Sacramental Preparation Materials
Materials prepared by the Catholic Diocese of Auckland for use in sacramental preparation.
E-mail: email@example.com to order.
Sacramental Certificates for
- Confirmation and Eucharist
are available from the Liturgy Centre. They were designed and printed in New Zealand.
50 cents each + Postage
Baptism : Pastoral Guidelines – The Principles
The unfolding of Christian Life begins with the reception of Baptism. This is where we enter into the death of Jesus Christ, and are united with Him in His Resurrection. The seed is then planted and must continue to grow. For those baptised as infants, it is the parents who are the first teachers of their children in the faith, and their home is the child’s first and best classroom. The wider church family is charged with helping the parents in this role (for we are all baptised into the Christian community) where we share responsibility for the growth in faith of the whole family.
- The church baptises infants  because she is convinced that the self-giving of God towards us is for everyone, independent of their age. Because of the love God shows to all human effort, the Church cannot deny infants the gift of Baptism. Just as it does for adults, Baptism washes away Original Sin from infants and grace now comes to them. They are initiated into the Church.
- Canon Law states parents are ‘obliged to see to it that their infants are baptised within the first few weeks’.
- It is the task of the parents within the family to ensure the ongoing life of faith amongst their children. This education is to be supported by the wider faith in the community. This can only happen when the parents play an active and involved role in the liturgical and faith shared in the community. Parents are called to first live in the faith that they will pass on to their children. This should ensure there is a well founded hope that the child will grow up surrounded by the knowledge of the Church and practices of the faith.
- Many parents, who bring their children forward for Baptism in good faith, struggle to give shape to their life of faith, and do not bring it to expression in the gathered community. In such cases, the parish community is called upon to take responsibility for the care of the baptised children and their families.
- Parents and Godparents should be asked to reflect on the nature of the initiation that they seek for their children. Baptism is not to be seen as an end in itself, but rather the beginning of a life long journey in the family and in the community seeking an ever closer relationship with God. This journey leads the children to the completion of their initiation when they receive the sacraments of Confirmation and Eucharist. After this, as full members of the community, their journey in faith continues and deepens.
 The term ‘infants’ refers to those less than seven years of age, who cannot make conscious decisions about faith for themselves.
 CIC 867.1
A copy of the full guidelines can be downloaded here: Guidelines for Baptism.
Belonging and Beyond
The policy for the Diocese of Auckland on the Completion of Initiation of Catholics Baptised in Infancy.
Order and Age
- The order of the Sacraments of Initiation is to be: Baptism, Confirmation and Eucharist.
- From 1996 onwards baptised children are to complete their initiation at the age of discretion.
Celebration of the Sacraments
- The Sacraments of Confirmation and the first reception of Eucharist are to take place within the same celebration.
- For those who have received Eucharist but are not yet confirmed, parishes must provide opportunities for preparation and celebration of the sacrament of Confirmation.
- The Easter season (Easter to Pentecost) is the preferred time for celebration the Sacraments of Initiation.
- The Bishop has a primary role in the celebration of the Sacraments of Initiation. He may delegate local priests to confirm those baptised in infancy, but it is not a general permission. Priests must apply to the Bishop for that permission.
Formation in Faith
- Children are to be initiated within the parish community. It is the responsibility of the parish to help parents in the formation of their children for the Sacraments of Initiation. Where possible schools are to give active support to the parish in this process.
- Initiation into the Church’s sacramental life requires formation both before and after the reception of the Sacraments of Initiation. Adequate preparation is to be followed by ongoing reflection and catechesis after the sacramental celebration.
Relationship with RCIA
- In the catechesis of the community and in the celebration of the rites, care must be taken to maintain the distinction between previously baptised children and the catechumens (unbaptised children preparing for Initiation).
- However, parishes are to make every effort to ensure that young catechumens and previously baptised children preparing for Confirmation and Eucharist are to enjoy the support of one another within the same catechetical group.
- Wherever possible, initiatory rites of young catechumens and previously baptised children are to be celebrated together, in accordance with the relevant paragraphs of the RCIA.
- At present the sacramental celebration of Reconciliation must precede first Eucharist in a way suited for young children (c/f Canon 914). The Second Rite seems to be more suitable for children. The Season of Lent is the most appropriate time for the Sacrament of Reconciliation.
Particular circumstances may mean a variation in practices concerning how the sacraments are celebrated. The liturgical rites along with the policies of the diocese ensure that the sacrament is celebrated in accordance with the intentions of the Church. Yet policies are more than suggestions, they are put in place to establish a framework for consistency and orthodoxy in practice throughout a particular jurisdiction, in this case the Catholic Diocese of Auckland. Therefore making judgement about decisions regarding the timing of the celebrations and other aspects of the policies, is not a black and white matter. The reasoning behind making a decision to NOT follow a diocesan policy is important. Sacramental celebrations are moments of extraordinary gift. Not only because of the sacraments conferred but due to the gathering of the People of God that occurs around it, they are Church Universal and Church Domestic (Family) opportunities to celebrate the gift of God. As such, they need to be true celebrations not weighted down with actions and attitudes forced by compliance. So if a community considers that the reverence and symbolic richness of Confirmation and First Eucharist are lost when the two are combined in a ceremony of 80 students so separates them, is it a breach of policy? – Well, yes. Does it matter? No, there are notable and acceptable pastoral reasons.
Pastoral reasons need to be at the forefront of decision-making because we are the Church and therefore part of our ‘bread and butter’ is making people welcome as they encounter God. Part of the complication in this particular situation is the reason for the policy. The policy was written in order to establish the restored order of the Sacraments of Initiation. How this is implemented can be negotiated to ensure pastoral needs are considered. This is not a statement for a free-for-all, do what we like approach to the celebrations of the Sacraments. It is a plea that we are neither so remiss that we feel the policy does not matter, nor so rigid in implantation that pastoral considerations are lost. The intention of the policy is not to prevent people being pastoral. Sacraments are intimate and personal encounters with Jesus, a gift.
These gifts are experienced through community. Our parishes are evangelising communities. Communities called to model by its way of life, the discipleship for which it has been formed. It is the responsibility of the entire parish community to create the environment in which one grows in the awareness of this call. If it is doing this, those who are initiated into it will be supported and formed and strengthened in that mission. Similarly the celebrations of the rituals of initiation – of infants, children and adults – will serve to renew the members of the community, and reinforce their commitment to service and to mission. Service and mission are our keystones – policy helps us do this with reverence and consistency.