Over the past many weeks, I have repeatedly been asked what the Venerable Servant of God Father Augustine Tolton would think of the recent civil unrest occurring throughout our nation. It is risky business to attempt a guess at such a question (as it would be with any historical person) because the times and circumstances are not the same. Even if they were, we are each prone to sin and each of us can — and does — misjudge the words or actions of others, reading more into them than perhaps there is. Such was the case on at least one occasion with Father Tolton.
It sometimes happens in life that we have a great desire to receive the Eucharist but for whatever reason we cannot receive it. Such situations might include a severe illness, an imprisonment, a failure to properly prepare for holy Communion, or the unavailability of the holy Mass, or the current situation with Masses closed to the public due to the coronavirus. Some of these situations are occasional and others longstanding. If we find ourselves in such a situation, what are we to do?
Why do Catholics eat fish on Fridays and when did this start?
— Stan in Liberty
For several decades now, well-meaning catechists, priests and deacons have told candidates for the sacrament of confirmation something along the lines of this: “Confirmation is when you decide to accept the Catholic faith for yourself.” If this were true, it would mean that my own reception of the sacrament of confirmation means nothing because I was confirmed the same day I was born; at such a young age, I could not possibly make such a momentous decision. The sacrament of confirmation, then, cannot be about an individual’s choice. Indeed, such an understanding was never present in any official document or prayer of the church.
Many centuries ago, Pope St. Leo the Great wisely said that “what was visible in our Savior has passed over into his mysteries” (Sermon 74.2). He spoke these words concerning the ascension of Christ and in this way referred to the relationship between the life and ministry of the Lord Jesus and the Sacraments of his Body, the Catholic Church.
It often happens that persons present themselves, or are presented by others, to receive a blessing at the time others approach to receive holy Communion. While the beginning of this practice is a bit hard to pin down, it seems to have begun in the United States in the late 1980s or early 1990s out of a desire to help those who cannot receive holy Communion for one reason or another feel included.