Get Up, and Get Moving....

An opportunity for people of serious and orthodox Catholic faith of the Archdiocese of Milwaukee to share the means to improve their own Churches.

Location: near Milwaukee, Wisconsin, United States

Sunday, August 27, 2006

Something from the e-mail bag...

Since I did not check with her, I will call her simply "MF", she sent me a kind and supportive e-mail (it was entitled "WOW! I just found your blog!). I hope that she continues as a reader and even offers some insights of her own.

In her message she asks me to comment on something:

"Do you have any thoughts on the "Age of Confirmation" issue? I know a group was pushing to lower the age and stop tying it to kids not being allowed to get confirmed unless they make an adult commitment to the Catholic Church. I don't know about you but I didn't read in the Catechism of the Catholic Faith that this is the purpose of Confirmation. "

OK, I am confident that there are those out there who think I am some right-wing nut...and that nut itself is pretty loose. So this may come as a surprise...I have really not decided on an opinion. As you know, in a staggeringly surprising move, the decision of Archbishop Timidity was to do nothing.

Now, not to let any of you down, and as you can imagine, I do have an opinion about how this issue was debated and decided by our esteemed bishops. They went on the path of least resistance and sought no real scholarly or well reasoned point of views.

Maybe it is just my personality, but I want more than just anecdotes and conjectures. Both sides of this argument offered overly simplistic and superficial reasons. On one side, our kids supposedly need to make an "adult" decision for the faith so that it takes root. On the other side, our kids need the divine effects of the sacrament to face the challenges of an immoral world. The problem is that both points of view have a degree of believability but each is foolish in the long run. And remember; only fools make foolish arguments (even fools for Christ). Sorry folks, but if you want to live by the anecdote, you will die by it. Plenty of late confirmed kids have left the practice of the faith, and plenty of kids of conservative Catholics, confirmed younger have given into drugs, sex, and other immorality in their high school years.

The real point is that no matter when a kid gets confirmed, they need good and solid teaching about the faith. Not the fluff that most parishes offer nowadays.

My bigger concern is why the Archbishop accepted this level of reasoning as the basis of his decision? Will the foolishness never end?

Terrance, at the Provincial E-mails, indicates that the practice of high school confirmation began in 1979. If my calendar math is correct, that would mean that Catholics over the age of 45 in this area were generally confirmed at the lower age, and those under 45 were confirmed later. Why did neither side of this argument seek to do a real, unbiased survey of practice of the faith of two age groups: randomly survey five hundred 30-40 year olds, confirmed at the older age, about their present practice, and five hundred 45-55 year olds, confirmed at the lower age about their practice when they were in their 30's (so that the comparisons are justified by age, family issues, and household finances, etc.). That would be useful information!

But here in Milwaukee, for decision makers useful information is an intrusion on the Don't Worry, Be Happy motto. To those making the case on either side, useful information is feared because everyone still suspects that the facts will go against them.

Closing with a related matter, and this might put some of you over the edge, message to a small more-Catholic-than-the-rest-of-us private school in Waukesha County: If the rumors are correct and you want to protest the local policy on age of confirmation and take your kids to Rome to be confirmed younger, doesn't that "protest" action make you "protestant"? (Even though I may be hyper-critical of His Excellency, but to avoid being hypocritical, as a Roman Catholic, he is still my bishop! What about you?)

Thanks for the e-mail MF. I hope that even with this posting you will continue to read.



Blogger Dad29 said...

I know of THREE "Waukesha County private [Catholic] schools. I think only two of them could be accused of 'holier-than-thou' problems.

Care to share on this? A hint, perhaps?

Monday, August 28, 2006 2:57:00 PM  
Blogger Mike, the Faithful Catholic said...

Read closely, you might miss it.

Monday, August 28, 2006 6:07:00 PM  
Blogger Dad29 said...

That confirms my initial thought.

A VERY interesting place ("interesting" in the Chinese-proverb sense...)

