With only 30% of Catholics attending Mass on a weekly basis there are many challenges in preparing young people to receive sacraments.  Sacraments are increasingly seen as an ending and less as a precious gift from God and a call to deeper discipleship. I was reading an article by a Fr. James Mallon who is proposing a new model of pastoral care of the sacraments.

He shares some very interesting thoughts:

He asserts that no one size fits all when preparing kids for sacraments.  “We will have to move from programs with fixed starting and ending points, with their respective rewards, to a process more akin to mentoring, walking with those who knock so that they can celebrate sacraments when they are ready.”

My guess is that those who read the above will respond similarly to me: Yes, this is great!  The challenge is how to make changes in such a way that will not be harmful to evangelization and drawing people into the faith.

Another point Fr. Mellon makes is that,

Today, the results of this theology [the focus on the ontological effects of the Sacraments] can be seen in the fact that so often we are contented with the liturgy of the sacraments, with the sacramentum tantum, and the concern for “validity” which concerns itself with the conferral of the invisible grace, even without any visible ecclesial dimension being lived out.  As a result, sacraments become close to magical moments where spiritual vitamins are distributed, through ritual that, although it takes place in the church building, has little or no connection to the Church as the community of disciples.

The focus has become too much on the traditional age that one receives even if they are not at a place where conversion and the possibility of fruitfulness is taking place.

Fr. Mallon proposes these questions worth pondering:

1. How do parishes help foster community outside of Sunday Mass?

2. How can we get beyond one’s spiritual life being one that is more private than a public witness and profession of faith?

3. How can sacramental preparation look more like a mentoring process than an endurance test that will soon be over?


I would be very interested in your thoughts.  What do you think about Fr. Mallon’s article and some of the suggestions he makes?