A very special grace from God – that is, we believe, a sacrament. So special, that it is poured out for us in very special moments of our lives in such a way sanctifying our time here and preparing us for the perfect joy which is going to await us in heaven. Since we can only see and recognise what we expect, we need to make ourselves ready to receive the sacraments, to be aware of the changes they will most certainly bring, so that by this awareness we can utilise them even more efficiently. Or as St. Augustine put it in a letter to his friend Proba: “God wants our desire to be exercised in prayer, thus enabling us to grasp what he is preparing to give.”
A special emphasis has to be given to the preparation for the sacraments of Confession, Holy Communion and Confirmation, for through these the recipients grow into the faith and are introduced into the community of the Church. Through these graces they are given by God the tools to be good Christians and faithful followers of Jesus Christ.
That is why for many years now the Derry Diocesan Catechetical Centre in collaboration with the DYC has considered it to be of the utmost importance to give as much support as possible to the children preparing to receive these sacraments. A crucial part of it are the talks delivered to parents and children alike throughout the diocese as it was the case once again for two evenings in Clonmany.
While their parents were listening to a talk on how to prepare them at home, the DYC had the unique opportunity to speak to a total of 120 children about the sacraments. At the centre of the talk about Holy Communion and Confession was their own relationship to God: Jesus loves us, he offers us forgiveness in Confession and wants to be near us through Holy Communion. To explain and illustrate this, the children learnt about the story of Emmaus: Two disciples mourning Jesus meet the risen Lord without recognising him and invite him into their home, where he reveals himself in the breaking of the bread. Amazed they run back and tell everybody about it. In the Eucharist Jesus wants us invite him into our lives – “wants to us be part of his family” as one child beautifully said- so that we can experience his love and share it with others!
Continuing on this note the children preparing for Confirmation were challenged to wonder how they could make a positive difference in their lives. Role models how to do that are superheroes, especially Batman, who, although he is a “normal” person without any supernatural powers, fights to do the good, thereby never committing any crimes himself. As a kind of real-life-version of Batman the DYC talked about Bl. Pier Giorgio Frassati, a young Italian from the 20th century who spent his tragically short life caring for the poor, sick and homeless. He used the gifts of the Holy Spirit bestowed on everybody on their Confirmation. Like him, we are challenged today to do good deeds and become real heroes.
Thus prepared the only thing left is to pray: Come Holy Spirit, so that we may receive your gifts and love our Lord Jesus with with all our hearts and with all our souls and with all our minds !