Tomorrow, my baby, my little tiny baby, the youngest of my family makes her First Holy Communion and her Confirmation.
For forty-four young people, Sunday will be one of the most (if not the most) important days of their lives. Pope Francis will confer the Sacrament of Confirmation on each of them at a Mass in St.
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“Many look at the youth today and ask “have you no faith?”. I look at many of our adults asking “where is your witness?” (C.C.) At my cousin’s Confirmation March 7th.Honored to be her sponsor!
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SharebarDr. Peters has a new post on his fine canon law blog, In the Light of the Law.
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We were very proud to welcome the Bishop to our school. He is a delight to have in the sanctuary and coped very well with our ways here in Chavagnes!
|His Excellency reads the Gospel|
|The Laying on of Hands|
|An intimate moment of the successor of the Apostles and one of his flock|
|Grateful thanks from the chaplain to the Bishop|
|Private words with a nealy Confirmed boy|
|The Mass is over, the Bishop at ease|
|Mgr Castet with a mug of Cola (we are a boys school, after all!!)|
(The Rev. Know-it-all is away at
Mt. Flatten Monastery attending a seminar on the creative pastoral uses of the thumbscrew and lash. As filler, we have a letter from a local pastor.)
You may have noticed that recently, at Mass, I asked the young people who attend our religious education program to stand up. Of the 250, give or take, who attend the program, I counted about 50 or 60 at all the Masses. Our teachers have done wonderful work. They have made great sacrifices for the sake of the religious education of our children. They have not failed. The 50-year-old system that they inherited has failed. We are using a model that was created before cell phones, soccer practice, twitter, facebook and video games. The model we are using is older than the Beatles. It’s as old as I am.
We inherited a system from the good old days of flourishing Catholic schools another failure which was lovingly remembered in the book, “The Last Catholic in America,” a charming reminiscence about Catholicism during the 1950′s in which young Eddy Ryan loses his faith. Religious education was called C.C.D. or the Confraternity of Christian Doctrine. In this usage it refers to a form of classroom style religious education for children in public schools. It was, at least in my youth, the threadbare cousin of Catholic schools.
Catholic schools, by and large, have become failures themselves. There are some splendid Catholic schools, but in my experience of 40 years in ministry, increasingly, especially in large urban areas, Catholic schools have become inexpensive private schools for middle class people who have little or no interest in the Catholic faith,maintained at great expense by Catholic parishes. Catholic schools are, for the most part, over.
We may have a few parish schools still plugging along, but are they Catholic? It seems that all we have left to us is the threadbare cousin. All our resources and energies go to maintaining the private school in the building next to the church. While the world is starving for Christ, we are giving them bingo and bratwurst, raffles and dinner dances, all to keep the school going.
“But,” I can hear you say, “this is our major form of evangelism!” Aren’t you paying attention? The few kids from our schools who go to church don’t go because the school has converted them. They go because they have parents dedicated enough to bring them every Sunday, even in summer. Even in soccer season. Those kids may end up Catholic, not because they went to our schools and religious education programs, but because their parents were the first and best of teachers. In a recent conversation with a local pastor who runs a school of 250, give or take, I asked how many of his students and their families attend Mass during the summer months. He said, “about thirty of them.”
In order to commit a mortal sin, a sin that severs one’s relationship to God, one must have sufficient knowledge that what they are doing is mortally sinful. Our kids come to Catholic schools and religious education where, presumably, they learn that it is a mortal sin to skip Sunday Mass without a serious reason, such as illness or inability to travel. That means that by allowing children to come to religious education or to enroll in Catholic schools when their parents don’t come to Mass, we are enabling them to commit a mortal sin by giving them the sufficient knowledge to damn their eternal souls.That’s a plan.
We have tied our religious education to the public school system of kindergarten and eight grades. The sacraments of First Communion and Confirmation have become graduation rituals, rites of passage, instead of the beginnings of a life of faith and commitment. We have turned sacrament into sacrilege. When you “get your sacraments” you’re “outta” there. (“Out of there” for those who don’t speak Chicagoan.) The Sacraments are an ending instead of a beginning. I can’t do this anymore. I believe it is morally wrong. The last time I brought this problem up, angry parents called the bishop. I remember one agitated parent who railed at me for questioning his Catholicism. He said that he was perfectly good Catholic. He went to Mass every single Easter and every single Christmas without fail.
