I read in Whispers in the Loggia this morning, in a mention of the Ad Limina visit of a group of U.S. Bishops, something that actually made me laugh out loud. In the post, which refers you to an an article found on the Catholic News Agency, about the Holy Father's comments to Bishop Samuel Aquila of Fargo, North Dakota. It seems that Bishop Aquila has been working at restoring the proper order of the Sacraments of Initiation in his diocese for the last number of years . . . baptism, confirmation and the eucharist. As found in the RCIA journey, this order celebrates our entrance into the Family of Believers, the moment of strengthening through the Anointing with Chrism in Confirmation, and our continued journey to the Eucharistic Table. There are very few dioceses in the U.S. that have moved in that direction. It requires a distinctive change of mindset. It also requires a change in expectation, realizing that you do not have to know everything about the sacrament before receiving it, that you do not need to pass a test, and that the grace of the sacrament empowers you to continue to grow in the Faith. Our life as a follower of Christ is a JOURNEY OF A LIFETIME, and formation is a neverending responsibility.
Why the title of this post? Under the administration of our present bishop, Bishop Lawrence Brandt, we are in the process of moving in the opposite direction, taking Confirmation back to the seventh/eigth grade level. The reason posited is that everyone else is doing it at a later age, the people want it back to where they are used to having it, and besides, how are we going to keep them in religious ed? For many years we adjusted to this new approach to the proper order and celebrated the new order for many more years. Now we are heading down a more traditional path.
Pope Benedict seemed very interested in Bishop Aquila's direction, and even asked if had spoken to other bishops about it. He spoke of his pleasure in seeing the sacraments restored to their proper order. In understanding the past, he seemed eager to understand this move to the future. Maybe we were on the cutting edge? If that was the case, I give thanks to our retired Bishop Anthony Bosco, who took a great deal of heat.