It was indeed heartening to commission several Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion in St. Mary and in Resurrection Parishes during late April. This action testifies that the Eucharist is at the heart and center of the faith life of our two Parishes.
Something that disheartens me is to learn that a parishioner has died who has been homebound or residing in a nursing home for months and even years without my being made aware of this. If only we had known about the whereabouts of this particular person, we could have offered to make Holy Communion available to that individual on a weekly basis. A basic reason that the Church promotes the ministry of Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion is so that every person in good standing with the Catholic Church who is confined to his/her own home or in some living facility would have the opportunity to receive the Eucharist weekly if they want to do this.
If we ourselves are confined and want to receive Holy Communion regularly, it is important that we notify the parish office about this. In our complex world, we just can’t assume that the Parish knows about our living situation unless we or a loved one/friend whom we delegate makes this known. Our Parish wants to do all that it can to enable persons who can’t come out to Mass to receive the Eucharist weekly.
Another situation in which baptized Catholics can fall through the cracks is in regard to the celebration of the Sacrament of Confirmation. Two factors contribute to this. One of these is that from time to time, a number of us move. We may move to a different diocese. The other factor contributing to this situation is in the diversity of age and school grade levels at which it is customary for youth to be confirmed in different dioceses. For example, a person/family might come to one of our parishes from a diocese in which it is customary to receive this Sacrament during one’s junior year in high school. And so, as a result of moving to our Diocese, in which it is customary for a youth to be confirmed in the 8th grade, it is possible for a person who is a 9th or 10th grader to miss out receiving the Sacrament of Confirmation.
Another way in which persons can fall through the cracks is by entering into a marriage that is not recognized by the Catholic Church. Persons in this situation sometimes feel that as a result of doing this, they are excommunicated. This is not true. The Church does want to reach out and to minister to persons in this situation. At the same time, the Church does insist that in order for the persons in this situation to receive the Sacraments again, the present marriage needs to be rectified in the eyes of the Church. People need to be made aware that the Church does offer opportunities for persons in marriages that are not recognized by the Church to explore the possibility of having their present marriage rectified in the eyes of the Church.
A proactive measure that we can take to avoid falling through the cracks of church life is to make certain that we are registered in the parish with which we identify. Registration forms invite us to indicate sacramental information about ourselves and about the members of our family. If, in filling out a registration form we realize that our sacramental life is not in accord with the mind of the Church, hopefully we will want to inquire about what we need to do to rectify this situation.
Through the example that we set in being proactive in relating to the parish with which we identify ourselves, we will not fall through the cracks ourselves in regard to parish life in an ever-changing world. Hopefully, the example that we work to express will rub off onto others.
Sincerely yours in Christ,
Fr. Nelson Beaver – Pastor