When I realized that Eastern Rite Catholics from the Middle East don’t have Communion and Confirmation classes, a light went on in my head. They receive first Communion and Confirmation when they are Baptized, even if they are infants. They have religious education for the rest of their lives and, consequently, they have a spiritual life. They are prepared for the Sacrament of Penance, but not for Communion and Confirmation. The result is that they have a vibrant spiritual like that they have maintained in the face of 1,300 years of unremitting persecution. In this country, we can’t manage a religious life because we are up against team sports.
I intend to drop the classroom model and go to a discipleship model that is called Youthchurch. It will involve Bibles, catechisms and water balloons. And maybe doughnuts. I will know the program is a success when I find that the kids are mad at their parents for missing Mass on Sunday.
I no longer intend to prepare children for First Communion and Confirmation. There will no longer be First Communion and Confirmation classes. How and when will the children receive Communion and Confirmation? They will receive when they are ready. When are they ready? They are ready when they want the Sacrament. How do we know they want the Sacrament? When they understand it, can tell the pastor what it is and why they want it. If they are not in ongoing religious education and they are not coming to Mass on regular basis, they don’t want the Sacrament.
I am tired to distraction of having to chase young people down the aisles in church to retrieve the Blessed Sacrament because they have no clue what it is. A year or so back, I was offering a funeral Mass and a teenaged girl came up for Communion, took the host, looked at it, turned it over and began to walk away holding it in her palm. I followed her and asked, “Have you made your First Communion?” She said simply, “I’m Jewish.” I smiled and said, “Perhaps I should take that from you.” Quite a few of the mourners were furious with me for my discourtesy.
At another funeral not long ago I saw a passel of tattooed and pierced adolescents coming down the aisle at a funeral. It was a large funeral so a number of priests were helping with Communion. I had finished my line so I stood about ten paces from the celebrant, a visiting priest. The first of the young Goths received the host, looked at it curiously and as she passed me I asked, are you Catholic? She said, “no.” I said “Perhaps I should take that.” So there began a curious ritual, of clueless youths. One priest would say “Body of Christ and the second priest would say “I’ll just take that.”
I’ve had it. My efforts will be directed to preparing people for the Sacrament of Conversion (Maybe you call it Penance or Reconciliation. Whatever.) Then maybe the little dears will understand that Communion is more than an edible poker chip. Registration will take place over the summer. I will be doing it personally. If you are registered in the parish and using envelopes, that will be the first step to getting your child in Youthchurch. How else can I tell if you are coming to Mass? As I’ve said before I don’t care that money’s in the envelope, I care that you are in the pew.
PS. How much will it cost? Books will cost something, but there will be no tuition. If you are coming to Mass every Sunday, I presume you are throwing in the basket already. I don’t want your money. I want your souls. On the other hand, I have nothing against your money. The west wall is still falling down.
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of our boys will receive the Sacrament of Confirmation. That is not bad for a school of about 40! They are good boys, of different ages, backgrounds and relationship with Almighty God. But they desire something… and I think that that is God.
That is a bit obvious, but I do not think that it is at all obvious in the life of a young boy nowadays. If there is a feeling of yearning for the “that which is beyond, above, profoundly deep” however you want to ttry to describe it without using too many words, them it easy to distract yourself with the pomps of this world, and its amusing diversions.
So I thing it is fantastic that these six desire God.
Two chose Blessed John-Paul II as their patron, one St Peter, one St John Mary Vianney, St Ignatius Loyola and Blessed Charles de Foucauld.
Speaking of pomps and ceremonies, I made a throne for the Bishop.
We like our Bishop.
See the original article here:
“On several occasions Christ promised this outpouring of the
Spirit, a promise which he fulfilled first on Easter Sunday [by breathing upon
the Apostles] and then more strikingly at Pentecost.” (CCC 1287)
One of the highlights last week was our session on relationships and chastity with our Confirmation group. We were really blessed to have two wonderful youth evangelists with us who are very gifted at inspiring young people in these issues. For most of the session, we split into separate girls’ and boys’ groups and were able to have some honest and open conversations and teaching. It was deeply encouraging to see the thoughtful and engaged maturity of our young people, especially encouraging as they will be confirmed next Sunday. One change I would make? We need to address these topics earlier. One session is not really enough. I think next year we may introduce the topic more generally earlier in the year (around the earlier session on human dignity) in order to lay groundwork for a more specific focus later on.
On the topic of Confirmation preparation, how impressed was I to read this heart-warming account of another Confirmation programme, in Kansas City. I especially love the time at the end where the candidates shared why they are excited about receiving this sacrament. It got me thinking: Oooh, I wonder what our candidates would say? I tentatively raised the question with a group of girls before the session started last Tuesday: “So, girls, who’s excited?” “Oooh, I am!” came one reply as I nodded expectantly. “I have the nicest dress!” “Well, that’s lovely,” I murmured, moving on swiftly. OK, so Kansas City has the holier Confirmation candidates, and I am excited about being there this summer But, I did like the idea of asking the young people to share their excitement for the sacrament in a more structured session.
Speaking of the summer, a good friend of mine is involved in promoting this theology summer school in Knockadoon, Ireland, this summer. It runs in the last week of August and looks GREAT: and I would be there in a flash if it weren’t for a minor youth festival at Walsingham on at the same time Designed for students of theology, this is a week of in-depth study of St Thomas’ Summa, particularly Questions 1-13 (existence of God, how we can speak about God, etc). Check it out!
After feeling like I know him like an old friend from watching the DVD series again and again, it was super-exciting to see Fr Robert Barron in real life on Friday evening at St Patrick’s, Soho. He is an extremely engaging speaker, I could have listened to him all night. Sadly all our plans to ambush him for a lunch meeting failed (he had far more important people to see like Nicky Gumbel) but still, I felt very inspired afterwards. His passion for evangelising the culture is infectious, and I wonder what more we can do in this country to evangelise our culture. Unless we seize hold of the moment, our society is slipping further and further away from Christian values, and therefore from human values, every single day. And unless we do something more, who will?
And finally, speaking of evangelisation, we had the lovely students from St Patrick’s Evangelisation School with us all day on Friday in the parish. We spent the morning looking at the topic of vocation (I focussed on the lay vocation, in particular Christifidelis Laici, while Fr James focussed on the priestly vocation, and how as lay people we can encourage priestly vocations), and after lunch we enjoyed the countryside (Wandsworth Common is pretty rural when you live in Soho) and suitably finished up having a drink in a pub called The Hope! An excellent group of young people who are coming close to the end of their year of formation… To find out more about them, see here.
As talked about at DPC, the Liturgy Office is sending out the Confirmation Celebration to the parishes as well as make it available here.
Available is a booklet for the celebration itself in Word and PDF. PDF is for reference only in case there is problems with Word, but you may download the Word file to make your booklet.
There are several notes that need to be taken out before printing them. Other things like names and acknowledgements can be added, as well as pictures if the parish decides.
The “Confirmation Mastercopy” includes all of the bishop’s prayers as well as the layout for the celebration. Feel free to add your songs in and any other notes you may have to help your ministry’s full participation.
Keep in mind that the prayers are from the Roman Missal and the Rite book. These prayers as well as the Order of Service may not be changed because they are copyrighted. This is the copy that the Bishop has approved and so any concerns, questions or possible changes need to be sent back to me in enough time to discuss with the Bishop before the time of your parish’s celebration.
If there is any trouble opening any of these documents please contact me and we’ll work it out. Have a great week and enjoy your time in preparing for this year’s Confirmation and First Eucharist Celebrations.
Liturgy Office Coordinator
(306) 922-4747 ext. 231
Happy Easter everybody! Since the season began, I’ve been able to witness a lot of sacraments – something like 10 people who received all three Sacraments of Initiation at the Easter Vigil, as well as about 40 Gr. 7 students who received the Sacrament of Confirmation about a week ago.
The beautiful thing about the Sacraments of Baptism and Confirmation in particular, is that by them, we are forever changed. An indelible spiritual mark is placed by God on our soul, a mark that is the sign that “Jesus Christ has marked [us] with the seal of his Spirit by clothing [us] with power from on high so that [we] may be His [witnesses]” (CCC 1121). We are marked, sealed, and chosen for Christ from the moment the water is poured. And we are perfectly bound to the Church and are given increases of the Holy Spirit’s gifts the moment that we are anointed with chrism by the laying on of the bishop’s hand. What’s more, it is impossible for sin to erase these spiritual marks, even if we choose to let sin prevent those sacraments “from bearing the fruits of salvation” (CCC 1272).
