Sacramental Preparation - First Reconciliation and First Communion

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Directives  
First Penance and First Communion

Canon 914: It is the responsibility, in the first place, of parents and those who take the place of parents as well as of the pastor to see that children who have reached the use of reason are correctly prepared and are nourished by the divine food as early as possible, preceded by sacramental confession; it is also for the pastor to be vigilant lest any children come to the Holy Banquet who have not reached the use of reason or whom he judges are not sufficiently disposed.

The following guidelines incorporate the pastoral norm of the universal Church and particular law of the Diocese of Sacramento:

• Children are to be prepared for First Penance and receive the Sacrament of Penance prior to receiving First Communion. Both sacraments would generally be received in grade two. First Penance would normally be received a couple of months or more before First Communion.

• In a given parish, First Communion could be postponed to third grade, if indicated by available resources, the number of children or the time needed for adequate preparation of both children and parents.

• The readiness required for the Sacrament of Penance consists in the capacity to discern between right and wrong, together with an understanding, appropriate to the child’s age, of what sin is. The readiness required for First Communion is not dissimilar: the ability to recognize the difference between the Eucharist and ordinary bread (and wine).

• Children who are well prepared for Penance generally welcome this opportunity to experience God’s mercy. Parents/guardians of a child occasionally may indicate that their child is “too young” for Penance. In such a case, after due pastoral discernment, delay of both Penance and Communion is often the most suitable resolution.

• The universal law, as reiterated by the particular law of our Diocese, does not permit the parish program to orient the class as a whole away from receiving First Penance prior to First Communion. The pastoral norm is: First Penance prior to First Communion.

• Delaying the preparation and reception of First Penance until sometime after First Communion is not permitted by the universal Church or by the Diocese of Sacramento.

 

Sacramental Preparation as an Opportunity for Evangelization:
Eucharist and Reconciliation

By Joe Paprocki, DMin

Part 1 What do We Mean by Evangelization? 
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6QTz77phdtk&feature=youtu.be 

Part 2 What is it That We Are Inviting People To? 
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CFg1-GswMwQ&feature=youtu.be

Part 3 How Do We Invite People to Encounter Jesus?
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tUFLz0SGLQ8&feature=youtu.be

Support Meetings
- June -

 

Tuesday, 06/01 DRE/CRE Cluster Meeting 1:00 pm  
https://zoom.us/j/5080421990

Thursday, 06/03  DRE/CRE Cluster Meeting 1:00 pm  
https://zoom.us/j/5080421990


Jueves, 06/10 DRE/CRE Hispanos 7:00 pm 
https://zoom.us/j/5080421990
 
Wednesday, 06/16 Ministerio Hispano Network 8:00 pm  
https://zoom.us/j/5080421990 
 

Tuesday, 06/29 Common Good -Spiritual care for Hispanic Community  8:00 pm 
https://zoom.us/j/5080421990
 

Lunes, 06/28 Padres Formadores en la Fe 8:00 pm  

Facebook: SCDFormedFaith/  


 

Recommendations: First Penance and Reconciliation

Parish Faith Formation Programs should offer at least 6 sessions of immediate preparation for the Sacrament of Reconciliation. The family must be intimately involved with the formation of a child’s moral conscience and ordinarily integrates the child into the wider ecclesial communities, parents should be involved in the preparation of their children for this sacrament so that they can affirm and reinforce frequent participation in the sacrament. They orient the child toward God and encourage continual growth in the understanding of God’s mercy and love. (Cf. NDC 135-136)

Catechesis for children prior to their first reception of the Sacrament of Reconciliation must always respect their natural disposition, ability, age, and circumstances. Readiness for the reception of this sacrament includes. Components of catechesis in preparation for First Reconciliation include:

  • Learn of God’s unconditional love for us.
  • Learn of Sacramental forgiveness and reconciliation.
  • Recognize the presence of good and evil in the world and their personal capacity for both.
  • Recognize the need for forgiveness, not only from parents and others but from God.
  • Explore the meaning of the symbols, gestures, prayers, and scriptures of the Rite of Reconciliation.
  • Learn that the faithful are “obliged to confess all serious sins committed after baptism”.
  • Learn that true forgiveness comes from repentance, confession, reparation, and absolution.
  • Learn that a mortal sin is of a grave matter committed with full knowledge and deliberate consent.
  • Learn that the priest is given the faculties to forgive in the name of Christ.
  • Learn that a priest is bound by the seal of confession to keep absolute secrecy. (NDC 133-136)

Since conversion is a lifelong process, catechesis for the Sacrament of Reconciliation is ongoing. Children have a right to a fuller catechesis each year following the first reception. (Cf. NCD 126)

Reconciliation with God is part of the plan of salvation. Through the Sacrament of Penance and Reconciliation—also called the sacrament of conversion and confession—the penitent obtains pardon for sins committed after Baptism through God’s mercy (LG, no.11; CCC, nos. 1422-1424; USCCA, 235-236; CIC, c. 959; CCEO, c. 718).

