What the Sacraments have meant for us
As our school children embarked on their Sacramental preparation with their families, in addition to supporting them with our prayers, parishioners were invited to reflect on the role of the sacraments in their own lives and share these thoughts if they were happy to. Below are a few responses received.
When I was small, I was told of Mary’s visions to children at Fatima and Lourdes. These stories fascinated me, and I would go to a special place on our farm and tell Mary, Our Lady to me then, that I was available if she wanted to visit Earth again. What an imagination! It was no surprise that I chose Bernadette for my Confirmation name. My sponsor was a dear friend, Mrs McPhee, mother of 11 who was so patient and kind, and memories of her have been my inspiration when tested at home by my children.
I admired the resilience of the early Catholics who filled the Lalbert church for Sunday Mass, men on the left, women on the right. The sacrifice they made travelling long distances by primitive transport, in all kinds of weather, fasting for early Mass, displayed their faith. My parents passed this faith onto me.
I have enjoyed being part of my granddaughter’s present Confirmation journey and have learned so much more myself from the wonderful program from the Ballarat Diocese.
The sacraments have always been a special part of our lives. My First Holy Communion Day was a very happy day as I looked forward to receiving Jesus in the Sacrament of the Eucharist for the first time. We were told to thank God for loving us, for dying on the cross for us. We told Him that we loved Him and would try to be faithful to Him forever.
As you grow older you will become more aware of the special presence of God within you. Sometimes this presence is more real than at other times. Try to listen to God speaking to you at these special times. At Confirmation we were told about the gifts of the Holy Spirit and that we were no longer baby Christians but adult Christians, so we were encouraged to do our part as members of the Body of Christ. The ‘Amen’ that we say now, when receiving the Eucharist, is acknowledging that we are part of Christ’s body. Remember to take Jesus with you into your homes and into the world.
When I was young, we received First Holy Communion first then later on the next Sacrament of Confirmation, so when I was 6 years old and my sister 9, we received our First Holy Communion at a little town called Tullarook, near Seymour. Two older boys who had previously made their First Holy Communion accompanied us for support. In those days we fasted from midnight Saturday to after Mass on Sunday, so our mother had brought water and sandwiches, which was very much appreciated before our 5-mile drive home in a horse drawn vehicle.
By the time I was 9 years old were living in Pira. Mass was once a fortnight at Nyah West and the family took it in turns to attend Mass. Religious Instruction was after Mass for about half an hour and the little brown catechism was learnt from cover to cover.
Naturally, we attended a small rural school. We were prepared for Confirmation by our parents with the help of willing parishioners and instructors, and good neighbours who often made room for one more kid to get to Mass now and again.
Confirmation was in Swan Hill at St Mary’s and that was a big adventure for a shy little 9-year-old kid from the bush. I was overwhelmed and overcome by the enormity and the responsibility of becoming a member of God’s family. I was not worthy!
Becoming one of the world’s workers aged 15, it was necessary for me to board in Swan Hill. That meant I was able to go to Mass every Sunday – what joy!! And even Benediction every Sunday night – I felt I had truly come home!!
I know that Jesus is truly my Shepherd. He has cared for me all of my life, just as He promised – I will seek out the lost one. Bring back the stray. Bandage the wounded. Make the weak strong. Watch over the sick and the healthy – that covers all of us. How good and faithful God is!