Tuesday, March 23, 2004

Grace dependent on human reason?
Under current practice of the Roman Rite, the eligibility of baptized children for other Sacraments comes later, at such time when it is hoped that their having reached the age of reason will help them cooperate more fully with God's grace -- in no way understood as if God's free gift of grace is dependent on human reason.

There is room both for the Orthodox Church practice and the current practice of the Catholic Church. Is it really problematic to suggest that a better grasp of what one receives in a Sacrament (which we hope comes with age and preparation) is indeed beneficial as regards one's cooperation with God's free gift? That is the point of the Catholic practice. To claim this practice exhibits that children, after baptism, are "excommunicated" for some years is a misapplication of the term "excommunicate." Likewise, the benefit of preparing for the later reception of a Sacrament should not be understood as if God's grace depends on the recipient's rational faculties. It should not be understood that way, because that is not what the Catholic Church means by the practice.

In addition, when someone not eligible (by reason of age) for further Sacraments is in some serious danger of death (either proximate or remote) they can be given the other Sacraments. Furthermore, a pastor, after careful study, may admit certain "under age" persons to the Sacraments if he judges their readiness. In fact, in this very Archdiocese, I know of two cases this year where a pastor petitioned the archbishop for delegation to confirm two young girls, still several years under the typical confirmation age.

No comments: