Tuesday, 24 April 2012

Pope Benedict on Holy Communion

 The Holy Father administers First Holy Communion

In his address at the Regina Caeli on Sunday the Holy Father spoke to hundreds of children preparing for first Holy Communion. He exhorted "parish priests, parents and catechists to prepare well for this feast of faith, with great fervour but also with sobriety." (Cf Zenit)

For many parishes around the country this is First Holy Communion "season" although here in Liverpool there are no First Communions this year as we skip a year in transition to the new schedule of confirming and administering first communion during the same Mass when children are aged nine.  However, the word "sobriety" did strike me as an unusual one to use in regard to children.  It obviously does not apply to to abstaining from alcohol but presumably the tenor of the preparation and celebration.  I wonder when you anyone was last at a typical parish celebration of first communion and came away saying, "that was a sober celebration!"  More likely, it was chaotic, noisy, full of families who were lapsed from the Faith and involved much performance by the children for their parents and families with tortuous lengths gone to in order to make sure every last child "participates".  This usually involves getting onto the sanctuary to perform songs, dance, mime and drama, to the response of wild applause from the audience, sorry, congregation.  Because it is easy, there will be much concentration on the meal aspect and very little (if any) on the sacrifice of the Mass.  In other words, definitely not a sober liturgy and not a liturgy centred on Christ but a jamboree centred on the children.  Surely, the very best way to "participate" would be to appreciate as fully as possible the awesome mystery they are privilege to receive in the feast of faith?  I wonder if the Holy Father's suggestion will be taken up in the average parish?

The Holy Father continues to lead and teach by example and exhortation.  I notice that the Catholic Herald carries two excellent articles covering his seventh anniversary as the successor of St Peter.  One by Fr Alexander Lucie-Smith and another by William Oddie.

1 comment:

GOR said...

Certainly Father, the true meaning of the celebration has been lost to many people – the milling about in church by parents and families with cameras and camcorders is more reminiscent of paparazzi than devout Catholics. The lavish expenditures before and after are also a scandal. I was shocked to hear that the Irish Government was considering eliminating the ‘allowance’ provided to families for the occasion. Shocked, not that it was to be eliminated, but that it ever existed in the first place!

When people put more store in outward appearances – limos, designer dresses, lavish receptions at high-end eateries, etc. – it is obvious that a sense of proportion, not to mention religion, has been lost. As with weddings and funerals many times, people have reduced the Sacraments and religious occasions into secular celebrations where external trappings count more than internal disposition.

The Italians have an expression about always striving to make ’la bella figura’ - that is, to look good or appropriate. There is nothing good or appropriate about this figura.