- 1100 INFANT BAPTISMAL GUIDELINES
- 1110 INTRODUCTION
- 1120 THE ROLE OF THE PARENT"S AND PARISH COMMUNITY'S FAITH
- 1130 BAPTISMAL CATECHESIS
- 1140 POSTPONING BAPTISM
- 1150 CELEBRATION
- 1160 POST-BAPTISMAL FOLLOW-UP
- 1170 WHAT IS THE NECESSARY PROCESS FOR INFANT BAPTISM IN THE ARCHDIOCESE OF SAN FRANCISCO
- 1180 SPECIAL QUESTIONS REGARDING INFANT BAPTISM
- 1185 FOOTNOTES
- 1190 INSTRUCTION ON INFANT BAPTISM
- 1191 INTRODUCTION
- 1192 TRADITIONAL DOCTRINE ON INFANT BAPTISM
- 1192.1 IMMEMORIAL PRACTICE
- 1192.2 THE TEACHING OF THE MAGISTERIUM
- 1193 ANSWERS TO DIFFICULTIES BEING RAISED TODAY
- 1194 SOME PASTORAL DIRECTIVES
- 1195 CONCLUSION
- 1196 FOOTNOTES
- 1200 AN APPROACH TOWARDS CONFIRMATION PREPARATION IN LIGHT OF RECENT CHURCH DOCUMENTS AND CHANGES IN THE LIFE OF THE CHURCH
- 1211 Approach to be used in the Preparation of Candidates for the Sacrament of Confirmation
- 1212 Elements of a Parish Catechetical Program for Children and Youth - Including Preparation for the Sacrament of Confirmation - Modeled on the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults (RCIA):
- 1220 SPECIFIC GUIDELINES FOR CONFIRMATION PROGRAMS
- 1221 Prerequisite for Candidacy for Confirmation:
- 1222 Acceptance as a Candidate for Confirmation (Election):
- 1223 Program of Preparation, for Confirmation (Purification & Enlightenment):
- 1224 Role of the Faith Community:
- 1230 SUGGESTIONS ON MYSTAGOGIA PROGRAM FOR THOSE WHO WERE CONFIRMED AS INFANTS
- 1231 When in the Person's Life should this Solemn Celebration take place:
- 1232 Elements of a Parish Program to lead to a Solemn Celebration of Membership in the Church:
- 1240 CEREMONIAL GUIDELINES FOR THE SACRAMENT OF CONFIRMATION WITHIN THE EUCHARIST
- 1241 MINISTERS
- 1242 CANDIDATES
- 1243 SPONSORS
- 1244 PARENTS
- 1245 IMMEDIATE PREPARATIONS
- 1246 MUSIC
- 1247 CONFERRAL OF THE SACRAMENT
- 1248 MASS
- 1249 RECORDS
- 1300 THE HOLY EUCHARIST
- 1310 INTRODUCTION (STATUTES - 1969 - #51)
- 1320 MASS TIMES (STATUTES - 1969 - #52)
- 1330 HOMILY, PRAYER OF FAITHFUL AND MEDITATION (STATUTES - 1969 -#53)
- 1340 VERNACULAR & LATIN MASSES (STATUTES - 1969 - #54)
- 1350 DAILY MASS (STATUTES - 1969 - #55)
- 1360 FORM OF DAILY MASS (STATUTES - 1969 - #56)
- 1370 BINATION - TRINATION (STATUTES - 1969 - #57)
- 1380 CONCELEBRATION (STATUTES - 1969 - #58)
- 1400 THE PREPARATION OF CHILDREN FOR THE SACRAMENT OF PENANCE
- 1410 INTRODUCTION (Background Information)
- 1411 The Sacrament of Penance:
- 1412 IMPLICATIONS FOR A CATECHETICAL PROGRAM
- 1413 The Vatican and the First Reception of the Sacraments of Penance and the Eucharist:
- 1414 IMPLICATIONS FOR A CATECHETICAL PROGRAM:
- 1420 GUIDELINES CONCERNING THE PREPARATION OF CHILDREN FOR THEIR FIRST RECEPTION OF THE SACRAMENT OF PENANCE
- 1433 Penance for the 9 and 10 Year Old (Usually 4th grade)
- 1434 Programs for Parent
- 1600 COMMON POLICY FOR PASTORAL MARRIAGE PREPARATION
- 1610 INTRODUCTION
- 1620 Required Preparatory Period of Six Months
- 1630 The Parish Priest.
- 1640 Preparation Process
- 1641 Initial Session(s) with the priest provides the opportunity to:
- 1642 Marriage Preparation Programs
- 1643 Final Sessions with the priest provide an opportunity to
- 1650 Reasons for Delay of the Marriage.
- 1660 Assessment of Readiness for Marriage.
- 1661 Responsibility for Assessment
- 1662 Role of the Priest
- 1663 Process of Xudgment.
- 1670 Process for Delay.
- 1673 In such a remedial approach the following are among the options available:
- 1680 Interfaith Marriages.
- 1690 Non-practicing Catholics
- 1691 Summary of Common Policy
- 1692 APPENDIX A
- 1693 APPENDIX B
- 1694 APPENDIX C
- 1695 APPENDIX D
- 1696 APPENDIX E
- 1800 ANOINTING OF THE SICK
1100 INFANT BAPTISMAL GUIDELINES #
1110 INTRODUCTION #
BAPTISM AS INITIATION #
The Church implemented the liturgical reform of Vatican II by publishing the Rite of Christian Initiation for Adults, the Rite of Baptism for Children, and the Instruction on Infant Baptism. This calls for a change in thinking and pastoral practice to ensure a proper reverence for the action of God which is celebrated in the sacraments. This change is rooted in the understanding that the coming to faith involves a process of nurturing, reflection and celebration.1 The baptism of infants is the beginning of a process of initiation and faith formation that finds its completion in the celebration of the sacraments of Eucharist and Confirmation.2 Throughout life, one’s faith continues to seek new depths and expressions.
The Father seeks out and is present to the child from birth. Infant Baptism is a sign of the “Father’s…love, a sharing in the Son’s paschal mystery, and a communication of new life in the Spirit, it brings…(the child)… into the inheritance of God and joins…(the child)…
to the Body of Christ, the Church.”3 The Instruction on Infant Baptism also states: “Baptism, which is necessary for salvation, is the sign and the means of God’s prevenient love, which frees us from original sin and communicates to us a share in divine life. Considered in itself, the gift of these blessings to infants must not be delayed.”4 The Church is the Community which hears the Good News and daily strives to live the values of Jesus and reject sin through the help of the Spirit who is present in its life and worship.
Infant Baptism “has the force of witness, manifesting God’s initiative and the gratuitous character of the love with which He surrounds our lives.”5 The Faith shared and celebrated in Baptism is the parent’s and the community’s response to the Father’s call to continuous conversion. Through this sharing of faith in baptism, the child begins the life-long journey of turning towards the Father.
1120 THE ROLE OF THE PARENT”S AND PARISH COMMUNITY’S FAITH #
The faith of the universal Church is central to this formative process, but of particular signifance is the lived faith, values, and attitudes of the child’s parents, brothers and sisters, close relatives and family friends, and parish community. These people are the womb in which the child’s faith and values will come to life and be nurtured. In Baptism these people promise to be a sign of God’s acceptance, love and mercy. In this they assist the child in rooting his/her decisions and actions in Jesus’ message and values.
1130 BAPTISMAL CATECHESIS #
The parents are the first and primary ministers of faith because of their central position during the formative years of the child’s life. Through their daily contact with the child, they will share their faith and help the child discover the Father’s loving presence in all creation. For this environment to exist the parents must live lives rooted in faith.
This factor makes imperative a Baptismal Catechesis which assists the parents in deepening and integrating their own faith. This catechesis needs to be a time for parents to explore, openly and with enthusiasm, their own response to God Who is always present, the Christian Community’s response to God, the implications of their child’s entering the community, the history and theology of Baptism and the manner in which a child comes to know and respond to God. Ideally, Baptismal Catechesis would occur in a format where parents could share their quest for a deeper understanding and relationship with Christ. This exploration would result in a renewed enthusiasm for Christianity and more involvement in the parish community. Godparents, also, should be encouraged to attend this catechesis because of their role in the child’s formation in faith.
1140 POSTPONING BAPTISM #
Besides being an opportunity of enrichment for the parents and Godparents, Baptismal Catechesis gives the parents a chance to discern if Baptism should be celebrated at this time. If the parents do not evidence a life influenced by the Catholic faith or do not feel that they are ready to
nurture the seeds of faith sown in Baptism or take an active part in the parish community the Baptism should be delayed.6 Though this decision rests with the parents, the priest and the parish community should assist them in
coming to this decision. At this time the parish community must be supportive and invite the couple to deepen their relationship with Christ and the Church. They need to make available to these parents programs which will foster this faith development.
At times it may be the responsibility of the priest to delay the Baptism of an infant. The Sacred Congregation for Divine Worship has stated that “When the parents are not yet prepared to profess the faith or to undertake the duty of bringing up their children as Christians, it is for the parish priest, keeping in mind whatever regulations may have been laid down by the conference of bishops, to determine the time for the baptism of infants.”7* This decree places on the priest the serious responsibility of making a prudent judgment in each case. He must decide individually either to proceed with the baptism (after catechesis) because the parents are ready or to delay the baptism until the parents are properly disposed and instructed. This decision may involve a delay of some months during which the parents begin to practice their religion. If the parents give no evidence that they intend to practice the faith themselves or to assure a Christian upbringing for their child, obviously the baptism should be deferred at least for the present.
1150 CELEBRATION #
When possible, Baptism should be celebrated in the context of a Sunday Eucharistic Liturgy to make clear that Baptism is a family and parish community celebration.8 The priest and some community members should welcome parents to bring their child into the Christian Community. Preparation for A conflict exists between this paragraph and footnote #8. This conflict exists in the official documents themselves. Possible resolutions to the conflict might be found in various ways. Some parishes have educated their people to welcome all baptisms at Sunday Eucharistic Liturgies; others have special Sunday afternoon Eucharistic Liturgies for group baptisms; still, others celebrate baptism at Sunday Mass once a month, rotating the baptisms through the Sunday Mass schedule so that they occur at the same Mass only once every several months. The sense of the decree certainly recommends that at least some of the parish baptisms take place at Sunday Eucharistic Liturgies and pastoral decisions in this regard should be made with a consciousness of the value of parish participation in the rite by which new members are added to the parish community. the celebration of the sacrament should be an integral part of the Baptismal Catechesis. While keeping in mind the communal nature of the sacrament, families should be encouraged to express in the ceremony the faith which brings them to this moment. This is done through their choice of readings, clothing, banners, music, etc. However, in respect to the readings, the reform of the liturgy enacted by the Second Vatican Council wishes to emphasize the liturgical celebration of the Sunday. Therefore, to the degree possible, it is best to respect the readings in the lectionary although the norms do permit the choice of other readings on individual occasions. The couple’s cultural heritage will also influence how they develop this particular sacramental celebration. Throughout the visits, the catechesis, and the ceremony, the priest and the local community are a sign of the Church’s joyful acceptance of the parents and child. This is why it is important that some members of the parish community attend the Baptism and extend their good wishes.*
1160 POST-BAPTISMAL FOLLOW-UP #
The priest and parish community need to call the family to continuous faith development and prayer through visits, catechesis, liturgy, and parish family functions. They must enable families to be sensitive to the signs of the Spirit’s creative presence in each other. By sharing experiences, families will be able to discover the presence of the Lord during painful and stressful moments as well as those of comfort and happiness. Through this they will grow as healthy families who are filled with faith and exuding the love and peace of Christ This paragraph presumes the participation of the Godparents in the catechesis, while paragraph 1130 merely “encourages” it. pre-baptismal catechesis should stress the role of the Godparents in the Christian upbringing of the child, especially their obligation of giving witness to this Christian faith. Certainly, the God-parents should attend at least this session if at all possible. If the Godparents live in the local area they might well be expected to attend all sessions. If they do not live nearby they could be required to attend a catechesis session the night before the baptism, at which session their role in the life of the child could be discussed.
1170 WHAT IS THE NECESSARY PROCESS FOR INFANT BAPTISM IN THE ARCHDIOCESE OF SAN FRANCISCO #
The process is as follows:
1171 The parents and Godparents are welcomed by the priest or trained parish representative and informed about the Archdiocesan baptismal requirements outlined below.
1172 The parents and Godparents are given at least two sessions of catechesis in a parish program
(c.f. Section 1130 for background on this statement. The form and style of the sessions is determined at the local parish level).
1173 The date is set for the Baptism.
1174 The Baptism is celebrated according to guideline 1150 in the first part of this document.
1175 The Baptism is followed by some personal contact of the priest or parish representative with the family of the child.
1176 An ongoing catechetical program is provided in the parish for parents and children.
1180 SPECIAL QUESTIONS REGARDING INFANT BAPTISM #
1181 WHO SHOULD BE CONSIDERED AN INFANT? #
An infant is one who has not attained the capacity of making a personal act of faith in God and in His Son as would be required for the reception of first Eucharist.
1182 WHEN SHOULD BAPTISM BE POSTPONED? #
Baptism should not be postponed lightly. It should be delayed however, when there is no assurance that the child will be given the benefit of a Christian upbringing, that is, when there is a lack of sufficient parental interest in Christ, in the worship of the Church, in personal prayer, and in the life of charity, forgiveness and justice.
In evaluating the attitudes of parents, the priest should consider the cultural background of the family, since what may be a certain sign of faith in one culture may not be so in another. In some cultures, moreover, Godparents or close relatives might be able to provide a sufficient guarantee that the child will grow up in a Catholic environment. (c.f. Guideline 1140 on Postponing Baptism).
1183 WHERE SHOULD A CHILD BE BAPTIZED? #
A child should be baptized in the parish where the parents worship as part of the community. Normally this will be the parish where the parents reside, but circumstances will sometimes necessitate otherwise. If the Baptism takes place outside the parish of worship, the parish where the Baptism takes place must have both written permission from the parish of residence and a guarantee that catechesis has been given.
1184 WHO MAY BE GODPARENTS? #
One may be a Godparent if:
1184.1 He/she is a baptized, confirmed, and active Catholic who is able to receive the sacraments.
1184.2 He/she is in frequent contact with the parents and is capable of encouraging them and their child to live the faith.
1184.3 A baptized, confirmed, and active member of the Orthodox Church may be a Godparent. In such a case an Orthodox Priest must be consulted because of ecumenical considerations. Members of other Christian Churches may be Christian witnesses to the Baptism.
1185 FOOTNOTES #
1See the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults and the Rite of Baptism for Children #1-3, The Rites of the Catholic Church as revised by the Second Vatican Ecumenical Council, Pueblo Publishing Company, Inc., New York, 1976.
2Ibid., General Introduction, #1-2.
3“The Instruction on Infant Baptism,” Sacred Congregation for the Doctrine of Faith, October 20, 1980, #9 (See Origins, N.C. Documentary Service, January 8, 1981, Volume 10, No. 30, pp. 474-480).
4Ibid., #28 – 1
In the first place it is important to recall that the baptism of infants must be considered a serious duty. The questions which it poses to pastors can be settled only by faithful attention to the teaching and constant practice of the Church.
Concretely, pastoral practice regarding infant baptism must be governed by two great principles, the second of which is subordinate to the first.
- Baptism, which is necessary for salvation, is the sign and the means of God’s prevenient love, which frees us from original sin and communicates to us a share in divine life. Considered in itself, the gift of these blessings to infants must not be delayed.
- Assurances must be given that the gift thus granted can grow by an authentic education in the faith and Christian life, in order to fulfill the true meaning of the sacrament.37 As a rule, these assurances are to be given by the parents or close relatives, although various substitutions are possible within the Christian community. But if these assurances are not really serious there can be grounds for delaying the sacrament; and if they are certainly nonexistent the sacrament should even be refused.
It sometimes happens that pastors are approached by parents who have little faith and practice their religion only occasionally, or even by non-Christian parents who request baptism for their children for reasons that deserve consideration.
In this case the pastor will endeavor by means of a clear-sighted and understanding dialogue to arouse the parents’ interest in the sacrament they are requesting and make them aware of the responsibility that they are assuming.
In fact the Church can only accede to the desire of these parents if they give an assurance that, once the child is baptized, it will be given the benefit of the Christian upbringing required by the sacrament. The Church must have a well-founded hope that the baptism will bear fruit.40
If the assurances given – for example, the choice of godparents who will take sincere care of the child, or the support of the community of the faithful – are sufficient, the priest cannot refuse to celebrate the sacrament without delay, as in the case of children of Christian families.
If on the other hand they are insufficient, it will be prudent to delay baptism. However the pastors should keep in contact with the parents so as to secure, if possible, the conditions required of their part for the celebration of the sacrament. If even this solution fails, it can be suggested, as a last recourse, that the child be enrolled in a catechumenate to be given when the child reaches school age.
7Sacred Congregation of Divine Worship, May 15, 1969
80p. cit., The Rite of Baptism for Children.
#9 To bring out the paschal character of baptism, it is recommended that the sacrament be celebrated during the Easter Vigil or on Sunday, when the Church commemorates the Lord’s resurrection. On Sunday, baptism may be celebrated even during Mass, so that the entire community may be present and the necessary relationship between Baptism and Eucharist may be clearly seen, but this should not be done too often. Regulations for the celebration of baptism during the Easter Vigil or at Mass on Sunday are set out below.
If possible, baptism should take place on Sunday, the day on which the Church celebrates the paschal mystery. It should be conferred in a communal celebration for all the recently born children, and in the presence of the faithful, or at least of relatives, friends, and neighbors, who are all to take an active part in the rite.
1190 INSTRUCTION ON INFANT BAPTISM #
Sacred Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, 20 October 1980
1191 INTRODUCTION #
- Pastoral work with regard to infant baptism was greatly assisted by the promulgation of the new Ritual, prepared in accordance with the directives of the Second Vatican Council. The pace of change in society, however, is
making it difficult for the young to be brought up in the faith and to persevere in it, and the resulting problems encountered by Christian parents and pastors have not been completely eliminated.
