Greetings and peace to you
I'd like to begin a conversation with you, and to find some middle ground.
It's like this, I've been helping small groups of parents and children prepare for sacraments for over ten years now.
I meet you and your beautiful children four or five times during the preparation and then if I am lucky I might meet you again down the shops once or twice again, but never in the parish church.
Mostly, but not always, you come unwillingly to the preparation sessions. Your lives are busy with work and after school activities like sport, swimming and dancing and keeping a household functioning and this sacramental stuff seems like just one more burden to be endured.
It is my task to prepare your child for a personal encounter with Jesus Christ, only begotten Son of God and Redeemer of the human race. I know from 1 Corinthians 11: 26-32 that there are very real and bad consequences to receiving Holy Communion without adequate preparation, so I have to take it very seriously. Conversely I know that there is absolutely no greater nor more wondrous gift that God can give us than Himself in Holy Communion.
Sadly most of you cannot see an immediate relevance to your life and to your child's well being of having a relationship with God anchored in this personal encounter Sunday by Sunday.
The thing is God likes to take things slow and gentle, since He wants to build a relationship with you that will last for all eternity and satisfy your every desire - and we like instant answers (thanks Mr Google) and low maintenance relationships (a la Facebook).
That's why the sacraments can only be fully understood and appreciated in the context of a long term committed relationship with God. He Himself in the Bible often uses a marriage analogy to describe the kind of relationship He wants with us.
If you have found your experience of sacramental preparation unsatisfactory, then that's understandable because one night stands are deeply unsatisfactory on the majority of levels.
You might even have found that the people in the pews haven't given you much in the way of warm fuzzies either. Remember that they have seen many families appear for the duration of the sacramental preparation, and then disappear never to be seen again, except perhaps in the weeks leading up to enrolment for high school. There is a high likelihood that you and your family might be like them. They don't like the equivalent of one night stands either.
On average it takes at least six weeks of sitting in the same general area at the same Sunday Mass in the same parish for parishioners to work out that you are not there on holiday, and that it might be worth the risk getting to know you. Your patience will pay huge dividends, I promise you. The people sitting around you in your parish church are people whose lives have been deeply touched by God - most of them are walking miracles of His grace. If you got to know them, you would be inspired to praise God every time you saw them.
Obviously the current methods of sacramental preparation are failing to get the majority of families on the path to increasing God's relevance in their lives from 0-2 out of 10 to anything higher. So what do you think would have to happen for you to place an absolute priority on getting to Sunday Mass?
I'd really love to know.
(The Comm Box is open)