Cont. from June 3rd

Earning the inward Grace of the Sacraments only on merit

Aside the Sacrament of Baptism, which we might receive relying on the faith of godparents and the Church, other Sacraments must be earned. A culture of placing age and parental influences as a yardstick for obtaining Sacraments is a culture that breeds complacency. The second generation after Joshua had their fathers to thank for the affluence and recognition they enjoyed. They didn’t see the need to step out of their father’s shadow to experience the mighty hand of God on their own. At the mention of their father’s name, doors are opened. Without thorough catechesis, we raise a generation with false growth. I have seen parents advance arguments of age and their position in the church to influence the process of being shortlisted to receiving Sacraments. The aberration of seeing the process of catechesis as purely academic is disturbing. Some catechesis handlers glory in the numbers. They prefer the impressive statistics of communicants or candidates for Sacrament of Confirmation, forgetting the results are only good in numbers, but poor in reality.

The standards of Catechumens have to be sacrosanct in upholding the sanctity of the Sacraments. Progression as catechumen must honestly represent growth and maturity. The catechesis should evolve from repetitive cramming to a more engaging exercise. The curriculum must be more interactive and committed. In the absence of debate and logical thinking, we might be churning out generation of people who are simply mechanical applicants of the Catechism of the Church; a generation of robots who cannot find purpose and application of their knowledge in the real world.

Continuing Education – Enlisting in ongoing formation of faith

New initiates, after receiving the Sacrament of Confirmation, run the risk of being barren if there is no class or program that helps them to find their feet in the service of the Church. Beyond the basic definition and simple explanation offered during the initiatory catechesis, there are needs to begin to expose adults to study and exploration of the Sacred Scriptures, Liturgical catechesis, Theological instructions, and application of Cardinal virtues of Justice, Perseverance, Fortitude, and Temperance in family, social, and religious life. The specialized education must transform them into foot soldiers for Christ, getting prepared for the task ahead.

It will remain wishful thinking to assume that an inexperienced youth will make a good leader of tomorrow. Today, old folks dominate the service arm of the Laity, with the young ones not showing willingness and readiness to receive the baton. The wide gulf is far from being explained by age or social status margin, but it is more of intellectual capacity. Mentoring and provision of continuing education is one of the veritable means of bridging the gaps and getting the young people to be more involved in the growth of the Church.

Generational demarcation cannot be vivid; its edges must not be sharp so as to encourage smooth transition. The future must not start tomorrow; it must begin today so as to guarantee its success. The players of today must have in their ranks the expected players of tomorrow. The mantle of leadership of tomorrow must not be served on a platter. The next generation must experience the faithfulness of God not in the past tense, but in the present. They must be tutored and mentored. We might not know the real reasons for the declined of faith in Ireland. We might not be able to wrap our heads round what went horribly wrong with the third generation after Joshua, but what we know is that whatever the gaps, it had a crippling effect on the third generation. The 14th verse of the Chapter 2 of the Book of Judges gave us an insight to the consequence we risk to incur if we do not act prudently now – “the anger of the LORD flared up against Israel, and he delivered them into the power of plunderers who despoiled them. He sold them into the power of the enemies around them, and they were no longer able to withstand their enemies.”

To live in the euphoria of the past conquest without making effort to renew the experience is not an option in building a committed generation. To live in the past is the path to complacency, which bears compromise, and to compromise our faith and beliefs is to be bound and delivered into the power of plunderer, who will despoil us.

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