Friday, May 4, 2012

faith fridays: sacraments

This photos melts my heart. It's my sweet Adam entering into new life through Baptism. As much as anything else, I think, I enjoy the interested looks from his oldest two siblings. New life is exciting stuff!

Just tonight, that same "baby" took a shower by himself, declaring he doesn't like night showers because then he has to sleep with wet hair. I told him about the towel trick -- to put a towel on his pillow to at least soak up some of the moisture. He's an information guy like I'm an information gal and he seemed pleased to have this new option.

He's 9 now, and still as precious to me as that day. Adam is our child whose basic disposition is calmer, more thoughtful and thought-filled than most of the Salonens -- in general, anyway. He's always been a bundle of sweetness and even though all our kids have special qualities about them, I've always felt an abundance of grace emanating from this little guy.

This weekend he'll take the next step in his Christian journey.  He'll be our fourth child to receive First Holy Eucharist and be confirmed in the Catholic faith as a third-grader. Our firstborn, Christian, was among the very first crop of younger confirmants in our diocese.

There are all sorts of opinions as to whether children should receive these Sacraments this early. Bottom line, Confirmation is a Sacrament of Initiation, not a graduation. And in the early church, the two were very close together, initially one after the other, and only separated more and more as time went on. Our current bishop wanted to get closer to the original intent, so here we are.

The other thing that needs to be understood, perhaps above all else, is that a Sacrament is a grace that helps the person be strengthened in his or her Christian journey. If you knew you could be strengthened to put on the armor of Christ at an early age but also had the choice to wait years later, what would the purpose be? Why not have access to them earlier if they're being offered? I realize different denominations approach this differently, but for Catholics, this isn't much different than the idea of infant Baptism. Grace is grace, and even an infant can feel and respond to its effects.

For those reasons, I like this earlier Confirmation deal. And I'm looking forward to this weekend's celebration. Our son has a wonderful sponsor, his godfather, and has chosen the name "Joseph" as his Confirmation name.

Q4U: What are your thoughts about offering these Sacraments earlier rather than later? I'd love to discuss, even if your thoughts are different than mine.


Mary Aalgaard, Play off the Page said...

It seems like all churches, even within the same doctrine, do it differently. With us, I see it as a time of education when kids are old enough to understand and ask questions and truly know what they are being confirmed into.

Those are sweet family moments and special traditions.

Nezzy said...

Darlin, I teach a pre~teen Sunday School class and am the leader of Kid's Church.

It's amazin' how some kiddos have a grand understandin' of God at the age of five and others truly aren't ready at ten.

As long as a child is old enough to understand the sacrifices Jesus made I feel they are old enough to take communion.

We are not Catholic but we are all children of God and believe in the same Jesus. Therefore we are all brothers and sisters in Christ. 'Just sayin'....

God bless and have a delightful weekend sweetie!!! :o)

Roxane B. Salonen said...

Mary, I know your oldest had a great experience, and I can see the value of a later Confirmation. I also have seen the beauty of an earlier one. I think the biggest takeaway, for me, in this change is that Confirmation shouldn't be viewed as graduation from the faith. So, as long as our older children are being guided still in that journey, and connecting with their peers and the church, I think it's a good thing. I think our approach of the Sacraments is different enough here to merit a different approach. I don't see anything wrong with the Lutheran approach. I just wanted to broach the topic for those who are curious, and wonder why the earlier age.

Nezzie, you are too funny. I love the way you approach life in general, and you obviously have wisdom about you too. Your students are so lucky to have you. And I agree that we do all believe in the very same Jesus, son of God, and our best friend in this life and the next. :)

Vicky said...

I can't say that I have a strong opinion one way or the other? I thought it was enlightening however you said Confirmation is a sacrament of Initiation, not of graduation. I've never seen it that way as in our church its definitely seen and celebrated as a graduation of sorts. Good thoughts to ponder as always! And ohhh boy, who wouldn't love that first photo? So tiny and precious and life affirming!

Roxane B. Salonen said...

Vicky, I probably wouldn't have thought anything of it, either, if our bishop hadn't changed the age several years back when our son was in third grade. I knew there was a reason and that I wanted to understand it better. I'd remember learning when my husband took classes to become Catholic that the two Sacraments initially were done one after the other and only later got pulled apart. I think the thought that people were seeing Confirmation as Graduation was one of the reasons for the change. It makes sense. Now, to follow through and make sure our kids stay connected. :) I always appreciate your and Mary's Lutheran perspectives. :)