A few random thoughts and ponderings to start the week...
My son is receiving his First Communion this coming Sunday. Along with the obvious and completely understandable mental and spiritual preparations (such as learning the basic teachings about the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist, what is meant by the "Sacrifice" of the Mass, some basic prayers and other such things), our parish also has some hands-on "fluff work" for the kids to do. Don't get me wrong...I understand that the "powers-that-be" are trying to make the the event meaningful and encourage the kids to participate more fully in their faith...but somehow singing a cheesy, hippie-Christian song with accompanying rhythmic hand gestures falls short of the dignity of this holy Sacrament (in my opinion). We are also required to design and make a felt banner which will hang on the pew where he will sit. Luckily I grew up in the 70s and 80s when felt banners were all the rage in Catholic churches, so I faked that one pretty well.
Why can't a Sacrament just be a SACRAMENT, instead of a photo-op for moms and dads who have bad taste in music, liturgy, and art?
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Another requirement made for all of the kids in my son's First Communion class is that they meet with Father as a group before the event so that he can prepare them for the Sacrament. This is a great idea; it's an excellent way to demonstrate to these kids just how important the Sacrament is. It reminds me of marriage preparation classes and the opportunity such sessions afford for stressing the Church's teaching on the Sacrament and our responsibility in coming before the priest to receive. As their pastor, our priest will be ministering to these kids at every Mass, and so he wants to know that they understand the weight of the Mass and the reality of Eucharist. The meeting is primarily a technical formality (since their real instruction happened prior to meeting with Father), but formalities such as this add gravity to the coming event. The whole class will meet together with Father as a group outside of regular class time.
Sadly, one mother responded to the announcement of this meeting by saying: "Oh, my son has a soccer game that night. So we won't make it. We'll just make other arrangements."
What kind of message does this send to her son? Is it more important to prepare oneself for receiving Christ in the Eucharist, or to play second-grade soccer? Is she telling him that we can skip out on meeting with Father and sharing this moment with fellow Catholic classmates, but we can't let your team down? Are sports teams more important that Jesus?
Needless to say, I felt sorry for her son.
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