For the past few months, it’s been my privilege to walk alongside our third child as he journeys through the sacramental programme. So often as parents we get buried in the more mundane aspects of being a parent; making sure the children get to school in the morning and finish their homework at night, as well as juggling multiple sports for the weekend. Having this special time to focus on and discuss the wider, more metaphysical, aspects of life has been amazing, and it’s been a special pleasure to hear our third child raise with the wider group something that we have discussed earlier that week.
This being the third time that we have, as a family, made the journey through the sacramental programmes, it’s fascinating to reflect on how each journey has had its own unique experiences. With our first, it was pre-Covid, and so we participated in a large group of people, who were all making the journey together. With our second, his experiences were right at the height of the pandemic, and we made the journey in a smaller group, where the vast majority of the process was undertaken remotely over Zoom. This time round, at the concluding edges of the pandemic, we’ve been able to undertake it in person — but it’s still had some challenges, as regularly one or another of the group has had to isolate — and the team have been great in adapting to these challenges and to making sure that everyone is able to participate.
One of the special things of this sacramental programme has been going beyond the essential sacraments, and working in adoration as part of the sessions. Adoration is, in my humble opinion, something that, as Catholics, far too many of us make insufficient use of — and I include myself in that statement; it’s an amazing opportunity to just be in the presence of God, and to spend time in communion with him. Watching our group experiencing this for the first time (in most instances) has been particularly special; and over the weeks of the programme so far, we’ve seen the participants become more and more aware of the special gift that this is.
We’ve been especially blessed with the team that has been supporting and guiding the group through these sacraments. Our leaders have not only demonstrated their love and passion for the sacraments, they’ve gone out of their way to make it fun for the children; bringing a vibrancy and personality to the journey that has engaged the group and made the Word come alive for the children.
As part of our family’s personal journey through this, one thing, in particular, that stuck with me was the shift in our child’s attitude to the Mass that came after he made his first confession. Like many children, our son has always found Mass something to be endured, to a point. With his busy nature, he would always feel stifled sitting in a pew for 60 minutes. The first Mass that we attended after his reconciliation, by contrast, was a revelation — he was calm, quiet and focused the whole Mass through. This is something that has stuck with him in the subsequent weeks.
One of the things that I’ve resolved to do out of these experiences is to restart a family tradition that fell by the wayside because of the various Covid-induced periods of lockdown and isolation; and that is to regularly go out for breakfast with my children for some one-on-one time. This time, however, we’re going to kick it up a notch, and start out with sacramental reconciliation on a Saturday morning, followed by breakfast and some bonding time.
Pray for us as we journey to the group fully joining the Church community with First Communion and Confirmation at the end of the month. Deo gratias!
“Truly I tell you, if you have faith the size of a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there’, and it will move; and nothing will be impossible for you.” Matthew 17:20
Helen Luxford is a physician, working part-time. She is a parishioner of St Michael’s, Remuera. Together with her husband Michael, they are raising their children in the Catholic Faith and reflecting on the challenges and joys that brings.