Calling all catechists and DREs and whoever

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Cephas

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here’s the question:

Children preparing to receive First Holy Communion, who are not ready to receive should be withheld from that day, pending more formation and catechesis. But, if it becomes known that the family will cease to bring their child to mass and CCD for that matter, does one allow the child to receive their First Holy Communion?
 
In my diocese we are not allowed to withhold Sacraments from unprepared children.

Ideally children would make their Communion when the family and instructor thought they were ready whatever time of the year. Insisting that all children can be ready by the first Saturday in May( or whenever) is really a bad idea.
 
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Cephas:
here’s the question:
Children preparing to receive First Holy Communion, who are not ready to receive should be withheld from that day, pending more formation and catechesis. But, if it becomes known that the family will cease to bring their child to mass and CCD for that matter, does one allow the child to receive their First Holy Communion?
I taught in a diocese also whose policy was to not withhold any Sacraments from unprepared or even unbelieving children. The reasoning they gave me was that if someone wants to recieve the Grace of God, who are we to prevent them from recieving it? Even if we think they might not be ready or might not even believe. It is up to God (not up to us) to decide whether the Sacrament is valid or not. The situation I was in more specifically pertained to Confirmation, but this was a general rule with any Sacrament.

We even had a situation once where a girl would openly profess that she didn’t believe in God and her parents were making her go through the Confirmation process. She recieved the Sacrament of Confirmation anyhow.

On the other side, others who really are prepared and do believe may find that having unprepared or unbelieving students recieving Sacraments somehow diminishes the worth or credibility of the whole process. From my experience, other believing children are often offended that these unbelieving children are allowed to recieve something so valuable. I guess I would be offended too, but maybe not rightly so.

This is a very difficult issue. If you let them recieve the Sacrament, does it do them any good? In some cases (Eucharist) does it actually do them harm to recieve unworthily(yes!)? Would it be better to deny them and risk loosing them or would it be for the best since they aren’t exactly the best Catholics anyhow? They may be better off in another church…better a devout protestant than a luke-warm Catholic.

I can’t say either way on this one. But maybe my thoughts will give you a little more to think about.
 
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funkyhorn:
On the other side, others who really are prepared and do believe may find that having unprepared or unbelieving students recieving Sacraments somehow diminishes the worth or credibility of the whole process. From my experience, other believing children are often offended that these unbelieving children are allowed to recieve something so valuable. I guess I would be offended too, but maybe not rightly so.

This is a very difficult issue. If you let them recieve the Sacrament, does it do them any good? In some cases (Eucharist) does it actually do them harm to recieve unworthily(yes!)?
Thanks.

I know and believe that the sacrament’s effects are not dependant on us. that they work ex opere operato. But, with regards to the Eucharist, to receive Communion WORTHILY, a reqiurement is to know who you are receiving. so…

keep it coming
 
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funkyhorn:
I taught in a diocese also whose policy was to not withhold any Sacraments from unprepared or even unbelieving children. The reasoning they gave me was that if someone wants to recieve the Grace of God, who are we to prevent them from recieving it? Even if we think they might not be ready or might not even believe. It is up to God (not up to us) to decide whether the Sacrament is valid or not. The situation I was in more specifically pertained to Confirmation, but this was a general rule with any Sacrament.

We even had a situation once where a girl would openly profess that she didn’t believe in God and her parents were making her go through the Confirmation process. She recieved the Sacrament of Confirmation anyhow.

… They may be better off in another church…better a devout protestant than a luke-warm Catholic…
I was a catechist for the two-year long program that each teen who was preparing for Confirmation had to “endure.” 😉

It was two school years in a row, with the summer in-between off.

Each summer, for every kid in my class that year I interviewed them NOT to test them on their knowledge of the Faith (which was presumed by the time they reached the sacramental prep for Confirmation). My role at that part of the program was to assess each kid’s level of spiritual maturity and determine whether THAT particular kid was serious about it, or even wanted to be confirmed.

At the summer interview (which was always one-on-one – me and that kid … er, TEEN), there was usually at least one kid –

who when I asked them the last question, which was always “Do you want to continue in this program in the second and last year for deciding whether to be confirmed?” –

who said “no.” My response in that case was always “oh. Okay. Can I ask how come why not?”

