Skip to comments.Bishop Aquila receives Pope's praise for reordering sacraments
Posted on 03/10/2012 5:40:21 AM PST by NYer
.- Bishop Samuel Aquila of Fargo said he is delighted to have first-hand papal approval for changing the order by which children in his diocese receive the sacraments.
I was very surprised in what the Pope said to me, in terms of how happy he was that the sacraments of initiation have been restored to their proper order of baptism, confirmation then first Eucharist, said Bishop Aquila, after meeting Pope Benedict on March 8.
Bishop Aquila was one of five bishops from North and South Dakota to meet with Pope Benedict XVI at the Vatican as part of their March 5-10 ad limina visit to the Rome.
Over the past seven years the Diocese of Fargo has changed the typical order of the sacraments of initiation. Instead of confirmation coming third and at an older age, it is now conferred on children at a younger age and prior to First Communion.
Bishop Aquila said he made the changes because it really puts the emphasis on the Eucharist as being what completes the sacraments of initiation and on confirmation as sealing and completing baptism.
When the sacraments are conferred in this order, he said, it becomes more obvious that both baptism and confirmation lead to the Eucharist. This sacramental assistance helps Catholics live that intimate relationship of being the beloved sons and daughters of the Father in our daily lives, he added.
The Bishop of Fargo said the changes have also distanced the Sacrament of Confirmation from some false theologies that see it as being a sacrament of maturity or as a sacrament for me choosing God.
Instead, young people in Fargo now have the fullness of the spirit and the completion of the gifts of the spirit to assist them in living their lives within the world, especially in the trials they face in junior high and high school.
Bishop Aquila explained his theological thinking to Pope Benedict during todays meeting.
In response, he said, the Pope asked if he had begun to speak to other bishops about this. He told the pontiff that he had and that certainly bishops within the Dakotas are now really looking towards the implementation in the restoration in the ordering of the sacraments.
This is precisely the order followed in the Eastern Catholic and Orthodox Churches. Baptism and Chrismation are usually administered together. In some of the Eastern Churches, First Eucharist is administered on the same day.
As a result, the preparation and reception of the Sacraments of Initiation throughout the Diocese of Phoenix will be: Baptism: in Infancy, Reconciliation: Second Grade, Confirmation and First Eucharist: Third Grade.
The Restored Order of Sacraments of Initiation - Diocese of Phoenix
As the Church has pushed Confirmation later and later -- in my diocese it's tenth grade -- it has become more difficult to get the kids involved. And the requirements have become more stringent. Recently in my parish the service hours requirement went from 24 hours over two years -- the Confirmation program is two years long -- to 60 hours over the two years with 30 hours per year.
I have known parents who opted out of having their kids confirmed because they weren't able to make the necessary time commitment. The Church has made it difficult for parents and kids alike. I was Confirmed in fourth grade; that it makes a difference in kids' lives whether their confirmed in fourth grade or tenth grade is not borne out.
My parents — born in 1911 and 1912 — received Confirmation on the same day as they received First Communion. In the 1950s, we received Confirmation in the 6th grade.
Confirmation was a profound experience for me at that age. I vividly remember how moved I was to be confirmed at such an age when I could get my brain around the concept.
It really ticked me off when Confirmation was delayed until high school for my kids.
A family in our homeschool association just had a baby who needed heart surgery soon after being born. An email about his progress mentioned that he’d received Baptism and Confirmation before the surgery, from which he is recovering extremely well.
Same here! Living in Queens NY at that time, catholic schools were packed with children. The bishop would come every other year meaning the 6th and 7th grades received the sacrament at the same time. With a church packed to overflowing that night, and the nuns 'clicking' to maintain order among so many youth (including CCD students), it was difficult to remain focused. However, when the bishop spoke, he addressed us as: "Soldiers of Christ!" Those words burned into my soul. Even today, that is how I see myself.
It really ticked me off when Confirmation was delayed until high school for my kids.
Here too! My daughter began her religious education in Pre-K, continued in catholic school through 6th grade and then attended public school which entailed getting her to evening classes. In this diocese, the sacrament is administered in 11th grade. It is the worst possible year with heavy homework and outside activities to prepare the kids for college. Oftentimes, by that age, some of them have p/t jobs. As rel ed classes were about to begin, my daughter announced that she was dropping out of the program. There was no coaxing or cajoling her back. I spent that year praying the rosary for her on a daily basis. Finally, in 12th grade, they shortened the program and she agreed to complete it. On the evening of her Confirmation, I dropped to my knees and thanked our Lord and His Mother for this blessing in both our lives.
I think the late Confirmation has everything to do with keeping attendance up at high school youth groups and full employment for youth ministers, and not much to do with whether the sacrament needs to be done at high school level to be understood or appreciated.