- Many parents are distressed to see their children abandoning the faith and no longer receiving the sacraments, in spite of their own efforts to give them a Christian upbringing, and some pastors are asking themselves whether they should not be stricter before admitting infants to baptism. Some think it better to delay the baptism of children until the completion of a catechumenate of greater or less duration, while others are asking for a reexamination of the teaching on the necessity of baptism, at least for infants, and wish the celebration of the sacrament to be put off until such an age when an individual can make a personal commitment, perhaps even until the beginning of adult life.
However, this questioning of traditional sacramental pastoral practice cannot fail to raise in the Church justified fears of jeopardizing so essential a doctrine as that of the necessity of baptism. In particular, many parents are scandalized at finding baptism refused or delayed when, with full awareness of their duty, they request it for their children.
- In view of this situation and in response to the many petitions received, the Sacred Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, in consultation with various Episcopal Conferences, has prepared the present Instruction. The purpose of the document is to recall the principal points of doctrine in this field which justify the Church’s constant practice down the centuries and demonstrate its permanent value in spite of the difficulties raised today. The document will then indicate some general guidelines for pastoral action.
1192 TRADITIONAL DOCTRINE ON INFANT BAPTISM #
1192.1 IMMEMORIAL PRACTICE #
- Both in the East and in the West the practice of baptizing infants is considered a rule of immemorial tradition. Origen, and later Saint Augustine, considered it a “tradition received from the Apostles.”2 When the first direct evidence of infant baptism appears in the second century, it is never presented as an innovation. Saint Irenaeus, in particular, considers it a matter of course that the baptized should include “infants and small children” as well as adolescents, young adults and older people.3 The oldest known ritual, describing at the start of the third century the APOSTOLIC TRADITION, contains the following rule: “First baptize the children. Those of them who can speak for themselves should do so. The parents or someone of their family should speak for the others.”4 At a Synod of African Bishops Saint Cyprian stated that “God’s mercy and grace should not be refused to anyone born,” and the Synod recalling that “all human beings” are “equal,” whatever be “their size or age,” declared it lawful to baptize children “by the second or third day after their birth.”5
- Admittedly there was a certain decline in the practice of infant baptism during the fourth century. At that time even adults postponed their Christian initiation out of apprehension about future sins and fear of public penance, and many parents put off the baptism of their children for the same reasons. But it must also be noted that Fathers and Doctors such as Basil, Gregory of Nyssa, Ambrose, John Chrysostom, Jerome and Augustine, who were themselves baptized as adults on account of this state of affairs, vigorously reacted against such negligence and begged adults not to postpone baptims, since it is necessary for salvation.6 Several of them insisted that baptism should be administered to infants.7
1192.2 THE TEACHING OF THE MAGISTERIUM #
- Popes and Councils also often intervened to remind Christians of their duty to have their children baptized, At the close of the fourth century the ancient custom of baptizing children as well as adults “for the forgiveness of sins” was used against the teachings of Pelagius. As Origen and Saint Cyprian had noted, before Saint Augustine,8 this custom confirmed the Church’s belief in original sin, and this in turn showed still more clearly the necessity of infant baptism. There were interventions on these lines by Pope Siricius9 and Pope Innocent I.10 Later, the Council of Carthage in 418 condemned “whoever says that newborn infants should not be baptized,” and it taught that, on account of the Church’s “rule of faith” concerning original sin, “even babies, who are yet unable to commit any sin personally, are truly baptized for the forgiveness of sins, for the purpose of cleansing by rebirth what they have received by birth.”1
- This teaching was constantly reaffirmed and defended during the Middle Ages. In particular, the Council of Vienne in 1312 stressed that the sacrament of baptism has for its effect, in the case of infants, not just the forgiveness of sins but also the granting of grace and the virtues.12 The Council of Florence in 1442 rebuked those who wanted baptism postponed and declared that infants should receive” as soon as is convenient” (quam primum commode) the sacrament “through which they are rescued from the devil’s power and adopted as God’s children.”13 The Council of Trent repeated the Council of Carthage’s condemnation,14 and, referring to the words of Jesus to Nicodemus, it declared that “since the promulgation of the Gospel” nobody can be justified “without being washed for rebirth or wishing to be.”15 One of the errors anathematized by the Council is the Anabaptist view that “it is better that the baptism (of children) be omitted than to baptize in the faith of the Church alone those who do not believe by their own act.”3–6
- The various regional councils and synods held after the Council of Trent taught with equal firmness the necessity of baptizing children. Pope Paul VI also solemnly recalled the centuries-old teaching on this matter, declaring that “baptism should be conferred even on infants who are yet unable to commit any sin personally, in order that, having been born without supernatural grace, they may be born again of water and the Holy Spirit to divine life in Christ Jesus.”17
- The texts of the Magisterium quoted above were chiefly concerned with refuting errors. They are far from exhausting the riches of the doctrine on baptism expressed in the New Testament, the catechesis of the Fathers, and the teaching of the Doctors of the Church: baptism is a manifestation of the Father’s prevenient love, a sharing in the Son’s Paschal Mystery, and a communication of new life in the Spirit; it brings people into the inheritance of God and joins them to the Body of Christ, the Church.
- In view of this, Christ’s warning in Saint John’s Gospel, “unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the Kingdom of God,” must be taken as an invitation of universal and limitless love, the words of a Father calling all his children and wishing them to have the greatest of blessings. This pressing and irrevocable call cannot leave us indifferent or neutral, since its acceptance is a condition for achieving our destiny.
- The Church must respond to the mission that Christ gave to the Apostles after his Resurrection. Saint Matthew’s Gospel reports it in a particularly solemn form: “all authority in heaven and on earth has been give to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.”19 Transmitting the faith and administering baptism are closely linked in this command of the Lord, and they are an integral part of the Church’s mission, which is universal and cannot cease to be universal.
- This is how the Church has understood her mission from the beginning, and not only with regard to adults. She has always understood the words of Jesus to Nicodemus to mean that “children should not be deprived of baptism.”2° Jesus’ words are so universal and absolute in form that the Fathers employed them to establish the necessity of baptism, and the Magisterium applied them expressly to infants:z1the sacrament is for them too entry into the people of God22and the gateway to personal salvation.
- The Church has thus shown by her teaching and practice that she knows no other way apart from baptism for ensuring children’s entry into eternal happiness. Accordingly, she takes care not to neglect the mission that the Lord has given her of providing rebirth “of water and Spirit” for all those who can be baptized. As for children who die without baptism, the Church can only entrust them to God’s mercy, as she does in the funeral rite provided for them.23
- The fact that infants cannot yet profess personal faith does not prevent the Church from conferring this sacrament on them, since in reality it is in her own faith that she baptizes them. This point of doctrine was clearly defined by Saint Augustine: “When children are presented to be given spiritual grace,” he wrote, “it is not so much those holding them in their arms who present them – although, if these people are good Christians, they are included among those who present the children – as the whole company of saints and faithful christians…It is done by the whole of Mother Church which is in the saints, since it is as a whole that she gives birth to each and every one of them.”24 This teaching is repeated by Saint Thomas Aquinas and all the theologians after him: the child who is baptized believes not on its own account, by a personal act, but through others, “through the Church’s faith communicated to it.”25 This same teaching is also expressed in the new Rite of Baptism, when the celebrant asks the parents and godparents to profess the faith of Ole Church, the faith in which the children are baptized.
- Although the Church is truly aware of the efficacy of her faith operating in the baptism of children, and aware of the validity of the sacrament that she confers on them, she recognizes limits to her practice, since, apart from cases of danger of death, she does not admit a child to baptism without its parents’ consent and a serious assurance that after baptism it will be given a Catholic upbringing.27 This is because she is concerned both for the natural rights of the parents and for the requirements of the development of faith in the child.
1193 ANSWERS TO DIFFICULTIES BEING RAISED TODAY #
It is in the light of the teaching recalled above that we must judge certain views which are expressed today about infant baptism and which question its legitimacy as a general rule.
1193.1 LINK BETWEEN BAPTISM AND ACT OF FAITH #
- Noting that in the New Testament writings baptism follows the preaching of the Gospel, presupposes conversion and goes with a profession of faith, and furthermore that the effects of grace (forgiveness of sins, justification, rebirth and sharing in divine life) are generally linked with faith rather than with the sacrament,26some people propose that the order “preaching, faith, sacrament” should become the rule. Apart from cases of danger of death, they would apply this rule to children, and would institute an obligatory catechumenate for them.
- It is beyond doubt that the preaching of the Apostles was normally directed to adults, and the first to be baptized were people converted to the Christian faith. As these facts are related in the books of the New Testament, they could give rise to the opinion that it is only the faith of adults that is considered in these texts. However, as was mentioned above, the practice of baptizing children rests on an immemorial tradition originating from the Apostles, the importance of which cannot be ignored; besides, baptism is never administered without faith: in the case of infants, it is the faith of the Church. Furthermore, in accordance with the teaching of the Council of Trent on the sacraments, baptism is not just a sign of faith but also a cause of faith.29 It produces in the baptized “interior enlightenment,” and so the Byzantine liturgy is right to call it the sacrament of enlightenment, or simply enlightenment, meaning that the faith received pervades the soul and causes the,Neil of blindness to fall before the brightness of Christ.'”
1193.2 HARMONY BETWEEN BAPTISM AND PERSONAL RECEPTION OF GRACE #
- It is also said that, since every grace is intended for a person, it should be consciously accepted and appropriated by the person who receives it, something that an infant is quite incapable of doing.
- But in reality the child is a person long before it can show it by acts of consciousness and freedom. As a person, the child is already capable of becoming, through the sacrament of baptism, a child of God and a coheir with Christ. Later, when consciousness and freedom awake, these will have at their disposal the powers placed in the child’s soul by the grace of baptism.
1193.3 HARMONY BETWEEN BAPTISM AND THE CHILD’S FREEDOM #
- Some people also object that baptizing infants is a restriction of their freedom. They say that it is contrary to the dignity of the children as persons to impose on them future religious obligations that they may perhaps later be let to reject. In this view it would be better to confer the sacrament only at an age when a free commitment has become possible; until then parents and teachers should restrain themselves and avoid exercising any pressure.
- Such an attitude is simply an illusion: there is no such thing as pure human freedom, immune from being influenced in any way. Even on the natural level, parents make choices for their child that are essential for its life and for its orientation towards true values. A so-called neutral attitude on the part of the family with regard to the child’s religious life would in fact be a negative choice that would deprive the child of an essential good.
Above all, those who claim that the sacrament of baptism compromises a child’s freedom forget that every individual, baptized or not, as a creature, bound by indefeasible duties to God, duties which baptism ratifies and ennobles through the adoption as a child of God. They also forget that the New Testament presents entry into the Christian life not as a form of slavery or constraint but as admittance to true freedom.31
It can happen that, when a child grows up, it will reject the obligations derived from its baptism. Although its parents may be hurt as a result, they should not reproach themselves for having had the child baptized and giving it a Christian upbringing, as was their right and their duty.32 In spite of appearances, the seeds of faith sown in the child’s soul may one day come to life again, and the parents will contribute to this by their patience and love, by their prayers and by the authentic witness of their own faith.
1193.4 BAPTISM IN THE PRESENT SOCIOLOGICAL SITUATION #
- In view of the link between the person and society, some people hold that infant baptism is still suitable in a homogeneous type of society, in which values, judgments and customs form a coherent system; but they hold that it is inappropriate in today’s pluralistic societies, which are characterized by instability of values and conflicts of ideas. In the present situation, they say baptism should be delayed until the candidate’s personality has sufficiently matured.
- The Church is well aware that she must take the social reality into account. But the criteria of homogeneity and pluralism are merely pointers and cannot be set up as normative principles; they are inadequate for settling a strictly religious question, which by its nature is a matter for the Church and the Christian family.
While the criterion of the homogeneous society would legitimize infant baptism if the society is Christian, it would also lead one to consider it as illegitimate when Christian families are in a minority, whether within an ethnic group that is still predominantly pagan or in a militantly atheistic regime. This obviously cannot be admitted.
The criterion of the pluralistic society is no more valid than the preceding criterion since in this type of society the family and the Church can act freely and accordingly provide a Christian education.
Besides, a study of history clearly shows that if these “sociological” criteria had been applied in the first centuries of the Church they would have paralyzed all her missionary expansion. It is worth adding that all too often pluralism is being invoked in a paradoxical way, in order to impose on the faithful behaviour patterns that in reality are an obstacle to the exercise of their Christian freedom.
In a society whose mentality, customs and laws are no longer inspired by the Gospel it is therefore of great importance that in questions connected with infant baptism the Church’s own nature and mission should be taken into consideration before all else.
In spite of being intermingled with human society and in spite of being made up of different nationalities and cultures, the People of God has its own identity, characterized by unity of faith and sacraments. Animated as it is by a single spirit and a single hope, it is an organic whole, capable of producing within the various groups of humanity the structures necessary for its growth. It is in this context that the Church’s sacramental pastoral practice, in particular with regard to infant baptism, must be placed; her practice must not depend only on criteria borrowed from the human sciences.
1193.5 INFANT BAPTISM AND SACRAMENTAL PASTORAL PRACTICE #
A final criticism of infant baptism would have it that the practice comes from a pastoral usage lacking missionary impetus and concerned more with administering a sacrament than with stirring up faith and fostering commitment to spreading the Gospel. It is asserted that, by retaining infant baptism, the Church is yielding to the temptation of numbers and social establishment, and that she is encouraging the maintenance of a magical concept of the sacraments, while she really ought to engage in missionary activity, bring the faith of Christians to maturity, foster their free conscious commitment, and consequently admit a number of stages in her sacramental pastoral practice.
Undoubtedly, the Church’s apostolate should aim at stirring up lively faith and fostering a truly Christian life; but the requirements of pastoral practice with regard to administering the sacraments to adults cannot be applied unchanged to children who, as mentioned above, are baptized “in the faith of the Church.” Besides, we must not treat lightly the necessity of the sacrament: it is a necessity that has lost none of its importance and urgency, especially when what is at stake is ensuring that the child receives the infinite blessing of eternal life.
With regard to preoccupation with numbers, if this preoccupation is properly understood it is not a temptation or an evil for the Church but a duty and a blessing. The Churc44 described by Saint Paul as Christ’s “body” and his “fullness,” is the visible sacrament of Christ in the world, with the mission of extending to everyone the sacramental link between her and her glorified Saviour. Accordingly, she cannot fail to wish to give to everyone, children no less than adults, the first and basic sacrament of baptism.
If it is understood in this way, the practice of infant baptism is truly evangelical, since it has the force of witness, manifesting God’s initiative and the gratuitous character of the love with which he surrounds our lives: “not that we loved God but that he loved us…We love, because he first loved us.”34 Even in the case of adults, the demands that the reception of baptism involves35should not make us forget that “he saved us, not because of deeds done by us in righteousness, but in virtue of his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal in the Holy Spirit.”36
1194 SOME PASTORAL DIRECTIVES #
While certain suggestions being put forward today cannot be accepted – suggestions such as the definitive abandonment of infant baptism and freedom to choose, whatever the reasons, between immediate baptism and deferred baptism – one cannot deny the need for a pastoral effort pursued in greater depth and renewed in certain aspects. It is appropriate to indicate the principles and fundamental guidelines at this point.
1194.1 THE PRINCIPLES OF THIS PASTORAL PRACTICE #
- In the first place it is important to recall that the baptism of infants must be considered a serious duty. The questions which it poses to pastors can be settled only by faithful attention to the teaching and constant practice of the Church.
Concretely, pastoral practice regarding infant baptism must be governed by two great principles, the second of which is subordinate to the first.
1194.11 Baptism which is necessary for salvation, is the sign and the means of God’s prevenient love, which frees us from original sin and communicates to us a share in divine life. Considered in itself, the gift of these blessings to infants must not be delayed.
1194.12 Assurances must be given that the gift thus granted can grow by an authentic education in the faith and Christian life, in order to fulfill the true meaning of the sacrament.37 As a rule, these assurances are to be given by the parents or close relatives, although various substitutions are possible within the Christian community. But if these assurances are not really serious there can be grounds for delaying the sacrament; and if they are certainly non-existent the sacrament should even be refused.
1194.2 DIALOGUE BETWEEN PASTORS AND BELIEVING FAMILIES #
On the basis of these two principles, concrete cases will be examined in a pastoral dialogue between the priest and the family. The rules for dialogue with parents who are practising Christians are given in the Introduction to the Ritual. It is sufficient to recall here two of the more significant points.
In the first place, much importance is given to the presence and active participation of the parents in the celebration. The parents now have priority over the godparents, although the presence of the latter continues to be required, since their assistance in the child’s education is valuable and can sometimes be essential.
Secondly, preparation for the baptism has an important place. The parents must give thought to the baptism; they should inform their pastors of the coming birth and prepare themselves spiritually. The pastors, for their part, will visit the families or gather them together and give them catechesis and appropriate advice. They will also urge the families to pray for the children that they are expecting.38
As for the time of the actual celebration, the indications in the Ritual should be followed: “The first consideration is the welfare of the child, that it may not be deprived of the benefit of the sacrament; then the health of the mother must be considered, so that, as far as possible she too may be present. Then, as long as they do not interfere with the greater good of the child, there are pastoral considerations such as allowing sufficient time to prepare the parents for planning the actual celebration to bring out its paschal character.” Accordingly, “if the child is in danger of death, it is to be baptized without delay;” otherwise, as a rule “an infant should be baptized within the first weeks after birth.”39
1194.3 DIALOGUE BETWEEN PASTORS AND FAMILIES WITH LITTLE FAITH OR NON-CHRISTIAN FAMILIES #
- It sometimes happens that pastors are approached by parents who have little faith and practise their religion only occasionally, or even by non-Christian parents who request baptism for their children for reasons that deserve consideration.
In this case the pastor will endeavor by means of a clear-
sighted and understanding dialogue to arouse the parents’ interest in the sacrament they are requesting and make them aware of the responsibility that they are assuming.
In fact the Church can only accede to the desire of these parents if they give an assurance that, once the child is baptized, it will be given the benefit of the Christian upbringing required by the sacrament. The Church must have a well-founded hope that the baptism will bear fruit.”
If the assurances given – for example, the choice of godparents who will take sincere care of the child, or the support of the community of the faithful – are sufficient, the priest cannot refuse to celebrate the sacrament without delay, as in the case of children of Christian families. If on the other hand they are insufficient, it will be prudent to delay baptism. However the pastors should keep in contact with the parents so as to secure, if possible, the conditions required on their part for the celebration of the sacrament. If even this solutions fails, it can be suggested, as a last recourse, that the child be enrolled in a catechumenate to be given when the child reaches school age.
