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Friday, April 12, 2013

Expectations of Sacraments

Earlier this week I came upon an article by Dr. Taylor Marshall Phd. titled Pope Francis: Infant Baptism Shouldn't be Held Hostage. It is an interesting opinion article regarding the current state of Sacramental Preparation. In many parishes there is some form of preparation before a Sacrament is administered.

As I write this, I am torn, as I have only been able to look at this from the side of the parish. Reading this article I understand what Pope Francis has said on the topic of infant Baptism. I agree that the Sacrament should not be withheld from anyone who seeks it and there shouldn't be a waiting time for infants to be baptized. However, I do see why there are certain "procedures" currently in place in the parishes I have been a part of.

One of the saddest things I have witnessed as a Director of Religious Education or a Youth Minister is the lack knowledge when it comes to the Sacraments. Many parents I have encountered look at the Sacraments as something they are entitled to, as a right of passage, or something they are obliged to do. While Infant Baptism is something that should be done shortly after the birth of a child; many, not all, parents are unfamiliar with the commitment that they are making when they ask for Baptism for their child.

This is the House of God and the Gate of Heaven
Secondly, a little catechesis never hurt anybody. Knowledge often leads people to make better and well informed choices. These choices can include a better and more active choice as a child's godparent and lead parents to want to learn more about the Catholic faith which they are having their child brought in.

Lastly, the approach which parents take to Baptism will often be the approach they take to other Sacraments.

I currently prepare students to receive the Sacrament of Confirmation. I always have enjoyed this Sacrament and it hurts when I hear students say that their parents are using it as a bargaining chip. I cannot tell you how many times I've heard students say, "I don't have to go to mass again because my parents are leaving it up to me", "I'm only doing this because my parents are making me", and "I don't know why I'm even doing this".

Students who are seeking the Sacrament of Confirmation do have tasks they need to complete in order to receive this Sacrament. If parents do not take an active role as the primary catechists of their children, there is very little that volunteers or I can do to help them without the student having a personal relationship with the Church.

From my understanding what Dr. Taylor Marshall Phd is sharing, is the need for change from parents when they receive the gift of Baptism for their child. That there is the need for conversion for parents since they are seeking this sacrament. I have met parents who have had their children Baptized and been changed by it and I have met many more who have not taken the need for personal change and repentance in their lives. After all, this is what parents do ask for their child.

Priest: What do you ask of God’s Church for N?
Parents: Baptism
Priest (to parents): N and N, you have asked to have your child baptized. In doing so, you are accepting the responsibility of training N in the practice of the faith. It will be your duty to bring N up to keep God’s commandments as Christ taught us by loving God and our neighbor. Do you clearly understand what you are undertaking?
Parents: We do.