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#65040 12/01/03 07:24 PM
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I'm SURE this must have been addressed on this forum, at least once....

But since I only lurk here from time to time, I may have missed it.

I was surfing a Ukrainian Greek Catholic website, and was reading the criteria for a child to make his or her First Solemn Holy Communion. It indicated that the child must have been Baptized (and, I'm assuming, Chrismated, unless he or she was not Baptized UGC or in another Eastern-
Christian church, and then I'm guessing Chrismation would take place at time of Solemn Holy Communion, no?), and must have completed a certain amount of religious education (through second grade or thereabouts).

Is FSHC common practice among UGCs in the USA (and in Canada and elsewhere in the world, for that matter), or only in certain eparchies? Is it common practice among other Byzantine Catholics? Is this a "latinization" (seems to correspond with the Latin-Rite "Age of Reason" rationale)? Do UGC children routinely receive Holy Communion from infancy on up, and then make a First "Solemn" Holy Communion (perhaps after making a first confession/receiving a first Mystery of Repentance)?

It was interesting to read the admonition to parents on this website, that First Solemn Holy Communion does not mean an end to formal religious instruction. We RCs in some dioceses face the same problem when we talk about restoring the proper order to the administration of the Sacraments of Initiation and discuss moving Confirmation from (in some cases) high school age to junior high or younger: "How do you keep them coming?"

Martin


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Quote
Do UGC children routinely receive Holy Communion from infancy on up, and then make a First "Solemn" Holy Communion (perhaps after making a first confession/receiving a first Mystery of Repentance)?
Depends on how "Eastern" the parish is. But what you describe is common.

Yours,

hal

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Dear martin, I think this is perhaps more of an "adaptation" than a Latinization. The child has already received the Mystery of the Eucharist at baptism, and continues to do so afterwards.

This is primarily meant to solemnify the First Confession and give the parents, grandparents, godparents, etc. something to celebrate since the later "First Communion" given when the child was older which was indeed a Latinization, has been restored to its proper place at Baptism/Chrismation.

First Communion in the "old days" was a big deal not only for RCs but also for many Greek Catholics, white dresses, etc. etc. but has thankfully in Greek Catholic parishes restored to its proper place as the third Mystery of initiation immediately after Baptism and Chrismation.

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Dear Martin,

Yes, Hal is right.

Most of our parishes in Canuckistan allow children to approach Communion until the age of seven when they have a "First Holy Confession and Solemn Holy Communion."

I believe our Synod defined it as such as well.

Alex

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Gee, my kids received their first solemn (or maybe squirming?) Holy Communion after Baptism & Chrismation (and a diaper change)- maybe about 20 minutes after.


Cheers,

Sharon

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Sharon -
Mine, too...
Tammy

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Sharon -

I agree with your underlying point. How much more solemnity is required? It almost makes the reception of the Eucharist at initiation (and all subsequent communions) to be of lesser consequence.

Sounds like either a strategy to "keep up with the Latins" in social convention or an attempt to make the reception of the Mystery of Repentance more meaningful. Either way, IMHO, I think it should be discontinued as a practice.

Peace -

Gordo, sfo

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I'm going to open myself to a lot of responses here, but please do NOT slam me for the decisions of my family and pastors. My family is cradle Ruthenian Byzantine transplanted from the east coast to the west -- and as you've all read in previous posts, there is a BIG difference between the Ruthenian Byzantine dioceses.

My oldest (15 years old) received the 3 rites of initiation at birth. However, in one of the mission churches in the east coast, Father elected to have a first solemn eucharist at the end of 2nd grade -- for those parents wishing it. The service is even in the "old" edition of the "God With Us" series. 2 weeks before Flowery (Palm) Sunday the students would decorate their own candles. The week before they would decorate their own Robe of Justice with "ICXC" and a cross with puffy paints, embroidering, etc. Flowery Sunday the children (before liturgy) would repeat their baptismal vows with the congregation and then pass out pussy willows with Father.