“It is clear to me that if I had understood, as I do today, that in this tiny palace of my soul, such a great King is living, I would not have left him alone so often.” -St. Teresa of Avila
“The deepest center of the soul is God.” -St. John of the Cross
And then from Fr. Jacques Philippe:
“God is present in His creation, and we can contemplate Him there; He is present in the Eucharist, and we can adore Him there; He is present in the Word, and we can find God by meditating on Scripture…There is, however, another mode of God’s presence of the greatest importance for the life of prayer:
God’s presence in our own heart
…. ‘Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you?’ says St. Paul (1 Corinthians 6:19).”
We are temples of the Holy Spirit.
We have faith and know that God is in heaven, and that He is also around us. We understand that heaven is on a “higher” plane of existence, and so we associate God being above us, in the sky, looking down upon us, etc. I’m willing to bet that at least some of the time you pray, you do so by trying to “reach out” to God, grasping at That Which Is. We try to ascend to Him. But that’s just counter to what the Incarnation is: God reaching out to Man. When we want to speak to God, all we have to do is look within – and I mean really look into the depths of our hearts. Love is there. I don’t mean that as some kind of fluffy, Hollywood, inspirational coming-of-age cliche. The Holy Spirit – very seriously – has come to rest in the hearts of every person who has been baptized, and strengthens even more so those who have been confirmed. And just like the indelible spiritual marks of Baptism and Confirmation, the Spirit Himself dwells in us indelibly. He will never leave.
The ramifications of what this means are astounding, if not only for the apparent impossibility of the whole thing. How can the infinite rest within the finite? How can Strength rest in frailty? How can Perfection rest in imperfection? How can God rest in man? For God, That Which Is, isn’t just REALLY BIG, acting as a kind of blanket over the whole universe. He is omnipresent, existing in His entirety, everywhere. And yet somehow, we are His temples. Temples that have been marked and sealed, set apart for The Holy Spirit who will always want to reside in us. He lives in us, yet we do not confine Him.
But make it personal now. It’s what I did during my drive to the Gr. 7 Confirmation, and I found myself shocked at how much God loves us. Who am I, that the all-powerful creator of the universe should come to reside in me? Me, who has hated, doubted, lusted, despaired? Me, who has thought of myself before anyone else? A possible explanation for this conundrum could be that in coming to reside in man, God somehow lost a bit of His Godliness, and lowered Himself to our level; He “dumbed Himself down” in order that he could commune with us. But of course that’s ridiculous – for God to be anything less than what His nature is would be to cease being God.
No, it must be the other explanation: that in coming to dwell in us, God actual raises us up to His level. He actually elevates our dignity and our humanity to take part in the divine. Look at yourself in a mirror. God wants that to be raised up to Him to have a share in the divine life.
Are you trembling yet? I’m being honest when I say that in the car, I could barely handle it. God wants you to be more, all through the Holy Spirit that dwells in your soul, never ceasing, never wavering. Indelible. I wonder if the Gr. 7s who are receiving the Sacrament of Confirmation realize this. I pray that they will. The only appropriate response is to take care of the soul and the body. We’re God’s house.
I’ve been meaning to say thank you to a few people.
First I was sent a book about St. Luigi Orione, the founder of the Sons of Divine Providence and the Little Missionary Sisters of Charity. I’d never heard of him, and I said so during the Day With Mary. Kevin very kindly hastened to correct my ignorance, and I shall read the book over the Easter holidays.
The next present was from Sister Roseann, who knew of my appreciation of the St. Ninian Tartan – the one designed especially for the Holy Father’s visit. I had already managed to get a shawl, but shawls don’t really suit my rather more than generous proportions… so Sister Roseann presented me with a scarf. The weather has been unseasonably warm ever since, but I shall wear it at the first hint of a cold snap. Probably some time in June… or July… (British weather being what it is…) Mind you, I shall have to prise Monsignor Furretti off it first. She has decided that it’s a very nice comfortable tartan…
One of my Confirmation candidates presented me with a lovely little “handbag saver clip” – I only knew that’s what it was because someone had helpfully written it inside the box lid. It’s a small hook that uses a cantilever effect to balance on a surface so you can hang your handbag under the table or shelf. It is a brilliant piece of engineering, but it took me ages to figure out how it worked. Mind you, His Hermeneuticalness couldn’t figure it out either… but then I guess he doesn’t have handbags…
I was also given a large box of Maltesers by another candidate, which was very nice. Unfortunately, it being Lent, I deemed it prudent to pass the chocolates on to someone with more willpower (or who hadn’t given up chocolate)…
My final thank-you goes to the candidate who presented me with a Mass card. That was a very special gift indeed…