Joseph Martos
Part Three of the Course, First Assignment, Question 2
by Dr. Joe Martos - Friday, 17 February 2012, 1:53 AM
Reflect on the developments in baptism and confirmation since the Second Vatican Council, explaining why you believe that some of these have been positive or negative developments.
Picture of arnetta sims
Re: Part Three of the Course, First Assignment, Question 2
by arnetta sims - Monday, 6 August 2012, 5:29 PM

I would like to first examine the developments of the sacraments of baptism and confirmation since Vatican II the effort of theologians to convince bishops to examine the scriptural and not to place strong reliance on scholars' theories.The bishops acted on this advisory and made the language more biblical.

In the revision of the baptism of children more burden was placed on the parents. The Church stronly recommends postponment of baptism of children where parent will not committ to bring them up in the church. Here is where I have a problem. If we are scripturally based I asked the the question; "Can anyone withhold water from them?

I do not fully agree with RCIA program because there are people willing to committ to entering the Catholic Church who have to wait until the next class start. The Church should have something in place to assist them in their desire for baptism. This program may not work in all communities and in all cultures.

The postive is that the Church was able to define and outline the sacramental theology for modern terms. I appreciate the emphasis of community and the plan of salvation.

GRADE 2 (Less than required length. Some inaccuracies.)

(Edited by Dr. Joe - original submission Thursday, 19 July 2012, 11:40 PM)

Picture of Eileen Rettig
Re: Part Three of the Course, First Assignment, Question 2
by Eileen Rettig - Tuesday, 24 July 2012, 7:49 PM
A movement exists within the Church in North America to develop a continuous RCIA program, meaning year round sessions. The North American Forum on the Cathechumenate is a good resource. Unfortunately it is difficult to get many pastors and RCIA teams out of the "school year" attitude they currently hold. I can give you more information if you join Marvin and me at Atlanta Bread tomorrow.
Picture of Eileen Rettig
Re: Part Three of the Course, First Assignment, Question 2
by Eileen Rettig - Monday, 6 August 2012, 5:23 PM

Vatican II brought several changes primarily to Baptism and acceptance into the Catholic Church from other Christian denominations. Confirmation of those baptized as infants is still looking for its proper role in the sacramental life of the Church.

The scholars of Vatican II examined the writings of the New Testament and the patristic fathers and worked at devising a more contemporary return to the practices of the early Church. Previous to the Council an adult who wanted to join the Catholic Church sought out the pastor of his/her local parish and took private instructions. Baptism was a private, family affair and even those of other Christian denominations who had been previously baptized were baptized again as if the first baptism was worthless.

Today the Church generally uses a parish (community) centered approach to the initiation of adults with modifications made for the initiation of children over the age of seven. Seven is considered the age at which most children know right from wrong and can make a commitment to following Jesus.

Those who are interested in becoming members of the Church begin as part of a group that is comprised of other seekers, members of the parish who are willing to help in the initiation as sponsors, teachers or members of the hospitality team. Ideally the process should take at least one full liturgical year but many parishes in the United States still follow an academic year schedule, with the program beginning at the start of the school year and ending several weeks after the actual Baptism at the Easter Vigil. Fortunately those who seek admission to the Catholic Church from most Protestant faiths, if they can provide proof of their Baptism do not have to be baptized again. The Catholic Church recognizes most baptisms.

The academic year mindset makes it difficult for people who decide late in the academic year that they wish to convert. Frequently they are told to wait for September which can cause frustration and a feeling that they are not important enough to enter the Church. This can be remedied by parishes adopting a year round program where candidates can enter at any time to begin or continue their faith journey. The North American Forum for the Catechumenate is an excellent resource for parishes who wish to improve their RCIA programs.

Confirmation is a totally different problem. Once it was separated from the baptismal ceremony it became a “sacrament in search of a theology” to quote a previous instructor I had on the Sacraments. As a child, pre-Vatican II, I learned that when I was confirmed I would become “a soldier of Christ.” The good sisters instilled in me the sense that I was now an adult according to the Church. In the era of the Cold War and the Red Menace of Communist Russia I was quite willing to die for my faith.

