September 11, 2000
volume 11, no. 167


Pat Ludwa's VIEW FROM THE PEW for Monday, September 11, 2000

Another chip from the chisel

    Most of this article comes from the Cleveland Plain Dealer, but the story is not an uncommon one. Again, we see how various people are working to 'undermine' the Church from within.

    Starting this spring, with the approval of Bishop Anthony Pilla of Cleveland, two parishes will convey the sacraments of First Communion and Confirmation to second graders. According to the paper's article, this is being done in about 35 dioceses. Why? "…if children are not intellectually mature in their faith at age 7, their souls are in the right place." (An unnamed advocate of the practice) And how, pray tell, does this person know that? The practice advocated tries to use the notion that it was done in the early Church, ergo we should do it now. The problem here is two fold. One, there is no real evidence that such was the case for children, and two, if it was done, there was a reason it was changed. Neither of which advocates wish to contemplate.

    The newspaper accurately reported a sad fact today, that many children, after Confirmation, no longer attend religion classes, nor attend Mass. In fact, many families seem to appear 'only' during the time their children are preparing to receive the sacraments. Is this a reason to lower the age? Hardly, it just means this children are going to disappear far earlier. Does this mean, as the newspaper alluded to, that the only reason the age was set for the 8th grade was to keep them locked into their religion classes as long as possible? Hardly.

    Confirmation was supposed to be just that, a 'confirmation' of ones faith. A time when a person says, "This is what I believe, this is my faith." It 'confirms' what their parents and grandparents said for them at their baptism. Now 'they' are saying it for themselves. Does a seven year old understand this? The sad fact is that many children, confirmed in the 8th grade, aren't ready for it either! In fact, we can see that many 'Catholics' still have yet to say, "This is my faith, THIS is what I believe". And what if the faith their learning ISN'T the faith they're supposedly being confirmed into? After all, according to many religious education teachers, it's more important to be 'spiritual' than religious. Being 'spiritual' is a very vague term which can mean almost anything.

    A child in one of these two schools was asked about God, "SHE'S real shining, like a golden light." She? "Children are more spiritual beings than we are as adults. In this day, our little children need those gifts….They need the strength of the Holy Spirit." (Joyce Kelleher, director of the Cleveland Diocese Office of Catechetical Services) But do they understand these gifts? Can they use these gifts? Do you recall those gifts? Wisdom, Understanding, Counsel, Fortitude, Knowledge, Piety, and Fear of the Lord.

    How can a child have these things when already she's seeing God as a 'She', that being 'spiritual' is more important than being 'religious'. Let me remind you, pagans were (and are) 'spiritual'. And though, according to the pastoral assistant, one or two of the parishioners have expressed concern, they obviously know what's best and plan on continuing without any real thought. "We don't feel having a sacrament as a carrot is a particularly good thing, nor has it worked. We believe we have to do a better job of youth ministry." (Laurel S. Jurecki, Ascension Church pastoral assistant)

    Well, she got it right AND wrong! Confirmation was never meant to be a carrot, if that's what they were treating it as, no wonder they have problems. It is, again, the Sacrament where WE 'Confirm' our faith. It is where WE say that we accept and believe ALL that the Church believes and teaches. No child, at 7 or 18, should be forced to receive the sacrament, not until they and their parents say they are ready to accept the responsibility the Sacrament entails. Recall that we once 'slapped' the children at Confirmation to remind them that they were now 'soldiers' for Christ. And just as kings use to strike their 'knights' with their swords to remind them that they were going to have to take blows for their king, so too these new 'soldiers' for Christ would have to accept blows for Him and His Church.

    Why do catechumens receive both First Communion and Confirmation on the Easter Vigil? Because they are adults, making an informed conscious decision. And whereas a 7 year old has the 'reason' capable of understanding and knowing that Christ is truly present in the Eucharist, they have no such capacity to understand what Confirmation calls for or means.

    Now, according to the newspaper, Bishop Pilla has approved this as a 'pilot' program. I might remind you that the last 'pilot' program we had was communion in the hand. It was never meant to become as wide spread as it has. Now, if one tried to return to receiving communion only on the tongue, the uproar would be deafening. I can't see any reason why this 'pilot' program won't go the same way.

