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Tuesday, 9 February 2016

Initiates and the Uninitiated

When I as a young whipper-snapper, the catechesis of callow Catholics was in a dormant stage, at least in my neck of the American woods.
We painted rocks and sang along with a guitar wielding high school girl from red plastic books, (the red plastic books may be a false memory, as Glory and Praise had not yet blighted the landscape - on the other hand, the girl in question, a friend of our family, was a world traveller, very sophisticated, she may have brought it back from somewhere exotic, like France. I'm just remembering, she was also the one who explained the meaning of "to sleep with." At a drive-in, us little ones tumbling in the back of the station wagon like pajamed puppies, adults and semi-adults in the two bench seats, there was a "coming attraction" touted which I now think must have been the Cardinal, while we waited to see something like 3 Lives of Thomasina. In it, a woman in a confessional said, "I slept with a man." I asked her later how sleeping could be a sin, and she explained that not much sleeping often occurred during the act of "sleeping with.")
Until Confirmation class virtually anything I learned about the Faith was from the way people behaved in church, which was very powerful, and from my parents, both by osmosis and deliberately.
As is only right.
But I digress.)
In any case, until I was an adult I never heard the specific phrase "sacraments of initiation." (My own confirmation was a good long ways after what we now know should have been the final of the three, I had skipped a grade and was allowed to make my Communion with my older class-mates, but according to the diocese, IIRC, had to wait for the Seven Gifts until I was the "right age." Although I was lucky, very lucky, suddenly, after years of strum and hum and craft projects, they wheeled an ancient nun with a hair-sprouting mole out of the back, wearing a mask like Hannibal Lecter, who TAUGHT us actual THINGS. You know, facts, and precepts and principles and doctrines. I shall be forever grateful to Sister Clare Cornelius.)
Another digression, sorry.


Since I am now in possession of this expression, the sacrament of initiation,  I was struck rather forcefully by a snippet I read.
"Family Day" in Italy was apparently an enormous outpouring of popular support for the Traditional, might I say Normal? notion of "family," despite possible neglect by, or at least ambiguity from the Pope and outright hostility on the part of some Italian bishops.
In following links to see what manner of man was head of the bishops' conference, I came across this from some time ago. It was,
reported that he said the Eucharist “is and must remain a ‘universal assembly’”, and that it must also be an “eloquent sign of the divine and his free gift for the ‘uninitiated’.”
I have nothing to say.
That was kind of a long way to go, I suppose for nothing to say.
Maybe I AM the Dutiful Brother.
But I want my prodigal brother to come home, I want him to!
But not to pop in for dinner, drop off his laundry for Mom or the servants to do and take off again, after pawning the finest robe and ring and sandals so he could squander the proceeds by resuming his life of dissipation.

Is that just me being selfish? Or is it me remembering that the spiritual acts of mercy are "not a devotion," they are required of us who dare to bear the name of Christian?
“When in the evening of life, we are asked if we fed the hungry and gave drink to the thirsty, we will also be asked if we helped persons come out of doubt, if we were committed to receive sinners, admonishing and correcting them, if we were capable of combatting ignorance, especially that concerning the Christian faith and the good life. This attention to the works of mercy is important: they are not a devotion. It is the concreteness of how Christians must carry forward the spirit of mercy.”

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