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John Jay, Fargo, Published December 01 2012

Letter: Sacrament a gift, not entitlement

The recent articles about the young man who expressed his support for gay marriage and who was supposedly denied the sacrament of confirmation (something we found out later was not exactly the case) by his parish priest leaves me with one burning question: Why did this young man want the sacrament? Why does any Catholic want this sacramental gift?

Confirmation in the Catholic Church is one of three sacraments that completes the Right of Christian Initiation. There is baptism, confirmation and Holy Eucharist. It fully initiates you into the Catholic Church, and you become a full member sacramentally in the body of Christ.

As Catholics, we desire the sacrament of confirmation because of the spiritual gifts and blessings it bestows. Confirmation, according to the catechism of the Catholic Church, brings an increase and deepening of baptismal grace. Confirmation unites us more firmly with Christ. It increases the gifts of the Holy Spirit in us. It renders our bond with the Catholic Church more perfect. It gives us a special strength of the Holy Spirit to spread and defend our faith.

I have to wonder if this young person truly wanted all that this gift gives. It seemed that his words and actions were in deep conflict with the very gifts confirmation would bring to him as a Catholic.

When I was confirmed, I was deeply impressed that now I was to be a spiritually mature person: a soldier ready to defend the faith. Sadly, I think the outcome of this recent situation was the opposite of the desired sacramental outcome. Rather than a defense of faith, a perceived “entitlement” to the sacrament led to a wounding of his parish and to Catholics reading the reporting by The Forum on this incident.

The rite of secularism in the world and propagated in the media should give all denominations of every faith pause to step back and hopefully respond in a way that is educational, evangelistic, responsible and Christian.

The Catholic Church will not be the first nor the last denomination that secularism and the secular media will take aim at. This country was founded on the freedom to express our religious beliefs. Let’s do whatever we can, whenever we can to instill the example of Christ’s love in our families and in our communities and hope and pray that our local media that receive their very livelihood from a faith-filled community can allow privacy and tolerance in private spiritual matters that are between an individual, his or her pastor and God and not exploit them for mere profit.

It unravels the heart and soul of a community of believers. This young man and his family were neither celebrities nor public officials, and their private matters were not in the public interest. The Forum should rise to a better quality of responsible journalism.

Let us offer our prayers and support for that young man, his family, his pastor and his parish and pray that these wounds can be healed.