- These rules have already been made and are already in force,41 but they require some clarifications.
In the first place it must be clear that the refusal of baptism is not a means of exercising pressure. Nor can one speak of refusal, still less of discrimination, but rather of educational delay, according to individual cases, aimed at helping the family to grow in faith or to become more aware of its responsibilities.
With regard to the assurances, any pledge giving a well-founded hope for the Christian upbringing of the children deserves to be considered as sufficient.
Enrollment for a future catechumenate should not be accompanied by a specially created rite which would easily be taken as an equivalent of the sacrament itself. It should also be clear that this enrollment is not admittance to the catechumenate and that the infants enrolled cannot be considered catechumens with all the prerogatives attached to being such. They must be presented later on for a catechumenate suited to their age. In this regard, it must be stated clearly that the existence in the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults of a Rite of Initiation for Children of Catechetical Age42 in no way means that the Church considers it preferable or normal to delay baptism until that age.
Finally, in areas where families of little faith or non-Christian families make up the majority, so as to justify the local setting up by the Bishops’ Conference of a joint pastoral plan which provides for postponing baptism beyond the time fixed by the general law,43Christian families living in these areas retain the full right to have their children baptized earlier.
The sacrament is therefore to be administered in accordance with the Church’s will and as the faith and generosity of these families deserve.
1194.4 THE ROLE OF THE FAMILY AND OF THE PARISH COMMUNITY #
- The pastoral effort brought into play on the occasion of the baptism of infants should be part of a broader activity extending to the families and to the whole of the Christian community.
From this viewpoint it is important to intensify pastoral care of engaged couples at meetings in preparation for marriage, and likewise the pastoral care of young couples. The whole ecclesial community must be called upon as circumstances demand, especially teachers, married couples, family action movements, religious congregations and secular institutes. Priests must give this apostolate an important place in their ministry. In particular, they will remind parents of their responsibilities in awakening their children’s faith and educating it. It is in fact for parents to begin the religious initiation of the child, to teach it to love Christ as a close friend and to form its conscience. This task will be all the more fruitful and easy if it builds on the grace of baptism present in the child’s heart.
- As is clearly indicated in the Ritual, the parish community, especially the group of Christians that constitute the family’s human environment, should play a part in the pastoral practice regarding baptism. “Christian instruction and the preparation for baptism are a vital concern of God’s people, the Church, which hand on and nourishes the faith it has received from the Apostles.”‘” This active participation by the Christian people, which has already come into use in the case of adults, is also required for the baptism of infants, in which “the People of God, that is the Church, make present in the local community, has an important part to play.”45In addition, the community itself will as a rule draw great profit, both spiritual and apostolic, from the baptism ceremony. Finally, the community’s work will continue, after the liturgical celebration, through the contribution of the adults to the education of the young in faith, both by the witness of their own Christian lives and by their participation in various catechetical activities.
1195 CONCLUSION #
In addressing the Bishops, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith is fully confident that, as part of the mission that they have received from the Lord, they will take care to recall the Church’s teaching on the necessity of infant baptism, promote an appropriate pastoral practice, and bring back to the traditional practice those who, perhaps under the pressure of comprehensible pastoral concerns, have departed from it. The Congregation also hopes that the teaching and guidelines contained in this Instruction will reach all pastors, Christian parents and the ecclesial community, so that all will become aware of their responsibilities and make their contribution, through the baptism of children and their Christian education, to the growth of the Church, the Body of Christ.
This instruction was adopted at an Ordinary Meeting of the Sacred Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith and was approved at an audience granted to the undersigned Cardinal Prefect by His Holiness Pope John Paul II, who ordered its publication. Rome, at the Sacred Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, 20 October 1980.
1196 FOOTNOTES #
- Ordo baptismi parvulorum, ed. tupica, Romae, 16 May 1969.
- Origen, In Romanis, V.9: PG 14, 1047; cf. Saint Augustine, De Genesi ad litteram, X, 23, 39; PL 34, 426; De peccatorum meritis et remissione et de baptismo parvulorum ad Marcellinum, I, 26, 39; PL 44, 131. In fact, three passages of the Acts of the Apostles (16:15, 16:33, 18:8) speak of the baptism of a whole household or family.
- Adv. Haereses II, 22,4: PG 7, 784; Harvey I, 330. Many inscriptions from as early as the second century give little children the title of “children of God,” a title given only to the baptized, or explicitly mention that they were baptized: cf., for example, Corpus Inscriptionum Graecarum 9727, 9801, 9817; E. Diehl, Inscriptiones Latinae Christianae Veteres (Berlin 1961) nn 1523 (3T, 4429 A.
- La Tradition apostolique de saint Hippolyte, edited and translated by B. Botte, Munster, Aschendorff, 1963 (Liturgiewissenschaftliche Quellen and Forschungen 39) p.44.
- Epist LXIV, Cyprianus et coeteri collegae, qui in concilio adfuerunt numero LXVI, Fido fratri, PL 3, 1013-1019; ed Hartel (CSEL 3), pp 717-721. This practice was particularly strong in the Church in Africa, in spite of the position taken by Tertullian, who advised that baptism of children should be delayed in view of the innocence associated with their age and the fear of possible lapses in young adulthood. Cf. De baptismo XVIII, 3-XIX, 1: PL 1, 1220-1222; De anima, 39-41: PL 2, 719ff.
- Cf. Saint Basil, Homilia XIII exhortatoria ad sanctum baptisma: PG 424-436; Saint Gregory of Nyssa, Adversus eos differunt baptismum oratio: PG 46, 424; Saint Augustine. In loannem Tractatus XIII, 7: PL 35, 1496; CCL 36, p. 134.
- Cf. Saint Ambrose, De Abraham II, 11, 81-84: PL 14, 495-497: CSEL 32, 1, pp. 632-635; Saint John Chrysostom, Catechesis, III, 5-6, ed. A. Wenger, SC 50, pp. 153-154; Saint Jerome, Epist. 107, 6: PL 22, 873, ed. J.Labourt (Bude), vol 5, pp. 151-152. However, while Gregory of Nazianzus urged mothers to have their children baptized at the earliest possible age, he was content to fix that age as the first three years; cf. Oratio XL in sanctum baptisma, 17 and 28: PL 380 399.
- Origen, In Leviticum hom. VIII,3: PG 12, 496; In Lucam Hom. XIV, 5:PG 13, 1835; Saint Cyprian, Epist.64, 5: PL 3, 1018; ed. Hartel, CSEL, p. 720; Saint Augustine, De peccatorum meritis et remissione et de baptismo parvulorum, I, XVII-XIX, 22-24: PL 44, 121-122; De gratia Christi et de peccato originali, I, XXX-11, 35; ibid, 377; De praedestinatione sanctorum, XIII,25: ibid, 978; Opus imperfectum contra Iulianum, V,9: PL 45, 1439.
- Epist, “Directa ad decessorem” ad Himerium episc. Tarraconensem, 10 febr. 385, 2: DS(Denzinger-Schonmetzer, Enchiridion symbolorum, definitionum et declarationum de rebus fidei et morum, Herder 1965) 184.
- Epist. “Inter ceteras Ecclesiae Romane” ad Silvanum et ceteros Synodi MileTrEanae Patres, 27 ian. 417, 5: DS 219.
- Canon 2: Mansi, III, 811-814 and IV, 327 A-B: DS 223.
- Council of Vienne: Mansi, XXV, 411 C-D: DS 903-904
- Council of Florence, sessio XI: DS 1349.
- Sessio V, can. 4: DS 1514; cf. the 418 Council of Carthage, note 11 above.
- Sessio VI, cap. IV: DS 1524.
- Sessio VII, can 13: DS 1626.
- Sollemnis Professio Fidei, 18: AAS 60 (1968), p.440.
- JN 3:5.
- Mt 28:19: cf. MK 76:15-16.
- Ordo baptismi parvulorum, Praenotanda, n.2.p. 15.
- Cf. note 8 above for the patristic texts, and notes 9 to 13 for the Councils. Another text is the Profession of Faith of Patriarch Dositheus of Jerusalem in 1672: Mansi XXXIV, 1746.
- “What is done when children are baptized” wrote Saint Augustine, “is to incorporate them into the Cliurch, that is to say to associate them with Christ’s body and members” (De peccatorum meritis et remissione et de baptismo parvulorum, III, 4, 7: PL 44, 189: cf. I, 26, 39: ibid, 131).
- Ordo exsequiarum, ed. tupica, Romae, 15 August 1969, nn 82, 231-237.
- Epist. 98, 5: PL 33, 362; cf Sermo 176, 2,2: PL 38, 950.
- Summa Theologica, IIIa, q.69, a.6, ad 3; cf. q. 68. a.9, ad 3.
- Ordo baptismi parvulorum, Praenotanda, n. 2: cf. n. 56.
- There is a long-standing tradition, appealed to by Saint Thomas Aquinas (Summa Theologica, IIa-IIae, q.10. a. 12, in c.) and Pope Benedict XIV (Instruction Postremo Mense of 28 February 1747, 4-5: DS 2552-2553), against baptizing a child of unbelieving or Jewish parents, except in danger of death (CIC, can. 750, Sec. 2),against the parents wishes, that is unless the parents ask for it and give guarantees.
- Cf. Mt 28:19; MK 16:16; Ac 2:37-41, 8:35-38; Rom 3:22, 26; Gal 3:26.
- Council of Trent, sessio VII, Decr. de sacramentis, can 6: DS 1606.
- Cf. 2 Cor 3:15-16.
- JN 8:36; Rom 6:17-22, 8:21; Gal 4:31, 5:1, 13:1 Pt 2:16,etc.
- This right and duty, specified in detail by the Second Vatican Council in the Declaration Dignitatia Humanae, 5, has been given international recognition in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, art. 26 (3).
- Eph 1:23.
- 1 JN 4:10, 19.
- Cf. Council of Trent, sessio VI, De justificatione, capp.5-6, can. 4 and 9: DS 1525-1526, 1554, 1559.
- Tit 3:5.
- Cf. Ordo baptismi parvulorum,Praenotanda, n.3, p. 15.
- Cf. ibid, n. 8, Sec. 2, p. 17; n.5, Secs 1 and 5, p. 16.
- Ibid.,8, Sec. 1, p. 17.
- Cf. ibid., n.3, p.15.
- These rules were first given in a Letter of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith replying to a request by the Most Reverend Barthelemy Hanrion, Bishop of Dapango, Togo, and they were published, together with the Bishop’s request, in Notitiae No. 61 (volume 7, year 1971) pp. 64-70.
- Cf. Ordo initiationis christianae adultorum, ed. typica, Romae, 6 Jan. 1972, capt7,7171251149.
- Cf. Ordo baptismi parvulorum, Praenotanda, n. 8, Secs. 3-4, p. 17.
- Ibid., De initiatione christiana, Praenotanda generalia, n. 7, p. 9.
- Ibid, Praenotanda, n. 4, p. 15.
1200 AN APPROACH TOWARDS CONFIRMATION PREPARATION IN LIGHT OF RECENT CHURCH DOCUMENTS AND CHANGES IN THE LIFE OF THE CHURCH #
1210 INTRODUCTION #
The aggiornamento (“up-dating”) begun by Pope John XXIII has dramatically touched all levels of the Church’s life. The sacramental awareness of the Christian community has been broadened and deepened. Structures and processes have been revitalized to better fit today’s needs.
Recent official guidelines of the Church regarding the Sacraments of Initiation – Baptism, Confirmation and the Eucharist – mandate such a renewal. In essential areas of faith-understanding, no substantial change has taken place. In the area of pastoral practice, however, significant developments have occurred. This is clearly seen in two aspects of Confirmation: the question of proper age, and its relationship to the life of the parish community.
The law of the Latin Rite Church requires that Confirmation not be celebrated prior to the age of seven.
From a strictly doctrinal viewpoint, no single phase of maturity is most suitable for the reception of Confirmation. The thinking and practice of the Church reflects the conviction that every level of human growth has its own unique spiritual physiognomy, each equal in the eyes of God. Children even at the first “age of reason” are seen as capable of fundamental acts of “spiritual maturity,” of entering into a true personal relationship with their Heavenly Father, and of achieving authentic holiness. Their faith is called to realize itself through acts of ministry in the home or community in specific ways which can never be duplicated by others who possess greater physical or psychological maturity.
For this reason, the celebration of Confirmation is permitted with the consent of the local bishop, to take place at various age levels provided that the nature of the Confirmation catechesis, the liturgical celebration, and the insertion of those confirmed into the life of the community is appropri-
ately adapted. When and how it is celebrated is, perhaps, better based not so much on the growth level of the candidates, but rather on the ability of the parish and Archdiocesan Church to make of this event an effective symbol of the full incorporation of the candidate into the visible life of the community.
(No specific age for Confirmation is mentioned in the Guidelines in order to place primary emphasis on the process of preparation for Confirmation. Neighboring parishes would need to be in communication with each other to insure cooperation in the implementation of their respective programs).
The question may come to mind: “Why must changes in the Sacrament of Confirmation occur?” The fact is that the revision of the Sacraments of Initiation is the result of changes, not with the sacraments, but with our parish communities themselves.
For much of the history of the Church, the local community represented a simple and stable society where almost every person living within the parish boundaries was a baptized, confirmed and practicing Catholic. Individual faith commitment may have varied. But externally, patterns of receiving the sacraments, of expressing this faith, of devotional life were fixed. In this type of “village Christianity” families were tied together through marriage and similarity of life style in such a way that the practice of religion was seen as both necessary and natural. Accordingly, a review of the basic elements of the Creed and knowledge of a few simple prayers was judged as a completely adequate preparation for receiving Confirmation from the bishop.
Traces of such communities can still be found in rural settings or in close knit ethnic groups. By and large, however, the modern Eucharistic community is markedly different.
The living community of faith can no longer be equated with civil society at large, or even with those who have been received into the Church through Baptism. It is located rather among a more limited number of individuals whose lives express the seal of the Spirit through the example of personal holiness, in building the Christian family, by involvement in various cells of prayer and action within the community, all of which find their focus and source in the weekly Eucharistic banquet.
If the extension of this living community of faith is more limited today than in the past, the community is at the same time a more intense, dynamic reality, with a mission to serve all those joined to it by Baptism and society as a whole. For all these reasons, the initiation into the fullness of this community is now, and will continue to be, a much more demanding, all-embracing process than it has been in previous times.
The meaning of confirmation, however, would be foreshortened if viewed solely in the context of the parish community. As is true for every sacrament, Confirmation’s source and goal is the Church Universal, an incarnate yet mysterious reality, transcending boundaries of time and space. This Church takes form on the local level as a diocese, a Eucharistic assembly of parish communities joined in faith and charity with their bishop. In such instances, as Vatican II tells us, “is truly present and active, the Church of Christ, one, holy, catholic and apostolic.” (Christus Dominus, 11)
The presence of the bishop at Confirmation is a reminder of the broader dimensions of the sacrament. He is the first priest and pastor of that larger ecclesial community toward which the gifts of the Spirit are directed. As a member of the college of bishops in communion with the successor of Peter, he is a witness to the abiding presence of the Spirit received by the apostles at Pentecost.
1211 Approach to be used in the Preparation of Candidates for the Sacrament of Confirmation #
“The intimate connection which Confirmation has with the whole of Christian Initiation is to be more clearly set forth.” (SC, 71)
“Full initiation into the Church occurs by stages. The Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults provides a norm for catechetical as well as liturgical practice in this regard. The intimate relationship of the sacraments of Baptism, Confirmation, and Eucharist should be emphasized in the catechesis of both adults and children.” (National Catechetical Directory, 115)
“As with Baptism, catechesis for Confirmation takes place within the parish community, which has an obligation to participate in the catechetical preparation of those to be confirmed. The parish is the faith community into whose life of prayer and worship they will be more fully initiated. It also embodies the message to which they are to respond and gives witness, in service, to the faith they profess. The parish should strive to catechize on behalf of “obedience to Christ” and “loyal testimony to Him” through the power of the Spirit.”
“As the primary educators of their children, parents, along with sponsors, are to be intimately involved in the catechesis for Confirmation. This will help them renew and strengthen their own faith, besides enabling them to set a better example for their children or godchildren. The parental program is an important element in planning for Confirmation for children and young people.” (National Catechetical Directory, 119)
1212 Elements of a Parish Catechetical Program for Children and Youth – Including Preparation for the Sacrament of Confirmation – Modeled on the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults (RCIA): #
1212.1 Evangelization and Pre-catechumenate: #
Purpose: “This is the time of evangelization: in faith and consistency the living God is proclaimed, as is Jesus Christ whom He sent for the salvation of all. Thus, those hearts opened by the Holy Spirit may believe and be freely converted to the Lord. They sincerely adhere to Him who is the way, the truth and the life, and who fulfills all their spiritual expectations, indeed goes far beyond.” (R.C.I.A. 9)
Relationship to Programs for Children and Youth:
Children are first exposed to an understanding of God through their parents. Parishes need to look for ways to help parents reflect on their own understanding of their faith so that they can adequately proclaim it to their children. Also, since young children usually learn more through their experience than through their intellect, the God they experience when they come to Church and meet the Christian community has a great influence on their understanding of the message of salvation. Parishes need to be attentive to the image of God and His people they proclaim by their actions.
1212.2 Catechumenate: #
Purpose: The Catechumenate is an extended period during which the candidates are given pastoral formation to help their faith become living, conscious and active. The period of time suitable for the catechumenate depends upon the grace of God and other circumstances, such as the type of program, the number of catechists, the cooperation of the candidates, and the help of the local community. The program of formation takes place in four ways:
212.21. A fitting formation given in stages and presented integrally, accommodated to the liturgical year and enriched by celebrations of the word, leads the candidates to a suitable knowledge of dogmas and precepts and also to an intimate understanding of the mystery of salvation in which they desire to share.
1212.22 Familiar with living the Christian way of life and helped by the example and support of godparents and the whole community of the _faithful, the candidates will learn to pray to God more easily, to witness to the faith, to be constant in the expectation of Christ in all things, to follow supernatural inspiration in their deeds, and to exercise charity toward neighbors to the point of self-renunciation.
