This week’s Lawn Chair Catechism discussion is about Chapter four of Forming Intentional Disciples, “Grace and the Great Quest”. In this chapter, the author discusses the validity of the Sacraments when the recipient is not spiritually ready. It is a very interesting look at this topic and enlightening as well. I never really thought about it until reading this chapter but now I think it is something that should be discussed at the parish level often.
As I read this chapter, I thought back to my own reception of the first Sacraments of the Church- Baptism, Confirmation, and First Eucharist. I was SO ready to become a Catholic that I had a few sleepless nights worried that I would die before I received them (I later found out that I was “Baptized by desire” and had nothing to worry about). After I received the Sacraments, I felt a little let down, worrying that I missed something because it seemed like life got harder after that. After battling these negative feelings and feelings of emptiness, I realized that when we receive the Sacraments, we are placing a huge target on our backs for the Devil. We NEED the grace that we receive from the Sacraments to move past that initial spiritual battle of going from an un-baptized “heathen” to a true Christian. If the disturbing information in Chapter Four is true, then it is no wonder we lose so many new Christians and Confirmed students. They aren’t properly disposed to receive the Sacraments and therefore, they don’t receive enough grace to make it through the initial battle!
I have two sons who are receiving Sacraments next year. My oldest will be Confirmed and my youngest will receive his first taste of Jesus in the Eucharist. I think my youngest is ready. He reads his children’s Bible and even carries it to school daily. He is interested in having a relationship with God and tries to follow the Commandments as best he can. My oldest son, on the other hand, enjoys Religious Ed and follows the motions during Mass but doesn’t show a personal devotion to our Lord like my youngest son does. I will be working with both boys to ensure that they are prepared for their Sacraments but, after reading this chapter, I am going to be diligent to ensure that they are properly disposed to receive them as fully as possible.