When I was on my parish’s confirmation team, although the program was two years long, I think the whole crux of it was accomplished in one weekend retreat with the Salesians. They taught the Gifts and Fruits of the Holy Spirit and whatever the kids needed to know to “get it” about what they were doing. One weekend, just like the “Engaged Encounter” which does marriage prep. If preparing for a lifetime of marriage can take only a weekend and a couple meetings with a priest, how come confirmation teams can hold a kid hostage for two years?
If they did this in the Archdiocese of Detroit, heads would explode!
I say, Bring it on!
We do Confirmation in 8th grade, but we don’t make our cash from our program (it’s 40.00 a year). I’m sure our parish would have NO problem moving the sacraments around. But lots of parishes make their money from the programs. They like the cashflow.
Well, it appears that's been an Epic Fail as a marriage-prep program, given (a) the number of divorces and (b) the number of couples who end up non-practicing Catholics. That doesn't make any particular Confirmation preparation program better or worse, but it does suggest that brevity is not the sole useful criterion.
The Sacrament of Confirmation has no absolute requirements for the recipient other than his being Baptised first, but Matrimony doesn't "work" unless the parties have fully assimilated the nature of Christian marriage and given their full consent. Maybe better outcomes all around would result if all children were confirmed as infants, while the resources that go into Confirmation preparation went to marriage preparation instead.
Our Parish moved the Confirmation prep classes to Sunday nights, just after 5:30 Mass. They were 1-1/2 hrs. long, and the kids rarely had outside work to do. I was mystified by the number of parents and kids who claimed that this was a hardship. Yes, they did have Service work, but it amounted to 3 mornings over the course of 8 months; a total of 9 hours. The Director of the Program had Service opportunities almost every Saturday for that time period. Yes, the kids who did sports might have had some difficulty, but we provided other possibilities for them. The problem was that the parents just didn't take it seriously, so not surprisingly, neither did the kids.
When the kids in my class would complain about the time commitment, I reminded them that this was a very important Sacrament, one which would make them 'adults' in their Faith, and responsible for their own salvation, so it needed some serious commitment on their part.
I understand the Bishops desire to put the Sacraments in 'order', but I wonder if the kids will understand the nature of Confirmation at that age. I guess it's like the Eucharist, though. Kids 7 or 8 yrs. old may not completely understand it right at first, but with continual teaching, will come to understand it in a more adult way.
Yeah, that's an incredible time commitment by the parents as well as the kids. No wonder Confirmation rates are dropping so drastically. There were a couple times over the course of the two years that I privately wondered whether I should give in and allow my son to drop out. I chose to make him see it through, and I'm glad I did. But I can't blame other parents who made a different choice.
Confirmation is a kind of answer to the Baptist objection to infant baptism, when it is given in the 6th grade. But Baptism, Communion, Confirmation are all rites of initiation, of water and the Holy Spirit.
Im sam put to mind of the old objections to the Baltimore Catechism. That rotelearning is wrong, because it turns the kids into parrots. But a bright 12 year old is quite capable of understanding what he/she is reading, as much as the ordinary thirty-year old man on the street.What we commit to memory becomes a part of us, a concrete part of us, as opposed to the vagaries of concept How many of us have stored up in our hearts the answer to the Question: what did God make us? One could turn the Catechism's answer to that into a book.
In talking to my class about the new Catechism, I told them what happened at one of a series of meetings that Fr. Alfred McBride held in Weston MA, just a couple of years before the new Catechism was published in the US. He had been on the Committee that invited comments from Bishops all over the world, and edited the publication.
At the very first meeting, Fr. McBride told us why they were publishing a new Catechism, and talked a bit about the old Baltimore Catechism, from which most in the room had learned about our Faith as children. He mentioned those who had denigrated the Baltimore because of the 'rote learning', and how that doesn't stick with kids.
He then told us to answer the question, "Why did God make me". There were probably 150 people in the room, and we all said, together, exactly, "God made me to know Him, to love Him, and to serve Him in this world, so I can be happy with Him in the next." When we finished, we all looked at each other and started laughing. Fr. McBride then said something like "It worked, didn't it?"
Most of the kids in my class had no clue about a new Catechism, but I assured them that if they ever had questions about what the Church teaches, or why, they just needed to look in the Catechism for the answer.
One of the more important things we studied during those two years was Scripture. The kids, for the most part, didn't come from families that read the Bible on any sore of regular basis, if at all. The first year, we studied the Old Testament, and the prophecies of a Messiah, and the second year, the New Testament and the fulfillment of those prophecies. I think it was pretty important, and was probably the first serious attempt at Bible studies in their lives.
Yes, it was two years, but it was only twice a month, from October to March, and frankly, I don't think that's too much to ask when we're talking about teaching teenagers how to approach their Faith as adults.
Thirty years ago, Lawrence Kohlbergs theory of moral development was all the thing in public education. He was just building on Piaget, but IMHO, they got it right that there are stages of moral development. Up to certain age, children just want to be told what is right and wrong.They like the concrete and the definite. Our soul—mind, body— demands real meat, true things to chew on, not fluff.