CCC 1131 The sacraments are efficacious signs of grace, instituted by Christ and entrusted to the Church, by which divine life is dispensed to us. The visible rites by which the sacraments are celebrated signify and make present the graces proper to each sacrament. They bear fruit in those who receive them with the required dispositions.
The sacramental preparation process helps an individual become more open to God’s action through the sacrament, understand the unique signs present in its celebration, and bear its fruit in the world.
The general preparation process for children and youth is the following:
- Enrollment with the family’s home parish
- Parents/guardians present their children to their pastor, who will ensure that each one is adequately prepared.
- Formal period of proximate/immediate preparation
- Catechists provide instruction and formational experiences to the children/youth over an appropriate period of time determined by the pastor. Parents/guardians are involved throughout the process.
- Celebration and reception of the sacrament
- The time of preparation culminates in the children/youth receiving the sacrament in a liturgical celebration of the parish community.
- Unpacking the mystery
- The graces and sacramental mystery continue to be unpacked in the daily life of each person. Each sacrament continues to transform the individual and bear fruit in his or her life and in the world.
Children and youth must demonstrate the beginnings of faith in Jesus Christ as they approach the sacrament for which they are preparing. Some helpful markers for families and parish leaders to be aware of and foster are:
- Awareness of God’s presence
- Desire to grow in a personal relationship with God
- Recognition of Scripture narratives
- Familiarity with major aspects of Jesus’ life, such as:
- Annunciation & Nativity
- Public ministry & invitation to discipleship
- Passion & Resurrection
- Ascension & Missionary mandate
- Weekly participation in Sunday Eucharist
- Ability for contrition and beginnings of repentance
- Beginnings of life of prayer as shown by familiarity with:
- Sign of the Cross
- Our Father
- Hail Mary
- Spontaneous prayer