religious education
 

Learn more about the sacraments

The sacraments are efficacious signs of grace, instituted by Christ and entrusted to the Church, by which divine life is dispensed to us. (Catechism of the Catholic Church, #1131)

In thinking about the nature of sacramental preparation, these two realities must be kept uppermost in mind. First, each sacramental experience is a celebration of an encounter with the God of life. Second, all sacraments are for the mission of the Church. Once baptized, all are responsible to make Christ present. (Religious Education Handbook, Section 601)

Baptism

Baptism is the first Sacrament of Initiation, by which we are freed from all sin and are endowed with the gift of divine life, are made members of the Church, and are called to holiness and mission. (US Catholic Catechism for Adults, Glossary)

Through Baptism we are joined to Christ and become part of the Body of Christ, the Church. At Baptism we make promises that we are to live out the rest of our lives. The Holy Spirit, whom we receive at Baptism, helps us live out the promises that we make. (FaithFirst At Home Family Guide, RCLBenziger Publishing – www.faithfirst.com)

With the promulgation of the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults in 1988 and the new Code of Canon law in 1983, the norm for the reception of unbaptized adults and children of catechetical age into the Church is through their enrollment into the CATECHUMENATE, in which they will be led through various stages of preparation to sacramental initiation and then mystagogy. (Religious Education Handbook, Section 640)

Eucharist

The liturgical life of the Church revolves around the sacraments, with the Eucharist at the center. (National Directory for Catechesis, #35)

In listening to and reflecting on the Scriptures, we are fed by God’s word.  In remembering the Last Supper, in participating in Jesus’ loving self-sacrifice, and in sharing Holy Communion and being nourished by the Body and Blood of Christ, we are joined more fully to Christ and to one another and strengthened to live the Gospel. (Faith First At Home Family Guide, RCLBenziger Publishing – www.faithfirst.com)

Penance/Reconciliation

This is the Sacrament in which sins committed after Baptism are forgiven. It results in reconciliation with God and the Church. (US Catholic Catechism for Adults, Glossary)

Through the sacrament of Reconciliation we receive forgiveness for the sins we have committed after we have been baptized when we are truly sorry for our sins, confess them to a priest, receive and do a penance, and are absolved from our sins. The healing forgiveness of God restores us to spiritual health.  We become renewed members of the Body of Christ.   (Faith First At Home Family Guide, RCLBenziger Publishing – www.FaithFirst.com)

Confirmation

Confirmation completes the grace of Baptism by a special outpouring of the gifts of the Holy Spirit, which seals and confirms the baptized in union with Christ and calls them to greater participation in the worship and apostolic life of the Church. (US Catholic Catechism for Adults, Glossary)

The Holy Spirit is always with us as our companion and guide. (Faith First At Home Family Guide, RCLBenziger Publishing – www.faithfirst.com)

Parent’s Role in Sacramental Preparation

Catechesis for Baptism is directed primarily to adults: that is, catechumens... as well as the parents and godparents of infants who are to be baptized... This preparation is an especially important opportunity for the Church to encourage the parents and godparents of infants to reexamine the meaning of the Christian message in their own lives.  (National Directory for Catechesis, #36 — Catechesis for the Particular Sacraments)

Since the family is intimately involved with the formation of a child’s moral conscience and ordinarily integrates the child into the wider ecclesial communities, parents should be involved in the preparation of their children for the Sacrament of Penance and Reconciliation so that they can affirm and reinforce frequent participation in the sacraments. (National Directory for Catechesis, #36-Catechesis for the Particular Sacraments)

Children’s preparation for first reception of the Eucharist begins in the home. The family has the most important role in communicating the Christian and human values that form the foundation for a child’s understanding of the Eucharist. Children who participate with their family in the Mass experience the Eucharistic mystery in an initial way and gradually learn to join with the liturgical assembly in prayer. (National Directory for Catechesis, #36-Catechesis for the Particular Sacraments.)

Parent(s)/guardian(s), the primary educators of their children, are to be intimately involved in the catechesis for first Reconciliation, first Eucharist and Confirmation. This helps parent(s)/guardian(s) renew and strengthen their own faith, and enables them to serve as a positive faith example for their children. (Religious Education Handbook, Sections 610, 620 & 630)

Parishes must provide a minimum of one meeting with parents prior to the child’s celebration of first Reconciliation and prior to the child’s celebration of first Eucharist. (Religious Education Handbook, Sections 610 & 620)

Resources for further reading or viewing

Check with your parish religious education leader to see what is available in your parish.

Online Resources

Twenty-Third Publications: On left hand side of home page, under “Browse Category”, click on “Books” or “Videos/DVDs” then scroll down and click on “Sacraments”.

Liguori Publications: On left hand side of home page, scroll down to “Browse Categories”.  Under “Browse Categories”, scroll down and click on “Sacraments”, then click on whichever sacrament you are looking for.