A Gift Guide for Catholic Sacraments
In my work at a Catholic church, the rest of the parish staff and I refer to this time period — the months of April, May and June — as sacrament season. From the Sacraments of Initiation for adults celebrated at the Easter Vigil, to the children and youth First Eucharist and Confirmation services (ours are always scheduled in May), to the late spring and early summer rush of weddings (not to mention any Baptisms that occur during these months), it is a busy and joyful time in parish life, Catholic family-life, and Catholic social life more broadly.
If you are looking at your calendar for the season ahead and noticing a handful of sacramental notations or alerts (depending on if you are team paper or team electronic planning; paper all the way over here!), you may have sacramental gifts on your mind. If that is the case, look no further for gift ideas for a few of the important sacraments that occur in the spring.
Baptisms are one of my favorite gift-giving occasions, which I’m only a little embarrassed to attribute to the fact that babies don’t care at all about what they are given, and therefore there is no pressure to pick the supposed “perfect” gift. (Adult baptisms are a totally different story, but I’ll get to that later). Instead, I get to have fun choosing a gift that I find meaningful and beautiful.
One route that I like to go with Baptism gifts is to choose something small that a parent can keep in their child’s memorabilia box, something like this pocket rosary or this Our Lady of Guadalupe bracelet. I have fond memories of sifting through my memorabilia box often as a child, and of eventually coming to the age when I got to take baptismal gifts out and begin wearing and using them myself.
First EucharistFor First Eucharist gifts, I think it’s a lovely idea to give a gift that has something to do with the Mass or the Eucharist. I will always remember the prayer book I was given as a child that allowed me to follow along with the Mass and read the prayers that I hadn’t yet memorized. This Last Supper print or this Good Shepherd print are additional ideas, both calling to mind the very first Eucharist and Jesus, whom we receive as we accept communion.
Youth Confirmations typically take place in middle school or high school, and so I try to chose gifts that will nurture the recipient’s prayer life at this stage of their faith journey. Sometimes I’ll give a rosary; other times, a journal for recording prayers or writing letters to God. Or, if I think it would be okay with their parent, I give a candle to light during quiet time. With each of these gifts, I write a note explaining how the tool has been a boon to my prayer life, and inviting them to ask me more about it.
R.C.I.A. SacramentsThe sacraments received during the Rite of Christian Initiation for Adults are not unique to RCIA; they are Baptism, First Eucharist, and Confirmation. But because they are received by adults, and often all at once (some people who go through the RCIA process have already been baptized and don’t re-receive the sacrament), there is something unique about them, and I approach them differently for gift-giving. For women, religious jewelry makes a wonderful gift, as it acts as a visible sign of an invisible faith, much like a sacrament itself (St. Augustine of Hippo famously defined the sacraments as “an outward and visible sign of an inward and invisible grace”). This Holy Spirit Necklace is a great option, as is this Miraculous Medal piece.
Statues and religious art make wonderful gifts for people who are celebrating the sacrament of Holy Matrimony because they provide opportunities for new couples to decorate their new home together with signs of their faith. This statue of the Holy Family can remind the couple — and anyone else who sees it — of the qualities important to a marriage and a family: tenderness, sacrifice, and love, to name a few. This wall cross, with its classic and neutral color, can fit beautifully into any home. And this Cross Home Blessing Door Hanger provides a visual reminder of the presence of Christ within a home and the protection and care that he provides for all who reside within it.
Last but not least, don’t forget to include a card with your gift. Beautiful cards with meaningful notes written inside are likely to be tucked away and kept for decades. Here are some great stationary options.