Today it is difficult to explain what these special gifts of the Holy Spirit mean to our young people. In Judaism a boy of twelve has his Bar Mitzvah, when he reads for the first time, out loud from the Torah. He is considered a man and can be counted as the ten men necessary for a prayer group. We do not have the same sense of a rite into adulthood. Confirmation could be that rite of passage but like Baptism of infants it has fallen into prey to the psychology of “just another ceremony the church expects.” I was confirmed at age seven as a routine. The bishop only came to the parish every three years and as I have said in an earlier assignment, my Confirmation happened before my First Communion partly so I would not have to share the stage at age ten with my nine year old sister. My daughter was confirmed with the rest of her Catholic classmates at the end of the year in eighth grade. The students were required fifty hours of service to the community. It was a rite of passage for these young people who would soon be entering high school.

Some bishops, including the archbishop of the diocese of Mobile have moved the age of Confirmation to seventeen, the equivalent of eleventh grade. While some parishes with active youth ministries may be able to keep young people involved in the Church, I fear many middle and older teens will fail to be confirmed. This is often the age when the teens begin to look for answers outside the world their parents raised them in.

I have one question, primarily about the Sacrament of Baptism. What happened to the idea of Original Sin? It is still a dogma of the Church, but since we discourage the baptizing of infants whose parents are not active in the Faith, what happens to these children?

GRADE 4 (Implicit evaluations of contemporary practices and theology.)

(Edited by Dr. Joe - original submission Wednesday, 25 July 2012, 12:20 AM)

Picture of Marvin Fitchett
Re: Part Three of the Course, First Assignment, Question 2
by Marvin Fitchett - Monday, 6 August 2012, 5:19 PM

The contemporary development of the sacrament of baptism and confirmation after the Second Vatican has started the process of solidifying some of controversies surrounding baptism and confirmation. As these two sacraments are congealing, the question of their effectiveness will continue to surface, and the contemporary theologians attempt to supply the framework to answer them.

The contemporary era has been described by Catholic theologians as the period of returning to the scripture for foundational evidence and future guidance of the sacrament of baptism and confirmation. First, our attention is turned toward the sacrament of baptism. The Council’s returning the sacrament of baptism to the scripture was both bold and positive. It was a bold step because they were fully aware that they were denouncing some traditional practices. It was positive because it opened the door to ecumenism, the Council recognized that any Christian baptized by the apostolic pattern was indeed baptized correctly and members of Christ’s church. Therefore, Protestants and Catholics who were baptized by the apostolic pattern were united in Christ through the sacrament (ordinance) of baptism where adults are forgiven by God, buried and raised with Christ, and seal with God’s Holy Spirit. This sacramental activity agrees with the scholastic theologians when they refer to ex opera operato, the ritual that causes a real spiritual transformation.

The sacrament of confirmation has been given a label by contemporary theologians as, “sacrament in search of theology…has found it hard to justify a second conferring of the Holy Spirit after baptism” (201). The contemporary theologians’ view of the sacrament of confirmation speaks volumes of negative perception of the sacrament and I agree with them.

The sacrament of confirmation or the activity involved in confirmation originates in baptism. Accompanied with that activity are the effects of confirmation as part of the baptismal ritual. The door that baptism opens is receiving God’s seal of the Holy Spirit. The door that confirmation keeps ajar is the reaffirming or expounding on the door that baptism opened. The distinguishing of confirmation as a separate sacrament was more for convenience for the early church historians than scriptural objectivity. The move towards convenience led to multiple circumstances for which solution were provided, however those solution were rooted in theorized explanations.

The Second Vatican II council realized and retained documents of the ambiguity associated with the sacrament of confirmation. The Council updated the sacrament stating it possessed a close relation to the baptismal ritual, and adults were to complete the entire baptism ritual immediately, and later for infants. The wording, and later for infants is why the ritual of confirmation continues. In my estimation, the Council was passive in their implementation which left the sacrament of confirmation in the same confusing predicament.

The continuance of the sacrament of confirmation will keep the Catholic Church in a perpetual revision of it. For the church to make progress toward permanency and clarity concerning the sacrament of confirmation, change the sacrament of confirmation to a sacramental of confirmation that supports the sacrament of baptism. With this perspective of confirmation, it provides a method of maintaining all the previous theology pertaining to confirmation and permits the post-baptisms of infants. Furthermore, all the richly imbedded history can transfer to the sacramental of confirmation.

Grade 3 (Not all parts of the answer are understandable.)

(Edited by Dr. Joe - original submission Sunday, 29 July 2012, 02:10 PM)