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Author Topic: Chrismation/Confirmation and Commuion?  (Read 1922 times) Average Rating: 0
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Liz
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« on: September 26, 2009, 02:01:41 PM »

Hi all,

I have a question about how we should view access to the Eucharist.

In the Orthodox Church (correct me if I'm wrong), children are chismated and welcomed into the Church at an early age. After this, they receive the Body and Blood at the Communion Service, with everyone else.

In my Anglican Church, children are christened at an early age (it used to be three days or sooner, but now, unless the baby is sick, it is often a little later). In this ceremony, they are welcomed into the Church and godparents are appointed. After this, the child will come with its parents to the altar rail, during the Communion Service. Mum and Dad will receive the Eucharist, and the child will receive a special blessing. This gives the child a special contact with God (through the vicar who asks blessing). It is a very important and a beautiful moment. However, the child does not receive the Eucharist.

Later on, the child is confirmed (I believe that the Orthodox chrismation ceremony brings together christening and confirmation in one service). After confirmation, the child can receive the Eucharist. Indeed, if they come up to the altar rail (as they should during a Communion Service), the only reason to refuse the Eucharist is that the person feels they have committed a terrible, unabsolved sin, and that they are thus unworthy to receive the Eucharist.

Now, the above account of Anglicanism is given from my own experience. I was slightly shocked today to hear that some Anglican people no longer keep the old custom. Apparently, even if a person has never been baptised or confirmed in any Church, they may take Communion.

I know I feel strongly that this is not right. In the Anglican Church, the priest will invite any 'who are communicants in their own Church' to receive Communion. Thus, we recognize that a solemnly professed faith in Christ and in the sacrament of Communion is valid. But, to say that someone shouldn't 'bother' to affirm their faith seems totally different to me. I think that adults who wish to receive the Eucharist are surely old enough to make formal acknowledgment of their faith, and that it is wrong (and disrespectful) if they do not.

So (sorry for the long preamble), my question is this: what is the purpose of a ceremony initiating a child into Church? Why do we require such a ceremony before allowing the child to participate in the Eucharist? How do I justify it to people who think it is acceptable to ignore such a ceremony?

I'm well aware I'm on the wrong forum for this, but frankly, I value your opinions greatly. Of course, I have also spoken to members of my church.  But, since my continuing concern is how my Orthodox partner and I will bring up our children, I wanted to gain some insights from Orthodox people.

Hope that's ok,

Liz
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« Reply #1 on: September 26, 2009, 02:39:14 PM »

If one believes in the therapeutic and salvific aspects of baptism and chrismation (that is, healing, remission of sins, entry into the Body of Christ, etc.), then having your children baptized and chrismated assists them in their path toward Christ; the impetus is then on the parents and godparents to raise the child to recognize and build upon this gift of faith. Not baptizing oneself or one's children deprives them of this blessing, like withholding food or medicine - yes, the child has no say in whether or not the medicine is administered, but it is for their betterment, and although they don't understand what is going on, the benefit remains and is compelling.

The other benefits of the baptism & chrismation are then ancillary but important: inclusion in the community, union with one another in the Eucharist, etc.

I wish I had time for a more in-depth answer, but I've got to go...
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« Reply #2 on: September 26, 2009, 08:14:09 PM »

The other part of this is by having your child baptised in the Church, you are following two of Christ's commandments:

1. To be baptised. (John 3:4-6)

2. To bring the children to Him. (Matt 19:14)

The reason we demand baptism & christmation before receiving the Eucharist is that by receiving the Eucharist you are stating that you are "in communion" and share the beliefs of the Church. Baptism & Christmation is what makes you a member of the Church. It's not just an outward sign of an inward change, but a bestowing of the Holy Spirit upon the individual. While I am not familiar with the Anglican Confirmation service, when an individual is christmated in the Orthodox Church, the priest annoints the individual with holy oil and tonsures them. Prayers are said over the individual that the Holy Spirit come down and dwell within the candidate.

When an adult is baptised, they agree to renounce Satan and all his works. (In the case of the child, the godparents do it on the child's behalf.) That's a pretty powerful statement there. For someone who has not undergone these ceremonies, they could be very casual about the whole thing. For example, for some Hindu's, they have no problem worshipping Krishna and Christ. (I personally know of Hindu's that do.)

I hope this helps.

In XC,

Maureen
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Liz
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« Reply #3 on: September 27, 2009, 08:18:17 PM »

The other part of this is by having your child baptised in the Church, you are following two of Christ's commandments:

1. To be baptised. (John 3:4-6)

2. To bring the children to Him. (Matt 19:14)

The reason we demand baptism & christmation before receiving the Eucharist is that by receiving the Eucharist you are stating that you are "in communion" and share the beliefs of the Church. Baptism & Christmation is what makes you a member of the Church. It's not just an outward sign of an inward change, but a bestowing of the Holy Spirit upon the individual. While I am not familiar with the Anglican Confirmation service, when an individual is christmated in the Orthodox Church, the priest annoints the individual with holy oil and tonsures them. Prayers are said over the individual that the Holy Spirit come down and dwell within the candidate.

