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First communion - Confirmation

CONFIRMATION AND FIRST EUCHARIST AS SACRAMENT OF INITIATION

The Beginning of walking with Christ as His disciple

"Christian initiation is accomplished by three sacraments together: Baptism which is the beginning of new life; Confirmation which is its strengthening; and the Eucharist which nourishes the disciple with Christ's Body and Blood for his transformation in Christ." (Catechism of the Catholic Church [CCC] #1275.)

All Sacraments are a gift from our Heavenly Father, who desires to give us His very life, which we call grace. Sacraments are not earned or merited. For this reason, Confirmation and Communion should not be perceived as the sacrament of adult commitment to the Church. In fact, the Church requires priests to confirm infants and children younger than the age of reason when they are in danger of death so that they may receive the fullness of the Holy Spirit. The practice of the Eastern Churches is to administer Confirmation (called ‘Chrismation’ in the Eastern Churches) at infancy. 

 An authentic mature commitment to Christ and the Church is expressed in full participation in the Eucharist and apostolic life of the Church. It is not achieved at a single moment but throughout the life-long deepening of our relationship with Christ. This begins in childhood and continues until death.

MYSTAGOGY: A LIFELONG PROCESS

On-Going Formation to become an authentic disciple of Jesus Christ

The Sacraments of Initiation: Baptism, Confirmation and Eucharist, are the rites by which we become members of the Body of Christ taking our place in full communion with the Church. They are a unity, like a Triangle.

Candidates, when preparing for the sacraments, spend time in prayer and study. Yet, it is in embracing the life-long journey into conversion that we truly become faithful disciples of Jesus. It is important to realize how significant Confirmation and First Eucharist are to our faith journey and conversion. If we attempt to live our lives as Catholic followers of Jesus with the understanding of a 3rd grader, or a 6th grader, or a sophomore in high school, we are not truly living up to the call of Jesus to be His disciple. His call is life-long, and we need to update ourselves continuously and foster within our families, and within ourselves as individuals, a deeper understanding and appreciation of our faith.

Mystagogy is what the Church refers to when we are challenged to continuously “grow in deepening our grasp of the paschal mystery and in making it a part of our lives through meditation on the Gospel, sharing in the Eucharist, and doing the works of charity” (Rite of Christian Initiation #244). It is a lifelong introduction into a fuller and more effective understanding of mysteries through the Gospel message we have learned and above all through our experience of the sacraments we have received. As we grow and mature, we are called to “derive a new perception of the faith, of the Church, and of the world” (Rite of Christian Initiation #245).

Throughout the period of preparation for the Sacraments of Confirmation and Eucharist, the pastor and catechetical leaders are to call the attention of the parents and the candidates to the need for Mystagogy – the need for on-going education and experience of our Catholic faith following reception of the Sacraments. Indeed, it would be a sign that a family is not ready for the experience of initiation if the intention is to neglect Mystagogy as their children grow and mature.

Mystagogy is a new word for many, but an important concept for our families. To become a domestic Church, parents need not only to seek preparation of their children for sacramental experiences, but to be committed to:

On-going education and formation for their family;

• Participating fully, actively, and consciously in the Mass;

• Participating in the life and ministry of their parish community;

• Participating often in the Sacrament of Reconciliation.

This gradual living through the mystery of God’s love for us and discerning and committing ourselves to our role in the salvation story is something that comes to pass as we mature in Christ. This is the mystagogy of our lives. It is important to acknowledge and articulate that reception of the Sacraments of Initiation is not the end of our formation as Christians. It is but the beginning.

It is crucial that parishes continually offer opportunities for ongoing education and formation for all ages and stages of life to help the initiated come to a fuller understanding and appreciation of the gifts they have received, gifts from on high. 

 

 

 

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