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Tuesday 22 May 2012

Rorate Caeli News on SSPX

Rome-SSPX - Fellay speaks in Vienna: the words of Pope Benedict XVI
Following his visit to Salzburg, the Superior General of the Society of Saint Pius X (FSSPX / SSPX), Bishop Bernard Fellay, was in Vienna yesterday, for confirmations of local faithful. He had additional words on the current relationship with Rome, including some words of Pope Benedict XVI:
"You have surely heard that, in the last few months, Rome has offered us a solution - we could rather say, a recognition.
"This structure that is being offered to the Society is in fact entirely appropriate. That is, if it actually takes place, you will feel absolutely no difference between now and afterwards. We will remain as we are, so to speak. The problem is the [existence of] safeguards: will it actually happen this way? The fear is great that we will be transformed. ...
"It is quite clear that this offer is also very, very controversial in the Church at large. I can assure you: It is the will of the Pope. This must not be doubted. But it is certainly not the will of everyone in the Church.
"Whether this will come to fruition depends on terms that are not yet clear terms. There are still points that remain unclear. It could happen that, in the upcoming days, weeks - it is very hard to ascertain this - the Pope will decide directly. It could be that he takes the case back to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. There is a lot of pressure in Rome. Which is why I couldn't say more than this. That is the current status.
"One must not think that things will be easy afterwards. To use the words of the Pope that describe the situation quite well: 'I know,' he said, 'that it would be easier both for the Society and for myself to leave the situation as it currently is.' This describes very well the situation, and also that the Pope himself knows that he, when he does it, will be attacked. And also that the situation will not be easy for us. That which will arise out of this situation will be with Rome or against it. Both of which will be difficult.
"Yet we have trust in the good God. He has guided us very well so far. We must not think that, praying so much, He would abandon us in the moment of greatest danger. That would be [a thought] against hope. We are counting on God's assistance. His will be done.

Confirmation Series One

I had decided to continue looking at the Sacraments of Initiation on this blog. As readers know, I have been looking carefully at Baptism, the greatly misunderstood sacrament. Today, I am starting a mini-series on Confirmation, another misunderstood sacrament.

Part of the misunderstanding is simply the lack of good catechesis. In addition, many lay persons are stuck in magical thinking, about which I have written many times here. To receive a sacrament is not  "to be saved", as in the Protestant idea of the fundamental option, either. See Veritatis Splendor for an update on that theological error. We have all the information we need online and in print to be educated Catholic adults.

Here follow a few points from the Church's teaching on Confirmation. And, I am reminded of St. Rita today, whose Secret in the 1962 Missal I have reads. "We pray thee, Lord, through the merits of Saint Rita, to pierce our hearts with the thorns of divine suffering; by the grace deliver us from all sin, and enable us to offer thee with pure hearts the sacrifice of praise through our Lord."

As in any of the sacraments, our hearts and minds are lifted up to God.

The CCC is a good place to start with some of the points relating to Confirmation. I cannot cover much today, but will write three or so posts this week. This is merely the first.

I am going to start a bit backwards, but as I was an RCIA coordinator and teacher in the past, this is where one starts. Not everyone can receive the sacrament of Confirmation. And, before all my Byzantine brothers and sisters chime in, let me say I agree one-hundred percent with the Sacraments of Initiation all being given together, in infancy, as done in the Eastern Rite. I wish we had not separated the Sacraments of Initiation.

Having said that and as this post in on the custom in the Latin Rite, let me continue by quoting the CCC.


1306 Every baptized person not yet confirmed can and should receive the sacrament of Confirmation.123 Since Baptism, Confirmation, and Eucharist form a unity, it follows that "the faithful are obliged to receive this sacrament at the appropriate time,"124 for without Confirmation and Eucharist, Baptism is certainly valid and efficacious, but Christian initiation remains incomplete.

So the CCC admits initiation in incomplete without Confirmation. One, however, must be baptized with a Trinitarian baptism and not one made "in the Name of Jesus", which is happening more and more in non-denominational Christian communities. One must check this out, as sometimes I have discovered in the past, that my candidate needs to back-track to baptismal preparation.

1307 For centuries, Latin custom has indicated "the age of discretion" as the reference point for receiving Confirmation. But in danger of death children should be confirmed even if they have not yet attained the age of discretion.125

Very few Catholic parents realize that even before the traditional age of discretion, which is still seven in the Church, a child in the Latin Rite, under a threat of death, may be baptized. 

