CGS Connection – Sacrament Preparation – Part 3

Sacrament Preparation – Part 3

In our last two articles we have discussed the foundational years of preparing children’s hearts for the Sacraments of Reconciliation and Holy Eucharist. As the time draws closer, some additional elements, of what we call “The Rome Model,” take shape. CGS foundresses, Sofia Cavaletti and Gianna Gobbi carried out their work and set a model for us based on their experiences there, in the Diocese of Rome. Every Diocese has their own policies and customs so it’s not perfectly easy to “do as the Romans do.” Nonetheless we can move towards that model and have attempted to do so here at our Latrobe Atrium. I’ll share a combination of the ideal and the practical.

In the fall, during Atrium time, the Level 2 catechist discusses the topic of getting ready for Reconciliation and 1st Communion. There is a conversation about praying and discerning whether or not this is the year that Jesus is inviting each child. If so, the child can write his or her name to post on a special place near the prayer table. (Of course the parents and pastor will also become part of this conversation.) In a note home to parents, we tried to stress the part about the “invitation” not just the practical assumption that this is what everyone does in 2nd Grade. Having the special little signup board allows for the children’s names to be prominent for all the Atrium children to pray for them throughout the year.

The children who are preparing will also be invited to up to five special sessions, outside of the Atrium time, to have more specific meditations. Here in Latrobe, whenever possible, we hold our meditation time adjacent to the Adoration Chapel. Over the course of the two hours, the children are free to meander between the meeting space and Chapel where our Eucharistic Lord is present in the monstrance. In all of our work, but specifically during these special sessions, we want the children to experience the peace of quiet time with Jesus. Sprinkled throughout these short visits to Jesus, the children sing together, hear a Gospel passage, reflect on that message, write or draw in their journals, and do a variety of small handworks – embroidering, making a scroll, writing a scripture booklet.

The first of these extra meditations is a return to the Gospel of the True Vine. Having already had time to ponder the beauty of being connected to The Vine, and the wonderful fruits of life in Christ, only now do we ponder the sections of Gospel which mention blockages and prunings. What is it that blocks the flow of our spiritual “sap”? Who could we say this sap is? What will happen to a branch that doesn’t stay alive? What does God give us to get the sap flowing again? How might He prune/trim off the dead parts so the good parts can grow stronger and be more fruitful? We believe that this is one of the well-chosen passages that nourishes the children’s desire to be grateful for Baptism that grafted us on to the Vine, to know of the care of the Vinedresser, to value the power of the Holy Spirit, to remain on and with the Vine, to see the sacrament of Reconciliation as a gift from God, and to await the Eucharist to renew us!

Join us next week for Part 4!