A young girl is anointed during Confirmation while her sponsor looks on. CNS file photo/Gregory A. Shemitz

Speaking Out: Make sacramental preparation matter

By  Paula Ducepec, Youth Speak News
  • April 28, 2021

This is the time Confirmation classes in my parish usually begin. But for the second year running, sacramental preparation courses will be held online.

A year in, we are still reeling from the effects of the pandemic and what it has caused our normal to become. We are getting COVID fatigue, and we strive to go back to the old normal, which includes returning to church for sacramental classes.

Unfortunately, we are still cooped up at home and will continue to be until we can more or less be safe to walk around and gather. For now, online formation is the best option on the table.

There are some merits to the virtual approach, including opening doors for people who live too far away to partake in face-to-face sessions. And parents can listen in to the activity. To some degree they are encouraged to listen in — but not to interfere with the lessons — because this will also allow them to recall their Confirmation promises or their religious classes. The online classes allow parents to listen and quench their curiosity at the same time.

Unfortunately, there are downsides to the remote approach too, most obvious being the lack of community. The wider reach of the Internet does not always create a community. This lockdown is hindering person-to-person connection and many young people crave and need these interactions. Sacraments need the involvement of the community because in its essence it is a communion with God, yourself and the people around you.

Then there are the very physical repercussions of the distance from both the Church and with others. We do not develop habits beneficial to our understanding of the sacraments and the physical attitude we must have. As a result, many people think that sacraments are just another event to tick off on their to-do list.

It seems just like any other coming-of-age celebration that kids must go through without fully understanding the importance of every deliberate action that they must complete. We must understand why we do the things that we do and that what we teach in these sacramental preparation classes are not just baseless teachings. They are lessons that nourish and make us understand our spiritual lives and they can be practised by simply going to Church.

Forming a habit is needed to understand our sacraments and the importance of every element of that sacrament. Being involved in the church community helps young Catholics realize the significance of every component and it’s more difficult to internalize what we have taught and learned if simply going to church will be an obstacle.

The detachment from the community and the physical church makes it difficult to get the message across and with full seriousness. The preparation and the ceremony should be valued as a marker that a follower of Christ has matured in his or her spiritual life and recognizes he or she must do their due diligence as part of the larger faith community.   

(Ducepec, 22, is a recent Bachelor of Science graduate from the University of Toronto.)

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