Sometimes the kid said “I just even don’t know whether I believe in God.”

So, being the trained and formed catechist that I am/was, I told that kid “sometimes it’s kind of a big thing to have to accept, isn’t it? This God stuff?”

I’d get a nod “yes.” Then I asked them “would you like to continue researching this whole God thing?”

All but one of them said “yes.” The kid who said “no” – I told him that we’d miss him, but because this was a sacrament of choosing to celebrate it is your OWN decision – and that was the WHOLE POINT of Confirmation – that because he’d “put up with your parents making you come to Confirmation classes, but now it’s at the point of the program that this is only YOUR decision to make, so if your parents give you any grief, let me or the director of the program know and we’ll run interference for you with your parents. And if your parents keep insisting that you come to Confirmation class and be confirmed, we’ll sick Father on them!”

The kid laughed, that night I phoned the director of the program, and the kid’s record was marked that he had decided not to get confirmed.

Once I had a parent make a fuss about it… so I told that parent that their child would NOT go to Hell if they weren’t confirmed. If they wanted to, of COURSE they could (and probably should) pray for their child. But they were not to worry because God had their child in His own hand. And that they (the parent/s) had brought their kid up with the Faith, and that all I as a catechist could do was build on the very good grounding they had given their kid in the facts of the Faith and modeled living out the Faith for their child by the way they, themselves, lived.

Hope that helps!
 
I think it an excellent idea to move Confirmation back to directly after First Communion.
 
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Cephas:
Thanks.

I know and believe that the sacrament’s effects are not dependant on us. that they work ex opere operato. But, with regards to the Eucharist, to receive Communion WORTHILY, a reqiurement is to know who you are receiving. so…

keep it coming
Not to hijack the thread, but: Do you think Eastern Christians (both Catholic and Orthodox), who are Eucharized as infants, know who they receive and do they do so WORTHILY or un…?
 
(Without expressing an opinion on whether to administer the sacraments to one unprepared)
Veronica Anne:
All but one of them said “yes.” The kid who said “no” – I told him that we’d miss him, but because this was a sacrament of choosing to celebrate it is your OWN decision – and that was the WHOLE POINT of Confirmation – that because he’d “put up with your parents making you come to Confirmation classes, but now it’s at the point of the program that this is only YOUR decision to make, so if your parents give you any grief, let me or the director of the program know and we’ll run interference for you with your parents. And if your parents keep insisting that you come to Confirmation class and be confirmed, we’ll sick Father on them!”
I beg to differ: The WHOLE POINT of Confirmation is to be sealed in the Holy Spirit, to complete the graces of Baptism, and to initiate the candidate into the Church.

Yes, no one should be confirmed against his will, and it is a fine thing for it to be the candidate’s choice, but it is not necessary for it to be so. Again: Look to the East, where Chrismation immediately follows infant Baptism.

(I have also seen a Western infant Confirmed, when due to birth defects he was in imminent danger of death, and did sadly die a few weeks later)
 
Hey Tee, i dont think youre hijacking…good point.

Those who receive communion as infants, they dont continue to receive until the age of reason, right?
 
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Cephas:
Hey Tee, i dont think youre hijacking…good point.

Those who receive communion as infants, they dont continue to receive until the age of reason, right?
To tell the truth, I do not know (and would welcome (name removed by moderator)ut from a member of an Eastern rite).

I used to be acquainted with a family in the Byzantine rite, and it seems to me their 5-year-old was a communicant (though Mother had occasionally to prompt the minister when visiting Latin rite services), which is somewhat younger than the typical Latin rite age of reason. Mother also gave me food for thought when, on the occasion of my son’s First Holy Communion, she remarked, “Isn’t it *wonderful * to finally be in communion with him?” I had to agree that it was.

On the whole, she seemed rather mystified to the reasons the Latin rite delays the graces of the sacraments from its little ones.
 
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tee_eff_em:
I beg to differ: The WHOLE POINT of Confirmation is to be sealed in the Holy Spirit, to complete the graces of Baptism, and to initiate the candidate into the Church.
Isn’t there one more part to this? Aren’t those who are confirmed supposed to be going out to profess their faith?