When an adult is baptised, they agree to renounce Satan and all his works. (In the case of the child, the godparents do it on the child's behalf.) That's a pretty powerful statement there. For someone who has not undergone these ceremonies, they could be very casual about the whole thing. For example, for some Hindu's, they have no problem worshipping Krishna and Christ. (I personally know of Hindu's that do.)

I hope this helps.

In XC,

Maureen


Thanks Handmaiden, it does help. I think that the intention of our Christening service (which is Baptism) is very much the same as what you refer to. I just don't know how to explain to somehow how uncomfortable it makes me feel if he takes Communion after no such ceremony. On the one hand, I think it's a great thing that nobody in my Church would challenge you if you wanted to take Communion in church, even if they'd never seen you before. But I feel quite differently about someone who knows the theology and who thinks that it doesn't matter whether or not they've been through the Church's ceremony. I am really struggling with this, as the person in question is someone I have just started to get to know. He seems to think that it doesn't matter whether or not he undertakes the ceremony, since he thinks he understands what is happening during Eucharist anyway. But I don't think it is to do with understanding.

I am really struggling here.

(Edit: Btw, usually with us a child is baptized/christened. At this point their Godparents renounce Satan on their behalf and vouch for them a members of the Church. The Godparents promise to bring the child up in the Church. The child is a member of the Church from that point on.)

It's the deliberate refusal to participate in these ceremonies that bothers me. I do know that a ceremony can be empty and legalistic, but I can't help feeling that refusing to participate in a ceremony deliberately, when you are in full knowledge of the significance of that ceremony, is wrong. Am I being uncharitable here?
« Last Edit: September 27, 2009, 08:24:11 PM by Liz » Logged
HandmaidenofGod
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« Reply #4 on: September 28, 2009, 12:41:52 PM »

Thanks Handmaiden, it does help. I think that the intention of our Christening service (which is Baptism) is very much the same as what you refer to. I just don't know how to explain to somehow how uncomfortable it makes me feel if he takes Communion after no such ceremony. On the one hand, I think it's a great thing that nobody in my Church would challenge you if you wanted to take Communion in church, even if they'd never seen you before. But I feel quite differently about someone who knows the theology and who thinks that it doesn't matter whether or not they've been through the Church's ceremony. I am really struggling with this, as the person in question is someone I have just started to get to know. He seems to think that it doesn't matter whether or not he undertakes the ceremony, since he thinks he understands what is happening during Eucharist anyway. But I don't think it is to do with understanding.

I am really struggling here.

(Edit: Btw, usually with us a child is baptized/christened. At this point their Godparents renounce Satan on their behalf and vouch for them a members of the Church. The Godparents promise to bring the child up in the Church. The child is a member of the Church from that point on.)

It's the deliberate refusal to participate in these ceremonies that bothers me. I do know that a ceremony can be empty and legalistic, but I can't help feeling that refusing to participate in a ceremony deliberately, when you are in full knowledge of the significance of that ceremony, is wrong. Am I being uncharitable here?

I agree with you, I would be perterbed as well. The bottom line is why is the person choosing to follow one of Christ's commandments (participate in Holy Communion), but refusing to follow another commandment (to be baptised)?

This may not be something you can resolve with the person, but your priest should have a conversation with them.
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« Reply #5 on: September 28, 2009, 03:41:55 PM »

http://www.assumptioncathedral.org/index.cfm?page=Ezine_Our_Rule_of_Faith

An explanation of the Orthodox understanding of Communion.
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« Reply #6 on: September 28, 2009, 03:43:34 PM »


It's the deliberate refusal to participate in these ceremonies that bothers me. I do know that a ceremony can be empty and legalistic, but I can't help feeling that refusing to participate in a ceremony deliberately, when you are in full knowledge of the significance of that ceremony, is wrong.
This is the problem that occurs when everyone gets to decide for themselves based on personal experience, piety, preference or whatever.
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Liz
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« Reply #7 on: September 28, 2009, 04:00:20 PM »


It's the deliberate refusal to participate in these ceremonies that bothers me. I do know that a ceremony can be empty and legalistic, but I can't help feeling that refusing to participate in a ceremony deliberately, when you are in full knowledge of the significance of that ceremony, is wrong.
This is the problem that occurs when everyone gets to decide for themselves based on personal experience, piety, preference or whatever.

Yeah ... I'm amazed that he does get to choose. I have a feeling he may be taking advantage of people's assumption that he's confirmed, actually.

I'm still not sure what to say to him - or even how to encourage him to talk to our vicar (though I will see if I can get him to do that).

