The Sacramental Gifts program is meant to supplement parish programs, not to duplicate any existing parish programs. Knights should be present and support the most important sacramental events in the lives of families in the parish community. Councils can support the family at these times and build a closer relationship with the parish community.
When a couple brings their little one home from the hospital, he or she is capable of very little. The baby does not talk, walk, eat with a fork, or brush his or her teeth. The parents need to teach all these things over the course of many years. In broad terms, the parents must introduce their son or daughter to their cultural heritage and social customs so that he or she grows up to be a well-adjusted individual. That’s the goal and the responsibility of the parents. Sharing faith with the child and introducing him or her into the social customs of the faith community are a part of this responsibility for the parents as well. To fail regarding faith formation is a serious reneging of parental responsibility.
But not everyone appreciates that fact. Society has tried to make the practice of religion a private affair, and some even leave the choice of religion up to the individual. We have a responsibility to share our cultural heritage with our children, which includes our religious heritage.
Parents are not alone in this task. They have the help of the godparents as well as the entire faith community, for all share in the mission of passing on the faith.
This is not always an easy task. Children have free will. But that free will can lead to a child rejecting not only the faith training a parent might offer, but the cultural training as well. In the end, the example offered and witnessed to
by the adult faith community often sinks into the child’s heart. There, with the grace of God, Catholic adults are truly formed.
Work with your pastor to support the new parents and godparents.
The Church invites us to celebrate the Eucharist and to receive Holy Communion “often” and “worthily”. The “often” part is encouraged because reception of Communion strengthens our bond with one another, nourishes God’s life within us, and incorporates us more deeply into the life of Jesus. Thus, it is the ongoing Sacrament of Initiation. The “worthily” part is a little more complicated.
Since the sacrament is a source of unity and grace, we need to make sure we are capable and ready to be united and graced. And if we are not in full communion with God and the Church because of something we have done, we need to first get right with God and the Church. We need to fix our situation through the Sacrament of Reconciliation. In some cases, we need to change the way we are living.
Work with your pastor to support the parish ministries that provide the Holy Eucharist to parishioner, especially those parishioners with special needs or who cannot attend mass regularly.
Just as Baptism gives new life, Eucharist nourishes life, and Reconciliation restores life when it is broken, Confirmation strengthens that life by the gifts of the Holy Spirit. It is about strengthening what God has given, and continues to give, to his sons and daughters. The Sacrament of Confirmation is not the Catholic equivalent to the Jewish bar mitzvah. Confirmation is not a “coming of age” celebration. True, most young people are just beginning to pass into early adulthood when they receive the sacrament. But Confirmation is not about coming of age. Reception of the Sacrament of Confirmation does not mark the end of formal religious education. We never outgrow a need for a deeper knowledge and appreciation of our faith.
The Sacrament of Confirmation is not a rite of passage, nor a graduation from religion class, nor a ratification of a
personal faith choice. Rather, it’s all about what God is doing for his beloved daughters and sons.
And what is God doing? Strengthening the divine life which he gave at Baptism, nourishing us in the Eucharist, and reconciling with us in Penance. Why? So that the individual can better defend and witness to the faith through the gifts and workings of the Holy Spirit. And there are—and will be—many situations where we are called upon to defend and witness to our faith. And we need all the help we can get!
Work with your pastor to support the parish ministries that prepare members of our parish community to receive the Sacrament of Confirmation. Work with him to support programs that support and continue to strengthen the gift received during the Sacrament of Confirmation.
Our loving God understands our human weakness. That is one reason he became human. He is calling us to full life with his Church and with himself.
Work with your pastor to support ministries that bring the parish community closer living in a state of grace.
Anointing of the sick
Moments of mental or physical illness can be times of crisis. They can mean a time of loss and pain, a time of insight and growth, or anything in between. Regardless, our loving God wants to be a part of our experience. He wants to share our lives with us, the bad and the good. But his presence and support often comes in and through the
Church—our faith community. The kind words and help that we receive from others are a part of this, for God works through human means. We need to pay attention to how God works through them.
The Church can officially support us through the sacraments. In the case of an illness, that support comes in the form of the Sacrament of Anointing of the Sick. And, as the ritual clearly states, the focus is life, health, and well- being. But we must remember that a part of the fullness of life is our spiritual lives with God, which begun at Baptism and will inevitably lead to death and resurrection.
Clearly recognizing that human frailty is a part of the reality of life, our loving God is with us through this sacrament to strengthen us when our minds or bodies grow weak. Thus, a person facing a significant surgery is encouraged to avail themselves of this sacrament, as well as the aged or seriously ill.
Work with your pastor to support ministries that address the issues of those dealing with trauma and illness in their lives. Visit the sick and infirm to pray with them.
Vatican II clarified that marriage is a partnership between a man and a woman ordered toward their mutual good and the procreation and education of children. As a partnership, it is a union of equals who come together to form a new family. Marriage is something no one can enter into lightly because there are people involved. And where there are people, there should be protection of rights so that no one gets hurt.
There was a time when a couple could go off by themselves, exchange vows, and this was considered a valid marriage. But being human, people, particularly men, began to abuse this situation. So, the Church, to protect both the dignity of persons and the good of the sacrament, took steps to make sure that the freedom of both individuals was protected and honored. Thus, there are requirements before getting married.
In addition, for baptized persons, Jesus raised the human institution of marriage to the dignity of a sacrament in which the love of a husband and wife truly make present the love of Jesus for the Church.
The Church requires that a couple go before their faith community (represented by a priest and at least two witnesses) and exchange their vows publicly because the significance of what they are doing is truly a public matter. This newly formed family is a part of both the civil and the religious community with responsibilities and privileges. The civil society recognizes the new social unit of a family; the Church recognizes both a new social unity within the parish and a new public witness to Jesus’ love for his Church.
Work with your pastor to support ministries that prepare couples for marriage and support that marriage through the years.
A vocation is a gift from God that can be a very mysterious thing. Seldom is it as obvious as the burning bush was for Moses. More often, it is a subtle feeling or sense that maybe God is calling me to serve as a brother, sister, permanent deacon, religious priest, or diocesan priest. Each is a specific call and requires its own unique discernment. But it definitely needs to be checked out.
Work with your pastor to support ministries focused on discernment of a vocations.
Matthew P. Troiano, Chairman