Dear Rev. Know it all;
Can you tell me what is going on with the sacrament of Confirmation, places like Phoenix have restored it to its original place as part of the Sacraments of Initiation, Baptism, then Confirmation, then Holy Communion. Other places have it when the kids are teenagers and tell them “that’s when they become fully Catholic.” How can you become more fully Catholic than when you receive Communion? I wish my children would have the graces of Confirmation early on in their lives. I’m so confused!
Earl E. Byrd
I am afraid that I will be able only to add to your confusion. We moderns are absolutely clueless about sacraments. Most of us are probably incapable of sacramental life.
Let me add to your confusion by throwing in a question about same -sex marriage posed to me by Ms. Medea Medium. She wanted my comments about a Newsweek article that seemed to argue that traditional marriage isn’t really a very Biblical idea, what with all the concubines and royal harems and so on. Ozzie and Harriet are nowhere to be found in the Bible. Well, that seems true enough. Ozzie and Harriet aren’t found anywhere except the fantasy land of television. Let us remember that their perfect son, Ricky Nelson, wholesome matinee idol, seems to have drifted into cocaine, divorce and died prematurely in a plane crash. So much for the Ozzie and Harriet brand of normal bliss.
In any discussion of intimate relations of our over- sexed and overheated culture, it is to be remembered that, in the words of the great American philosopher, Irma Bombeck, “normal is just a setting on the drier.” Forgive me, dear reader. I digress. Still, I don’t know how the Newsweek article gets around the injunction of both New and Old Testaments that “a man leaves his father and mother and clings to his wife and the two become one flesh.” That certainly seems to be description of an attempt at traditional marriage. None the less, this does not begin to describe the Sacrament of Matrimony.
I am always amazed that people who believe in the right to alternative life styles, or divorce and remarriage or living together without marriage, insist that the Roman Catholic Church celebrate their relationships. They want an ancient, hide bound, bureaucratic, slow moving bunch of traditionalists to keep up with the times. There are a lot of swell churches they can join. The Methodists even have commercials on TV that say “Come as you are! If you’re breathing we’re glad to have you.” What about the Episcopalians? The Episcopalians simply reek of good taste and urbanity. They celebrate lots of interesting things. Compared to them we Roman Catholics are unwashed medievals, hunkered down around a fire in some freezing sod chantey somewhere on the cold western coast of Ireland.
Why is it that everyone wants the Catholic Church to join them, though they have no desire to join the Catholic Church? I have no problem with people doing what their consciences dictate. Good luck with it.
Mazel Tov! However, I have a problem with the idea that I must do what your conscience dictates. You are uninterested in sacraments. You are only interested in my bowing to your will. Perhaps you have heard the saying, “There is no one so conservative as a liberal.”
A few years back I was on the Milt Rosenberg show with John Cornwell, the author of “
Hitler’s Pope.” (By the way, Cornwell has pretty much been refuted. There are two excellent books I’d like to recommend on the topic, Rabbi Dalin’s book “
The Myth of Hitler's Pope” and Dan Kurzman’s “
Special Mission” an excellent book about Pius and the Jews.) I was prepped to talk about Pius and the Jews on this show, but Cornwell wanted to schill his new book about how out of touch that old fossil, Pope John Paul II was. I was completely outgunned. Cornewll is an Oxford Graduate and Rosenberg has enough doctorates to paper his living room. I was just a hack Latin teacher at a small college. Rosenberg and Cornwell practiced intellectual football with me as the ball, until Cornwell brought up the tragedy of his sister’s wedding. He said that his divorced sister wanted to remarry in the Catholic Church, but could not. The Anglican Church down the street was happy to perform the service. He was so saddened, said he, by how the cold empty Catholic church contrasted with the full Anglican church down the street wherein the wedding revelers affirmed his sisters new relationship. I asked him a simple question,
“Are you saying that it would be better to have a church with more people and fewer demands?" For one brief moment that stopped him! He replied, “Well, that’s not exactly what I meant to say.” To which I responded, Well, that’s what you seem to be saying,” to which Dr. Rosenberg said, “Let’s take a commercial break.” Dr. Cornwell surely must notice that the Anglican churches in England are usually empty . They seem only to be used when having a wedding, a funeral or the crowning of some monarch or other. There are, I believe, more active Catholics in England today than there are Anglicans.
Henry VIII must be rolling over in his grave, as are at least three of his five wives. Talk about alternative life styles. Well, what has this to do with sacraments? Simply this: as far as Catholic tradition, sacraments are not about celebrating life, no matter what you may have heard form some enthusiastic clergy person or other. You may be peeved at the interesting marriage crowd, but there are a lot more people to be peeved at. The problem is far greater than you might suspect and I believe that it is eating the heart out of the Church. \
Most people believe that the Sacraments of the Catholic Church are about blessing, celebrating and affirming life’s great events. People I have never laid eyes on want to have their babies baptized, they want their children confirmed, confessed and communed and they want grandma planted with all the trappings of Catholicism, complete with slide shows, bagpipes and eulogies and sometimes a sort of celebrity roast at Mass. They don’t believe the Gospel any more than they believe in the tooth fairy or Santa Claus, but it’s fun to pretend and looks good in the pictures.
To be continued.........