bunch of terrible ones. Congrats, Gus!

  29. Micaela Darr

    I'm not qualified to win as I already have a copy, but I heard this joke today and I thought Gus might like it.

    Happy First Reconciliation, buddy!

    Q: What did the farmer say to the three holes in the ground?
    A: Well, well, well.

  30. Monique

    Q: What did the mother bee say to the baby bee?
    A: Behive yourself !
    Hope Gus enjoys this.

  31. Kathleen M

    Hi Kendra, thank you for sharing your beautiful words and stories! I recently stumbled across your blog and it's been a lovely experience. Congratulations to Gus!!

    Q: Why did the stegosaurus devour the factory?
    A: Because he was a plant eater.

  32. Alana Barranco

    Congrats on First Reconciliation! My nephew and Gus would be into all kind of antics. They sound like twins separated at birth! Talk about confidence, whew, he is the exact same way.

    My favorite joke: What do you call a cow that just gave birth? De-calf-einated. I can't even type it without laughing!!

  33. Jeanne

    Why was Cinderella a bad basketball player?
    Her coach was a pumpkin!

    A love for feeling soft things must come with the name Augustine. My 4-month-old boy twin Augustine loves to stroke soft things or rub them on his face 🙂

  34. Carolyn_Svellinger

    Congratulations to Gus! Okay, here's one of my fave jokes:

    What did the banana say to the doctor?
    "I don't peel very good!"

  35. Mary Beth

    Our "favorite" joke (i.e., the only one my 3 year old and 6 year old can remember and tell correctly :)…
    Q: What time is it when an elephant sits on a fence?
    A: Time to get a new fence!
    Thanks for the free checklist, too! Awesome of you to share.

  36. Mrs. Amen

    Why did the cookie go to the doctor?
    Because he felt crumby.

    Congratulations, Gus! Receiving the Sacrament of Penance was absolutely life changing for me when I came into the Church. What a blessing that you will have this great gift from such a young age!

  37. Joanne Kibbe

    I went to confession on Friday before Stations and saw a young boy leaving with his crumpled up piece of paper – it was a very holy sight!

    Why do bees hum?
    Because they don't know the words : )

  38. Sarah Doll

    Hope just sent me her CD because I donated to Soul Gardening and it's wonderful! My husband also knew her when she was younger. Small world. 🙂

  39. Unknown

    What did the momma buffalo say to her baby buffalo when he left?
    I learned that from my son at 1st reconciliation age, so hopefully you enjoy it too!

    • Alea

      I finally figured out how to give myself a name as a commenter – which will help if I actually win! I'm not unknown anymore!

  40. Abby S.

    Thanks for the printable checklist. And I've already got the book (which I promise to review asap… or hopefully pretty soon), but I promised Gus a joke:

    Why is it hard to talk with a goat around? (Because he's always butting in!)

  41. Melissa

    Why was the stadium so hot after the game? …Because all the fans left.

    Congrats on your first Reconciliation, Gus!

  42. Housemum

    Love the checklist, only one criticicism is that all the "yes" column means something to think about/confess except the one about "did I dress modestly" which is good if the answer is yes! Maybe reword that one? Not sure if "did I dress immodestly" is too complicated? Perhaps "did I wear inappropriate clothing?" (which could mean the right stuff worn in the wrong place eg beach shorts in church as well as inappropriate as in immodest)
    I'm in the UK and have ordered a copy – can't wait for it to arrive 🙂

    • Kendra

      You're absolutely right. There are actually two of them in which the preferred answer is "yes." Unfortunately, the very talented Isabelle at Ignatius did all the layout, but this checklist part got cut out of the final book before we did the revisions, so this is the only version I have.

      I hope it's still useful. Perhaps I'll re-do it myself for you guys one of these days. :0)

  43. Rose G.

    I know I'm a year late, but I just read this post for the first time (linked from Facebook), and wanted to say that I LOVED Fr. Paul Donlan as a kid! He used to be "our" priest up here in Northern California, and often said Mass for our homeschool group. We just thought he was the coolest priest ever!

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Hi! I’m Kendra.

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