August 12, 2008

Sacraments of Faith

One issue that often weighs on me heavily is the catechesis for and administration of the sacraments of initiation for those who don't seem committed to their faith. This is especially difficult in the case of children of parents who don't give much visible evidence of faith. Situations can be very hard. Sometimes a grandparent pushes for the baptism of a child, but the parents readily admit their indifference. Sometimes a kid admits that she doesn't care about being confirmed, and a conflict between the parents and the catechists and clergy erupts. Sometimes people bring babies here from far away because this is their ancestral parish. When I ask what their parish is where they actually live, sometimes they don't even know. When I suggest that this is their opportunity to join the parish where they now live, get involved, and baptize their child there, a big fight typically ensues. These are ones that keep me up at night.

So it really made my day today to see that Pope Benedict had spoken a little bit on the question, albeit informally. Check out his beautiful remarks here.


4narnia said...

hi Fr. C!
yes, this is an issue that needs attention. i see the indifference of the parents of the children i teach religous education to. and sometimes children will bluntly say to me that they would like to go to church, but their parents don't take them all the time. it's a very sad thing aand something that i hope we all can start to address. thanks for posting on this topic. it's a very important one!
tara t

just said...

As an adult convert who had to jump through several hoops and climb over some hurdles before my own confirmation, which was delayed a couple times due to reasons I learned about only later. . .

It really gripes my gizzard to see teenagers who don't give a rip get confirmed almost automatically.

So I am very motivated to pray that they will understand the inestimable value of the sacraments, and remain in loving relationship with God and His Church.

Brother Charles said...

tara: thanks for bringing in your experience as a catechist!

just: As an adult convert myself,I know what you mean. I spent a lot of my days as a catechumen feeling like a sheep without a shepherd, though I've noticed a lot of grace that I blind to at the time.

Thanks too for the challenge to pray with right intention.

Sue-Clare said...

(I had to reread the comment left by "just" to make sure I didn't write in some other "personality.")

As an adult convert who had a difficult time trying join the church, and didn't understand why- MY very strong sentiments & beliefs regarding the Sacraments are also more severe,

but also my guilt as my teenagers, who accepted the decision and chose to attend RCIC and receive Sacraments of Initiation with me, now they refuse to attend Mass and follow church teachings. I feel guilty for bringing them in to the church.

And my daughter, at 14, became pregnant. So sad but I chose to advise her not to abort & to choose to keep the baby, a wonderful 7 y/o, the love of my life now. SHE chose to have him baptized, she states "for me," had me hold him during the baptism and he is such a perfect child in Mass, etc. and seems to love the faith. He has given her new life and new direction, however. She's a great mom. I'm feeling guilt because Mom isn't faithful and a faith teacher, but I am taking this on myself also. I am pleased to hear Holy Father's words on this topic. I too believe strongly that the mustard seed planted and the spark sparked will progress in God's own time, given fertile soil. If the parents don't make that soil fertile, the rest of us can! Peace & all good.

Brother Charles said...

Thanks for the mustard seed connection, Sue-Clare. I'll be taking a mental handful into parlor meetings from now on!

just said...

Too bad there is no way to infuse some of that adult-convert mindset into teenagers :) Although I'm betting it could be interesting to have a-c speakers at a youth group meeting.

I spent two years going to Mass at least weekly before I was confirmed. By the last couple months, it was physically painful to join the Communion line for "just" a blessing. (Yeah, yeah, I know it's an innovation/abuse, but it was a great consolation to me.) By that time I wanted it so badly that I thought about it all the time. It was so hard, but now I treasure the delay for purifying my desire and creating a hunger with a depth that I might not otherwise have known.

Barb, sfo said...

That was a really interesting piece. I have been frustrated at seeing others treat the sacraments as "social" occasions. I think that the Pope has hit on what is really important--the parents are more often the ones who need catechesis than the kids.
My parish this year is trying to accomplish that, by holding religious ed. on alternate Sundays, for 2 hours, after Mass (which would be mandatory for religious ed. students). Parents are flipping. They are leaving the parish like crazy and being very open about the fact that they are leaving because they will be required to attend Mass.
Please keep our parish and these parents in prayers!

4narnia said...

hi again everyone!
it was very interesting reading all of your comments on this very important topic. it seems that many of those who are "born" into the faith take it very casually and sometimes don't even make it a priority. i have always admired those who have converted. they appreciate the faith so much more and definitely don't take it for granted. as "Just" has posted, some converts have "jumped through hoops and climbed over hurdles," which is a very inspiring thing. to Sue-Clare: never feel guilty for inviting and bringing your teens or anyone else to the church (even if they stop coming.) it's so true about planting the mustard seed. that's all it takes. we are God's instruments and He is using us to plant that seed in others, who otherwise might never have the seed planted in them. i am remined of the Peace Prayer of St. Francis. i don't have the exact words in front of me, but i truly believe that we are always where we're meant to be at the present time. so, according to that prayer of St. Francis, we should always pray to be "instruments of peace," and we need to sow (plant) "love, pardon, faith, hope, light, joy and understanding (compassion)" in places where there is only "hatred, injury, doubt, despair, darkness, sadness." sometimes i get a little discouraged as a catechist. but i don't ever give up. i love teaching the second graders because this is the age where they are really open and it's also the grade where i get to help them prepare for two very important Sacraments: Reconciliation and First Holy Communion. i see them as "little seeds" at the beginning of each year in september and it always amazes me how much they grow and blossom by the time their First Holy Communion day arrives in may. even if their parents don't take them to church regularly, i know that God has used me to help those little seeds (the children) grow and others will come into their lives as they grow and, hopefully, they'll keep growing and will become strongly rooted in their faith when they are grown. that is always my prayer for the children i teach each year - for them to keep growing strong in their faith and to become strongly rooted in faith. there is also a verse from Scripture which is one of my favorites and which really speaks of how we should live: "You have already been told what is right and what Yahweh wants of you. Only this - to act justly, to love tenderly and to walk humbly with your God." ~~Micah, chapter 6, verse 8~~
tara t

ben in denver said...


I think it is a great idea to have an adult convert speak to the children preparing form confirmation. I'm an adult convert too. So is our pastor, he often references his faith journey in his preaching. He is really able to cultivate in our young people an appreciation of the faith as a treasure.

As for baptism...I'm rather old school. Because there is still some uncertainty about the eternal destiny of children who die without baptism, I think pastors of souls should confer it when there is the smallest hope the child will be raised Christian.