    Let me give you another example. Vatican II allowed some churches to remove their Tabernacles to areas away from the center part of the church so people can come before It in quiet prayer, contemplation and adoration. These churches were those which were also tourist attractions, prone to be crowded by visitors more interested in the church's art, architecture and history than in prayer. But some, seeing this saw it as an opportunity to remove their tabernacles to a room, often no bigger than a broom closet, and at times far away from the main church itself. They defend this by saying "See, they did it in St. Peter's in Rome, obviously that's what the Church wants us to do." Nothing could be further from the truth. And now that the Church is calling for those Tabernacles to be returned to main part of the church, they're balking over it.

    We also see many churches removing their kneelers and standing for the Consecration, the Eucharistic prayer. "Look at the medieval churches" they may say, "They don't have kneelers or pews. Obviously they stood." Obviously they didn't. Those who could had cushions, those who couldn't, knelt on the hard, stone floor.

    The return of communion under both species was revived, supposedly, because it was done in the Early Church. It was, but it was ended for very good and practical reasons. One, it tended to confuse the people as to the teaching of the Church, that even the smallest particle of the consecrated host is the Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity of Jesus, whole and complete. Today, we see, again, people thinking they have to receive both the cup and the host to receive Him. (His Body in the host and His blood in the cup) That those who receive only one receive only half of the Lord. However, unless this were allowed, the notion of the Mass as a 'communal, celebratory meal' couldn't go on.

    In short, there were many good reasons why the Church did, and does what it does. There's a reason why a child can receive First communion in the 2nd grade and Confirmation no earlier than the 8th grade. It doesn't have anything to do with carrots, or trying to force children to attend religious education classes. If a lot of children are disappearing from the Church and religious ed classes after Confirmation, then all that's going to happen now is that these children will disappear after the 2nd grade instead of the 8th. The problem isn't Confirmation, or when it's given, but in the parish's youth ministry, their PSR/CCD classes. In the way they're teaching, not only the youth, but the parents of those youth. They're creating 'ticket punching' Catholics, nominal Catholics, dissident Catholics. In some cases, they're even creating anti-catholic, 'spiritualists'.

    Christ said, "And I say to thee, thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build My church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it" (Matthew 16:18).

    But let's give them credit, there are those working diligently, both inside and outside of the Church, to do just that, prevail over it. And their main and best target is, and has been for 30+ years, the children. "we need people with chisels inside (the church) chiseling away at that institution or it is never going to fall." (Sister Maureen Fiedler; Call to Action, Women's Ordination Committee, and We Are Church Referendum, at a WOC Conference; November 10-12, 1995 in Washington DC.)

    And where are these people with the chisels working to chisel away at the Church and cause it to fall? "the vast majority of WOC members "receive their regular paychecks from the Catholic Church or related institutions, working as pastoral assistants or as teachers at seminaries or Catholic universities or high schools….These people are working within the Church to destroy the Church...working as Catholic teachers or theologians, slowly chiseling away from the inside. That's what's shocking. Otherwise, they would just be pathetic and ridiculous." (Donna Steichen; author of "Ungodly Rage, The Hidden Face of Catholic Feminism")

    And let's not forget the 'spirituality' they're advocating! We can look at one of Call To Action's preferred speakers, and her book, "Patricia Bombard: Cultivating a Spirituality for the 21st Century" No doubt it contains such 'spiritual' exercises as American Indian rituals, prayers to the goddess Sophia, ennegrams, etc. 'Spirituality' more at home in Wicca, or other neo-pagan 'religions', than in Christianity.

    I can't say whether Bishop Pilla knows precisely what's going on, but to permit this 'pilot' program does nothing but play into the hands of those seeking to destroy the Church. The media, no doubt, relishes in trying to make this appear to be a good thing.

    One has to wonder, if they're going to do this with Confirmation, are they going to try it with marriage as well?

Pax Christi, Pat

Pax Christi,


September 11, 2000
volume 11, no. 167

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