At their infant son Michael’s baptism, Tom and Sally stood at the altar with their son’s godparents and their 3-year-old daughter, Katie. As part of the baptismal rite, the priest invited all of them, including Katie, to mark Michael’s forehead with the sign of the cross.
“For me, that moment was a brush with the divine,” Sally remembers. “Katie’s loving touch, her simple symbolic gesture, so clearly united the two of them in the world with God in heaven. The idea of her loving him, and the two of them showing God’s care and tenderness to each other through the many phases of life they would share, was so palpable and so clearly an act of God. It was as forceful as lightning for me. That day will always be an example of what a sacrament can and should be. It’s one of the greatest gifts of my life.”
Our children’s sacraments can be moments of God’s grace for parents as surely as they are moments of grace for children. For parents who didn’t pay too much attention the first time around, children’s sacraments also offer a second chance to learn, listen, and be open to the movement of God.
Carol, a director of religious education for her parish and mother of four, sees many parents who reconnect with their own faith as their children are preparing for a particular sacrament. “Sacramental preparation for children can be a re-awakening for parents,” Carol says. “Especially when the materials used for preparation are to be done as a family, the parents are able to appreciate the sacraments more deeply. It gives them an opportunity to really reflect on what they believe.”
Some parents say they weren’t ready to hear about sacramental grace when they were preparing for the sacraments themselves, but now, with more life experience, they see value where before they saw tedium.
“In the 30 years between my own first reconciliation and my son’s first reconciliation, I didn’t go to reconciliation at all,” says Jeff, father of two. “I felt like, why should I confess my sins to a priest? I can say I’m sorry to God directly. But as I’ve seen how sin breaks relationships and tears apart families, I understand that there is something powerful about naming my sin out loud. Reconciliation changes me in a way that a private prayer cannot. I didn’t understand that when I was younger.” …continued next week
—by Annemarie Scobey, from the pages of At Home with Our Faith, Claretian Publications’ print newsletter for parents on nurturing spirituality in the home. Winner of the 2012 Best in Class award from the Associated Church Press, as well as a First Place General Excellence award from the Catholic Press Association for the past three years running. Here’s a sample issue.
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