“Readiness for reception includes knowledge of the person of Jesus and the Gospel message of forgiveness, knowledge of sin and its effect, and an understanding and experience of sorrow, forgiveness, and conversion.”
NDC, no. 36 3b-2

Pastoral considerations:

- General principles for Catholics with disabilities visit: http://www.usccb.org/about/divine-worship/policies/guidelines-sacraments-persons-with-disabilities.cfm 

-The Diocese recognizes that parents are the primary educators of their child(ren), and that some parents choose to live out their role of primary educators by providing formal catechesis at home. The parish pastor and his delegates also have the responsibility to provide catechetical instruction for the children. The rights and responsibilities of parents and the parish call for collaboration between the two. The same prerequisites for candidacy apply to children who are home schooled for faith formation as are required for children in parish programs and Catholic schools.

RECORDS:
Any documentation for the sacrament of First Penance and Reconciliation is to be a temporary record of preparation for candidates. Permanent records are not to be maintained and certificates are not needed for First Reconciliation.

For more information, visit: https://www.scd.org/sites/default/files/2018-11/Norms-for-Mandatory-Sacramental-Registers-Booklet-102418.pdf  https://www.scd.org/tribunal/sacramental-registers-and-sacramental-records

 

Recommendations: First Holy Communion

The bishops in the United States have expressed concern about the “religious illiteracy” level of the Catholic faithful. They are concerned not only about gaps in intellectual formation but also gaps in spiritual formation. They have been working to address these concerns, which impact Catholics’ understanding and practice of their faith. This includes an understanding and commitment to an active sacramental life.

Children’s preparation for the First Holy Communion begins in the home. The family has the most important role in communicating the Christian and human values that form the foundation of a child’s understanding of the Eucharist. Children who participate with their family in the Mass experience the Eucharistic mystery in an initial way and gradually learn to join with the liturgical assembly in prayer.

Parents and the parish Faith Formation Director and/or Coordinator, catechetical leader or catechist, together with the pastor, are responsible for determining when children have attained the age of reason and are ready to receive First Communion. Because reception of the Lords Body, especially for the first time, is integral to the child’s full incorporation into the ecclesial community, the pastor has a responsibility in determining every child’s readiness to receive First Communion. Parents have the right and duty to be involved in preparing their children for First Communion. Catechesis offered should help parents grow in their own understanding and appreciation of the Eucharist and enable them to catechize their children more effectively. An initial meeting for parents and first communicants is held to inform them of the plans and expectations of the preparation process. (Cf. NDC 126-127)

Parent Formation Sessions 

“A family is our first community and the most basic way in which the Lord gathers us, forms us, and acts in the world.” (Follow the Way of Love, A Pastoral Message of the U.S. Bishops to Families on the occasion of the United Nations 1994 International Year of the Family).

Parishes should ensure welcome families into a closer relationship with God and the Church. Parents/guardians should be made aware of expectations for the family and child and the catechetical themes for this sacrament. Parents should be integrated into the preparation process as much as possible. In partnership with parents in the home, parishes and Catholic schools in our Diocese of Sacramento must provide holistic faith formation.

Retreat

The retreat is a time for the parents and their children to prepare for the reception of the Sacrament of the Eucharist. It is usually held shortly before the reception of First Communion. It takes into consideration the attention span of the children. The retreat should provide an opportunity to review the meaning of the Liturgy of the Word and the Liturgy of the Eucharist in ways especially meaningful to the children. The instruction and invitation to receive Jesus into their hearts with fasting, love, reverence, and joy should be presented in such a way that all may come to know the true presence of Jesus Christ in the Body and Blood consecrated at Mass.

Here are some ideas:

Loyola Press:
https://catechistsjourney.loyolapress.com/2020/04/pop-up-catechesis-first-eucharist-retreat-at-home/

St Mary's Press:
https://www.smp.org/dynamicmedia/files/94116503e9d16c77d303a6fa5e02fe8a/100680-06-Eucharist_Retreats.pdf 

En Español para hacerlo en Casa guiado por los padres de familia o catequistas:

Catechesis

Parish Faith Formation Programs should offer at least 8 sessions of immediate preparation for the First Holy Communion. Parents have the right and duty to be involved in preparing their children for First Holy Communion. Catechesis offered should help parents grow in their own understanding and appreciation of the Eucharist and enable them to catechize their children more effectively. Meetings for parents must held to inform them of the plans and expectations of the preparation process. (NDC 126-127)

Catechesis on the Mass provided in systematic parish catechetical programs is an indispensable part of the preparation of children for their first reception of the First Communion. Suited to the children’s age and abilities, catechesis should help children participate actively and consciously in the Mass. During planning, it is essential to remember that children around the age of reason ordinarily think concretely.

