I love fall – the foliage, football, and (bon)fires. By the first of October, I hope that I’ve already sat around multiple bonfires, stuffed myself and my kids with s’mores and successfully picked all the hay out of my family’s clothes before we head home from another fun-filled parish fall festival. Staring into the flames of a bonfire is one of my favorite autumnal pastimes. It often reminds me of an experience I had as a teenager at youth camp. As our group sat around a bonfire, we had the opportunity to celebrate the Sacrament of Reconciliation nearby with our pastor.  Bonfires, community, and confession are a perfect autumn combination.

Then our youth group leader passed out small pieces of paper and pencils and invited us to consider writing down a sin or something we’d been struggling with. After we’d had time to write, the papers were folded and put into a bucket. Our sins and troubles were then placed into the fire and quickly burned into ashes. It was such a wonderful visual reminder of confession, underscoring that God can not only forgive us of our sins, but He forgets them as well (Hebrews 8:12, Jeremiah 31:34, Isaiah 43:25).

Do you have a fall outing planned at the parish? Maybe a group in your parish could benefit from this simple, yet powerful spiritual exercise. Consider adding a spiritual component the next time you’re gathered around a fire this fall. Bonfires, community, and confession are a perfect autumn combination.