This year I had a parent share with me that she thinks 2nd graders do not really get much out of preparing for the Sacraments of Reconciliation and Eucharist – they just do what they have to do to receive the sacraments.  She insisted that it is really all over their heads and at their age they do not really understand what they are going to be receiving.  I encouraged her help prepare her son and for her to consider waiting until 3rd grade if she did not think her son was ready to receive this year.

God cares for us so much and has loved us first.  He invites us always to Himself and gives us an abundance of blessings and graces to respond to His commandments and His will in our lives.  God’s grace is a free and unmerited gift, but that does not mean it is not without a commitment and readiness from the one receiving.  In my experience over the last 10+ years there is a temptation in programs to have a “herd” mentality – bring them in and move them through the preparation process.  Canon Law’s emphasis on proper disposition and knowledge can be downplayed.  In the Code of Canon Law it states the following regarding the preparation of the Eucharist:

Can. 913 §1. The administration of the Most Holy Eucharist to children requires that they have sufficient knowledge and careful preparation so that they understand the mystery of Christ according to their capacity and are able to receive the body of Christ with faith and devotion.

Paragraph 914 continues as follows: “It is for the pastor to exercise vigilance so that children who have not attained the use of reason or whom he judges are not sufficiently disposed do not approach holy communion.”

It has been said by some that the Church can’t “deny” a sacrament.  However, the law of the Church asks pastors and those whom that pastor has entrusted to prepare children to make sure students are prepared in order that they are “sufficiently disposed” to receive the sacrament.  There are situations that a sacrament may need to be “delayed” because the recipient is not ready.

It is important that parents and children approach the sacraments with a proper disposition as best they can so that the sacraments may not be seen merely as something that every 2nd grader deserves regardless of their readiness.