“Sacramentalisation”

This time of year, filled with First Holy Communions and Confirmations, is full of joy. It is also a time where we risk “sacramentalising” another batch of young people or adults, perhaps without really evangelising or catechising them.

This is precisely the problem that we face in the New Evangelisation – and one which we, to some extent, inflict on ourselves.

It is a theme which occurs again and again on this blog. I am not being overdramatic when I say it breaks my heart to see us shortchanging people by bringing them to the sacraments too soon. Graces are heaped upon them, yet they don’t have the means or the maturity or the understanding to open their hearts to these graces, because they have not been through a sufficient period of formation.

This video clip from Dr Scott Hahn isn’t new, but it is worth taking just over ten minutes out of your day to watch. He speaks about the relationship between evangelising, catechising, and sacramentalising, in depth. I showed it to a group of seminarians, one of whom said it was the most inspirational thing he’d seen all year (maybe an exaggeration…) – but it is truly a good clip from Dr Hahn and a topic all of us in the Church need to wake up to, and think hard about theologically, pastorally, spiritually.

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2 Responses

  1. Paul Rodden says:

    I agree completely.
    Especially the comment that it is, ‘…a topic all of us in the Church need to wake up to, and think hard about theologically, pastorally, spiritually.’.

    As an observation/generalisation, it seems Evangelical Protestants are mostly Evangelised but not catechised, whilst Catholics are catechised, but not Evangelised. Yet, in the case of both, Sanctification is nearly always left to chance.

    What is interesting though, is that Evangelicals – being evangelised and so, converted – are normally far more robust as Christians than Catholics, and tend to fare far better when left to their own devices about Sanctification too.

    They desire the Lord, so want to learn all they can about him and, as we know, he will not disappoint or abandon any soul who desires him, whatever the difficulties, circumstances, or Christian affiliation.
    However, the poorly catechised Catholic doesn’t desire the Lord (because they don’t know how to, or even that it’s important). They have the ‘piece of paper’, so it’s all over because they’ve been ‘done’. All they need to do now is wait to hand the sacramental ‘tickets’ they’ve collected (like Tesco points), to St Peter at the Pearly Gates…

  2. Paul Rodden says:

    Dr Jeff Mirus has just posted an excellent article, very relevant to this topic, entitled, The One Very Substantial Key to the New Evangelization. It’s a ‘review’ of Frank Sheed’s recently re-printed, Knowing God: God and the Human Condition:
    http://www.catholicculture.org/commentary/otc.cfm?id=1075

    One of the posts in the combox under the article also points to the kind of mentality we face regularly:
    “propositions, rules and mere platitudes…that is how Christianity was presented to me growing up Catholic. I was taught, but never evangelized until evangelical protestants explained about a personal saving relationship with Christ. Another issue for Catholics, muddled theology: I’m baptised, so I’m saved. No one is perfect, so we’re all going to do time in purgatory; and I’m not so bad, so it won’t be any worse for me than for everyone else.”

    We’ve been fostering Tick-Box Catholicism – a sort of ‘hyper-sacramentalism’ – for far too long, That is, a mistaken notion that the Sacraments ‘work’, like Asprin, without any proper disposition.

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