Dear Parishioners,

As we begin the month of May we look forward, as a parish, to the celebrations of First Eucharist and Confirmation. I thought this would be a good time to write to you regarding a change Archbishop Aquila has made regarding the sacraments of Eucharist and Confirmation. Thus, starting today and for the next few weeks I will be writing about the sacraments of Baptism, Confirmation and Eucharist.

In his pastoral letter, Saints Among Us, written in May 2015, Archbishop Aquila spoke about the challenges before us as a society in today’s world. He spoke about the many challenges that parents and children face in our society today. We live in a society that is becoming more and more secular and more and more distant from God. Yet we still hunger for witnesses to joyfully testify to a life transformed by Christ. Our children face and will continue to face great challenges and they need the grace of God as they move forward in life. Archbishop points out in his letter, “Many people today live as if God does not exist, or if he does, then only as a remote ruler who rarely intervenes in human affairs. Instead of seeking God’s grace and an intimate relationship with the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, our society turns to technology, science, and self-reliance to solve its problems.”

Our Blessed Mother in her appearances at Lourdes, Fatima and Guadalupe urged us to pray for our world and to seek her son in the sacraments.  Through the sacraments we receive grace. The Catechism of the Catholic Church defines grace, as a free gift that “God makes to us of his own life, infused by the Holy Spirit into our soul to hear it of sin and to sanctify it.”  The grace of the sacraments strengthens us and aids us to addresses the many difficulties that occur in human life. Restoring the sacraments of Christian initiation to their original order brings a fullness of life. “The ancient order begins with life in Christ through Baptism. This is followed by Confirmation, which perfects the grace of Baptism, fills us with the gifts of the Holy Spirit, prepares us to receive Jesus in the Eucharist, and helps us to commit ourselves to be his lifelong disciples.”

I think it’s important to point out that this change is actually not a change but a return to a very ancient practice in the Church that when a person was Baptized they were Confirmed and received Eucharist at the same time. This is still the practice for unbaptized adults who enter the Church.  If you were at the Easter Vigil this year you probably noticed that we baptized, confirmed and gave 1st communion to several young people of our parish. These were all those who had reached the age of 8 and had not yet been baptized. The Church considers those of the age of 8 of having reached the age of reason and thus when someone unbaptized who is 8 years old or older seeks baptism the Church directs them to the Sacraments of Initiation which are Baptism, Confirmation and Eucharist.

This change will have some practical effects on our practices here at St Joseph’s and I will be explaining those to you in a letter next week.

Please keep all our children who are receiving Eucharist and Confirmation in your prayers.

Peace,

Msgr Bernie