The Catechism says in paragraph 1285:

Baptism, the Eucharist, and the sacrament of Confirmation together constitute the “sacraments of Christian initiation,” whose unity must be safeguarded. It must be explained to the faithful that the reception of the sacrament of Confirmation is necessary for the completion of baptismal grace. For “by the sacrament of Confirmation, [the baptized] are more perfectly bound to the Church and are enriched with a special strength of the Holy Spirit. Hence they are, as true witnesses of Christ, more strictly obliged to spread and defend the faith by word and deed.”

And in paragraph 1296:

Christ himself declared that he was marked with his Father’s seal. Christians are also marked with a seal: “It is God who establishes us with you in Christ and has commissioned us; he has put his seal on us and given us his Spirit in our hearts as a guarantee.” This seal of the Holy Spirit marks our total belonging to Christ, our enrollment in his service for ever, as well as the promise of divine protection in the great eschatological trial

And paragraphs 1303 and 1304:

1303 From this fact, Confirmation brings an increase and deepening of baptismal grace:
  • it roots us more deeply in the divine filiation which makes us cry, “Abba! Father!”;
  • it unites us more firmly to Christ;
  • it increases the gifts of the Holy Spirit in us;
  • it renders our bond with the Church more perfect;
  • it gives us a special strength of the Holy Spirit to spread and defend the faith by word and action as true witnesses of Christ, to confess the name of Christ boldly, and never to be ashamed of the Cross:
    Recall then that you have received the spiritual seal, the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of right judgment and courage, the spirit of knowledge and reverence, the spirit of holy fear in God’s presence. Guard what you have received. God the Father has marked you with his sign; Christ the Lord has confirmed you and has placed his pledge, the Spirit, in your hearts.
1304 Like Baptism which it completes, Confirmation is given only once, for it too imprints on the soul an indelible spiritual mark, the “character,” which is the sign that Jesus Christ has marked a Christian with the seal of his Spirit by clothing him with power from on high so that he may be his witness.

If these Teens are not ready or willing to be a witness to their faith and defend their faith, should they be getting confirmed?

Consequently, the Catechism also says this in paragraph 1306:

Every baptized person not yet confirmed can and should receive the sacrament of Confirmation. Since Baptism, Confirmation, and Eucharist form a unity, it follows that “the faithful are obliged to receive this sacrament at the appropriate time,” for without Confirmation and Eucharist, Baptism is certainly valid and efficacious, but Christian initiation remains incomplete.

So I guess my question is: do the candidates need to have the right intention in order to be validly confirmed? My intuition tells me yes on this one, despite paragraph 1306. Even though everyone should be confirmed, I don’t believe they should be if they’re not ready to fulfill all of the duties that go along with it.

Anyone else have any other opinions (or hard facts)?
 
Well … I wonder how aware my mother was when she was confirmed at the ripe old age of six months !!!
In my parish , it is difficult for a child to be confirmed until around the gae of 19 …
… seems as though in todays sexually charged climate our children would need tohe special graces of thr Holy Spirit even more before puberty hits???

tee-storm
 
I would dearly love to have my children confermed. Only in the USA do we withhold the sacrament tell our children are in their teens.This is so very wrong. :mad: Give the children the grace thay need whin thay are young. Thay will then be better prepared for the teen age years to truly live thier faith.
 
Do you see any value to the excercise of free will that comes with an older persons decision to follow Christ? I definitely think confirmation should be something that is the choice of the individual involved. I also do not think that it should come at a mandatory age. Who said that all 8th graders are ready and that no 3rd graders are? It seems arbitrary and I don’t think that God has age cut-offs. As long as there is some relegious education before the sacraments, I think that they should occur on the individual’s and God’s timeline, not the parish’s.
 
our policy is two years of rel ed before first communion, and before confirmation, encouraging yearly attendance between of course. Homeschooling, knowledge or allowance for irrational family situations cannot trump this policy.

This has presented a problem for one 2nd grader, who although being put in the 2nd grade course this year was not to recieve 1st communion since she had not experienced formal 1st grade rel ed. She will recieve her 1st communion at the end of recieving the third grader course instruction next spring.

She wants it SOOOOOOO MUUUUUUCH.

And I tell her, meybe God wants this memory of want imbedded so deeply it will never be forgotten…
 
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iguana27:
Do you see any value to the excercise of free will that comes with an older persons decision to follow Christ? I definitely think confirmation should be something that is the choice of the individual involved.
I do see value in that free choice. However I see nothing intrinsic to the sacrament to recommend (nor discourage) the role of choice. I also see value in providing the sacramental graces even to infants.
 
