In 1990, one of my tasks as a newly appointed Pastoral Associate was to set up a family based sacramental program for children from the parish who attended government schools. The creed below was my blueprint for a program I called Ripples. I believe it applies to all parents who of their own free will choose Baptism for their child and complete it through Eucharist and Confirmation.
It seems to me that the words I wrote back then are relevant today. I believe . . .
- That family is the foundational Christian community.
- That family is where God is first encountered and imaged – physically.
- That experiences of life, love, forgiveness, community and symbol occur first in family.
- That families generate their own rituals and liturgies.
- That families share values, belief systems, stories.
- That at Baptism there are no conditions attached to how parents will exercise their responsibility to educate their child in faith.
- That parents who present a child for the Sacraments of Initiation have faith, a sense of God and a desire to be recognized as Catholic.
- That the parent’s experience of faith is to be valued.
- That parents have within them the religious truths to enrich their lives, but sometimes not the language to talk about them.
- That we confuse faith with religion.
- That parents need help to name, claim and proclaim the sacred in the ordinary of their family lives.
- That parents underestimate their experience of the sacred.
- That the church should help parents to educate in faith, not the reverse.
- That many things the church tries to teach parents about God and faith lose their meaning in ‘church-speak’.
- That we can’t pass on faith by simply sacramentalising our children.
- That our church comes wrapped up in families.
- And finally, I believe that the waters of baptism ripple through our lives.
What do you believe?