Poor Sacramental Prep Waters Down Faith.

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I believe the way the sacraments have been administered over the last 2 generations has resulted in a massive watering down of the faith. I believe not enough time, energy or money have been invested in sacrament prep. And from my own experience, a lot of the sacramental prep out there is heretical gobbledygook.

Here is what you can get in terms of sacrament prep if you live in some of the parishes around my area…

Baptism: 1 hour

First Confession/Holy Communion: 6 months: 1 hour per week for the Kids. Parents get 6 x 1 hour sessions based on what the kids have been learning.

Confirmation: 6 months: 1.5 hour meeting per month + 1 day retreat.

Marriage: 1 full day

Holy orders: 7 years

Last Rights: We don’t talk about that.

Looking at it from an outside point of view it does seem a little strange doesn’t it?

Committing yourself to the priesthood for the rest of your life – 7 years. Committing yourself to marriage for the rest of your life – 1 day? Committing to becoming the primary and most influential educator of a child in regards to the faith for the rest of their lives – 1 hour??? Really???

There seems to be a lot of time money and effort put into Children’s catechises, and very little put into Adult catechises and ongoing formation. Why is this?

Is adult formation not as important? I would argue that it was more important. How can we expect a couple to remain in a marriage without knowing what marriage is? Or who Christ is? How can we possibly expect parents to fulfil their role of transmitting the faith to their children if they do not know it themselves? How can we expect a catholic parent married to a non-catholic to create a ‘domestic church’ when they have not been given the tools and instruction and support in doing so?

I know what you are going to say: “But my parish does it like this…” Which leads me onto my next point: The Bishops.

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(Sorry Bishops, I’m going to hold you accountable again – brace yourselves…) Why do we not have a central recommended programme of Catechises and Evangelisation for each diocese? It seems absolutely ridiculous to me that in one parish you will get brilliant formation and catechises based on Holy Scripture, the Catechism and Papal doc’s, and in the parish up the road you will get a load of heretical nonsense based on people’s own personal opinions of what they would prefer the catholic faith to look like. Why are we playing catechetical roulette? Bishops, are you not aware of this problem?

We are the universal Church aren’t we? Ideally catechises should be the same all over the world (allowing for cultural differences of course). It seems obvious doesn’t it?

That is what I can’t understand. I am not the most organised person in the world – but when I see there is a problem I do something about it. Perhaps the fact of the matter is that the people making the decisions are so far removed from what is happening that they are actually un-aware of the problem. For example: Do the men at the top realise that 90% of parents that come to a local baptism course in my area are not confident in reciting the Our Father? 50% of them are non-practising Catholics (I’m afraid it’s true.)

I hope to God that the answer is “No, we don’t know what is going on in our parishes.”– because if the answer is yes then why on earth aren’t they doing anything about it? Either way there is a shocking problem.

Raising a child in the faith is a massive undertaking. Primarily children learn from watching and copying their parents. How will these kids learn to form a personal relationship with Christ if the people supposed to be teaching then do not even realise it is possible to have a personal relationship with Christ? How can these kids learn NFP or the true nature of the sacramental union of husband and wife, if their parents don’t even know what that means?

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OK, I’ve thrown a lot of questions out there – and rightly so, but what about the solutions?

I believe Adult formation need to be moved to priority status in every diocese. Only then can we break this cycle of uneducated, unevangelised sacramentalising that has resulted in a general watering down of the faith.

  1. When people request to get married or have their kid baptised, Priests need to assess where people are in their relationship with Christ and then direct them accordingly – delaying the sacrament if necessary.
  2. Marriage prep needs to CLEARLY spell out what catholic marriage is. The couple then have to decide if they really want a catholic marriage or not.
  3. Baptism prep should not just be about the sacrament itself – but about building a domestic church.
  4. Each parish will have in place a recognised ongoing Adult formation/evangelisation course recommended by their diocese.

Our parishes have become Sacrament factories that churn out more and more sacramentalised, but uneducated, unevangelised people who are being let down by the powers that be. It’s not fair. It’s not right. It’s like flying someone out to the base of Mount Everest and expecting them to succeed in reaching the summit armed with only a pair of flip-flops, a can of Coke and a pat on the back.

Bishops, Priests, take care of your flocks – properly.

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One thought on “Poor Sacramental Prep Waters Down Faith.

  1. An acquaintance (a Catholic) undertook an official study on the effectiveness of Christian marriage preparation courses. He studied about ten which included those from other denominations. To cut a long story short the Marriage Care course (which seems to be the one that the diocese say that you have to do) was the least Catholic of the lot. It is not good enough. I have seen the material and it is extremely poor.

    At least they’ve got rid of Terry Prendergast now which is a step forward.

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