Session 11: The Sacraments

Baptism and Confirmation

Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death?  Therefore we have been buried with him by baptism into death, so that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life.  For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we will certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his. We know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body of sin might be destroyed, and we might no longer be enslaved to sin.

-Romans 6:3-6

In our last session we wrapped up Part 1 of Symbolon: Knowing the Faith. This session we begin Part 2 of Symbolon: Living the Faith. Our journey in part two begins with the sacraments. Participating in the sacraments is something we all share together as Catholics. There are seven Sacraments. This session we are going to focus on two of the three sacraments of initiation: Baptism and Confirmation. The Sacraments of Initiation lay the foundation for Christian life. With baptism we are welcomed in to the Church and with Confirmation we are solidified as members of the Church.

Baptism is called the gateway to Spiritual Life where we become the adopted children of God and are brought together into the family of God. Through our baptism we are all brothers and sisters in Christ. We belong to Christ and are heirs to His kingdom. As members of the Church we share in the mission of Jesus as priest, prophet, and King.

Our sins, original and actual (if we receive Baptism later in life), are washed away. Our sins are forgiven. An indelible seal is placed on our soul we leave behind a life of sin and enter into a new life of grace. Often when the discussion of baptism is with children will ask about the babies. Which brings up the topic of Baptism Outside the Sacrament. There are two types of baptism when the sacrament cannot be given. One is: Baptism by desire: 1.) For the preborn or newborn baby that dies without the sacrament. 2.) For the new convert in formation that is unable to receive the sacrament because he/she has no access to it or the circumstances where he lives prohibit reception of baptism. The other is: Baptism by blood: for the martyrs who never received the sacrament.

At Confirmation we receive an outpouring of the gifts of the Holy Spirit. We are anointed with the oil of chrism. We are consecrated to Christ- we belong to Him. We are sealed with an indelible mark on our souls and therefore we will be judged accordingly as not only children of God, but witnesses of Truth to the rest of the world. ALL of this is given so that we can fulfill our mission: to spread the Gospel in this world.

What does Confirmation do? It Strengthens our Baptismal grace, Prepares us to be witnesses to Truth, Is a participation in Pentecost, Unites us more fully to Christ, and Binds us to the Church.

Discussion of confirmation is a good time to learn about the Gifts of the Holy Spirit:

Wisdom helps us recognize the importance of others and the importance of keeping God central in our lives.

Understanding is the ability to comprehend the meaning of God’s message. It lets us see things through God’s point of view.

Knowledge is the ability to think about and explore God’s revelation, and also to recognize there are mysteries of faith beyond us.

Counsel is the ability to see the best way to follow God’s plan when we have choices that relate to him. Holy common sense to make good choices.

Fortitude is the courage to do what one knows is right.

Piety helps us pray to God in true devotion. Keeps our relationship as children of God in perspective so that we can truly reverence God.

Fear of the Lord is the feeling of amazement before God, who is all-present, and whose friendship we do not want to lose.

As the process of sacraments go Confirmation can seem so far off in the distance for younger children that they are not really thinking much about it at all. For them Penance and Communion are very much on their minds as these are the sacraments they will be receiving in the very near future. They know this because they are here in class this year preparing for their sacraments. We can say from experience with our older children that Confirmation year arrives faster than you anticipate. What we have learned, especially as 7th grade teaching goes, is that there is plenty that can be considered well before our children begin the two year process of Confirmation preparation.