1212.23 By suitable liturgical rites, the Church community helps the candidates on their journey, cleanses them little by little, and strengthens them with God’s blessing.
1212.24 Since the Church’s life is apostolic, candidates should also learn how to work actively with others to spread the Gospel and build up the Church by the testimony of their lives and the profession of their faith. (cf. R.C.I.A., 19)
Relationship to Programs for Children and Youth: Programs for the catechesis of children and youth normally take place in Schools, Religious Education-CCD Programs, Programs of Youth Ministry, and alternate programs like “Family” programs. It is important that these programs be well-rounded and integrated programs, including the four elements mentioned above. (For further direction in this we call your attention to the National Catechetical Directory, Sharing the Light of Faith, as well as A Vision for youth Ministry published by the United States Catholic Conference.)
1212.3 Period of Purification and Illumination: #
urpose: “The second stage of initiation begins the period of purification and enlightenment or illumination, marked by a more intense preparation of heart and spirit. At this stage the Church makes the ‘election,’ that is, the choice and admission of the candidates who because
Of their dispositions are worthy to take part in the next celebration of the Sacraments of Initiation…” (R.C.I.A., 22)
“Before the election is celebrated, the candidates are expected to have a conversion of mind and morals, a sufficient knowledge of Christian teaching, and a sense of faith and charity. A consideration of their worthiness is also required…” (R.C.I.A., 23)
“During this period, a more intense preparation of the mind, which involves spiritual recollection more than catechesis, is intended to purify minds and hearts by the examination of conscience and by repentance and also to enlighten those minds and hearts by a deeper knowledge of Christ the Savior.” (R.C.I.A., 25)
Relationship to Programs for Children and Youth: These selections from the R.C.I.A. give a model for clarifying the relationship between regular programs of formation and programs specifically concerned with preparation of candidates for Confirmation.
Students are to receive full formation in the faith -both as regards to life and knowledge of Christian teaching – in regular catechetical programs (School, Religious Education-CCD, Youth Ministry, etc.).
Only when a person has reached a stage of readiness does he/she choose – and is he/she chosen – to enroll as a candidate for the reception of the Sacrament. It is presupposed that candidates for the Sacraments already have a sound grounding in the faith. Thus the program of preparation is able to be more a spiritual recollection than a catechesis.
1212.4 Period of Post-Baptismal Catechesis or Mystagogia: #
Purpose: “The community and the neophytes move forward together, meditating on the Gospel, sharing in the Eucharist, and performing works of charity. In this way they understand the paschal mystery more fully and bring it into their lives more and more…. This new frequenting of the sacraments enlightens the neophytes’ understanding of the Holy Scriptures and also increases their knowledge of men and develops the experience of the community itself. As a result, the relationship of the neophyte with the rest of the faithful becomes easier and more beneficial. The time of the post-baptismal catechesis is of great importance so that the neophytes, helped by their sponsors, may enter into a closer relationship with the faithful and bring them renewed vision and a new impetus.” (R.C.I.A., 37 & 39)
Relationship to Programs for Children and Youth: The reception of the Sacrament of Confirmation is not to be seen as the end of the formation process. The parish community needs to provide means by which the newly confirmed are helped to live out their new relationship with the community and with Jesus. Programs of Youth Ministry would be considered an important and necessary follow-up to insure that the newly confirmed have the opportunity to live out their new relationship to the Church and to God.
1220 SPECIFIC GUIDELINES FOR CONFIRMATION PROGRAMS #
For any guidelines that are developed for a diocese, the most difficult aspect is to make them concrete and practical. People in parishes are looking for specific helps. At the same time, programs need to be tailored to the specific needs of the parish.
The Archdiocese of San Francisco is made up of people from a variety of cultures and backgrounds. Almost every parish has its own unique character because of its history and the people who comprise the parish community.
In an attempt to present something that gives direction, while at the same time is very practical and concrete, we have assembled the material into two sections. This Part III of the Archdiocesan Guidelines for Confirmation gives specific directives for Confirmation Programs. The Appendix which follows contains examples of how different parishes have implemented some of the points contained in these directives. It will be up to the leadership in each parish to decide the best way to adapt these ideas and directives to their own situation.
1221 Prerequisite for Candidacy for Confirmation: #
Before a person can be considered for acceptance as a candidate for Confirmation, i.e., admitted into a confirmation program, he/she is to have been enrolled in a regular program of catechesis for a minimum of two years (catechumen-ate). The catechesis is to take place during the period immediately preceding admission to candidacy so that the person has an understanding of his/her faith appropriate to his/her age. This amount of time is considered the minimum needed for the person to gain sufficient knowledge of the Christian Teaching and to integrate it into his/her life.
The program during these two years would need to include, as a minimum, formation in the following beliefs of the Church:
– Beliefs in God as Father and Creator, as one who commands our respect and reverence.
– Belief in Jesus, the Son of God, and the redeeming aspect of his life, death and resurrection.
– Belief in the Holy Spirit as the one who abides in all who are joined to God, guiding and strengthening them to live their lives in union with God.
(Care should be taken, especially with children and youth, that God is understood as Trinity – One God in three Persons.)
– Belief in the Church as the community of believers which supports us in our life and, with the help of the Holy Spirit, guides us in our understanding and following of the message of Jesus.
– Acceptance of the characteristics of the Christian way of life which include:
– Relationship with God – Father, Son and Spirit -expressed through a life of prayer and service.
– Relationship to the Church community expressed through participation in the life of the Church, especially the sacraments and works of service.
– A life guided by a deep love of God, and a love of others as Christ loved us. The Ten Commandments, the Sermon on the Mount, especially the Beatitudes and Christ’s discourse at the Last Supper are seen as specific guides as to how to live this life of love. (Cf. N.C.D.#105)
These beliefs are to be treated in such a way that the students are led beyond mere knowledge to a faith that is becoming more living, conscious and active.
1222 Acceptance as a Candidate for Confirmation (Election): #
Candidacy for Confirmation is to be determined by the readiness of each person, not by the particular grade he/she is attending. The practice of linking the preparation for Confirmation to a particular grade(s) infringes upon the ability of the candidate to make a free choice. In these situations, everyone – students,parents, parishioners – expect all normal students to receive Confirmation in that grade(s). If someone does not, people judge that something is wrong.
A person is to be accepted as a candidate for the Sacrament of Confirmation when he/she accepts the invitation and decides to confirm his/her membership in the faith community of the Roman Catholic Church.
The readiness of each person will be different. For this reason, the role of the sponsors and the community is most important. The process of determining the readiness for Confirmation would include the following:
1222.1 The person expresses his/her desire to be confirmed.
1222.2 The candidate is sponsored by an active member of the Church community who can attest that the person is ready. This “sponsor” can be a parent, the sponsor from Baptism, or another active member of the Church who can attest to his/her readiness.
1222.3 Representatives of the parish accept the person as a candidate when they ascertain the person has the correct dispositions. The dispositions required are:
1222.31 Desire to live their lives as a Roman Catholic Christian. Some indications of this are:
- Desire to serve God who is Father and Creator
- Desire to love and follow Jesus who is the
Word of the Father and our Redeemer
- Desire to be a member of the Roman Catholic Faith Community in which he/she will learn the message of Jesus, be strengthened through the life of the Church (the Grace of God and the presence of others expressed and made present in the Sacraments), and become a fellow-servant of God and others by fulfilling his/her responsibilities to others.
- Desire to receive the gift of the spirit which will help the person to live out their faith as a member of the church.
1222.32 A desire that is correctly motivated. An example of this is:
- Desire to belong to the Church since he/she understands what the Church is and personally believes in this community because of the witness of parents, friends, or other members of the community.
Parishes should develop formal ways for determining the readiness of candidates for Confirmation and liturgical rites for accepting them into the preparation program. These should be adapted to the maturity and particular circumstances of the candidates.
1223 Program of Preparation, for Confirmation (Purification & Enlightenment): #
“During this period, a more intense preparation of the mind, which involves spiritual recollection more than catechesis, is intended to purify minds and hearts by the examination of conscience and by repentance and also to enlighten those minds and hearts by a deeper knowledge of Christ the Savior.” (R.C.I.A., 25)
Programs preparing candidates for Confirmation are to help the candidates reflect on their initiation into the Church Community and on the Gift of the Spirit they will receive. The length of the program will depend upon the ability of the candidates. For adult converts this lasts for the whole season of lent (6 weeks). The younger the candidates, the longer the time that is needed.
1223.1 The Sacrament of Confirmation and the Gift of the Spirit:
Candidates would be led to reflect on the following:
- What is the Sacrament of Confirmation.
- What is the Gift of the Spirit that is received.
- How the Spirit prompts us to live a life of service towards others (e.g. spiritual and corporal works of mercy).
- Do they desire the Gift of the Spirit and are they ready to follow Jesus, prompted by the Spirit.
- Why do they wish to be confirmed as a member of the Roman Catholic Church.
1223.2 The Continuation of their Initiation into the Church Community:
Candidates would be led to reflect on the following:
- What is Faith.
- What is their relationship to God.
- Who is Jesus to them.
- What does it mean to live as a Roman Catholic, especially the responsibility to be actively involved in the mission of the Church.
- Why belong to the Roman Catholic Church.
To assist the candidates in this reflection, a retreat should be an important part of any program. It is advised that this take place at the beginning of the preparation so as to set the correct direction to the whole period of preparation.
Candidates will be better able to understand that, through Confirmation they are continuing their initiation into the Church Community, if the program takes place in a parish setting, and if there is only one program in the parish – not different/separate programs for school and CCD students.
1224 Role of the Faith Community: #
- Parents and Sponsors: In addition to ascertaining the readiness of the candidate and sponsoring his/her candidacy for Confirmation, parents and sponsors are to take an active part in assisting the candidates prepare for the sacrament. Parents and sponsors are to be involved in the reflective period – reflecting on their own faith -sharing this faith with the candidates – assisting the candidates to reflect on their faith – and supporting them in this process.
- Priests and Members of the Parish: The community as a whole is to welcome and support the candidates for Confirmation. This can be done in the following ways:
- Give example of what it means to be a Christian by the way they live and worship.
- Participate in the ceremonies of enrollment and other celebrations that are a part of the Confirmation program.
- Provide the necessary assistance to candidates, parents and sponsors (courses, retreats, opportunities to participate in the life of the community, etc.).
- Support candidates through prayers and special liturgies.
– Participate in the Confirmation ceremony.
– Provide opportunities for study, spiritual growth, and service after the reception of Confirmation. A description of all that would be included in this is contained in A Vision of Youth Ministry (USCC 1976).
– WORD – Ministry of the word in relation to youth involves not only evangelization, but also catechesis in order to render faith “living, conscious, and active.” A creative diversity of catechetical approaches could be considered in determining the precise model that might be beneficial at any given point. As an integral part of a parish or school catechetical program, a youth retreat enables young people to experience Christian faith at a level and in a way that is seldom possible within the limitations of the more academic framework.
– WORSHIP – Incorporation into a parish faith community means involvement on a communal level in prayer and worship. A sense of prayer and involvement in liturgy may be promoted in parishes by small group prayer, days of reflection, special liturgies for youth, development of good parish liturgies, involvement of young people as lectors, extraordinary ministers of the Eucharist, and musicians, special prayer services that are youth-oriented, and spiritual formation programs that promote an understanding of prayer and ability to pray.
– CREATIVE COMMUNITY – Building new paths of communication and providing opportunities for deeper levels of sharing are part of the ministry of creating intergenerational community; they lead to a situation in which each generation learns to listen and respond to the other. As young people and adults open their lives to each other and realize their commom membership in the community of faith, they establish a new basis for identity – the family of God.
– GUIDANCE AND HEALING – Family life in many instances is strained by the conflict of needs that may occur during the teenage years; often youth feel alienated from the societal structures and authority figures that influence their lives; in addition, many young people experience a deep alienation from their peers because they are “different” – racially, economically, physically, or socially. These divisions and wounds in the young person’s world can be healed in Christ through the reconciling efforts of peers, family members, or a youth minister who has the confidence of the young person.
– JUSTICE AND SERVICE – Well-balanced programs that involve action, reflection, and education enable young people to develop into responsible Christians who incorporate into their mature faith a commitment to justice and self-giving love of others.
– ENABLEMENT – A critical task before youth ministers today is to recognize the value of peer ministry among youth and to help young people to develop their gifts to be used in the wider community. Young people should be welcomed as co-workers in youth ministry, and programs which develop their leadership talents should have central place.
These guidelines have been prepared to help the parishes within the Archdiocese of San Francisco to find in the Sacrament of Confirmation the common oneness and mission which is the Spirit’s first gift to the Church. They are meant to provide direction, however, not final answers. Each parish will need to determine the precise way these guidelines will be implemented. This will depend on the concrete situation in which it finds itself. The ultimate goal of every community is the same: to incorporate as fully as possible the baptized Christian into the life of the Eucharistic assembly.
1230 SUGGESTIONS ON MYSTAGOGIA PROGRAM FOR THOSE WHO WERE CONFIRMED AS INFANTS #
Many have found the pastoral need for people, who were baptized and confirmed as infants, to celebrate solemnly their commitment to the Church at a time when they can do this for themselves.
Confirmation, since it is presently celebrated when students are in their adolescent years has been the occasion that some parishes have used for people to celebrate this commitment.
The circumstances in the Archdiocese of San Francisco, where there are a number of people who have been baptized and confirmed in infancy, provides an opportunity for pastoral experimentations to develop a recognized way in which people can solemnly celebrate their commitment to the Church community. What follows is a suggestion that parishes may want to follow as they begin to develop programs in this area.
1231 When in the Person’s Life should this Solemn Celebration take place: #
The time would be up to the person, i.e., when the person is ready. However, because people of different cultures presently have traditional “coming of age” times, this would be a time to emphasize their coming of age in the Church, i.e., taking responsibility for their faith and for becoming personally involved in the mission of the Church. “Quince Anos” for many Hispanic people, and the age of 16 for people of Chinese ancestry, are some examples of the cultural celebration of coming of age.
Parish leadership whould be attentive to the culture of the people in the parish and ascertain the best time to prepare for and to celebrate this solemn celebration (cf. Evangelii Nuntiandi, 20).
1232 Elements of a Parish Program to lead to a Solemn Celebration of Membership in the Church: #
These programs, like the programs for preparation of Confirmation, should be modeled after the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults. They could be part of the parish program that is preparing others for the reception of Confirmation.
1232.1 Prerequisite for candidacy for the Solemn Celebration of Membership:
Before a person can be considered for acceptance as a candidate for the Solemn Celebration of membership in the Church, he/she is to have been enrolled in a regular program of catechesis for a minimum of two years. (For details about this preparation (catechumenate), cf. Confirmation Guidelines, Part III, Section 1221 ).
1232.2 Acceptance as a Candidate for Solemn Celebration of Membership (Election):
A person is to be accepted as a candidate for this Solemn Celebration when he/she accepts the invitation and decides to celebrate his/her membership in the faith community of the Roman Catholic Church. (The program specified in the Confirmation Guidelines, Part III, Section 1222, can easily be adapted for these candidates.).
1232.3 Program of Preparation for Solemn Celebration of Membership (Purification & Enrichment):
As in the program for those preparing for Confirmation, this period would involve spiritual recollection more than catechesis (cf. Confirmation Guidelines, Part III, Section C.)., While those preparing for Confirmation may spend most of their time preparing for the reception of the sacrament, those preparing for their solemn celebration of member-
ship would spend most of their time reflectingron what it means to be a Roman Catholic Christian. For example, they would reflect on:
- What is Faith?
- What is the meaning of their having been initiated into the Faith Community of the Roman Catholic Church?
– What is the life giving Gift of the Spirit that they have received?
- What is their relationship to God?
- Who is Jesus to them?
- What does it mean to live as a Roman Catholic Christian, especially the responsibility to be actively involved in the mission of the Church?
- Why belong to the Roman Catholic Church?
1232.4 Ceremony of Solemn Celebration of Membership:
It is recommended that the Solemn Celebration take place in the presence of the bishop during celebration of Mass. In addition to giving more dignity to the celebration, it more fittingly would signify the person’s membership in the Church as the Bishop is the first priest and pastor of the local Church (diocese).
This could be done at the time of the celebration of Confirmation. Those who had been confirmed as infants would make a solemn profession of faith which would be accepted formally by the Bishop. (Parishes may want to adapt the Rite of Reception of Baptized Christians into Full Communion with the Catholic Church for this Ceremony.).
1232.5 Provision for Active Involvement in the Mission of the Church:
Parishes would need to provide ways for those who have solemnly celebrated their membership in the Church to be actively involved in the mission of the Church. (For those suggested areas of involvement, cf. Confirmation Guidelines, Part III, Section 1224).
NOTE: As this is a new area of pastoral activity and experimentation, parishes are asked to be in communication with the diocesan offices and other parishes so that all can work together to develop a pastoral activity that will be beneficial to the diocese as a whole.
1240 CEREMONIAL GUIDELINES FOR THE SACRAMENT OF CONFIRMATION WITHIN THE EUCHARIST #
These guidelines treat only the details of the Confirmation Ceremony itself. Please refer to other parts of the guidelines for treatment of the nature of the sacrament and the program preparation for candidates, parents, and sponsors.
These ceremonial guidelines presuppose familiarity with the Revised Rite of Confirmation (referred to as “RC” below by paragraph number), the accompanying Apostolic Constitution of Pope Paul VI (AC) and the relevant sections of the National Catechetical Directory (NCD).
Essentially the ceremony embodies not only the conferral of the sacrament, but a “festive and solemn…liturgical service” in which the “whole People of God, represented by the families and friends of the candidates and by members of the local community, will be invited to take part…and will express its faith in the fruits of the Holy Spirit.” (RC, 4).
These ceremonial guidelines also assume that the sacrament will be conferred within Mass in “order to express more clearly the fundamental connection of this sacrament with the entirety of Christian Initiation.” (RC, 13).
1241 MINISTERS #
1241.1 The Bishop will normally be the sole minister of the sacrament. The bishop’s role signifies “a more evident relationship to the first pouring forth of the Holy Spirit on Pentecost” and “the close bond which joins the confirmed to the Church.” (RC, 7).
1241.2 The Pastor should concelebrate the Mass and serve as one of the chaplains to the bishop, since this is an occasion when the true meaning of the pastor’s role as the primary sharer in the bishop’s ministry in the parish is visible in a sacramental and liturgical way to to the people.
