Here I am, still marvelling every day at where I’ve landed, right on the south coast. A lot of adjustment is going on: from the city to the seaside; from a fast-paced lifestyle to a slower one; from hundreds of young adults in church to… (let’s be honest) very few. I’m getting my head around a few things. My current experience is probably closer to every normal Catholic’s experience, but it is quite different from where I’ve come from.
So, blog readers, this is where you come in 🙂 Adjusting from a pretty rosy catechetical scene, I now find myself asking – how do we get there? How does this happen? What is the Lord calling us to do?
Here’s my first little topic for us to mull over…
I’m coming from a parish where every sacramental programme was no less than a year long. It was the system in place when I arrived four years ago, and I had never experienced anything like it, least of all in my own sacramental preparation as a child and teenager. But over time, I began to see the huge benefit of it. Gradually I became a big advocate of long programmes. Why? Here are some reasons:
- Catechesis should be ongoing, anyway – for every single one of us (see GDC 84) – so if we can’t have permanent catechesis for all children, then their sacramental preparation needs to at least be long enough to cover the Deposit of Faith
- Every baptised person has a right to be taught the full Deposit of Faith and you cannot do that in six sessions
- Sacramental preparation should prepare each person’s heart to receive the sacrament fruitfully – which only happens if they have the right disposition. Creating the conditions for this disposition to be formed is a work of delicacy, prayer, and much effort, and, as with everything involving the Holy Spirit, takes time – why rush the conversion process?
- There is a great advantage to regularity in formation – if we go to something each week, it is far more likely to become a good habit – there is more chance this will continue after the sacraments have been received
- Regular nourishment is how God wants to form us! Not a great big feast and then starvation mode for several years. He wants to feed us with his Scriptures and teaching regularly, frequently
I admit – it is hard enough maintaining a long programme already in place. Parents see the parish next door confirming any teenager who moves, and they are resentful at what they see as the “demands” placed on them.
Every year we faced grumbles like this. During one parent’s meeting, however, one parent (previously dubious) stood up to defend the length of the programme, saying that the community and friendship which was forged as a result was remarkable and now sustained her daughter’s faith life.
In my experience, it is worth holding firm and sticking to your guns, and allowing the few who will drop off and head to the next door parish to do just that.
But, if you are starting this up somewhere, I imagine it is a whole different story. How do you suggest the new approach to parents? How do you convince young people this will be worth it? Please share your ideas!