presbyter wrote:Might it be appropriate to celebrate Rites of Passage in the Church in some way?
06 Feb 04. Split this off as a separate thread to be found here.
presbyter wrote:Now what about this profession of faith as a young adult? Is it appropriate, pastorally, for a young adult - of their own free will - to make both a personal and ecclesial commitment to Christ after they have received the sacramental, eschatological seal of their Baptism?
A sacrament is God's work. So it doesn't need anything from us in order to work... or does it? If Mary, having been called to carry the Christ, had said, "no, thanks!" could God have gone ahead and made her pregnant anyway? Probably not. God the Father needed the co-operation, not because he couldn't "just do it", but because humankind, having caused the fall needed willingly to partake in the restoration.
So, the sacramental part needs nothing more in order to work, except our saying yes - and continuing to say yes.
However. If the Church only baptised adults, then there would be that element of a public statement of faith within the community of faith (personal commitment in ecclesia
) at the Easter Vigil. In inducting infants and children who do not truly understand Eucharist or Confirmation (and, let's face it, even aged 40+ some of us still struggle with these!), we deny them the opportunity to make that declaration, that statement of witness. And when we hit the teenage years and want to make our mark in the world, then this might
be a good time to make that kind of public announcement. I say might
for, with 3, almost 4, teenagers myself, I hear how black and white all issues seem to them and how idealistic their responses are to quite complex ideas. So a public witness of the form "I'm Marigold, and I believe..." might just be an opportunity to air preformed ideals in public. Even within the 'safety' of the formulaic ritual of Liturgy (and there are those who merely say the right words, using the right action, hocus pocus
, in the belief that this is effective liturgy), personally I doubt how effective, or appropriate, such a public commitment should be.
The most effective public statement of witness that I
can make (and I know that this is not the case for everyone) is my love for my children, showing them in practical terms (rather than theoretical or academic, abstract terms) the face of Christ; bringing them with me to support the Church at prayer, actively, consciously, fully; partaking in my ministry so that they can see and start to understand what Church is - not going to a building, but meeting as a people. As to how effective that strategy is... well, at 17, the eldest is still coming willingly... ask me again after he's left home, and needs to stand up and be counted when his student peers are sleeping off hangovers on a Sunday morning! That will be his moment for 'personal and ecclesial commitment to Christ'. Not some enforced now-you've-reached-this-age-you-must-do-this Church service...
Perhaps the way I see the most effective statement of personal commitment is less in the raging storm of a stand-up witness and more in the gentle breeze of a constant loving support, day in, day out. Of course, there are some days when that commitment is stronger than others... but at least there is an ideal to strive towards!
So - back to the question. No, I don't think that it would be an effective thing to do. What is the purpose - to get the teenagers to stay in Church? It won't work. The only strategy that will is by showing them by example how powerful the Christian love we have for one another is... and that leads us back to the idea that we, as Church, need to learn more to love and support one another We are what we eat, the body of Christ. Let's start truly to believe it and to show it!