1241.3 Other Clergy, especially those serving the candidates’ parish (es) and the neighboring parishes, should be encouraged to concelebrate the Mass as a further sign of the supportive presence of the entire community of the Church. When a deacon participates, all should be aware of his particular role which includes proclaiming the Gospel, assisting the bishop during the Preparation of the Gifts and the Eucharistic Prayer, and serving as the minister of the cup at Communion.
1241.4 Eucharistic Ministers should be present in sufficient numbers to assist the available priests and deacons in the distribution of Communion. As a sign of the parish commitment to the candidates, the parish clergy – priests as well as any deacons assigned to the parish -should participate.
This is an occasion when Communion under both species is most appropriate. It is recommended that parishes consider this option. If Communion under both species is given, it is recommended that there be two ministers with chalices for each minister that is distributing the Eucharistic Bread.
1241.5 Lectors should be properly prepared and familiar with the public address system so that they can proclaim the word as a living witness. It is recommended that candidates, sponsors, or parents be selected to proclaim the readings to the parish community.
1241.6 Acolytes: Six acolytes should be appointed for the ceremony. Two would act as servers of the Mass and the others would serve as bearers of the cross, the thurible, the mitre, and the crozier. They should be assembled and vested at least 30 minutes before the ceremony to be instructed by the bishop’s master of ceremonies.
1241.7 Master of Ceremonies: The confirming bishop will ordinarily be accompanied by his own master of ceremonies who will train the acolytes immediately beforehand and will bring and arrange the pontifical and the oil stock. The pastor or his delegate should be preared and available to work with the master of ceremonies on the final preparations.
1242 CANDIDATES #
1242.1 Number: The number of candidates should be small enough so that the candidates, their sponsors, their families and some representatives of the parish community can be present and participate in the celebration. If the number of candidates in a given year is larger than can be comfortably accommodated in one ceremony, it would be advisable to have the Sacrament of Confirmation conferred at different times (either on the same day or on different days). The group should be split randomly, not school/CCD, or boy/girl.
1242.2 Dress: The dress encouraged for the candidates should reflect the spirit of the ceremony. It should not give the impression of a graduation nor should the manner of dress be a distraction to the candidates or the congregation. Appropriate street dress or simple confirmation gowns are recommended. (In some parishes, it has been the custom for the candidates to wear stoles – often made by the candidates – as a visible sign of their confirmation. While the motivation behind developing such a sign is good, an adaptation of the stole, which liturgically signifies a deacon or priest, should not be used.)
1242.3 Names: In order to express the intimate relationship of Confirmation with all of the Sacraments of Christian Initiation (AC) it is recommended that the candidates use the name given to them at their Baptism for Confirmation. However, if there is the desire to indicate the beginning of a new relationship to Christ and the Church by the selection of a new name, the name is to be a Christian name. The use of name tags on each candidate is to be encouraged. The name should be printed large enough and placed conspicuously enough so that the confirming bishop can read it easily when administering the Sacrament of Confirmation.
1242.4 Seating: It is encouraged that the candidates be seated next to their sponsors during the ceremony to better express the role of the sponsor. It also would be a clearer visual sign that the candidate is a part of the faith community and avoid the visual image of graduation. If it is very difficult to have sponsors sitting next to the candidates, a second option would be to have the sponsors seated in the row behind each row of candidates.
1243 SPONSORS #
1243.1 Sponsors: The ordinary practice is that there be individual sponsors for each candidate being confirmed (RC, 5). It is desirable that the Godparent at Baptism be the sponsor at Confirmation to better express the relationship between Baptism and Confirmation (RC, 5). Parents may present their children for Confirmation and in this way be sponsor. The sponsor for any candidate may be male or female.
1243.2 Pastors will see that the sponsor, chosen by the candidate, is spiritually qualified for the office (RC, 6). The sponsor should be sufficiently mature for this role, belong to the Catholic Church and have been initiated in the three Sacraments of Baptism, Confirmation, and the Eucharist. The sponsor should also be a person of faith, actively participating in the life of the Church, especially by receiving the Eucharist regularly.
1243.3 The sponsor should be of an age and living proximity that will enable the sponsor to be present to the candidate as he/she grows in the life of faith. The custom of having proxy sponsors for someone who is and who will continue to be separated by long distances from the candidate is discouraged.
1243.4 Ideally, the sponsor should have participated in the preparation of the candidate for Confirmation and be able to continue to be a sign and support of faith for the candidate.
1243.5 The sponsor should be familiarized with the ceremony so that they can actively and comfortably participate. During the ceremony, the sponsor should be seated next to each candidate. Also, the sponsors should receive Communion with the newly confirmed, not waiting until they have received first.
1244 PARENTS #
1244.1 At the time that a candidate is accepted into the Confirmation program, the parents and the candidates should receive adequate information concerning:
- An understanding of the renewal of the Sacraments, especially the Sacraments of Baptism, Confirmation and Eucharist.
- The Goals of the Parish Program of Preparation for Confirmation.
- What is expected of parents and sponsors during the program.
- The selection of a name and the advisability of using the Baptismal name.
- The selection of a sponsor – qualifications and responsibilities.
- The manner of dress for the candidates at Confirmation.
1244.2 Parents and families of the candidates are encouraged to participate in the Confirmation ceremony. There should be sufficient room in the Church to accommodate the families. If the number of candidates would prohibit this, it is recommended that the group be split and be confirmed at different ceremonies.
1244.3 Parents should have an active role in the ceremony of Confirmation. It is recommeded that they be given an opportunity to publicly affirm their role in assisting the candidates to grow in faith (cf. Baptism of Infants #39). It is also recommended that representatives of the parents take part in the Prayers of the Faithful and the Offertory procession to signify their desire to continue to help the candidates grow in faith. Finally, all families should be encouraged to receive Communion at the ceremony.
1244.4 Parents should be reminded that the taking of pictures of the candidates during the ceremony can be distracting both to the candidates and the others participating. Any pictures that are taken should be done unobtrusively and without flash bulbs. There will be an opportunity to take a picture with the confirming bishop after the ceremony.
1245 IMMEDIATE PREPARATIONS #
1245.1 The altar should be prepared for Mass with the candles lit at least fifteen minutes before the ceremony. In addition to the normal preparations for Mass, the following should be prepared and ready for use during the Confirmation Ceremony:
- A microphone in the sanctuary, preferably with a long cord so that the bishop will have the opportunity to move among the candidates for Confirmation during his homily.
- A chair for the bishop placed in a prominent place in the sanctuary.
- A pitcher of water, basin, hand towel, dish with lemon slices, and a cloth to protect the vestments to use when the bishop washes his hands after the anointing.
- Chairs for the following people:
- The chaplains to the bishop and the concelebrating priests.
- The master of ceremonies and the servers (preferably located on the same side of the sanctuary – the side near the Credence Table).
- The Visiting Clergy.
1245.2 The following should be ready for use during the procession and the ceremony:
- A processional cross.
- Candles for the procession.
- The Thurible and Incense for the procession and for the Mass.
The Oil of Chrism in case the bishop needs to replenish his stock for the Confirmation.
1245.3 Deacons present are normally the chaplains to the bishop.
In the absence of deacons the pastor and one other priest will assist. The pastor and associates are encouraged to concelebrate the Eucharist.
1245.4 The bishop’s vestments (Stole and Chasuble) should be laid out in one of the bedrooms, preferably with a bathroom adjacent. The bishop will vest in the parochial residence and go in procession to the Church. Though the bishop usually brings his own alb and cincture, it is recommended that an amice, alb and cincture be provided in case it is needed.
1245.5 It is important that the pastor should have the statistics card prepared beforehand, and place the card on the vestments so that the bishop will have it before the ceremony.
1245.6 Kindly reserve a parking space in front of the parochial residence for the bishop’s automobile.
1246 MUSIC #
1246.1 The celebration of Confirmation is a parish-community event, in which music plays an integral part. The candidates and the entire congregation should participate. All should have necessary hymn texts. A leader of song should assist congregational participation.
1246.2 The hymns chosen should dwell especially on the Holy Spirit, faith, witness, the Church, Baptism, initiation. They should also commemorate any special season or solemnity on which Confirmation is conferred. Time-honored hymns conducive to congregational participation such as Come Holy Ghost and Faith of our Fathers or hymns that are traditional to the people of the parish because of their culture or history are particularly suitable. The inclusion of traditional hymns helps the older participants feel part of the celebration.
1246.3 Congregational and choral music are preferred to solo singing. Recorded music is to be discouraged. Candidates should be fully prepared to join in the singing.
1246.4 Music should contribute to the ceremony without unduly prolonging it.
1246.5 If there is to be music during the conferral of the sacrament, it should not begin until after a few of the candidates have been confirmed. The type of music selected should be background music so as not to distract from what is going on.
1246.6 Any music that is printed for this occasion should have the express permission of the copyright holder. (For information on how to obtain this permission, please consult the Office of Music and Worship).
1247 CONFERRAL OF THE SACRAMENT #
** In purchasing or printing materials for congregational participation, it is important to use the approved texts (Revised 1975) and not the provisional texts (1971).
1247.1 Presentation of the Candidates: The pastor should present the candidates for Confirmation. The words used to present the candidates should briefly express how the candidates have prepared for Confirmation. It is also recommended that there be a way for the sponsors, the catechists, and the parents to signify that they believe the candidates are ready.
A formula such as this may be used: “Bishop N., the parish community of St. N. wishes to present to you its young men and women who have been prepared and are ready to continue the process of Christian initiation by receiving the Sacrament of Confirmation. Each candidate has prepared for this sacrament over a period of
months. During this time they have participated in a retreat and have individually expressed their desire to be active members of the Church. Their parents, their sponsors and their catechists, together with the whole parish community attest to their readiness and are happy to present them to you at this time as candidates for Confirmation.”
1247.2 The bishop gives the homily. He may do this in dialogue form (RC, 18). It would be helpful to have a microphone equipped with a long cord so that the bishop will have the opportunity to move among the candidates during his homily. Candidates and sponsors should be prepared to share their reflections on Confirmation.
1247.3 Renewal of Baptismal Promises: The bishop leads the renewal of baptismal promises. The Candidates stand . At the conclusion of these promises, the bishop gives his assent to the profession of faith and proclaims the faith of the Church: “This is our faith. This is the faith of the Church. We are proud to profess it in Christ Jesus our Lord.” The congregation responds, “Amen.” After this formula there may be a brief hymn sung that is suitable to the occasion. Afterwards, all kneel.
1247.4 Laying of Hands: The bishop extends his hands over the candidates who are kneeling in their places.
1247.5 Anointing: As the first candidates approach the bishop, the congregation is seated.
The anointing regularly takes place at the entrance to the sanctuary with the candidates standing to receive the Sacrament. It is no longer necessary to have the boys confirmed first and then the girls.
It is recommended that the candidates wear name tags with their confirmation name printed clearly for the bishop to read. (cf. #1242.3). Also, since the bishop will anoint the candidate on the forehead, the forehead should be unobstructed.
The candidates should approach the bishop two by two without genuflecting. As they stand in front of the bishop the sponsor places his/her right hand on the shoulder of the candidate. The bishop anoints the forehead with chrism, saying: “N., be sealed with the gift of the Holy Spirit.” The newly confirmed responds: “Amen.” The bishop says: “Peace be with you.” The newly confirmed replies: “And also with you.”
The rubrics do not specify wiping off the oil in Baptism or Confirmation. It is better left on as a visible and more significant sign of the matter and form of the Sacrament.
As soon as one is confirmed, he leaves at once, and his place is immediately taken by the next in line so that the bishop is not kept waiting.
The bishop washes his hands after the anointing. For this purpose, the following should be provided: a cloth to protect the vestments, lemon, water, basin, and hand towel.
1248 MASS #
1248.1 Celebrant: Mass most often is concelebrated with the bishop as principal celebrant. If the Mass is celebrated by someone else the bishop presides over the Liturgy of the Word and gives the blessing at the end of Mass.
Priests who have a pastoral role with the confirmandi should be invited to concelebrate. In this connection, it is important to keep in mind that a concelebrant is necessarily restricted in his activity – a priest should not concelebrate if he must be master of ceremonies, song leader, or general director of the celebration.
1248.2 Entrance Rite: To emphasize the intimate connection between the Sacrament of Baptism and the Sacrament of Confirmation, it is recommended that the Paschal Candle, or candles signifying the candidate’s Baptismal Candle, be used in the ceremony. If the Paschal Candle is used, it may be carried in during the entrance procession and placed in a prominent location in the Sanctuary.
The altar will be incensed at the beginning of Mass. If there is a deacon assisting at the celebration, he would lead the petitions of the penitential rite. The Gloria is normally used, except in the seasons of Advent and Lent. The Sacramentary should be ready for the bishop to use for the Opening Prayer.
1248.3 Liturgy of the Word. The readings may be taken in whole or in part from the Mass of the day or from the texts for Confirmation in the Lectionary (Nos. 763-767) (RC, 20). The Mass of the day is to be used on the Sundays of Advent, Lent, and Paschal season, solemnities, Ash Wednesday, and the weekdays of Holy Week (S.C., 57).
Lectors should be chosen and prepared ahead of time so that they know how to use the public address system and can proclaim the Word of God in the Scriptures well.
It is recommended that candidates, sponsors, or parents be chosen to be lectors at the Mass for Confirmation.
The readers should either be located near the lectern, or instructed on when to approach the lectern so as not to cause an undue delay in the celebration.
One of the concelebrants – or the deacon if there is one – should be designated to proclaim the Gospel. Incensewill be used to bless the book of the Gospels. The conferral of the Sacrament will take place after the Homily.
1248.4 General Intercessions: The Intercessions follow the conferral of—The Sacrament. Representatives of the newly confirmed, their families, catechists and sponsors may appropriately be chosen to read the petitions which are in the ritual or a similar form. The bishop would introduce the Intercessions and would conclude them with a prayer.
Those reading the petitions should be located near the lectern, or instructed on when to approach the lectern so as not to cause an undue delay in the celebration.
1248.5 Presentation of the Gifts: Representatives of the families of the newly confirmed, their sponsors, catechists and the newly confirmed themselves may bring up the gifts. Incense may be used to bless the gifts after the offertory prayers and before the washing of hands.
1248.6 Eucharistic Prayer: The bishop or master of ceremonies may assign parts of the Eucharistic Prayer to individual concelebrants. All concelebrants should carefully note those portions rubrically assigned to “Celebrant alone” and “All Concelebrants.” When saying those parts for all concelebrants, those concelebrating should keep their voices low so as to permit the bishop’s voice, as principal celebrant, to be heard.
1248.7 Communion: There should be anumber of people to assist the bishop in the distribution of communion. In addition to the concelebrants, there may need to be Eucharistic Ministers. All should be familiar with the particular worship setting of the parish so that the dignity of the Communion rite is enhanced.
As this is an occasion when communion under both species is most appropriate, especially for the candidates and their sponsors, it is recommended that parishes consider this option. If communion under both species is given, it is recommended that there be two ministers with chalices for each minister who is distributing the Eucharistic Bread.
Sponsors should receive communion along with the candidates and not wait for the candidates to receive first.
1248.8 Dismissal: After the communion prayer and before the final blessing, the bishop will address the congregation. Beforehand, bishop and pastor can agree which of them will make acknowledgement of catechists, liturgists, musicians, and others who merit recognition for the preparation and ceremony. If many are to be named, it is often better for the pastor to do it, and the bishop to add his words of thanks at the end. This would also be the time for the people to be invited to the reception by the pastor or a member of the parish.
A special blessing or prayer over the people is said at the end of Mass.
1248.9 Recessional:The ministers and the bishop will lead out of the Church. The newly confirmed and the congregation should be instructed to make the sign of the cross when the bishop blesses them.
The pastor should escort the bishop to the place for the reception.
The newly confirmed will follow the bishop out and go directly to the location for the reception.
1249 RECORDS #
1249.1 The confirmation register should include the name of the bishop, the confirmed, parents and sponsors as well as the date and place of the celebration.
1249.2 Notation is also to be made in the baptismal register or sent to the Church of Baptism on the traditional cards.
1300 THE HOLY EUCHARIST #
1310 INTRODUCTION (STATUTES – 1969 – #51) #
“The mystery of the Eucharist is the true center of the sacred liturgy and indeed of the whole Christian life…. It is the summit of both the action by which God sanctifies
the world in Christ and the worship which men offer to Christ and which through Him they offer to the Father in the Spirit. Its celebration is the supreme means by which the faithful come to express in their lives and to manifest to others the mystery of Christ and the true nature of the
Church.” (S.Cong. Rites, Instruction on Eucharistic Worship, May 25, 1967, Art. 1 & 6).
Priests, therefore, shall expend every effort to see to it that “the mystery of the Eucharist should shine out before the eyes of the faithful in its true light….For suitable catechesis is essential if the mystery of the Eucharist is to take deeper root in the minds and lives of the faithful.” (Op. Cit., Art. 2 & 5).
1320 MASS TIMES (STATUTES – 1969 – #52) #
Pastors shall schedule Sunday Masses not only at times that are suitable for the faithful, but at such intervals so as to accommodate proper liturgical participation. The pastor would do well to consult the parish liturgical commission concerning this matter.
The celebration of Sunday Mass is permitted at any hour of the day (beginning one hour before dawn) deemed convenient for the people, but no Evening Mass shall begin later than 8:00 p.m. If, for a truly serious reason, Mass is desired at another unusual hour, permission must be obtained from the Chancery Office.
- Funeral Masses are prohibited on Sunday.
- A Nuptial Mass may be permitted on Sunday by the pastor, depending on the availability of a priest who is free to offer the Mass and provided that the Nuptial Mass is scheduled at an hour that is not detrimental to the service rendered to the whole parish community, in any case not at the hour of a regularly scheduled Sunday Mass or later than 8:00 p.m.
1330 HOMILY, PRAYER OF FAITHFUL AND MEDITATION (STATUTES – 1969 -#53) #
- The homily is a required part of any Sunday or Holyday celebration.
- The Prayer of the Faithful is required in the Sunday liturgy and highly recommended at every celebration.
- Provision for several periods of silent meditation within the Mass should be utilized in the Sunday liturgy.
