"Sacraments Are Not a Tangible Sign of God's Grace. . ."

| | Comments (8)

"and a means of bestowing it." This newsflash comes to us via the person in charge of sacramental preparation. When she asked Samuel what a sacrament was and he gave a simpler version of the answer above she responded with a very curt, "No." It was the only time in the whole evening of maundering answers and lackadaisical responses that she had said an outright no.

I stopped her in her tracks with an, "Excuse me. When did sacraments become something other than this?" When I repeated Sam's answer she backtracked and said she thought he said something different and then, she asked a seven-year-old to explain what this meant. SHE couldn't explain it, but she needed to show up a seven-year old. I'm seething, I'm furious, and I'm calling the diocesan office tomorrow. There is no excuse for this kind of behavior. If it hadn't been for Samuel mentioning it, grace would have received no mention at all. Her definition, a sacrament is an encounter with Jesus. Well that's lovely, but rather vague. Isn't prayer an encounter with Jesus? And yet prayer is not numbered among the seven sacraments. Isn't service an encounter with Jesus?

When the traditionalists complain about the "evils" of Vatican II, it is this kind of nonsense in particular, it would seem to me, that they would find troublesome. This is a perfect example of where the "spirit of Vatican II" teaching just goes off the rails and careens wildly out of control through acres of vague language and arm-waving.

Overall, the session was an excrutiating blend of vague namby-pamby nonsense and group encounter discussion about nothing of any relevance at all. I particular bristle at the fact that this will go on for three more weeks--an hour and a half of saying nothing worth saying each week. Teaching about reconcilation should take about an hour-and-a-half total and that includes memorization of an act of contrition.

I know that this lady is a paid relgious education professional. If she were a volunteer, I'd probably cut her more slack. But this is a monstrous abrogation of her responsibility to the parents and children of this class. If we had not been there, grace would have been left behind in the airy wisdom of "encounter theology."

If you can't tell it, I am furious. This teaching went in direct opposition of nearly everything we've been trying to teach Samuel in home religious eduation. Fortunately he was so tired I doubt that anything sank in at all. At least I pray it is so.

Bookmark and Share


All too common occurrence among professional religious educators. This is the just the type of nonsense that gets passed out at Rel Ed conferences. You just wonder what has happened to a deepening understanding in the development of doctrine. Instead we have reduction of doctrine put in mushy terms that are neither emotionally or intellectually satisfying.

I don't blame you for being angry. I think I have gotten the most angry when my kids used to go to public school with the nonsense that they would try to teach them. I can put up with all kinds of silliness, but please don't try to teach it to my kids.

have you considered homeschooling him for his religion class as well?
I would suggest giving that DRE or teacher a copy of Catholicism for Dummies, and suggesting that she reads it.
A sacrament is an outward sign, instituted by Christ, to give grace. This is the Baltimore Catechism answer that my husband can still recite almost in his sleep.
I learned the Anglican version - a sacrament is an outward and visible sign of an inward and spiritual grace. Not quite as accurate as the Baltimore Catechism, but still better than the drivel your son's 'teacher' is spouting.
Have you ever read the article from a Gen X yougn women about how she felt she had been cheated out of an authentic Catholic education by the fluttery and wishy washy catechetics? If I can find the link, I'll send it on to you.

Dear Alicia,

Thank you. Part of the problem is that he is being home-schooled in religion. The religious education classes at the Church are pablum, but largely harmless--God loves you kinds of affirmations. The reason Samuel was able to articulate his definition is that we taught it to him at home. Admittedly he didn't get it perfect, but he came a lot closer to the DRE.

Unfortunately, this is a separate suite of things. This is "sacramental preparation." And it is required by the diocese and I don't think that there is a homeschooling exception. I plan to call the parish this morning and escalate this if necessary.

I honestly believe that what this teacher is doing is extremely harmful. I think that the "encounter with Jesus" stuff is fine after the hard and fast definition that makes clear the real meaning of the sacrament. I mean a seven-year-old has no conception of grace or outward sign etc. so "explaining" it afterwards with the fact that it is a direct encounter with God in a very special way using symbols and objects in the Church and giving you a special spiritual strength to help you in daily life--all of that would be helpful. However, we didn't even go that far. The woman asked us to talk about how we feel when we argue with someone and how much better it feels to make up. No sense of the spiritual in this at all. We're making up with God after a quarrel. Well, we didn't quarrel with God, we quarreled with sister Sadie. So why do we have to make up with God? These are the kinds of questions that ran through my head. Her examples of "sins" were that she didn't have enough time for her children. That isn't a sin--that's a reality that you have to cope with.

Any way, thank you. I'm glad we went the homeschooling route with Religious Education and I'm going to see if we can get out of this sacramental prep as well. It's hideous and abusive, giving an unclear notion of who God is and why confession is so necessary.

(In her favor, she did emphasize contrition and absolution, which often get left out in the discussion of confession. But still.)

Anyway, thank you.



Dear Jeff,

You nailed it precisely! I might roll my eyes and shake my head at the nonsense that comes out of the DRE, but here she's harming my son. I can deal with a lot, but hurt my child and I will take preventative action.

Thank you.



We've got the same thing here too Steve.

My Noah is making his first communion this year. This is the 4th time around for me. The first sacramental meeting was a couple of weeks ago, and I just didn't go. I didn't want to hear about how bad the church use to be, with the priest putting his back to the people to ignore them, and how they tried to keep Jesus away from us etc. I just couldn't listen to that again, so I didn't go. And no one said anything about it. Why I might just missed the next one too!

It is fortunate that there are parents like you to counter the trends of the "professionals." I think the days of fluffy nonsense are numbered, but the damage done is incalculable. The education that children receive in the domestic Church is of the greatest value, but I worry about children for whom there is so little faith formation in the home and whose parents think that turning them over to professionals will take care of everything.

Steven - have you considered volunteering to teach in this program?
When our youngest was going through confirmation prep the last 2 years, John volunteered in order to be able to have some input on just this sort of thing.
And, I agree that you should take it up to the diocesan office. Assessing when and how a child is admitted to the Eucharist should not be an assembly line. I don't know if you have ever read the book of the Trapp Family Singers - but among the many things I remember from it is the description of how and when they decided on their last child's First Communion. BTW

I can tell - you're furious. And good for you. I was wondering if your pastor was aware of the content of the instruction. Sometimes they're so fearful of intruding on territory they've ceded to someone else that they're also out of touch. Such education is required by the diocese, but as far as I know, no Church law requires that Samuel actually be taught by them. You have the right to do this at home. I did.



About this Entry

This page contains a single entry by Steven Riddle published on October 4, 2005 8:49 PM.

Joining the World Birthday Celebration was the previous entry in this blog.

is the next entry in this blog.

Find recent content on the main index or look in the archives to find all content.

My Blogroll