Dear Editor,I have read with much interest the article regarding bishops giving the green light for celebration of the sacraments of First Holy Communion and Confirmation [IC 05/08/2021].
This is a praiseworthy and needed concern on the part of the seven bishops. I congratulate them and thank them for their courageous leadership at this difficult and confusing time.
It is so very sad that we are the only country in Europe that are so controlled and restricted by guidelines from the Government. It is obvious that so much of this needs further reflection and investigation.
In spite of all this, we can use this interference as an opportunity to educate and to help parents and families to come to a much greater appreciation and understanding of these two special sacraments. In the last years, some have placed too much emphasis on the social aspects – parties, dress, money etc… instead of the great graces and blessings that are important to the young.
Maybe this time of waiting will help us all to re-evaluate the mysterious significance of these sacraments. I do realise there are many who deeply appreciate these moments of grace who stress reception of these sacraments above all other happenings. I know of good parents who refuse to allow their children to receive presents or money on these occasions. These parents ask family and friends to give a religious gift instead, for example a children’s Bible, rosary beads, holy pictures etc… Home, school and parish have a golden opportunity to change the emphasis from material presents to spiritual ones.
Some, at first, may find this hard to accept, but we do need the balance when it comes to celebration – keeping the real meaning of the sacraments in mind will help us achieve this balance.
Celebrations are good and young people need to learn the reason for these celebrations – we celebrate the great gift of the Lord Jesus in Holy Communion and the Holy Spirit in Confirmation.
I ask Our Lady, to help us and to guide us as we seek to express our faith, hope and love in a reverent, prayerful, joyful way.
Sr Susan Evangelist
Ballyshannon, Co. Donegal
The time is surely right for ACP to engage parishioners
Dear Editor, The Association of Catholic Priests is at it again: its leadership is complaining again about our bishops.
Starting with a newspaper article and sound leadership from Bishop Kevin Doran, the issue of timings for First Communions and Confirmations has been part of our daily news. Archbishop Farrell’s decision to allow his priests to arrive at a decision in consultation with their pastoral councils also hit the headlines.
The Association of Catholic Priests wants sacramental preparation taken from schools and placed firmly in parishes. In respect of preparing young people for the sacraments are Irish ACP clergy unable to take a lead in their parishes and create teams of catechists? What is preventing them? What they are asking for is already the norm in most English parishes. As a former school principal, for over fifty years, I observed ever increasing numbers of empowered English clergy and parishes working together in the establishment and training of teams of parish catechists. In almost all English dioceses Confirmation preparation is the sole preserve of parishes.
The time is surely right for ACP clergy to get to work on activating parishioners.
Killarney, Co. Kerry
Congratulations for defence of sacraments
Dear Editor, Archbishop Dermot Farrell deserves our warmest congratulations and gratitude for his outspoken, defiant and fulsome defence of permitting baptisms, Holy Communion and Confirmation, contrary to Government recommendations.
Bishop Kevin Doran of Sligo deserves great credit too, for being the bishop who initially led the charge to reinstate these ceremonies. The whole debacle received a lot of publicity in newspapers and radio. Missing from the whole debate was the importance to the Catholic Faith which these sacraments, most especially Holy Communion, are. I felt that a great opportunity to highlight their spiritual importance was missed, most especially Holy Communion. Down through the centuries, many miracles involving the consecrated Host turning into human flesh have been recorded. Most recently, two such miracles occurred in two different dioceses in Poland, with the first ever such miracle occurring in Lanciano, Italy, where Longinus, the centurion, who pierced Christ’s side on Calvary with the spear, was from. There is a very rich and scientifically proven tradition attached to these miracles to show that the consecrated Host is truly the body and blood of Christ, and not some ‘holy bread’ which is the current fashionable tradition being taught to our children. I know that Bishop Doran, the main organiser of the Eucharistic Congress in the RDS in 2012, had a whole area given over to large pictures depicting these miracles at that congress. I feel it is an important aspect of the Catholic Faith which is neglected.
Wanton interference by civil authority in Church matters
Dear Editor, In the current public health emergency, it is right and proper for the Government to regulate how many people may undertake public worship in a church, what social distancing guidelines must be met and whether masks must be worn. Beyond that, the form of worship, specifically what sacraments may be celebrated, is completely outside the secular powers remit.
It is astonishing that the civil authorities felt free to restrict precisely that. I can only think this hubris is due either to an anti-Catholic bias or it is an example of familiarity breeding contempt: because the officials in question have some tangential connection to Catholic practice or some memory of it, perhaps from childhood, they feel licensed to meddle.
Bishop Kevin Doran, et al., deserve commendation for showing leadership in asserting the hierarchy’s authority over the internal devotional practices in churches, within the framework of the above referenced external guidelines.
I am becoming alarmed that the vision for Church/State separation advocated by some secularists is the absolute retreat of the Church from the public square combined with the wanton interference by civil authority in private Church matters.
Castleknock, Dublin 15
Rethinking our traditional rules for the priesthood
Dear Editor, While in an ideal world many young men would respond to the call to be a priest and be willing to make a lifelong commitment to a vow of celibacy. But the reality is that there are very few such vocations in Ireland. However, there are many people who do feel called to minister in different ways. The success of the permanent diaconate has been once such positive for our Church. Over the next decade if things do not change, we will have very few priests under the age of 65. Perhaps the Holy Spirit is actively involved in challenging us all to rethink our traditional rules for the priesthood.
Templeogue, Dublin 16
A Chinese Christopher perhaps?
Dear Editor, The engrossing article by Fr Rolheiser on page 30 of your July 29 [IC 29/07/2021] issue was aptly illustrated by a fine imaginative old picture of St Christopher with the infant Jesus on his shoulders.
But I found my reading further enriched by linking it up with a real-life picture on the previous page. This was a photograph taken a mere week earlier of a young man, gently and intently carrying a baby through a badly flooded road in Zhengzhou, China. A Chinese Christopher perhaps?
Blackrock, Co. Dublin