Catechesis in preparation for the first reception of the First Communion should:

§ Teach that the Eucharist is the living memorial of Christ’s sacrifice for the salvation of all and the commemoration of his last meal with his disciples.

§ Teach not only “the truths of faith regarding the Eucharist but also how from First Communion on...they can as full members of Christ’s Body take part actively with the People of God in the Eucharist, sharing in the Lord’s table and the community of their brothers and sisters”.

§ Ensure that the baptized have been prepared, according to their capacity, for the Sacrament of Reconciliation prior to their First Eucharist.

§ Develop in children an understanding of the Father’s love, of their participation in the sacrifice of Christ, and of the gift of the Holy Spirit.

§ Teach that “the Holy Eucharist is the real Body and Blood of Christ” and that “what appears to be bread and wine are actually His living body”.

§ Teach the difference between the Eucharist and ordinary bread.

§ Teach the meaning of reception of the Holy Eucharist under both species of bread and wine.

§ Help them to participate actively and consciously in the Mass.

§ Help children to receive Christ’s Body and Blood in an informed and reverent manner. (National Directory of Catechesis 126-127)

The catechesis for First Communion should prepare each child to...

§ Have sufficient knowledge to understand the mystery of Christ according to his/her capacity (Canon 913 §1).

§ Be able to distinguish the Body and Blood of Christ from ordinary food (Canon 913).

§ Have a desire to receive the Lord Jesus reverently in Holy Communion with faith and devotion (Canon 913 §1).

§ Have at least two years of catechesis prior to the reception of First Communion.

Pastoral considerations:

- The celebration of First Communion is an opportunity to catechize the whole community on the sacrament and to invite all to regular reception of the Eucharist. “The criterion for the reception of Holy Communion is the same for persons with developmental and mental disabilities as for all persons, namely, that the person be able to distinguish the Body of Christ from ordinary food, even if this recognition is evidenced through manner, gesture, or reverential silence rather than verbally.” Guidelines for the Celebration of the Sacraments with Persons with Disabilities, no. 20

-The Diocese recognizes that parents are the primary educators of their child(ren), and that some parents choose to live out their role of primary educators by providing formal catechesis at home. The parish pastor and his delegates also have the responsibility to provide catechetical instruction for the children. The rights and responsibilities of parents and the parish call for collaboration between the two. The same prerequisites for candidacy apply to children who are homeschooled for faith formation as are required for children in parish programs and Catholic schools.

RECORDS:

Prior to the reception of First Eucharist, the parish must attain proof of baptism and birth certificate from all candidates (Canon 842, 912, 894). The names of those children who celebrated First Communion, the minister, and the place and date of the ceremony are to be recorded in the parish communion register. When a parishioner receives a sacrament at your parish (First Communion, Confirmation, Marriage), a letter of notification must be sent to that person's church of baptism (Catholic Church only).
For more information, visit: https://www.scd.org/sites/default/files/2018-11/Norms-for-Mandatory-Sacramental-Registers-Booklet-102418.pdf  https://www.scd.org/tribunal/sacramental-registers-and-sacramental-records

 

Faith Formation (Catechesis)
is about Forming Disciples

Parish Faith Formation Programs are strongly recommended to facilitate a Family Catechesis to their families. To give the opportunity to learn more about our Roman Catholic faith in a family setting, and empower the family entity to grow deeper in their religious formation. We are here to help make life-long transformational catechesis for families in our Diocese of Sacramento.

- Parishes should ensure that there are sessions to introduce parents to the preparation process. Parents should be reminded of the components and process of this sacrament as well as given the opportunity to celebrate it.

“Parents don’t need theology degrees or extensive knowledge of the Bible or liturgy to pass on their faith.
Parents merely need the love they have for their children to effectively form them and introduce them
to a relationship with Christ”.
“Every child and youth program needs to have one thing:
Opportunities for kids and parents to gather together to talk about faith. And parents need to lead it”
.
(https://www.usccb.org/news/2020/putting-parents-center-our-ministry-efforts)

- Inculturate the Gospel in Parish Catechetical Programs. Pope Paul VI (On Evangelization in the Modern World, no. 63) said:

“Evangelization loses much of its force and effectiveness if it does not take into consideration the actual people to whom it is addressed if it does not use their language, their signs, and symbols, if it does not answer the questions they ask, and if it does not have an impact on their concrete life. But on the other hand, evangelization risks losing its power and disappearing altogether if one empties or adulterates its content under the pretext of translating it.” (Living as Missionary Disciples)

-For the 2020-2021 school year, parishes are encouraged to consider sending books and materials home or use online materials and train parents to teach their children at home. This can be done in a grade level or family-based model. Most publishers of faith formation materials are offering online lessons and tools to facilitate a move to online or hybrid learning.