1340 VERNACULAR & LATIN MASSES (STATUTES – 1969 – #54) #
The vernacular should always be used in Sunday Masses (and in all daily Masses when the people are present), but the pastor may schedule one Latin Sunday Mass if a reasonable number of the faithful request such.
1350 DAILY MASS (STATUTES – 1969 – #55) #
All priests are urged to celebrate Mass daily, especially when the care of souls requires this so that ample opportunity may be provided for attendance at Mass and reception of Holy Communion.
Attendance at Mass on weekdays, even daily, above all in Lent and Advent, on the Feasts of Our Lord, of the Blessed Virgin, and of certain highly venerated Saints, should be recommended to the faithful.
1360 FORM OF DAILY MASS (STATUTES – 1969 – #56) #
The form of daily celebrations should be determined by the needs and capabilities of the people present and the nature of the day’s liturgy, rather than by stipend or routine. The celebrant should be thoroughly familiar with the theme of the Mass and should so plan and prepare the celebration as to achieve real Eucharistic involvement by all present. A brief homily at daily Masses is recommended.
The celebration of daily Mass is permitted at any hour of the day deemed convenient for the people, but not commencing earlier than one hour before dawn or later than 8:00 p.m.
1370 BINATION – TRINATION (STATUTES – 1969 – #57) #
Permission is granted to all priests who enjoy the faculties of the Archdiocese to binate on weekdays for a reasonable cause, and trinate on Sundays and Holydays of Obligation if a true pastoral necessity requires it.
1380 CONCELEBRATION (STATUTES – 1969 – #58) #
Concelebration fittingly demonstrates the unity of the Sacrifice and of the priesthood, symbolizing and strengthening the brotherly bond among priests. Therefore while every priest retains his right to celebrate alone, it is desirable that once the needs of the faithful are filled, priests should celebrate the Eucharist in this eminent manner. (cf. S. Cong. Rites, Instruction on Eucharist Worship, May 25, 1967, Art. 43).
1400 THE PREPARATION OF CHILDREN FOR THE SACRAMENT OF PENANCE #
PURPOSE: This background information and guidelines are intended for those in the Archdiocese of San Francisco who are responsible for religious education programs – especially pastors and religious education coordinators – to help them in the development of programs that assist in the preparing of children for the Sacrament of Penance.
1410 INTRODUCTION (Background Information) #
1411 The Sacrament of Penance: #
These guidelines are to be understood within the context of the New Rite of Penance as promulgated by the Sacred Congregation for Divine Worship, December 2, 1973. The Introduction to this New Rite lists the following as basic to a correct understanding of the Sacrament of Penance:
- God calls all people to conversion and reconciliation.
- Christ’s victory over sin is celebrated in the Sacraments of Baptism, Eucharist and Penance.
- The Church is Holy, but always in need of purification.
- Repentance in the life of the Church takes many forms: Penitential services, the Eucharistic celebration, and the Sacrament of Penance.
- The Sacrament of Penance while bringing about reconciliation with God, always entails reconciliation with our brothers and sisters who are always harmed by our sins.
- A person coming to the Sacrament of Penance is above all to be converted with his or her whole heart. God grants pardon through the Church, which works by the ministry of the priests.
- The Sacrament of Penance is necessary to reconcile those who have withdrawn from communion of love with God, and useful to strengthen those who through weakness fall into venial sins.
1412 IMPLICATIONS FOR A CATECHETICAL PROGRAM #
1412.1 The theme of conversion needs to be appropriately presented at all levels of a catechetical program.
1412.2 Sin and reconciliation are to be seen primarily in terms of our relationship with God, but also in terms of our relationship with our brothers and sisters.
1412.3 The Sacrament of Penance is to be seen as a unique means of conversion, reconciliation, and praise of God for his endless mercy. However, it is also to be seen in relation to the many ways in which conversion and reconciliation take place.
1412.4 The Sacrament of Penance is to be presented not only as the means for reconciling those who are in the state of seIus sin. It is to be presented as well as a source of strength as we grow in our Christian life, a help to deepen our understanding of ourselves, and a way to experience and appreciate God’s loving mercy.
1412.5 The Sacrament of Penance is to be seen as a celebration – an act of worship that praises and thanks God for freeing us from sin and granting us reconciliation.
1413 The Vatican and the First Reception of the Sacraments of Penance and the Eucharist: #
The theology and the practice of the Church concerning the Sacrament of Penance has developed over the centuries. In fact, the practice of private reception of the Sacrament of Penance for venial sins was not introduced until the 6th century and did not become common until around the 14th century.
Also, while the Church was always concerned about the catechesis of children, for most of its existence its efforts were directed primarily to the catechesis of adults. It was only after the Council of Trent (1545- 63) that a catechism was developed for children. It was only in the 20th century that the Vatican specifically treated the preparation of children for the reception of the Sacraments of Eucharist and Penance.
Until 1910, there were various interpretations as to what was the “age of discretion” for the first reception of the Sacraments. Commonly, children were not receiving the Sacrament of Penance until around age 10, and the Sacrament of the Eucharist until even later. It was the Vatican Decree Quam Singulari, issued in 1910 by the Congregation for the Sacraments that specified that the age of discretion for the reception of the Sacraments of Eucharist and Penance “is the time when a child begins to reason, that is about the seventh year, more or less.” Thus, the practice with which we are familiar is less than seventy years old.
In recent years, experiments have been made to improve the quality of the preparation of children for the first reception of the Sacraments of Eucharist and Penance. Because of the concern that children be properly led to understand and participate in these Sacraments, the Vatican has responded to questions about these experiments and expressed its position on the matter in the following documents and letters:
- General Catechetical Directory – Addendum, promulgated by the Congregation for the Clergy (April 1971).
- Summus Pontifex, a Declaration from the Congregation for the Discipline of the Sacraments and the Congregation for the Clergy (May 1973).
- Letter to the Bishops of the United States from Cardinal Wright (June 20, 1973).
- Response to the Bishops of Canada (November 1973).
- Letter to the Italian National Liturgical Week from Cardinal Villot (August 1975).
- Letter to the Bishops of the World from the Congregations for the Sacraments and Divine Worship and for the Clergy (March 1973).
These letters and documents did not enact any new legislation, but simply reaffirmed and explained the principles that underlie Quam Singulari (1910), namely:
- The Sacrements are integral to the life of the Church and all need to participate in this Sacramental Life.
- The Sacrament of Penance has a unique place in helping people turn away from sin and be reconciled with God and His Church.
- Children have the right to participate in the Sacramental life of the Church as soon as they are capable.
- Parents, priests and teachers have the responsibility to adequately prepare children for the Sacraments.
- The individual readiness of each child is to be respected.
To insure that the readiness of each child be respected, the Church has consistently upheld the need to consult with the parent of the child, and the priest who knows the child (confessor) or the one who teaches the child (catechist) to determine the appropriate time for Penance or Eucharist.
The Addendum of the General Catechetical Directory and subsequent letters from the Vatican seemed to mandate that children were to receive the Sacrament of Penance before their reception of First Eucharist. However, the Vatican clarified its position with the following response to the Bishops of Canada:
“The declaration does not aim at compelling or regimenting every child to receive first Penance before first Communion.
“Neither does the declaration desire to foster conditions which would prevent children from receiving the Sacrament of Penance before first Communion.
“Our declaration is not intended to impose constraint, moral or otherwise, but to emphasize that during one
and the same initiation period, children should be given positive and pastoral catechetical preparation for the fruitful celebration of these two sacraments.” (cf. Origins, Vol. 3, No. 25, 12/13/73)
NOTE: It must be remembered that no one may be compelled to receive a Sacrament. This applies to both the Sacrament of Penance and the Sacrament of Eucharist.
1414 IMPLICATIONS FOR A CATECHETICAL PROGRAM: #
1414.1 The decision as to when the child will receive the Sacrament of penance is to be made by the child and his or her parents, in consultation with the priest who knows the child and the catechist who has helped prepare the child.
1414.2 In all cases the rights of the child must be respected:
- A child who wishes to receive the Sacrament of Penance is not to be refused simply because of age.
- A child is not to be prevented from receiving his or her first Communion simply because he or she has not yet received the Sacrament of Penance.
1414.3 Catechesis for the Sacraments of Penance is to be separated from catechesis for the Sacrament of Eucharist so that the child will come to understand Penance as a distinct sacrament.
1414.4 A child is to receive instruction on the Sacrament of Penance before his or her first Communion. (cf. guidelines that follow).
1420 GUIDELINES CONCERNING THE PREPARATION OF CHILDREN FOR THEIR FIRST RECEPTION OF THE SACRAMENT OF PENANCE #
1421 GENERAL PRINCIPALS: #
1421.1 Parents: Parents are the first and foremost educators of their children. They have the greatest influence on the formation of their child’s religious attitudes, and the major responsibility for ascertaining the readiness of their child for sacramental reception. For this reason, any program for children must involve the parents, assisting them to prepare their children for the sacraments. Programs for parents are to include the following:
1421.11 The nature of sin, conversion, and reconciliation in the life of a Christian.
1421.12 An understanding of the Sacrament of Penance according to the New Rite of Penance.
1421.13 An understanding of the moral development, conscience formation, the formation of Christian values, and the influence of parent/child relationships in this process.
1421.14 Suggestions as to how to prepare children for the sacraments.
1421.15 Guidelines for determining a child’s readiness for sacramental reception.
1421.2 Parish: An integral part of any catechetical program is the way the Sacrament of Penance is celebrated in the parish. It is into the parish community that the child is initiated, and it is from the experience of this community that the child will learn about the Sacrament of Penance. The manner in which the Sacrament of Penance is celebrated in the parish also influences the understanding and approach used by the parents and teachers of the children. For this reason, parishes are to provide the following:
1421.21 Regular and positive catechesis of the whole parish on the Sacrament of Penance, especially through
- Sunday homilies
- Adult Education
(Some topics would include an understanding of sin, reconciliation, human development, etc.).
1421.22 Regular, communal celebrations of the Sacrament of Penance, especially during the seasons of Advent and Lent.
1421.3 Priests: The priest, as the minister of the Sacrament of Penance, is a key person in assisting a child to correctly experience Penance as the Sacrament of Reconciliation. It is important that the child see in the priest the care and forgiveness of Christ. Differences exist in regard to the moral development of the young from child to child, and grade level to grade level. The priest needs to be aware of this as he talks with a child about concepts of sin, reconciliation, forgiveness
and penance. For this reason, it is important that the priest prepare himself for his role as confessor to children in the following ways:
1421.31 Appreciate the Sacrament of Penance as the Sacrament of forgiveness and reconciliation through
- deepening his understanding of the whole approach to the New Rite of Penance.
- frequent prayer and meditation on forgiveness and reconciliation as seen in the life of Christ.
- participation in communal penance services, his own reception of the Sacrament of Penance.
1421.32 Develop an understanding of children, how they think and act, through
- learning about the moral development of children through personal reading or attendance at workshops.
- talking with parents and teachers to learn
from their experience with children.
- talking with children in the classroom and at other times around the parish.
NOTE: It is only in the context of the above -parental involvement, the parish experience, and pastoral; preparation that a catechetical program for children can be effective.
1430 PROGRAMS TO LEAD CHILDREN TO THE SACRAMENT OF PENANCE #
The following guidelines, adapted from the Diocese of Peoria, Illinois, are presented for use in the Archdiocese to assist parishes in preparing Penance programs. In applying them, two considerations should always be kept in mind:
1430.1 The catechesis which leads to a child’s first reception of the Sacrament of Penance must be only the first phase of a catechesis which continues into adult life and insures that a person’s understanding and use of the Sacrament of Penance matures as the person matures. (cf. GCD #30).
1430.2 Parishes which have established a thorough Penance catechesis after first Communion should not abandon these programs, but supplement them with pre-first Communion introduction to the Sacrament of Penance.
1431 Understanding needed for the Sacrament #
To approach the Sacrament of Penance, a person
should have at least a minimal understanding!
1431.1 That God loves a person persistently and constantly despite his or her sins.
1431.2 That God forbids sin.
1431.3 That sin is wrong-doing which a person has freely chosen to do and for which a person must take responsibility.
1431.4 That sin hurts self and others in some way.
1431.5 That God desires to forgive a person for his or her sins and does so whenever the person is sorry.
1431.6 That God’s people, too, love and forgive the person.
1431.7 That the Sacrament of Penance is an event in which a person tells God and his people he or she is sorry, God and his people express their forgiveness and strengthen their love for the person, and God’s people praise and thank God for his great and merciful love.
1431.8 That the priest forgives the penitent in the name of Christ and by His authority and power.
A person should also have at least some desire for forgiveness for sin and to please God in his or her life.
1432 Penance for the 7 and 8 Year Old (Usually 2nd grade) #
432.1 During this year the child must be carefully prepared for his or her reception of Holy Communion. Before this time, and separated enough so that the child will understand that it is a distinct Sacrament, the child should be given sufficient instruction so that he or she will be able to receive the Sacrament of Penance if he or she so desires. Care should be taken to emphasize God’s love and to remove any fear or apprehension the child may have about the Sacrament of Penance.
1432.2 The parents should provide the immediate preparation for the Sacrament.
1432.21 While there is no need to provide a child of this age with a list of commandments or sins, the child should be aware of what God asks of him or her, e.g., respect for parents, respect of others and their property, love and obedience of God.
1432.22 Also, while the child should be helped to understand and express what sins he or she has committed, there is no need for a child of this age to go into detail the number and kinds of sins. Indeed it is hardly possible for the child to scrutinize his or her past actions in any detail. A more spontaneous expression of the things for which he or she is sorry and wants forgiveness is a more valid statement of the child’s relationship to God. The confessor must then use his judgement as to whether or not there is sufficient matter for the administration of the sacrament in the particular case.
1432.23 A simple act of contrition in language the child understands should be used. The child could pick out one that he or she likes from the many suggested in either the New Rite or in the text book used and be encouraged to memorize it. (We must remember to emphasize it as prayer, not just an exercise in memory).
1432.3 The catechetical program might provide for at least two paraliturgical penitential services during the years with appropriate preparation of the students. This will help the child understand the communal aspect of sin and reconciliation, as well as the idea of celebrating the forgiveness and reconciliation given to us by God. Samples of such services are found in most of the texts presently being used in the diocese.
1432.4 Ordinarily children will be prepared for and given the opportunity to receive the Sacrament of Penance before their first Communion. Where it seems important for a child that the reception of Penance be postponed until after his or her first Communion, the decision will be made by the child and his or her parents, assisted by the priest and catechist who knows the child.
1432.5 Ordinarily, the child should experience the Sacrament of Penance in a lighted room and in an informal setting as allowed by the New Rite.
However, if the first reception of the Sacrament of Penance is to be celebrated in the traditional confessional, the child should be familiarized with the confessional before the occasion of his or her reception of Penance. In either case, the priest by his manner of celebrating the sacrament should help the child understand that a sacred event is taking place.
1432.6 One should not be too concerned about formal procedure at this time. Since the Sacrament of Penance presumes a more personal dialogue between the child and the priest who ministers the Sacrament, the priest can guide it so that the Sacramental encounter is most fruitful for the child’s spiritual growth.
NOTE: Those children who have already received their first Communion without receiving the Sacrament of Penance, or whose parents, with the help of a priest who knows the child, decide it is best to delay the Sacrament of Penance past the time of first Communion, should be introduced to the Sacrament of Penance in the same manner at the time judged best by their parents.
1433 Penance for the 9 and 10 Year Old (Usually 4th grade) #
1433.1 A more detailed and fuller understanding of the demands of God’s love, the nature of sin, reconciliation, and the Sacrament of Penance should be the focus of this year’s catechetis. (Some latitude is necessary here as curricula vary. However, a more extensive catechesis on these matters should occur during late childhood (Grades 3-5), but this, too, must be appropriate to the age level and will need further development).
1433.2 The catechetical program might periodically – e.g., in Advent and Lent – provide paraliturgical penitential services expressing the themes of sin and forgiveness, mercy and reconciliation.
1433.3 During this year the children who have not yet been introduced to the Sacrament of Penance should be given the opportunity and encouragement to receive the Sacrament. Parents should be urged to see that their children take advantage of this opportunity.
1433.4 By the spring of the school year, the catechetical program should provide opportunities for the children to go to the Sacrament of Penance. Catechists should be wary of regimenting the children as the Sacrament should always be a free choice. Also, there should be communication with the parents lest they come to believe that the catechists are taking over the responsibility of leading children to the Sacrament of Penance.
1433.5 At this point a somewhat more formal procedure for going to the Sacrament may be introduced as well as a framework for examining one’s conscience. However, both should serve as positive understanding of the Christian life and the use of the Sacrament, and be genuinely meaningful to the child. Both should be open to further development as the child matures.
1434 Programs for Parent #
“The Sacred Congregation of the Clergy is particularly pleased to note truly pastoral concern for proper preparation of the children…and for a growing insistence that the parents of the children be involved in and helped with the religious instruction of their children and especially the preparation for these important sacraments. It expresses hope that all local bishops will continue and increase their attention to this important aspect of parental involvement in the religious education of their children.” (Letter of Cardinal Wright to the Bishops of the United States, 1973).
1434.1 The most important element in preparation for the Sacrament of Penance is the experience of being forgiven at home, in school and in daily life. Without that experience a child would with difficulty understand the sacrament. Parents, or those who fulfill the parental role, are in a special way responsible to provide this experience for their children.
1434.2 The parents’ own use of the Sacrament of Penance is another powerful force in the child’s understanding and attitude toward the sacrament. If it is a positive, joyful and regular means of spiritual growth for the adults in a home, it is very likely to become that for the children as well. If the Sacrament is the object of benign neglect, or sparing and grudging use, it is most unlikely that children will approach the Sacrament with much enthusiasm.
1434.3 Parents bear the primary responsibility for the religious education of their children, including their introduction to the Sacraments. They must discharge that responsibility in a thoughtful and informed manner. They also have the right to assistance and support from the parish leadership in meeting these responsibilities.
1434.4 Thus catechetical programs are to provide a program for the parents of children preparing for the first reception of the Sacraments of Eucharist and Penance. This program would focus primarily on the Eucharist, but would also touch the Sacrament of Penance. It should strive both to increase the adult’s own understanding and appreciation for these sacraments and to provide them with help in assisting and supporting their children as they prepare for these sacraments.
