Articles Under: Sacramental Preparation

The Catechism of the Catholic Church calls the sacraments, “the masterworks of God in the new and everlasting covenant” (1116). The sacraments confer upon us a special grace that assists us in becoming the people God created us to be. Unfortunately, too often the first celebration of the sacraments in childhood is approached as if it were a one-time developmental milestone, rather than the beginning of a lifelong celebration or a further step down the path of continuing conversion. Both experience and research have shown us that the period of preparation for the Sacraments of Penance and Eucharist is a... Read more
I Give Thanks to God As a confirmation facilitator, it feels like a “rescue mission” trying to re-ignite faith, hope, and charity in souls that are growing cold and are in need of conversion. The young people I serve do not always receive the witness of fervent or healthy families. Parents sometimes value their child’s résumé over their religious formation. Many things, like sports, compete with time for God on the weekend. The result is an attitude that religious formation is more of a burden than a blessing. I often assume that those who come to be catechized do not... Read more
Uno de los signos de la experiencia contemporánea es un sentido muy extendido de quebrantamiento, una especie de pesadez de ser. Por lo mismo, una de las afirmaciones menos debatidas de la cristiandad es que tenemos necesidad de sanación, tanto a nivel personal como a nivel social. Los analistas sociales buscan sin cesar las causas de este descontento individual y colectivo. Mientras existan factores culturales que contribuyan a la enfermedad posmoderna, la teología cristiana siempre ha ofrecido una causa de raíz del descontento de la humanidad: el pecado original que heredamos y los pecados personales que cometemos. Si el pecado... Read more
(Spanish translation of this article available here. ) One of the marks of contemporary experience seems to be a widespread sense of brokenness, a sort of heaviness of being. Therefore, one of the least debated claims of Christianity is that we need healing, both personal and societal. Social analysts repeatedly look for the causes of this individual and collective discontent. While there are cultural factors that contribute to postmodern dis-ease, Christian theology has always offered a root cause for humanity’s discontent: original sin that we inherit and the personal sins that we commit. If sin were the end of the... Read more
Socrates and Plato and Aristotle and Buddha and Confucius and Lao Tzu all gave us their minds; Christ gave us his body. They all tried to save the world from ignorance by their philosophies; Christ saved the world from sin and death and hell by his body and blood—both on the cross and in the Eucharist. Christ said, “Come unto me.” Buddha said, “Look not to me, look to my dharma, my teaching.” The others said, “I teach the truth,” but Christ said, “I AM the truth.” When we receive the Eucharist, we eat the Truth. Christ is the meaning... Read more
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What is the Neophyte Year? Many of us may be aware of the RCIA process that is undertaken in many parishes, but have we stopped to ask ourselves the question, “What happens to the new Catholics after the Easter Vigil?” The Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults offers a period of Mystagogy for the seven weeks leading up to Pentecost, but then what? The new Catholic, for the period up to the anniversary of their reception into the Catholic Church, is known as a “neophyte,” that is, “one who is initiated at the Easter Vigil. The term comes from the... Read more
The sea change in the approach that American teens and young adults take in regard to Christian faith just in the last decade has been rapid, palpable, and sometimes stunning. We live in a time in which “nearly half of cradle Catholics who become ‘unaffiliated’ are gone by age eighteen. Nearly 80 percent are gone and 71 percent have already taken on an ‘unaffiliated’ identity by their early twenties.” [i] According to Jean Twenge, a professor of Psychology at San Diego State University, the experience of faith has been complicated even further by the staggering increase in social media usage... Read more
After a few minutes’ conversation on my doorstep, a Mormon missionary asked if I was, by chance, a “born-again Christian?” “Well,” I replied, “I’m a born-again Catholic. ” This idea of being “born again” made me reflect on the challenge of awakening cultural Catholics to the radical implications of the Sacrament of Baptism. Living in County Kerry—the tourist magnet of Ireland—I’ve seen the trouble American visitors take to research their family tree and locate their Irish roots. They trawl through parish registers to find out about the births, marriages, and deaths of their ancestors. (“Who are your people?” is a... Read more
Although the Eucharist is “the source and summit of the Christian life,” [i] many Catholics are unfamiliar with its rich Old Testament and Jewish background. In this article, we will look at four aspects of this background: the king-priest Melchizedek, the Passover, the manna, and the bread of the Presence. Melchizedek: Priest of God Most High The first prefiguration of the Eucharist goes back to the mysterious figure of Melchizedek in the book of Genesis. This Melchizedek, called “king of Salem” and “priest of God Most High,” brought out bread and wine to Abraham and blessed him (Gen 14:18-20). His... Read more