Dear Editor, I agree fully with your editor’s comment [IC 11/06/2020]. The Eucharist is the source and summit of the Christian life, the alpha and the omega if you like. The disrespectful way it is approached by some should not be facilitated or tolerated.
I think there is an argument for the Church to take First Holy Communion out of the hands of the primary school management and put in a place a programme that pays proper reverence to this unbelievable privilege and blessing we have received, the word made flesh in body, soul and divinity. The same applies to the sacraments of Baptism, Confirmation and Marriage.
The Church could put in place a programme that requires a commitment to attend sacraments for a set period of time before and after Communion and use that time to properly form children and teach them the significance of what they are about to experience.
Catholic primary schools have been allowed to introduce a very extreme and damaging secular RSE programme (a lot of which runs counter to Church teaching) to schools all over the country with little or no opposition from the Church. We have an incredible situation now where young children in Catholic schools will be taught about a range of topics such as gender identity, pornography, LGBTQ, etc… during the week and then be taught a different narrative at mass on a Sunday.
It is heart-breaking for parents who are Catholic who have sent their children to Catholic schools and believe in the teachings of the Church to see our Church allow these types of things to happen under the watch of priests on boards of management and bishops who oversee parishes.
I understand that a lot of the clergy would find standing up against the rising current cultural secular tide difficult but the love, mercy and teachings of Jesus Christ have been around for nearly 2,000 years and have always remained the same, yesterday, today and forever.
Dundalk, Co. Louth.
Time to rethink First Holy Communion
Dear Editor, With regard to the rethinking of Holy Communion article [IC 11/06/2020], the problem is that it has become too much of a parish thing and a school thing. First Holy Communion is that first encounter with Jesus the bread of life for the child concerned so its individual. It should be allowed take place at any Mass weekday or Sunday during the week.
The emphasis has got to go back to encouraging the child to build a personal relationship with Jesus without all the fanfare, it’s about character building on the values of the Gospel and not the rigidity of months of how to sit and stand and walk up and walk down and all the theory that goes with it. Like applying for a Baptism, the same procedure should follow for First Holy Communion and Confirmation an application is made to the parish priest or parish office. The school should have some role in formation and so should the parish.
This is not a numbers game that we are happy to see full churches at least twice a year. Let’s have a rethink.
Convent Hill, Co. Waterford.
Resource and strengthen parish communities
Dear Editor, There is a woeful disrespect for First Communion these days and it is most certainly because parents no longer recognise its significance. How can we reach children whose parents have no interest in the Church and as you said in your editorial [IC 11/06/2020], just see it as a day out? It’s reduced to an event based on money, presents and the after party.
To reach children and show them the freedom and love found in Christ we must reach out to parents. The best way, in my view, is to have a vibrant parish community that is both inviting and supportive. We can no longer rely on schools and it seems they are next in the line of fire from our ‘benevolent’ new Government who believe they know better how to raise children than anyone else. For parents who have lapsed in their faith, parishes are our best bet, this is where we should focus resources and post-Covid-19 perhaps we can begin a rejuvenation that will flourish and strengthen Catholic communities.
Cork City, Co. Cork.
Corpus Christi processions are for all faiths and none
Dear Editor, I refer to Fr Conor McDonough’s article on Corpus Christi procession [IC 11/06/2020].
Some months ago (21st Century!) Fr Conor’s order organised a very beautiful and public Rosary procession to commence the Novena to Our Lady of Fatima through the same commercial heart of the city as the annual Eucharistic procession. The Prior distributed flags of the order and large ‘Pray the Rosary’ posters to the many participants. Dramatic? It took place on a busy Saturday at 2pm and was highly respected by ‘neighbours who are not one with us in faith’.
Or Lady is Mother of all nations and gives graces and blessings to all, e.g. to the atheists who witnessed the Miracle of the Sun in 1917. Public witness is more relevant now in a diverse culture, a very important mission in the heart of a city. On just one special day, Corpus Christi, for a short time, Jesus walks on a busy afternoon street blessing whoever He wishes – the families enjoying the Sunday, the shoppers, the deaf, the blind, etc.
The commercial world gets this attention for a while just once a year. He unites all in the visible presence of the Eucharist on this special day. Every parish group from north, south, east and west reverently process and unite at the heart of the city for benediction of all, believers or not. Even the Papal Nuncio has been a recent homilist.
Every year visitors pause with respect and interest in the Corpus Christi procession. Consequently, they may respond to grace received on that day. If they do not share the same faith as the priest nor attend his church Jesus finds an obvious route to reach and bless them on an ordinary street at a sacred event. These neighbours have every right to encounter Him in the public arena and must be facilitated.
Douglas, Co. Cork.
Right time to move First Communion preparation to parishes
Dear Editor, I completely agree with your message about First Holy Communion [IC 11/06/2020] in which you say parents aren’t taking the Sacrament seriously. In my view, which I have expressed privately on many occasions, children should be prepared for the Sacrament within the parish setting.
We can no longer rely on schools to be the primary place of preparation as it’s becoming increasingly clear – particularly reading the front page of your latest edition [IC 18/06/2020] – that there is going to be a major push to create a one size fits all model in Irish schools in the term of our next government. This will be the next great challenge for the Church in Ireland and being able to hang on to our Catholic schools with their valuable ethos alone will surely become the next battleground, let alone making sure that children within those schools receive adequate teaching and formation in preparation of receiving the Sacrament.
We must not let children in this age bracket’s spiritual lives suffer because of the politics of modern Ireland, their relationship with Christ must begin at home and be complemented by our parishes. It is only young people who will be able to keep parish life alive in the future.
We must move quickly on this before it’s too late and a generation of young people are let down because of our failure to prepare.
Good deeds are one way of showing our Faith
Dear Editor, My first impressions of Bairbre Cahill’s article [IC 11/6/20] on the consequences of Covid-19 for the Church were positive. However, I later felt uneasy with an aspect that seemed to suggest a salvation merited by good works.
Bairbre asked “are we open to being evangelised by the Gospel goodness of so many all around us, of every creed and none?” She goes on to list a number of admirable acts of humanitarian service as ‘holiness’.
Any consideration of a saving holiness must begin with the most quoted verse of the Bible: “God loved the world so much that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not be lost but may have eternal life” John 3:16.
Good deeds are one important way that we show our Faith, our belief in Jesus, is real.
As the classical hymn goes: “I will cling to the old rugged Cross, till my trophies at last I lay down. I will cling to the old rugged Cross and exchange it someday for a crown.”