It is the Pastors responsibility to insure that the child is properly prepared and the parents responsibility to prepare the child. As with Baptism if there is not sufficient reason to believe that the parents will continue to raise the child in the practice of the Catholic Faith reception of the Sacrament should be delayed, not refused.
 
we probably need our own forum. The catechist and the DRE and the parent do not prepare the child for the sacraments. The Holy Spirit prepares the child. We teach the doctrines, prayers and practices of the Catholic Faith according to the child’s age and understanding, and hopefully witness Jesus in our lives. If the child is of catechetical age and after a suitable period of instruction, the pastor, catechist and parent together try to evaluate if the child is ready. If the child exhibits the desire for the sacrament and the basic understanding of what she is asking of the Church, again according to age level, it is a grave abuse to withhold the sacraments. It is an equally grave abuse to force a child over the age of reason to receive the sacraments if he objects and states explicitly he does not believe and does not want to receive.

If there is ample scriptural and historical precedent for infant baptism, and confirmation is so closely allied with it, there is no argument against infant or very early confirmation, as is done in Eastern rites and many Latin American countries. At least in Eastern rites, the infant or small child is also admitted to Eucharist, usually in the form of the precious Blood, and so may be taken to communion by the parents during Mass. These families, in my experience, do a much better job about catechizing their children throughout the school years.

The other abuse delaying the sacraments leads to is the mentality that catechism, CCD, PSR, religious education whatever is only for sacramental preparation, it is an obstacle course to be run with the sacrament as the prize.

The GDC and RCIA both call for catechesis to follow the RCIA model, which assumes that the sacraments of initiation will be received together, and not delayed without valid reason. It also provides for extending instruction and preparation if the candidate or catechumen is not ready.

I question whether any catechist, DRE or parent, or anyone other than a pastor, can make a judgement about whether a candidate is worthy (as opposed to ill prepared or ill disposed).

If we really believed in the sacraments as efficacious signs we would not place so much reliance on the humans involved and would trust more in the Holy Spirit.

The present system of delaying confirmation until the late teen years is an abuse and results in validly baptized persons being denied the benefits of the sacrament in the years they need the counsel of the Holy Spirit the most, and being withheld from full initiation in the Church. It also distorts the theology of the sacrament. If our youth programs are so weak we need a carrot and stick to keep the kids there, shame on us.
 
" The catechist and the DRE and the parent do not prepare the child for the sacraments. The Holy Spirit prepares the child."

That is of course a ridiculous statement. Of course the Holy Spirit is preparing the child using the efforts of the parents, catechists and pastor. The language the Church herself uses is that it is the parents responsibility to prepare the child.

I do agree with this statement: “It is an equally grave abuse to force a child over the age of reason to receive the sacraments if he objects and states explicitly he does not believe and does not want to receive.”

“The GDC and RCIA both call for catechesis to follow the RCIA model, which assumes that the sacraments of initiation will be received together, and not delayed without valid reason. It also provides for extending instruction and preparation if the candidate or catechumen is not ready.”

This of course only applies to an unbaptized child over the age of reason. Whe Baptized Canon Law requires that all three be received together under the age of reason it does not require this.
I do not believe that anyone can determine if someone is “worthy” except God Himself.

“The present system of delaying confirmation until the late teen years is an abuse and results in validly baptized persons being denied the benefits of the sacrament in the years they need the counsel of the Holy Spirit the most, and being withheld from full initiation in the Church.”

It is the parents responsibility to raise their children with the proper values and to teach them about avoiding the temptations of the world. The Grace of Baptism, Reconciliation and Holy Communion should be sufficient until they desire the Sacrament of Confirmation.

“It also distorts the theology of the sacrament. If our youth programs are so weak we need a carrot and stick to keep the kids there, shame on us.”

In addition the Catholic Faith is not lived out in front of them. That is the major issue.
 
Do you generally believe in appeasement? Did you used to do what the other kids wanted, because otherwise they’d take their ball and go home? 😦

If you give in on this point, chances are the parents will find some other reason to stop bringing the child to Mass and/or CCD.
 
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