1434.5 The Catechetical program is also to provide a special program for the parents of fourth graders since this is a key age for conscience development. Its aim would be both to increase the adults’ understanding and appreciation of the Sacrament of Penance, and help them understand and assist their children’s moral development, and their children’s understanding and use of the sacrament as they mature.
1600 COMMON POLICY FOR PASTORAL MARRIAGE PREPARATION #
1610 INTRODUCTION #
This Common Policy for Pastoral Marriage Preparation is intended to assist the Church as a caring community in her ministry to engaged couples. With this policy the Church says to each couple, “We, the community to which you belong, care about you and your future success in marriage: We want to help you in the growth of your relationship to each other and to God. Our goal is to help you prepare not just for your wedding day but for your married life together.”
This policy is a sign of the Church’s concern for the future of marriage and the family. Current divorce statistics are but one indication that many couples fail to realize their hopes for a stable and happy marriage in our world today.
Also this policy establishes a support system for the parish priest and those working with him in the important ministry of marriage preparation. It establishes definite Archdiocesan norms and guidelines. These will help eliminate the confusion that can result from a wide disparity of preparation among parishes. The policy will enable us to be more pastorally effective in this ministry.
This policy can be implemented most effectively in parishes where trained married couples work in close cooperation with the parish priest to prepare engaged couples for marriage. Whenever the term priest or parish priest is used, it is to be applied also to deacons.
This policy is not intended to make it difficult for couples to marry in the Catholic Church. Rather it recognizes the seriousness of marriage and the responsibility of a caring Church to help couples prepare adequately for a life together.
1620 Required Preparatory Period of Six Months #
Couples are encouraged to contact their parish priest and begin formal marriage preparation as soon as they make a decision to marry. As a minimum requirement couples must contact the parish priest and begin their preparation at least 6 months before the proposed wedding date.
This is not intended as a “waiting period” but rather one of preparation. Therefore the process of such preparation should begin at the first meeting with the parish priest. Concern with the immediate preparation for the wedding itself can make it difficult for the couple to benefit fully from the preparation itself. Thus it is highly desirable for the couple to complete all the steps of preparation at least two months before the wedding date.
The purpose of this requirement is to insure adequate time for a couple to participate in and benefit from the steps of the marriage preparation process. In the event that the preparation reveals problems or obstacles to the marriage, this requirement affords
a couple more time to resolve their difficulties through such steps as counseling, canonical procedures, etc.
In certain cases circumstances can arise that make the six-month requirement very difficult to observe. Exceptions to this time requirement should be made only for grave pastoral reasons and the couple should still be obliged to take part in all the steps of the marriage preparation process. The inability or unwillingness of the couple to understand the need for an adequate preparation for marriage does not constitute a grave reason.
1630 The Parish Priest. #
The parish priest who will witness the marriage has the responsibility to make a twofold assessment of:
The couple’s readiness for marriage,
The level of faith of the Catholic parties.
A tentative date for the wedding should not be set until the priest has had the opportunity to make this assessment by meeting personally with the couples.
1640 Preparation Process #
The couple’s proximate preparation for marriage will include three complementary components:
At least one initial session with the parish priest.
Participation in one of the available Marriage
Followup sessions with the parish priest.
1641 Initial Session(s) with the priest provides the opportunity to: #
1641.1 Explain the Policy as an effort by a caring Church to help the couple prepare adequately for marriage. Dispel the notion of these requirements as “more red tape” before they can be married in the Church.
1641.2 Discuss with the couple the importance of their own assessment of their strengths and weaknesses as they affect their relationship.
N.B. Use of a premarital inventory can be very helpful. It can be administered in this session
and the results discussed with the couple at another session before the couple participate in a marriage preparation program. (cf. Appendix for information concerning the Premarital Inventory (PMI).
1641.3 Fill out the premarital forms. This is an occasion to discuss the couple’s attitude to marriage and also their present relationship to God, Jesus Christ and the Catholic Church. (The above steps will assist the priest in determining whether there
are any serious obstacles to the wedding of a couple in the Catholic Church).
1641.4 If a canonical impediment e.g. a previous marriage, is present, the parish priest should begin his investigation of the matter at the first meeting with the couple. If the case is sent to the Marriage Tribunal, he should inform the Tribunal of the proposed date for the wedding, so that they can expedite the case as quickly as possible.
1641.5 Explain the marriage preparation programs. Help them choose the program they desire among the options. They should normally participate in this program before their next meeting with the priest.
1641.6 Arrange a tentative date for the wedding, providing the assessment has not revealed any special obstacles and the couple has agreed to participate in one of the Marriage Preparation Programs. Explain
that this date can be definitely confirmed only after they participate in a Marriage Preparation Program.
1642 Marriage Preparation Programs #
These programs are important aids – but not substitutes for the personal sessions with the parish priest. Participation in one of the programs below is required for every couple preparing for marriage.
The Parish Program and the Engaged Encounter are the most highly recommended forms of Marriage Preparation. It is the responsibility of each parish to determine the program or programs best suited to their own parishes.
1642.1 Parish Marriage Preparation Program. Engaged couples meet in the homes of married couples in the parish. Family Life Ministries trains couples to conduct these four week sessions.
1642.2 Engaged Encounter. A weekend experience focused on a couple’s communication on vital topics. A team of two married couples and a priest conduct the weekend.
1642.3 Pre-Cana Conference. A half-day or evening conference consisting of group discussion, couple dialogue and lecture. Conducted by married couples and priests.
1642.4 Marriage Preparation Centers. A program of preparation set up for parishes by the staff of the Marriage Preparation Center.
1642.5 Marriage Preparation with the Parish Priest. In some parishes the priests themselves conduct a preparation program consisting of several sessions.
1643 Final Sessions with the priest provide an opportunity to #
1643.1 Discuss with the couple their feelings and reactions to the marriage preparation program they attended.
1643.2 Discuss any sensitive areas in their relationship that have surfaced thus far.
1643.3 Discuss the meaning of marriage in the Church and its religious/sacramental dimensions. Explore the role they expect the Church to play in their married life.
1643.4 Complete the necessary canonical papers.
1643.5 Finalize the wedding date
1643.6 Assist the couple in planning their wedding liturgy.
N.B. Couples seeking a validation or wishing to enter a second marriage should follow this preparation process also. At times, circumstances may call for special sensitivity to their needs.
1650 Reasons for Delay of the Marriage. #
The Church holds that the right to marry is an important natural right. It is however, a restricted right.
Both Church and State have determined legitimate restrictions. There can be serious reasons for delaying a marriage.
The Church holds that the right to marry is an important natural right. It is however, a restricted right.
Both Church and State have determined legitimate restrictions. There can be serious reasons for delaying a marriage.
There is no single, objective standard by which one can judge a couple’s readiness to marry. However, special reasons may indicate a need for further assessment and growth and justify a delay in the marriage ceremony. Among the reasons that may in certain circumstances warrant a delay are:
Refusal of the couple to articipate in the process of preparation for marriage. This may also include an unwillingness to take part in further evaluation and counseling that special circumstances, e.g. under-age, pregnancy, etc., may warrant.
Lack of faith. Reception of the Sacrament of Marriage presumes faith. The priest has the responsibility to determine that the couple has the basic Catholic faith required for participation in the Sacraments of the Church. Many couples are at a developmental stage in their religious life and there is often a gap between their faith and their practice of it. (cf. Appendix A as a guideline for the implementation of this Policy).
Inabilit of the couple to contract a valid marriage e.g., denial of the permanence of marriage.
Lack of readiness for marriage resulting from circumstances such as serious lack of maturity, social pressure, home conditions, pregnancy in certain circumstances, undue haste in entering into marriage, etc.
Teenagers under 19. Such couples must receive individual evaluative counseling before the marriage can be arranged in accord with the policy of the Archdiocese.
Separation of the couples for an extended period before/ after the wedding. There may be insufficient opportunity for the couple to develop a mature relationship.
Fulfillment of the requirements of Church law. It may be necessary to delay the wedding until certain requirements are satisfied.
1660 Assessment of Readiness for Marriage. #
1661 Responsibility for Assessment #
Couples may enter marriage with major problems that lead to probable marital failure. Some of these are such that they may even render the marriage invalid from the start, as evidenced by some applications to the Marriage Tribunal for annulments. This policy asks the priest to be sensitive to the possible existence
of such major problem areas. These may consist of many elements, e.g., real difficulties in their relationship, lack of any openness to faith, serious lack of maturity, canonical impediments, etc.
The initial presumption is that each engaged couple will be able to proceed with the arrangements for their marriage. The question of delay or denial of a Church ceremony arises only when the assessment process surfaces major difficulties.
1662 Role of the Priest #
It is important to recognize the fact that the priest in this assessment is not called on to be a psychologist or a judge. He is asked only to do what his pastoral training and experience as a priest qualify him to do – namely to make a prudent, pastoral judgment whether certain conditions exist.
1663 Process of Xudgment. #
When the priest discovers the possible presence of a major obstacle to a marriage, he can follow a definite procedure that will assist him in making a decision. It consists of these steps:
1663.1 Consultation: The priest should seek advice from another competent person, e.g., priest, deacon, married couple, counselor, social worker, etc.
1663.2 Evaluation/Assessment: Some form of testing may prove helpful. Also the couple can be referred to a professional counselor for evaluation/assessment. The couple should be informed that this counselor/evaluator will then discuss with the priest the possible obstacles to marriage.
1663.3 Decision: The priest with the help of the above consultation makes a definite decision.
1663.4 Appeal: If the wedding is delayed or denied, the couple should be advised of their right to appeal this decision to the Chancery Office.
1670 Process for Delay. #
If any of the above factors are present or if some reasonable question is raised concerning a couple’s readiness to marry, further consultation and evaluation may be required before a wedding date can be set. This may be a time of growth for the couple in their relationship.
If possible, the priest should make every effort to help the couple overcome the specific circumstances that made the delay advisable. Any such necessary delay will be disappointing for a couple. Sensitivity and understanding on the part of the parish priest are vital.
1673 In such a remedial approach the following are among the options available: #
1673.1 Counseling by the priest. Lack of faith would be one instance where this approach would be of value.
1673.2 Referral to a Marriage Counselor e.g., Catholic Social Services. Referral should be made only of those couples who want help in resolving their difficulties.
1673.3 Referral to an education program e.g., premarriage or adult education programs.
1673.4 Time. The passage of time may be all that is required in certain circumstances e.g., the marriage of minors, extended separation of couples or immaturity.
The priest should meet periodically with the couples to evaluate their progress. This will enable him to judge when the problem is sufficiently resolved and then set a date for the wedding.
If a couple, who has been advised of a necessary delay by the priest arranging for their marriage, should approach another priest, he may not proceed without contacting the priest who counseled delay or the Chancery Office.
1680 Interfaith Marriages. #
When the parties are of different faith backgrounds at least one additional session with the priest should be added to discuss the religious dimension of the marriage and the possible problems that can arise. Some key issues are:
Membership in two different church communities. Religious formation of the children.
Feelings of family members.
1690 Non-practicing Catholics #
When one party was baptized in the Catholic faith, received very little instruction and is non-practicing, the same procedure as for interfaith marriage instruction is required. If someone has been raised in the Church but has abandoned the practice of their Catholic religion, the same procedure should be followed.
This circumstance provides the priest with a valuable opportunity to discuss with the couple the place of God, Jesus Christ and the Church in their lives. For some it is the occasion to clear up misunderstandings about religion, get in touch with the level of their own faith-life and that of their partner and at times to be reconciled with the Church community.
1691 Summary of Common Policy #
1691.1 The couples will contact the parish priest at least six months before the anticipated date of the wedding.
1691.2 The preparation process should begin at the first meeting with the parish priest. It is highly desirable to complete this process at least two months before the wedding date.
1691.3 Their proximate preparation for marriage will include three complementary components:
At least one initial session with the parish priest.
Participation in one of the marriage preparation programs available to them.
Follow-up sessions with the priest
1691.4 The parish priest has the responsibility to make a twofold assessment of:
The couple’s readiness for marriage.
The level of faith of the Catholic parties.
1691.5 The date for the wedding should not be set until the priest has had the opportunity to make this assessment by meeting personally with the couple. That date is contingent upon their willingness to participate in a marriage preparation program.
1691.6 After the initial assessment, if no problems have arisen, a tentative date can be set. That date should be definitely confirmed only after the couple participates in a Marriage Preparation Program. This should be clearly explained to the couple.
1691.7 If a couple, who has been advised of a necessary delay by the priest arranging for their marriage, should approach another priest, he may not proceed without contacting the priest who counseled delay or the Chancery Office.
1692 APPENDIX A #
Faith and the Engaged Couple
The priest has the responsibility to determine that the couple has the basic Christian faith required for participation in the sacraments. That same minimal faith is required in a mixed marriage on the part of a Catholic party.
This assessment can be at times a difficult and sensitive pastoral challenge for the priest. If he is overly rigid he may alienate the couple from the Church. If he requires little or no faith at all, he fails to represent the interests of the Church and performs a very “questionable sacramental” ceremony.
The following notes are intended to help the priest in developing a process of judgment by which he can do justice both to the couple and to his responsibility as a minister of the Church community.
Questions: Faith, Sacrament & Law, Walter Cuenin. Address to the Canon Law Society, October 1978. Published in ORIGINS, November 9, 1978, Vol. 8, No. 21, pp. 321-328.
1692.1 Statement of the Problem.
1692.11 The Code of Canon Law, #1012, 1 & 2, states that there can be no marriage of the baptized that is not a sacrament.
1692.12 In recent years this position has been questioned.
The episcopal conferences of France, Belgium and Italy.
The Internation Theological Commission in Rome in 1977 and 1978 pointed out the need of living faith in addition to Baptism.
1692.13 This emphasis on the necessity of faith in sacramental activity has been reaffirmed strongly in the documents of the Second Vatican Council.
1692.14 This conciliar principle has found concrete application in the new rituals of the sacraments published after the council. In the new Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults, for example, the role and importance of faith is clearly stressed. Some would maintain that this is a model or constitution of all sacramental worship. What is spoken of here represents a minimal level of awareness and faith that is called for in all sacramental celebrations. In the preamble to the Rite of Baptism
for Children this necessity of faith is also clearly articulated. In very specific terms pastors are reminded that baptism may be postponed when there is no evidence of faith on the part of the sponsors of the
child or no real possibility for Christian upbringing. In other words, the Church has made a dramatic shift. In former times we were encouraged to baptize almost anyone. Today, we may actually postpone the baptism if there seems to be no reasonable promise of a life of faith. This reflects pastorally what the theology of the Church has articulated in the documents of Vatican II.
1692.2 General Principles for a Solution. 1692.21 Statement of the Necessity of Faith.
We need to state explicitly the necessity of a lived faith in the preamble to the ritual of marriage and in any revision of Church law that might be forthcoming. We need to make explicit in ritual directives and law that a living faith is a basic sine qua non for Christian marriage.
In the issue under discussion, much of the attitudinal change has occurred. The International Theological Commission has spoken of the need for a living faith in order to have a sacramental marriage, and the practice of the Church in the Sacrament of Baptism is clear. The time is ripe for us to state clearly and officially that sacramental marriage on ostensible for the baptized who share a living faith.At present, there is a sense of “ceremonialism” and “automaticism” in Church law. The ceremony of Baptism automatically achieves its effect and the baptized automatically receive the Sacrament of Marriage. This same principle is still incorporated in the proposed schema for a new Code of Canon Law. This is no longer acceptable. The necessity of the faith dimension must be reflected in the canonical discipline of the Church.
Today, not a few apparently Christian marriages are, in fact, the union of baptized “unbelievers” and should not be treated as covenants in the Lord. We need a clear statement of the necessity of faith for sacramental marriage.
1692.22 Recognition of Secular Marriage.
Such recognition might solve some of our present pastoral problems.
1692.23 The Need for Pastoral Sensitivity.
One thing that emerges in this discussion is the complexity of the problem. The baptized persons who approach the Church for marriage represent all levels of faith experience. There is no simple dividing line between those of faith and those of no faith. It would be a serious mistake to equate non-practice with non-belief. Therefore, great pastoral sensitivity is needed.
We must seek ways of discerning the faith of the young couples seeking marriage.
In a desire for faith-filled sacramental marriages we must not drive people from the community of excessive rigidity. Yet, true pastoral sensitivity demands some standards of faith. Otherwise, it becomes only pastoral sentimentality.
1692.3 Practical Directions.
It is one thing to state officially that a living faith is necessary for sacramental marriage. This is important and is clearly based on contemporary theology. And since law must give expression to theology for the service of the community, this is a necessary formulation of Church law. However, how do we translate this general principle into a viable pastoral plan? Concretely, how do we determine who has sufficient faith to celebrate a sacramental marriage?
As a general preamble, it is important to remember that no one can judge the faith of another. Only God knows our hearts. Therefore, the role of the pastor and pastoral team in marriage preparation is not one of judging internal dispositions.
However, the Church can and does have the right to set norms for sacramental worship. The Church, and in a particular way, the local ecclesial body, must spell out what is required of those who seek sacraments. As the International Theological Commission states, “It belongs then to the Church to examine the dispositions of the future couple to see if they really correspond to the baptism that they have received.”
Therefore, when a request for marriage is made, the Church must make sure that it is truly a request for a sacrament. Many times it is simply a request for a religious service, a blessing or some ecclesial ritual to surround this important event. At other times the request is made because the Church seems to be the only place in Western society to solemnize significant life experiences. Sometimes it is made for purely sentimental reasons. The task of the Church is to discern in this request a faith motivation which would make a sacramental marriage possible.
We have a special opportunity for evangelization when a young couple approaches us with the request for marriage. We should genuinely welcome their request. This, of course, is not identical with setting a date for the marriage.
Of course, the question of admission or nonadmission to the sacrament is not raised initially. Rather, we start with the persons in their life situation. We help them express the reasons for their request. We help lead them to an expression of their faith. Thus, we help them discern their reasons for marriage in the Church.
Naturally, we do not start with the premise that the couple must prove their faith. Rather, we are looking to find ways to help them express what faith may actually be present.
In this dialogue, which may take place in so many ways and not exclusively with the priest, many couples will be helped to see the faith they have and why they want to express it in a sacrament. The difficulty arises with those couples who seem unable to discern any faith motive in their request for marriage in Church.