Our suggestion is to focus on the identification of the Confirmation name. What we have witnessed as parents and catechists is the typical response of teenagers to any task: procrastination. So many Confirmation students put off the selection of their Confirmation name that often what happens is as expected: choose something quick and easy. Which is why so many students end up choosing the same 5 saints. We see many Marys, Thereses, Elizabeths, Clares, and Catherines or Michaels, Josephs, Johns, Patricks, and Francises. While these saints are wonderful options to choose for their contributions to our Catholic faith it is not exactly how the process should unfold for name selection. One way to help your child make a better choice come confirmation year is to learn about other saints while they are young. There are patron saints of just about anything. Pairing up your child with a saint who shares a name, hobby, pet, nationality, school subject, sport, profession, etc. now is a great way for them to learn. Choosing a confirmation name should be something more than this saint was ______ (fill in your adjective here). This is the saint who they can call on in time of need and spiritual guidance one who shares something more than being “cool” with them is going to offer a far more meaningful connection. Katherine Bogner of Look to Him and be Radiant has a great handout for Patron Saints for all the Smarts. She offers a few ideas for kids to start looking for saints who might be like them in abilities. Examples include saints that are good with music, are athletic, like sciences, are good with languages etc.

Vocabulary words to discuss with your child: Sacraments: A sacrament is an outward sign, instituted by Christ to give grace.  Justification is the remission of our sins and our entrance into the Christian life. Sanctification is the growth of grace and charity in a person.

Prayer of the Week: Morning Offering

Homework First Year Sacramental Prep: Read from the St. Joseph First Communion Catechism: Lesson 8, pages 35-38. Use the The Symbols of Baptism Chart to explain what the different symbols mean. Do the Baptism craft  for Week 11. There is NO craft pack to pick up for December. Practice the Angel of God prayer and the Glory Be, Hail Mary, and Our Father.

Homework Second Year Sacramental Prep: Read from the St. Joseph First Communion Catechism: Lesson 8, pages 35-38. Complete Spirit of Truth pp. 46-53 plus read page 60. These pages will be handed in at the end of the month. Use the The Symbols of Baptism Chart to explain what the different symbols mean. Practice the Sign of the Cross, the Angel of God prayer, the Glory Be, the Hail Mary, the 10 Commandments and an Act of Contrition.

Homework Years 3-6th Grades: Read from The New St. Joseph Baltimore Catechism: Lesson 23-25, pages 144-160. Watch The Seven Sacraments with your child. Share with your child The Seven Sacraments of the Church Guide and talk about the form and matter of each sacrament. Watch Sophia Sketchpad: Baptism with your child. Have your child complete the Effects of Baptism Worksheet and/or this Baptism Worksheet to review. Have your child complete the Confirmation Worksheet to review. The following prayers should be memorized: Guardian Angel. Hail Mary, Glory Be, and Our Father. Continue memorizing Act of Contrition and Apostles Creed. Start memorizing Acts of Faith, Hope, Love.

Activity Ideas:

Show your child An Illustrated Guide to the Paschal Candle

Mexican flower Poinsettias for Kids Las Posadas Christmas Traditions in Mexico

Nativity stick puppets from Real Life at Home and their additional Christmas activity printables. Many of their activities are free, you may need to join the email list, but some do require a fee.

Catholic Icing has a great post about the 12 Days of Christmas.

With Advent underway it is time to take the family to Confession. You can model receiving the sacrament by going into the confessional first. For our First Year Sacramental prep friends talking to them about Confession is a great way to involve them in this sacrament. While they are not able to go Confession now is a great time to tell them all about this sacrament and teach them how to prepare to make their first penance.

You are in the BEST position to help your child examine their conscience.  Here are some tips for you and your child on how to make a Good Examination of Conscience. Here is an Examination of Conscience for your middle school child. Please bring an Act of Contrition for your child to use as a “cheat sheet.” Not all of the confessionals have the prayer posted anymore. The two documents below are for helping out with confession. The first is meant for adults and the second “what you say in confession” is the script Holy Trinity has used since 2007 with the second grade sacrament children. That script is good for all kids to use while in confession. The additional one, “child confessional guide”, is the same script but I edited to make room for the child to write in any notes to help them while in confession. I have used this version to pass out to the students as they prepare for their First Penance ceremony. Perhaps it will be helpful for your children.

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