1308 Although Confirmation is sometimes called the "sacrament of Christian maturity," we must not confuse adult faith with the adult age of natural growth, nor forget that the baptismal grace is a grace of free, unmerited election and does not need "ratification" to become effective. St. Thomas reminds us of this:
Age of body does not determine age of soul. Even in childhood man can attain spiritual maturity: as the book of Wisdom says: "For old age is not honored for length of time, or measured by number of years. "Many children, through the strength of the Holy Spirit they have received, have bravely fought for Christ even to the shedding of their blood.126

This point must be emphasized, as the laity is confused here. Confirmation is not bar mitzvah or an adult appropriation of the Faith, as we must do that our entire lives. It is NOT a rite of passage. Confirmation is, again, a beginning sacrament for those who are being initiated into the Catholic Faith. We also underestimate the need for the virtuous life and the gifts of the Holy Spirit. In this time, children more than ever need sanctifying grace.

1309 Preparation for Confirmation should aim at leading the Christian toward a more intimate union with Christ and a more lively familiarity with the Holy Spirit - his actions, his gifts, and his biddings - in order to be more capable of assuming the apostolic responsibilities of Christian life. To this end catechesis for Confirmation should strive to awaken a sense of belonging to the Church of Jesus Christ, the universal Church as well as the parish community. The latter bears special responsibility for the preparation of confirmands.127

In diocese where I worked, Confirmation was at least a nine month, academic year process of teaching and initiation. Preparation cannot happen in a few weeks, as this is physically and mentally impossible, as well as spiritually dubious. Notice the last line, the community, that is the entire parish, but especially the family of the confirmand, takes responsibility for training. This cannot be left merely to the priest or religious education leader. The confirmand is part of a group which is practicing its Faith and is going out into that community to continue to feed that life of Faith in the community. I hear in England the phrase, "Oh, we lose the youth after Confirmation." If this is the case, either there was not enough preparation, or poor catechesis, or the youth were not in sanctifying grace to begin with and therefore, did not receive the graces of the sacrament. See below.

1310 To receive Confirmation one must be in a state of grace. One should receive the sacrament of Penance in order to be cleansed for the gift of the Holy Spirit. More intense prayer should prepare one to receive the strengthand graces of the Holy Spirit with docility and readiness to act.128

Perhaps this is my most important emphasis today. One must be in sanctifying grace to receive the sacrament. One must be a practicing Catholic. If one is not prepared to be a practicing Catholic and continue to be so after Confirmation, then the person is simply NOT ready to receive the sacrament. Again, there is no magic here. The sacraments are given without the framework of the life of the Church. One cannot receive grace in mortal sin and it is a mortal sin for a baptized Catholic not to be going to yearly Confession and weekly Mass on Sunday. 

This point is simply ignored in many areas, and it is, frankly, an abuse of the sacramental preparation and an misunderstanding of the theology of the sacraments.

1311 Candidates for Confirmation, as for Baptism, fittingly seek the spiritual help of a sponsor. To emphasize the unity of the two sacraments, it is appropriate that this be one of the baptismal godparents.129

I know situations in parishes where a sponsor is literally grabbed by the priest or religious education coordinator before the Mass to stand as a sponsor. This is horrible. In some dioceses, there are sponsoring classes. and I when I was an RCIA coordinator, the sponsors came to the first few sessions with the candidates and came on one of the two retreats we had-one with those coming into the Church and the catechumens, and one which included the sponsors.

I understand the pressure from parents and in some parishes regarding Confirmation. But, I am reminded of Bonhoeffer on Cheap and Costly Grace. Either we do it right, or it is a travesty of our Faith. Confirmation is not a numbers game for a diocese to claim how many people have been confirmed in a year, nor is it a salve on the consciences of parents who just drop the kids off or sit in the car while classes are going on. I applaud the dioceses which have now included the parents in the Confirmation preparation. It is the only way, unless a young person, and I have known some as young as nine and eleven, come forward themselves for Confirmation and take the responsibility of living out the Catholic life after this sacrament.

Here is one parish with which I am familiar in name, as some of my family lived in this diocese and the process is similar in several parishes. The Confimation prep is a year.