I have to back up here .... it was explained to me when DD was born that the "proper" way for her to receive the Holy Eucharist was for us, her parents, or other trusted adult whom she worshipped with on a regular basis (her ECF teacher, Godparents, etc.) would bring her to the altar with their hands on her shoulders. After First Reconciliation would she be able to come up alone. It truly was a beautiful practice.

Then we moved to the west coast ........

I was told by one of the priests out here when it was time for #2 DD to enter 2nd grade that "we don't do things like that out here ... the priests back east are wrong!" Now, not to refine too much details on our conversation that went rapidly down hill, suffice to say, I took umbrage at ANY pastor condemning his fellow priests to being "wrong."

I was told that "we don't celebrate sinning." Hello ..... we are celebrating the reunification with Our Father! Didn't the Prodigal Son's Father, not utter a word .... but threw his arms around his son and gave him a party?!?

To make a long story short, we are no longer attending that parish. Now I understand the theology behind NOT having a first solemn Eucharist. However, I believe the entire archeparchy should have consistent traditions -- for that's what the First Solemn Eucharist is -- tradition with a little "T" (not to be confused with liturgical tradition). It is no different than some of our parishes celebrating a Quincinera Liturgy for our hispanic parishioners. Not done back east .... and some of you are going to ask "What's that?" which should be under a new topic.

So ... no one answer to your question ....

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I forgot to add that the children would celebrate their First Reconciliation on Holy Wednesday and then First Solemn Eucharist Holy Thursday -- the symbolism of the days chosen made a HUGE impact on the children.

In our mission parish back east the children even baked their own Prosphora to be used with Father!

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Dear Mrs. H,

The eparchies are moving toward consistent practice on this one but I am afraid you are not going to like it. We are going back to the traditional triple rites of initiation.

I do want to offer a note of explanation for your cold-hearted West Coast priest. This debate among the priests has a different dimension than among the laity. Among the priests, it can become a measure of one's Catholicity. Many Eastern Catholic priests take umbrage to the idea that we are Catholic only when we do things like the (Roman) Catholics.

Some of our parishes are currently undergoing this rapid transition as we speak and many parents are struggling mightily with it. This is especially true because it is not the way things were done when they were kids.

While I understand the beauty you see with the 2nd grade practice, it is not our way. While Baptism, Chrismation, and the Eucharist are public sacraments and, therefore, public celebrations, the same cannot be said for the sacrament of reconciliation. The need for the sacrament, by its nature, implies separation from the community, need for personal repentence, for metanoia. It is a very private sacrament.

In your analogy above, the Prodigal's Father celebrated his wayward son's repentence by slaying the fatted calf; by celebrating the Eucharist! In our theology, this is not a one time, or even repetitive weekly celebration. Rather, it is a partaking in the same Eucharist that was given once and for all. It is not a rite of passage but rather the source of all life. Our tradition as preached by the Church Fathers is not to deprive anyone of this, not even the smallest of children!

John, Deacon

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Dear Mrs. H,

I couldn't agree with you more!

I think the spiritual benefit from having a first Holy Confession with Holy Communion (the "solemnity" can be dropped if one wishes) allows for a period of catechesis that would otherwise not be had.

Yes, I know the arguments that catechesis via the liturgy and reading is a life-long process.

But we need to work on that before we get try to get rid of a tradition, that certainly was a Latinism, but that has much to offer to youngsters.

I've helped raise six God-children this way and, sorry, I wouldn't have it any other way.

Our Orthodox churches have the "Voskryesna Shkola" or Sunday School and I'm sure that is very effective catchetically speaking.

But the vast majority of our parishes wouldn't get rid of the first Holy Confession practice.

And I think that would be a retrograde action if any bishop who is "more Orthodox than the Orthodox" would try to remove it.

If something works, then let's keep it. I"m not bothered too much by either Latinisms or Russisms in our Church that can be integrated into our church life well - and that have a proven track of working well and being loved by the people.

