Many children will be receiving the sacraments of Reconciliation, the Eucharist and Confirmation this year. As parents what are you personally doing to prepare them? Here are some points for you to reflect on and pray about.
1) Parents give life to their children and share human life but also the life of Christ in Baptism. How do you prepare your children to receive some more sacraments namely, Reconciliation, Communion and Confirmation ?
2) You are a sacrament yourself as you live your sacrament of matrimony everyday. Parents are the first teachers to their children about the meaning of being disciples of Jesus. Your love and respect for each other, as bride and bridegroom, makes you powerful witnesses to your children. They learn from you how to love, forgive, listen, share and be/see and bring out the Jesus in each other, in a conjugal way. Parents are the first Teachers of their children about the God they believe in. "What the world needs today are witnesses rather than teachers. If it listens to teachers, it is because they are also witnesses. So how do you witness as lovers to a God who is love?"
3) What does the Eucharist mean to you personally? Do you come to receive Jesus in the Eucharist and the Word of God. They are the two tables through which you are fed at Mass. Your children see how you behave at Mass and when you return home after Mass. Do they see you have strong faith in receiving and sharing Jesus? Are your values formed by the Eucharist (sacrifice, love, understanding, acceptance, being life-giving in word and deed, sharing, kindness, forgiveness)? Do they notice how much you depend on the Holy Spirit as your constant advisor, comforter, teacher, helper? Do they see your firm faith in God who dwells in your heart?
4) Do you spend some time everyday prayerfully reflecting on the Word of God? Has this become part of your daily personal and family prayer? Do you tell your children simple stories from the Bible when they are small? Later on do you encourage them to read the Bible and to learn some key texts by heart?
5) When you disagree or quarrel, do your children see your readiness to give and receive forgiveness from each other? They have to learn from your example that: " to err is human but to forgive divine." Are you reconciled with your own families and neighbors? Do you encourage your children to be reconciled when they are hurt or quarrel?
6) What preparation for these sacraments are most important to you as parents? Are they external such as clothes they will wear, fancy invitation cards, a big party that will impress others? Are you preparing them for one day or for a life time when they will want to be close to Jesus and open to the Holy Spirit? How can you do this effectively by the witness of your own life and by guidance and instruction? Remember Jesus is caught rather than taught. Do your children catch Jesus from you? How?
7) None of us are perfect or ready for canonization, I the least of all. But this is an occasion for us to examine our consciences. If we sincerely want to bring up our children in the faith, then we ourselves need to clarify what values we are unconsciously giving them by the way we prepare them for these three great sacramental encounters with Jesus.