St.Francis Xavier Parish offers preparation classes for the Sacrament of Confirmation for high school freshmen and sophomores (and older students), following the guidelines established by the Diocese of Kansas City – St. Joseph, every other year. The next Confirmation Prep class will be offered during the 2011-2012 school year. Contact Mariann McCormally for more information

.Confirmation Documents for CONFIRMATION 2012
We offer an INTENSE preparation process for those young men and women
seeking to complete their initiation into the Catholic Christian church by the
Sacrament of Confirmation. This process includes: instruction, retreats and
prayer, and experiences of service and advocacy. Liturgical celebrations
and rituals at Sunday mass punctuate the transitions through the process.
What’s next?
+ a personal interview with one of the Confirmation team leaders
+ the choosing of a sponsor
+ participation in experiences of service and advocacy
+ Palm Sunday Reading of The Passion
Sunday, April 17, 2011
10:30 Mass
+ our first candidate session
Sunday, May 15, 2011
12:00 noon – 2:00 pm
+ a “Walking Retreat” and Sponsor-Candidate Event
Sunday, June 12, 2011
12:00 noon – 6:00 pm
…candidates will participate in a “walking retreat” on Pentecost Sunday
afternoon…we will return to the parish and be joined by the sponsors at 4:00
pm…our retreat afternoon will conclude with a shared meal…
+ Ignatius Day Celebration
Sunday, July 31, 2011
10:30 am Mass + PicnicCONFIRMATION 2012
…all classes will be held at St. Francis Xavier Church…
…12:00 noon- 2:00 pm…
Sunday, September 11, 2011 CLASS
Sunday, September 25, 2011 CLASS
Sunday, October 9, 2011 CLASS
Sunday, October 23, 2009 CLASS
Sunday, November 6, 2011 RITE OF ENROLLMENT and CLASS with SPONSORS
Sunday, November 20, 2011 CLASS (NCYC Pilgrims No-Penalty Absence)
Sunday, December 11, 2011 SFX CHRISTMAS COOKIE PROJECT
Sunday, January 8, 2012 CLASS
Sunday, January 22, 2012 CLASS
Sunday, February 12, 2012 CLASS
Sunday, February 26, 2012 RETREAT DAY
Sunday, March 4, 2012 RITE OF COVENANT and CLASS with SPONSORS
Sunday, March 25, 2012 CLASS and LETTER TO PASTOR DUE
Sunday, April 1, 2012 PALM SUNDAY PASSION READING at 10:30 Liturgy
Sunday, April 15, 2012 CLASS
Sunday, April 29, 2012 LAST CLASS
Sunday, May 6, 2012 at 7:15 pm REHEARSAL for CONFIRMATION CEREMONY
Wednesday, May 9, 2012 at 7:00 pm CELEBRATION OF CONFIRMATION
St. Francis Xavier Parish and Visitation Parish will celebrate the Sacrament of Confirmation
at St. Francis Xavier.

Goodbye to Kent

This is the last day of my vacation in Kent. Out of the thirty-five days I have been here, the sun has shone five days, the fog has taken over the area about ten days, and the rain has pelted down thirty days or so. But, the worst natural phenomenon has been the wind. Gale-like winds are blowing even as I write this post. One cannot walk on the cliff paths in the wind. The wind howls off the sea and sweeps into the fields, pushing the seagulls into safe havens, as they move away from the shore. I must admit that wind bothers me as I grew up in a tornado alley. Wind is not friendly. It has a mind of its own. I feel like the seagulls, which have moved inland to get away from the blasts. One landed on the roof here and cried as if to say, I do not want to be here. I wonder what this large, handsome bird thought of the hail three days ago? Do birds think about the weather, or do these animals just react?

Now, I am the type of animal to think and to make the most out of any situation. And, I was here to visit with friends, old and new, which I did. I have had a great time.

However, as a walker, I have been disappointed. Last year when I was here in May, the sun shone almost every day and the weather was mild. Some of the locals called it "boiling", but boiling to me would be Iowa heat of around 95 hot degrees Fahrenheit in the shade, not a nice 75. It has been cold here this year, on the coast. I can see France at the edge of the drive, and it must have been cold there are well. In fact, as I write, it is 51 and it will get down to 45 tonight. But, the warm weather is on the way, so I am told.

Therefore, I did what I usually do when vacations meet bad weather. I read. As I am working my way through all the novels of Dickens, I managed one (out of the four since November 3rd). I am also re-reading E. M. Forster, some novels of which I taught years ago. I read two books on St. John of the Cross, and several others mentioned on this blog, and some not mentioned dealing with political theory, St. Benedict. the CCC, the Bible, of course, yet another short life of St. Therese, several encyclicals, and more.

I did not walk as much on the cliffs as I wanted to do, but perhaps, next year.

Goodbye, Kent.

Roads go ever ever on,
Over rock and under tree,
By caves where never sun has shone,
By streams that never find the sea;
Over snow by winter sown,
And through the merry flowers of June,
Over grass and over stone,
And under mountains in the moon.
Roads go ever ever on
Under cloud and under star,
Yet feet that wandering have gone
Turn at last to home afar.
Eyes that fire and sword have seen
And horror in the halls of stone
Look at last on meadows green
And trees and hills they long have known.

J.R.R. Tolkien