Saturday, November 8, 2008

Taking a Look at the Order of the Sacraments of Initiation

On Monday the priests of the Archdiocese gathered at St. Michael's Retreat in Lumsden for one of our regular study days. Bishop Gerald Wiesner of the diocese of Prince George spoke to us about the order of the Sacraments of Initiation.

Bishop Wiesner led us through a thorough look at the tradition in the Church regarding the Sacraments of Baptism, Confirmation and Eucharist and the history of how they have been celebrated and in what order they have been celebrated over the centuries. Fundamental to our understanding of these sacraments is that together they form the sacraments of initiation into membership and life in the Church.
Within this historical overview Bishop Wiesner spoke of the occasions that arose which in the Western Church that brought about a separation in time of the conferral of these sacraments. In the early church they were celebrated together as they are now done in the restored Catecheumenate and the liturgy of the Easter Vigil. Confirmation became separated from Baptism as Church communities began to grow more numerous and were no longer located close to the Bishop. With the lowering of the age of First Communion at the beginning of the 20th century, Confirmation began to be conferred after First Communion. There is a movement now in the Church to restore the order to that of its original practice: Baptism, Confirmation and Eucharist.
Bishop Wiesner then presented the teaching of the Church regarding this question through the teaching of the Second Vatican Council, documents of the Holy Father, particularly Paul VI, John Paul II and Pope Benedict XVI. And concluded with an outline of the sacramental theology which deals with these sacraments.

The priests of the Archdioce were present in very high numbers. I am most grateful for the commitment of our priests and the dedication that they have to the unity of the presbyterate and their cooperation in the goals and visions of the diocese.

We also had a very good number of lay pastoral workers present at the presentations. This too is a very hopeful sign of the strength of our sense of mission in our local Church. Our lay pastoral workers are a richness to our church and we thank God for them.

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