On Saturday, a bishop hit my daughter. It’s ok: she was being confirmed, and that is part of the traditional rite. It is designed to remind the person being confirmed that he or she may be required to suffer for the Faith, and rather beautifully is accompanied by the words Pax tecum (peace be with you).

And so Dominique has now received the fullness of her initiation into the Church, and the outpouring of the Holy Spirit in a personal Pentecost: and we had a big celebration to mark the occasion.

In preparation for this, she had been on a retreat a couple of weeks ago, and of course been to confession (for the Catechism of the Catholic Church teaches that one must be in a state of grace to receive the Sacrament of Confirmation §1310).

This is the last ‘new’ sacrament that any of my kids will receive until one of them marries, or (in the case of Charlie) is ordained, or faces death.

Confession and communion recur on a regular basis, of course, as the nourishment for their spiritual journey through life; and this pattern of some sacraments recurring, and others being once-in-a-lifetime celebrations had me reflecting on the whole sacramental system.

It is one of the most distinctive features of Catholicism: and if one wants to keep one’s kids Catholic, then a rich and full sacramental life is essential.

Obviously, we can only celebrate Confirmation once, but ideally we should be marking every Mass we attend with something like the same sense of celebration. The Mass is, if anything, more important than the other sacraments: it is the source and summit of our sacramental life. But of course, because we go so frequently, it is easy to take it for granted.

The other regular sacrament is Confession or Reconciliation. Again, this should be marked by celebration too: Our Lord waits for us, welcomes us, listens to us, forgives us and heals us. If we really believed that – if we imagined we had the chance to get into a time machine and go to Bethany or Caphernaum or somewhere for a private audience with Him – how would we respond? Even if we knew the subject of that private audience was our confessing our sins and asking his forgiveness…

So there’s the challenge for this week: how do we keep the reality of the sacraments alive in our kids’ minds, so that they are enthused about Mass and Confession?

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