1692.32 Minimum Faith Required
We know that there should be an awareness on the part of both persons that their union and marital love reflect and actualize the relationship of Christ and the Church. Without this, even if all canonical regulations are carefully followed, how can we mark their marriage as a Christian sacrament? Yet how do we concretely ascertain this basic faith awareness? I would suggest the following as criteria that may be helpful in this endeavor:
- willingness to participate in catechesis;
- willingness to share the faith with children;
- willingness to share in some worship;
- willingness to share moral values.
Is there a willingness on the part of this couple to participate in some form of catechesis? Will they agree to work with the priest or pastoral team in some form of premarriage preparation? If not, the solution is clear. There should be no sacrament without some catechesis. (Of course, we must not be rigid in insisting on only one type of catechetical program). If they agree, then there is good reason to assume that the couple is open to the faith and to participation in the Church. If not, one would doubt the seriousness of their faith motivation.
Is there a willingness to share the faith with any children of the marriage? Will the couple agree to educate any children in the faith and to try
to share some religious training with them? If not, one would wonder what sense a marriage in church would have for the couple.
Is there any willingness to participate in the worship of the community? If not, then it is difficult to understand how marriage in the church could be intelligible. (Here, again, rigidity must be avoided. Participation in worship varies with different cultures. However, if there is no openness to worship, then a question would have to be raised).
Is there some basic agreement on the part of the couple with Christian values? For example, do they share any common ground with us and our desires for social justice, peace, racial equality, support of human life? These may be areas in which the young couple can discern some relationship to the Church. If there is no real relationship here, then again, a sacramental celebration would seem to be without meaning.
These criteria are not the only ones possible. However, they do offer the pastoral minister a viable way of implementing an official policy that would require some faith awareness for sacramental marriage.
By following this suggested pastoral approach, any refusal of a sacrament would not be seen as an arbitrary or rigid judgment. It would be rather the result of a process of discernment in which the young couple would be led to realize the lack of integrity in their being married in church. Hopefully, by taking this faith dimension more seriously and by working at this process of discernment, we can make the moment of marriage a real moment of evangelization.
1693 APPENDIX B #
Preparation Sessions with the Parish Priest
The meetings of the engaged couple and the parish priest
are of primary importance in the process of marriage preparation. They enable the priest to assess the couple’s readiness for marriage and the level of their faith and if necessary, to be of help to them in these areas. They also provide an opportunity for the priest to develop with them a more personal relationship that will be a sign of the Church’s care and concern.
These sessions provide the priest with the opportunity to gain some knowledge of the couple’s relationship. Hopefully, as the priest goes through the steps outlined in the preparation process, the strengths and weaknesses of the relation-
ship will surface naturally. Among the items that are of particular importance in this regard are:
- Length of their courtship.
- Relationship with their families.
- Financial situation.
- Educational background.
- Relationship to the Catholic Church.
- Areas of major disagreement.
Special circumstances such as:
- Prior Marriage
- Age Difference
- Pregnancy Emotional Problems
- Parental Opposition
- Faith Problem
- Different Cultural Backgrounds
- Health Problems
- Long Separation
- Military Service
1693.1 Summary of the Steps of Preparation Process for the Priest These steps summarize the present pastoral practice of most priests:
Initial Sessions (c.f., Section 1640 for a fuller explanation)
- Explanation of the reasons for the Policy.
- Discussion of the couple’s relationship. Possible use of the Premarital Inventory.
- Premarital forms.
- Possible canonical impediments.
- Explanation of available marriage preparation programs.
- Tentative wedding date.
- Discussion of the couple’s reaction to the marriage preparation program they attended.
- Discussion of any concerns of sensitive areas that have surfaced thus far.
- Discussion of the meaning of marriage in the Church and its religious/sacramental dimension. How do they view the role of the Church in their future life together?
- Completion of the necessary canonical forms.
- Finalization of the wedding date.
- Assistance in planning their wedding liturgy.
1694 APPENDIX C #
Consultation Process with Catholic Social Service.
The Common Policy in the section entitled Assessment of Readiness for Marriage V, C. states: “When the priest discovers the possible presence of a major obstacle to a marriage, he can follow a definite procedure that will assist him in making a decision.”
The second step of the recommended procedure, Evaluation/ Assessment, suggests a referral to a professional counselor.
The Family Life Ministries Staff and the Directors of Catholic Charities/Catholic Social Service have developed a procedure to be followed when the parish priest chooses to refer a couple to a Catholic Social Service for Evaluation/ Assessment.
1694.1 The priest will discuss with the couple whatever major obstacle to the marriage has surfaced. He will explain his responsibility to make a decision that is in their best interests.
1694.2 The priest will explain that there are special counselors at Catholic Social Service who are available to work with the priest and the couple in instances where the couple has a particular problem that raises some question concerning their readiness for marriage.
1694.3. He will then ask the couple if they are willing to see the counselor. It should be clearly explained that these sessions are not primarily for personal counseling but rather for evaluation and assessment of their readiness for marriage at this time. These sessions should help the couple gain more insight into their own relationship and be of assistance to the priest in assessing their readiness for marriage.
1694.4 If they are willing to take that step, he will request their consent:
-To talk over the major cbstacles beforehand with the counselor.
-To receive a report from the counselor on their sessions.
1694.5 Catholic Social Service will appoint counselors in each county whose special assignment will be to take care of these interviews. A list of those counselors will be provided the clergy in that area.
1694.6 The counselor will be prepared to see each couple referred for three sessions. In some instances not all three sessions will be required.
1694.7 The actual cost to Catholic Social Service for each client couple referred for three sessions is
now one hundred dollars. However, in this instance, the Catholic Social Service will subsidize the program for the first sixty dollars of the total cost.
For each couple then, the total charge will be forty dollars. While it is recommended that the parish pay one-half of the cost and the couple the other, that decision will be left to the discretion
of each parish that chooses to utilize this service.
N.B. The above procedure can be utilized in instances when circumstances such as serious lack of maturity, social pressure, major disagreements, etc., are present. It would not be used where the major difficulty concerns a religious question such as lack of faith or certain canonical requirements.
1694.8 If couples are willing to consult with Catholic Social Service, the priest will ask them to sign the form that specifically grants both the priest and the CSS staff person full permission to discuss the couples’ case with each other.
1694.9 The priest will then send his summary of the case and a copy of the written permission signed by them to the appropriate CSS staff person. He may also wish to discuss the case personally or by phone with this person.
1694.10 The couple will be given the name, address and phone of the appropriate CSS staff person and directed to call and make an appointment.
1694.11 CSS staff persons have been instructed not to make an appointment with the engaged couple until they have received the evaluation form and signed permission from the parish priest.
N.B. The responsibility for the decision either to marry a couple or to delay the wedding rests with the priest. The CSS staff person will not make such a decision but will provide valuable consultation to assist the priest in making his decision.
-The cost of the sessions should be clearly explained by the priest before their decision to go to CSS is finally made.
-No CSS staff person may proceed with the assessment/ evaluation sessions until all the required steps of the process have been completed by the priest.
FORMS: Forms to be used for the couple, priest and counselor involved in the Consultation Process
are available from the Marriage Tribunal, The Family Life Ministries Office and Catholic Social Service.
1695 APPENDIX D #
The Premarital Inventory (PMI)
The Premarital Inventory is the work of four authors, an Episcopal priest, a Catholic priest, a psychiatric social worker and a child psychologist. Now in use in many Catholic dioceses and in parishes in our Archdiocese, it has proven to be a valuable tool for the parish priest working with engaged couples.
The PMI presents 143 statements to the engaged couple on subjects like communication, interests and activities, religion, sexuality, marriage readiness, personal adjustment, in-laws and children. Each individual fills out an answer sheet.
The PMI results provide two valuable insights into the couple’s relationship. First of all, comparison of the couple’s scores provides an overall picture of the extent to which the couple’s feelings and attitudes about a marital relationship complement one another.
Secondly, the inventory will give insights into the individual’s ability to enter into a marriage. Correct answers are defined by the authors as those which indicate positive factors such as maturity of judgment and the ability to resolve conflict. The PMI is not to be presented as a pass-or-fail test, but rather an inventory that can surface attitudes on their part that have proven to be problem areas in marriage.
1695.2 Purpose (cf. Pastor’s Guide)
The Premarital Inventory (PMI) was developed as an aid in exploring the couple’s relationship and feelings about entering into marriage. The PMI does not attempt to predict the potential success of a marriage. It does seek to identify potential problems which could lead to an unsuccessful marriage and to reveal existing strengths which could enhance the marriage relationship. The PMI is a means of discovering areas where the pastor may be of particular help to the couple in developing a strong marriage relationship. The PMI may also be used for marital counseling and is especially effective with couples who are in the early years of their marriage.
PMI questions may be answered “agree,” “disagree,” or “unsure.” Correct answers are defined by the authors as those which indicate the greatest degree of insight, maturity of judgment, and resolution of conflicts by the couple as they relate to the PMI categories. Comparison of the couple’s scores on the PMI categories achieves a comprehensive picture of the extent to which the couple’s feelings and attitudes about entering into a marital relationship complement one another.
1695.3 Administering the PMI
For effective use of the PMI, the administrator must ini-tially establish rapport with the couple about their forthcoming marriage. It is very important to put the couple at ease so they will know that they can give honest answers–not what they think are answers expected from them. The administrator should explain to the couple how the PMI fits into his particular premarital counseling plans and that the purpose of the PMI is to aid them and the administrator, in examining their feelings and expectations about their marital relationship. They do not pass or fail. This is not a test. Their responses are held strictly confidential. The couple is not graded on their individual ability to enter into any marriage, but as to their ability to enter into this particular marriage. The results of the PMI will reflect how well their feelings and expectations complement one another, which is important in evaluating their compatibility.
The PMI should be used in one of the beginning sessions with the couple so that the results can serve as a guide for discussion during the course of the subsequent premarital counseling sessions.
1695.4 Scoring the PMI
The Pastor’s Guide gives complete instructions for the scoring of the test. Some parishes train people to provide this service.
The PMI Complete Kit includes all the material necessary to use with one couple: Pastor’s Guide, 2 Questionnaires, 1 Overlay, 1 Table, (these items may be used repeatedly), 2 Answer Sheets, 1 Scoring Sheet, 1 Graph. (These can be ordered as needed).
The Family Life Ministries Office has on hand a number of Kits available on order.
1696 APPENDIX E #
MARRIAGE FOR THOSE UNDER NINETEEN
In October 1973 the Archdiocese put into effect a Pre-Marriage Counseling Program that made mandatory a procedure of evaluation in two instances: 1) When either party will not have reached his or her nineteenth birthday by the date prepared for the wedding, 2) When in the pastoral judgment of the priest, one or both of the parties is not ready to handle the rights and responsibilities of Christian marriage.
1696.2 UNDER NINETEEN
The Archdiocesan Common Policy for Pastoral Marriage Preparation which became effective on January 1, 1981, reaffirms the requirement in existence since 1973 that individuals under nineteen must receive individual evaluative counseling.
1696.3 OTHER CASES
The policy emphasizes the responsibility of the priest to determine the readiness of the couples for marriage. If a reasonable doubt arises, the priest is asked to recommend strongly to the couples that they consult with a counselor for another evaluation and assessment of their readiness for marriage. This represents a change from the 1973 Program that made such a referral to a counselor mandatory.
The Assessment of Readiness for Marriage and the Process for Delay are outlined in Series 1660 and 1670 of the Policy. The Consultation Process, described in Appendix C, Series 1694 and 1695, is to be followed for those under nineteen with the added requirement that consultation with a counselor is mandatory in their case.
1696.5 SPECIAL STEPS
The following steps outlined in the 1973 Program are of particular importance for the under nineteen:
1696.51 The couple should be referred by the priest to the County Office of Catholic Social Service or
to a Counselor or other Counseling Service approved by the Ordinary.
1696.52 It is important that the priest himself see to it that the parents of those referred are aware
of the referral of their children to the counselor.
1696.53 If one of the parties is in military service and unavailable for counseling by CSS or the parish priest, the available party is to be referred to CSS. The priest is asked to write to the military Chaplain and ask that he interview the serviceman along the lines of the Archdiocesan form. The Chaplain’s report should be returned to the parish priest and attached to his own report when the case is being sent to the Chancery. A similar procedure is to be followed for students of distant colleges and out of state residents.
1696.54 When the counselor deems it advisable, he will seek to interview the parents as well.
1696.55 Upon receipt of the report from the counselor, the priest will then schedule his own interviews with the couple and also with their parents so that he can intelligently complete the Archdiocesan form before forwarding it to the Ordinary.
1696.56 This Archdiocesan form, containing the evaluation by the counselor and the remarks of the priest,
is to be sent to the Chancery. It will be promptly reviewed and an answer given to the priest in
which permission to proceed with the marriage or a mandatory postponement of the Church marriage will be given.
1696.6 FORMS FOR COUNSELING REFERRAL
1696.61 The same forms will be used for all counseling referrals, for both the under nineteen and all other problem cases.
1696.62 Forms are available on request from the Family Life Ministries Office, the Archdiocese Tribunal, or your local C.S.S. Office.
1696.63 DESCRIPTION OF FORMS
Form w Request for Chancery Permission to Marry.
Form X Consent of Couple to Exchange Information.
Form Y Pre-Marital Evaluation by the Priest.
Form Z Pre-Marital Evaluation by the Counselor.
1800 ANOINTING OF THE SICK #
1810 LEGISLATION #
The discipline of this sacrament has been revised by the Apostolic Constitution Sacram Unctionem Infirmorum (Nov. 30, 1972) together with the new Ordo Unctionis Infirmorum eorumque Pastoralis Curae. The current legislation is summarized as follows:
1820 THOSE TO WHOM THE SACRAMENT IS TO BE GIVEN: #
The sacrament is to be conferred on those of the faithful who are dangerously ill because of sickness or old age. It suffices that there be a probable judgment that the illness is serious, and there should be no worry or anxiety about this judgment. Moreover, the sacrament can be repeated not only in cases where the sick person improves and then falls again into serious condition, but also in cases where the same sickness continues and becomes notably worse. Anointing can also be administered before a surgical operation whenever a dangerous disease is the cause of the operation. In regard to the aged, even though they may not be suffering from a dangerous disease, anointing may be given because of the fact that their strength is notably weakened. The sacrament may be given to children who have
enough use of reason to be comforted by the anointing. (Ordo, nn. 8-12)
Anointing of the Sick can be given to those who are unconscious or who have lost the use of reason, provided that, while they were mentally competent, they would have requested the sacrament in a spirit of faith. However, when the priest is called to assist a sick person who is already dead, he is not to anoint the person, but rather to offer prayers for the departed. In case of doubt whether the individual
is actually dead, the sacrament can be given conditionally. (Ordo, nn. 14-15)
1830 THE MINISTER OF THE SACRAMENT: #
The proper minister of the Anointing of the Sick is only the priest. Ordinarily the sacrament is to be administered by bishops, pastors and their associates, priests to whom the care of the sick or aged is committed in hospitals, homes, etc., and by the superiors of clerical religious communities. Instances when the sacrament is conferred on the faithful of various parishes or institutions together are regulated by the local Ordinary. (Ordo, nn. 16-17) With the permission of the ministers mentioned above,
other priests can administer this sacrament. In case of necessity this permission is to be presumed, and the pastor or chaplain of the institution later informed. (n. 18) When two or more priests are present for an anointing, one of them may say the orations and perform the actual anointing with its formula, while the others perform different parts of the ritual, v.g., initial rites, reading the Word of God, invocations or admonitions. All the priests present may impose hands on the sick person. (N. 19)
1840 REQUISITES FOR THE CELEBRATION OF THE SACRAMENT: #
The matter of the sacrament is olive oil, or, according to circumstances, some other blessed vegetable oil. This oil must be blessed by a bishop or by a priest who has the faculty in virtue of the law or a special indult. In virtue of the law itself, the oil can be blessed by those priests who are legally equivalent to bishops and, in case of true necessity, by any priest. When the oil is blessed by a priest in connection with the actual anointing, any of it which remains should be poured into a piece of cotton and then burned. However, when the oil has been previously blessed by a bishop or priest, it is to be preserved in a proper vessel which should be kept in a decent and proper place when not being carried by the priest. This oil should be replaced each year when the new oil is blessed on Holy Thursday, or as often as necessary. (nn. 20-22)
The sick person is anointed on the forehead and on the hands. It is fitting to divide the formula so that the first part is pronounced when the forehead is anointed, and the second part when the hands are anointed. In case of necessity, one anointing on the forehead, or because of the condition of the sick person, on some other part of the body suffices. (nn. 23-24)
The formula for administering this sacrament in English is:
Through this holy anointing may the Lord in his love and mercy help you with the grace of the Holy Spirit.
May the Lord who frees you from sin save you and raise you up.
1850 VIATICUM #
If possible, Viaticum should be received during Mass; the sick person should then communicate under both species. All the baptized who can receive communion are bound by the obligation to receive Viaticum, since all the faithful who are in danger of death from whatever cause are bound by the precept of receiving communion. Pastors are to take care that the administration of this sacrament is not deferred but that the faithful receive it when they are alert and competent. It is fitting that the sick person who receives Viaticum also renew his baptismal promises. (nn. 26-29)
The ordinary ministers of Viaticum are the pastor and his associates, the chaplain of a hospital or home and the superior of a clerical religious community. In case of necessity, any priest, with at least presumed permission,
can administer Viaticum. If no priest is available, Viaticum can be brought to the sick by a deacon or by another of the faithful, man or woman, who is officially constituted a Minister of the Eucharist. In these instances, a deacon uses the rite contained in the Ritual; the lay ministers use the usual rite for distributing communion, but with the proper formula contained in the Ritual for Viaticum. (n. 29)
1860 THE CONTINUOUS RITE #
When one of the faithful suddenly comes into proximate danger of death, a continuous rite is provided for the reception of the sacraments of Penance, Anointing and Eucharist in the form of Viaticum. If there is no time to administer the sacraments according to this rite, the sick person should first be given an opportunity for sacramental confession, which may if necessary be generic. Then he should be given Viaticum and finally, if there is time, Anointing of the Sick. If he is not able to receive communion, Anointing should still be administered. Confirmation may also be given in accord with the explanations given under our treatment of that sacrament. (nn. 30-31)