Thanks for all your thoughts.
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« Reply #8 on: September 28, 2009, 04:05:50 PM »

^ It wasn't all that uncommon in ancient days to be a believer but to put off baptism, knowing that it was the only sure-fire way to wash away sins.  Unfortunately, you put yourself at risk of dying unbaptized.  That's not a good argument to use in this case (religion + scare-tactics = problems), but why would one want to deprive the child of the Grace?  The grace is independent of how seriously the priest & congregation are taking it - it comes from the Spirit, for the benefit of the child, and the child will not be deprived even if the parents are "going through the motions."
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« Reply #9 on: September 28, 2009, 05:51:24 PM »

Dear Liz,
I can sense the problems you feel when approaching to a distorted order of the sacraments - an order not only of administration, but also of importance and significance/effectiveness. As a former (or better, leaving) Roman Catholic, i know a similar situation occured after Vatican II, when the original order of Confirmation and Eucharist was changed after 1900 years of unbroken tradition where children received Confirmation and Eucharist exactly in this order.
My personal view is that the order and meaning of the three sacraments is very strong. Baptism purifies a soul subject to ancestral sin, Chrismation seals the mystical communion with the Holy Ghost and prepares to receive the spiritual food of the Eucharist. Since baptism also serves as a sort of exorcism, delivering the soul from the action of the Devil, placing the Spirit in once heart and nourishing it with Christ's body and blood is almost a necessary measure to preserve that purity acquired in the baptismal waters. I think that the Eucharist is the TARGET that baptism and confirmation point at. Jesus said that we must be born again "of water and Spirit" and also that we must eat of His flesh and His blood in order to be saved... so it's a question of conscience that our children receive these three gifts and institutions of God as soon as they can.

Hope this helps,
In Christ,   Alex
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Liz
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« Reply #10 on: September 29, 2009, 04:48:20 PM »

^ It wasn't all that uncommon in ancient days to be a believer but to put off baptism, knowing that it was the only sure-fire way to wash away sins.  Unfortunately, you put yourself at risk of dying unbaptized.  That's not a good argument to use in this case (religion + scare-tactics = problems), but why would one want to deprive the child of the Grace?  The grace is independent of how seriously the priest & congregation are taking it - it comes from the Spirit, for the benefit of the child, and the child will not be deprived even if the parents are "going through the motions."

Well, the problem is, he's not a child. I must convince an adult that what he is doing is wrong. But thanks, what you said does explain a lot.

Alexander - thanks for your post. I see what the argument is. I'll see if I can explain this to him. I particularly like how you say that 'Eucharist is the Target that baptism and confirmation point at'. It feels to me exactly the same. I'll see if he's convinced by this.
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« Reply #11 on: September 29, 2009, 06:51:13 PM »

As a former (or better, leaving) Roman Catholic, i know a similar situation occurred after Vatican II, when the original order of Confirmation and Eucharist was changed after 1900 years of unbroken tradition where children received Confirmation and Eucharist exactly in this order.

Wait, what was the order of the Sacraments as well as their corresponding ages of administration prior to the Second Vatican Council?
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« Reply #12 on: September 30, 2009, 07:41:03 AM »

Varying from 1 to 7 years of age for Confirmation since the 13th century, and 7 years for Holy Communion.

The Catholic Encyclopedia thus states:
Quote
It was especially during the thirteenth century that vigorous measures were taken to secure the proper administration of the sacrament. In general, the councils and synods direct the priests to admonish the people regarding the confirmation of their children. The age limit, however, varies considerably. Thus the Synod of Worcester (1240) decreed that parents who neglected to have their child confirmed within a year after birth should be forbidden to enter the church. The Synod of Exeter (1287) enacted that children should be confirmed within three years from birth, otherwise the parents were to fast on bread and water until they complied with the law. At the Synod of Durham (1217? Cf. Wilkins, loc. cit. below) the time was extended to the seventh year. (from the article "Confirmation")
Also the Code of Canon Law written in 1917 says thus:
Quote
Can. 788. Licet sacramenti confirmationis administratio convenienter in Ecclesia Latina differatur ad septimum circiter aetatis annum, nihilominus etiam antea conferri potest, si infans in mortis periculo sit constitutus, vel ministro id expedire ob iustas et graves causas videatur.
In translation (sorry for any imprecisions, it's my translation LOL) "It is right for the administration of Confirmation to be delayed by convenience in the Latin Church to about the seventh year of age, nevertheless it can be conferred earlier, in case the infant is endangered of death, or the minister considers this worth due to just and grave motivations". The same canon fixes the Eucharist only after the age of discretion (which never came before 7 years), except in case of imminent death of the child (3rd book, First Part, Chapter 2, Article 2 from the Code of Canon Law of 1917).

So, while Communion had always been administered "in the age of discretion" around 7-8 years old, the Sacrament of Confirmation was administered only up to 7 years of age, and thus before or together with First Communion. In the present rule of the Latin Catholic Church (for the Eastern Catholic Churches follow the Orthodox practice), First Communion is still administered more or less at that age, with minor differences decided by the Episcopal Conference (in Italy its around 8-9 years of age, varying from parish to parish), while Confirmation is reserved to around 12-14 years of age, thus delaying it long after the reception of Holy Communion.

In Christ,    Alex
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