Saturday, January 18, 2014

Sacramental Preparation: Ceremony of Intention

Getting ready for sacramental preparation each year, every atrium has a different procedure - some are tied to a parish, some are tied to schools, some are entirely independent; the children are coming from different situations; a priest may or may not be involved and/or on a variety of levels.

Our Friday homeschool atrium has families from two parishes: one is a Traditional Latin Mass parish, with a priest from the Priestly Fraternity of St. Peter (FSSP); the other parish is/are/was the local Novus Ordo parish(es) - sort of. Anyway, it all gets complicated to explain, but the families are all SO involved with their children and love the atrium, that it all just works itself out, in most cases.

Of our 3 children preparing for the sacraments of First Holy Communion and First Reconciliation, 2 children are TLM and one is NO. Due to the nature of our atrium, we do not have a particularly associated priest for this group, so I was thinking, "What could we do for the ceremony of intention that brings these children together, but still involves a larger community?"

The result for THIS year:
(note: the parents could have been involved - if I'd planned this sooner and there weren't a ton of little ones and intricate transportation arrangments ;) )

All children in our atrium gathered around the prayer table. I sat at one end of the horseshoe with a table of candles next to me. They had each brought the dates of their baptisms (and first reconciliation and FHC if appropriate), along with any pertinent photos to commemorate the day(s).

We recalled the reason why we come to atrium (first answer from a 10 year old: "to learn how to set our hair on fire!" at which point I remembered to distribute hair ties to those with long loose hair (me included!) and those with loose long sleeves --- the better answer: to more fully deepen our understanding of our faith through our relationship with the Holy Trinity, most specifically Jesus Christ Himself.)

We then recalled the season of Advent - a time of preparation, not for the first Coming of Jesus, but for what?
  • to receive the gifts He gave us with His first coming
  • and to deepen the reception of those gifts, spreading His light in preparation for the second coming
What are those gifts of His first coming? His Light and His Life. 

The world received His light as a gift (light the Paschal Candle) - but each person must come forward to receive it. 
When did you each receive the gift of His light? 
The children came forward with a lit candle, the date of their baptism and placed any photos they had.

"Children" is, by definition, in this post, referring to all the Children of the Light - yes, the adults came forward as well. 

Is it always easy to keep this light shining?
Recall the Good Shepherd (for all the children). Recall the True Vine (for those who have already prepared). We have weaknesses, we have blockages, we can become lost. Jesus wants us to REMAIN, He wants us to be found again by Him. 

How are we to be found? By the gift of Reconciliation. 
Each of those who have received this gift, came forward with a light. 
Those who are preparing, came forward with an unlit candle.
(other children remained seated)

And when our Lights are shining - when our souls are truly ready, we can receive a profound gift: the Life of the Good Shepherd Himself - the life of Him who lays down His own life to fight that evil that would ensnare us in sin. 

Each of those who have received this gift, came forward with a light. 
Those who are preparing, came forward with an unlit candle.

And we sing our song: 

Create in me a clean heart - 
Help me start over again. 

Please Lord don't leave me, 
I need your Spirit, 
I cannot make it alone. 

Restore to me the Joy of Salvation - 
Oh my God. 

Yes, Advent is the perfect time for sacramental preparation to begin. Why again do we wait until January in most cases?

We left the table to quietly work the rest of our time together. The overhead lights were only on in the other half of the atrium so the focus would be on the light of Christ spreading through all those sacraments received by the "children" in our atrium. If just our own sacraments could spread that much light - how much more within the universal Church? 

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