First Holy Confession and Solemn Holy Communion (our Synod did define it as such and I'm not in the business of arguing with my own Synod) should stay.

Alex

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Dear Mrs. H,
Glory to Jesus Christ!

Yes, there are some differences in liturgical practices among parishes and eparchies. Although it is unfortunate when these differences impact your participation in the life of the Church, I am very hopeful we are on the correct path in restoring our liturgical traditions and practices.

A marvelous document titled “Instruction for Applying the Liturgical Prescriptions of the Code of Canons of the Eastern Churches” was issued in 1996 by the Congregation for the Eastern Churches at the Vatican. You should be able to find this document online, particularly at www.byzcath.org.

The document goes into wonderful detail on the need for restoration of authentic practices for Eastern Catholic Churches. The background information and the entire meaning of liturgical instruction is presented with great care and love. Let me quote the 4 stated objectives from Paragraph 5:

* to lead to a more profound understanding of immense richness of authentic Eastern traditions, which are to be scrupulously
maintained & communicated to all faithful;

* to arrange liturgical norms valid for all Catholic Eastern Churches in organic summary and to introduce recovery, where necessary of Eastern liturgical authenticity, according to Tradition which each Eastern Church has inherited from the Apostles through the Fathers;

* to exhort a permanent liturgical formation to be organized on a solid basis, for both clergy - beginning with seminarians and formation institutes -, and people of God through schools of mystagogical catechesis;

* to list principles in common for elaboration of Liturgical Directories for individual Churches <sui iuris.>.

I cannot do justice by summarizing the text, but I will attempt to answer your statements.

To accomplish the objectives, the Byzantine Ruthenian Catholic Church (my guess – I speak in no official capacity) would convene an Inter-Eparchial Liturgical Commission of bishops, clergy, liturgists, historians, etc., as directed by our bishops. They would go through the Divine Liturgy, the celebration of the other Mysteries (Sacraments), and other liturgical services. It would be their recommendation whether the existing practice was authentic from our own tradition and patrimony. Where practices were inserted from other traditions (i.e., Latinizations), the guidance from the Instruction is that our authentic traditions are to be restored.

Some of our practices are adaptations and would be subject to review. However, any commission may conclude that a particular adaptation has been with us for such a period of time and is now so much a part of our authentic tradition that it should be retained.

Please do not be upset that some changes may be given to us. Remember, it was John the Baptist who called for reform of our lives. We should be constantly re-forming our lives according to the model given by Christ. I would also anticipate that any changes given us will be mostly minor in nature, perhaps somewhat technical, and that in many cases we are so close to authentic practices that a lot of changes might not even be very noticeable.

This is all very good news. All we have to be is a little more patient. We will retain and restore our authentic Eastern Catholic traditions. We will make adjustments so that our parishes and eparchies are closer in our expression of our faith. Our people will be able to draw upon more of our Eastern spirituality to lead us closer to Christ.

Thank you for your care and concern,
Deacon El

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Dear Father Deacon El,

Well, the UGCC Synod has not abrogated, in any way, the practice of First Holy Confession and Solemn Holy Communion.

And most of us in the largest EC Church don't see any reason to change this practice.

The principles you enunciate are all very important.

And while the practice of First Holy Confession has its drawbacks, it still provides an example context in which young people may advance in the knowledge of their church.

Our most recent First Holy Confession and Solemn Holy Communion included exercises like processions of the young candidates with icons, the making of prayer ropes (which they all had with them on their special day). The Church was filled to capacity and the liturgy lasted for about three hours - no one complained, everyone was very happy to be there.

If you, or anyone else, can come up with something else to take the place of this particular practice (and no one is saying that the entire issue of ongoing religious/liturgical formation is solved by it alone), then please let us in the UGCC know.

We can also be against Perpetual Adoration but I know of villages in Ukraine where this is carried on in EC parishes - and where even pre-teens take part and pray an hour in church daily.

Again, may God forbid that we should consider removing that hour of prayer from those children's lives as a progressive form of returning to our Eastern roots . . .

Alex


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