Tuesday, August 29, 2006 11:33:00 AM  
Blogger Andrew said...

i was at those confirmation program sessions. it was quite interesting. there was a fervor (sp?) among the people in the "youth ministry" department to keep it the same age.

their logic being, essentially, that the purpose for Confirmation is to keep kids in the church. which is complete BS, because just this past May, we had 60 kids confirmed at my parish. how many were at masses for weeks in the summer?

none. the program's a joke at my parish.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006 2:04:00 PM  
Blogger Karen Marie said...

However, back in my day, we were confirmed in fifth or sixth grade --- and that was when 90% or more of the confirmands disappeared (until it was time to change parishes in preparation for marriage..... my childhood parish was extraordinarily homely!)

In a 80% Catholic neighborhood, my 10th-grade Confraternity class was 6 students --- theoretically, it should have been at least 70.

But, I still don't think holding confirmation hostage to get children in religious ed is a great idea; instilling conversion in the parents would be better, but how?

Tuesday, August 29, 2006 5:19:00 PM  
Blogger Dad29 said...

From Zenit of THIS morning:

(A certain Diocese ruled that children must be at least HS sophomores to be confirmed. Here's the response from Rome:)

"In reply to this Congregation's decision that appropriate steps be taken to provide for the girl's confirmation in the near future, Your Excellency had proposed essentially two arguments:

"1. Though willingly admitting that the girl is well instructed and that her parents are very good Catholics, you point out that 'instruction is not the sole criterion for recognizing the opportune time for confirmation … this evaluation is a pastoral one which involves much more than being instructed.'

"2. Your Excellency indicates that the Diocesan Policy establishing that conferral of the Sacrament is to be no earlier than the sophomore year of high school is within the right inherent in the law in light of the legislation complementary to can. 891 for the Conference of Bishops to which you belong.

"With respect to Your Excellency's first point, it is no doubt true that there is a pastoral judgment to be made in such cases, provided that by 'pastoral judgment' one is speaking of the obligation of the Sacred Pastors to determine whether those elements required by the revised Code of Canon Law are indeed present, namely, that the person be baptized, have the use of reason, be suitably instructed and be properly disposed and able to renew the baptismal promises (cf. cann 843,1; 889,2) … it is clear this young girl has satisfied each of the canonical requisites for reception of the sacrament."

In regard to the second point, while the selection of an older age for confirmation is within the bishop's right, the congregation goes on to say:

"[I]t is also clear that any such complementary legislation must always be interpreted in accord with the general norm of law. As has been stated before, the Code of Canon Law legislates that Sacred Ministers may not deny the Sacraments to those who are not prohibited by law from receiving them (cf. can 843,1). Since it has been demonstrated that the girl possesses these requisite qualities, any other considerations, even those contained in the Diocesan Policy, need to be understood in subordination to the general norms governing the reception of the Sacraments."

After pointing out that it is the role of parents as the primary educators, and then of the sacred pastors to see that children are properly instructed, the letter adds:

"Consequently, when a member of the faithful wishes to receive this Sacrament, even though not satisfying one or more elements of the local legislation (for example, being younger than the designated age …), these elements must give way to the fundamental right of the faithful to receive the Sacraments. Indeed, the longer the conferral of the Sacrament is delayed after the age of reason, the greater the number of candidates who are prepared for its reception but are deprived of its grace for a considerable period of time."

The letter concludes with the Vatican congregation insisting to the bishop that the girl be given the opportunity for confirmation as soon as possible.

Wednesday, August 30, 2006 4:03:00 AM  
Blogger Terrence Berres said...

Andrew mentions fervor. I, too, have seen the fervor of the pastoral staff to keep things the way they prefer and to deny that lack of results could indicate a need to consider changes.

Karen Marie says "instilling conversion in the parents would be better, but how?" Why don't we go ask them? I've been on both sides of parish home visit programs, but both times it was about money.

Wednesday, August 30, 2006 7:45:00 AM  

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