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ought till our deaths to be the busi- but require from her children that ness of every day, were incompatible which her Divine Husband requires. with application to any thing, which Before she admits them to her it may be necessary to learn, in table, she wishes that they should order to our entering into any situ- know how to distinguish the bread ation whatever.
of angels, which is there offered to What is the age, at which the them. The young persons, who Divine precept and ecclesiastical wish to be admitted there for the laws impose on young persons the first time, are not exempted from duty of approaching for the first that obligation. “ The clergy" time the august sacrament of the (says a council of Toulouse) Lord's Supper? It is, when they « ought to admit, and even press have the discernment to know and to communion those young persons feel the excellence of that sacra- whom they shall judge, or who ment; when their mind is suffici- shall be judged by their confesently enlightened, and their will sors, to have sufficient discernment rightly disposed.
in regard to the mystery in which Ought any among our fathers they are to partake. and mothers to be ignorant of those What then is meant by discernwords, addressed by St. Paul to the ing the Lord's body, unless it be Corinthians ? “ Whosoever shall to distinguish it from every thing, eat this bread, and drink this cup which does not deserve to be placed of the Lord unwortbily, shall be in the same rank of esteem and guilty of the body and blood of affection; to regard it, as the most the Lord. But let a man examine precious gift which Heaven can himself; and so let bim eat of that bestow upon us, as an epitome of bread, and drink of that cup! For the wonders of the Almighty, a he that eateth and drinketh unwor- concentration of the love which thily, eateth and drinketh damnation God and his Son Jesus Christ have to himself, not discerning the Lord's shewn us? What is meant by disbody.” It is thus, that the great cerning the Lord's body? It is Apostle, who had been instructed, to be actuated by a true hunger as he assures us, by Jesus Christ and thirst after righteousness, to himself, concerning the institution have recourse for the purpose of of the eucharist, and no doubt also satisfying that appetite to that concerning the dispositions neces- adorable flesh, which is the element sary for approaching it worthily, of all righteousness, and for the shuts them all ụp in the discern- purpose of being thoroughly rement of the Lord's body. The newed, to that fountain of living Divine Saviour, who, after having water which springeth up into given us a commandment to eat everlasting life. This discernment bis flesh and to drink his blood, on supposes a certain extent of knowpain of being, in case of disobe. ledge, acquired by a long course dience, deprived of the life which of instruction, and a heart in which he is pleased to communicate to uslove has been shed abroad by by that heavenly nourishment, com- the Holy Ghost; a heart which, mands us by his, Apostle, in the being penetrated with horror at sin, passage just quoted, to discern it, has sincerely renounced it, and if we would not in receiving him desires to live henceforward only into our bodies, eat at the same for God. time our own judgment and con
It is in the solicitude to acquire demnation *. The church cannot a knowledge of all the truths of re
ligion, and in the endeavour to morThe Protestant reader will note this tify within us the love of ourselves allusion to the absurd doctrines of transubstantiation, as one among many things and of all created blessings, that to be corrected in the best even of Jan
so the love of God may reign in us, senist publications.
that the examination directed by
St. Paul consists, when he says, tal sin; and for what blessings we « Let a man examine himself; and are indebted to Jesus Christ, who so let him eat of that bread, and through his unbounded love towards drink of that cup." It is the same us has condescended to give us, in direction on which the charge to the sacrament of penance, a method the clergy, assembled at Milan, is of recovering it; whether they are founded. “It is your duty to ex, instructed in the necessity of a conamine the young persons, who wish trition, which has faith for its printo be admitted to a participation of ciple, which is accompanied with the so great a sacrament. It is your hope of pardon, and excited by a duty to instruct them for a certain commencement of the love of God, time, in order to train them to the as the fountain of all righteousness; belief of so august a mystery, to whether they have those sentiments teach them to make a holy use of concerning the eucharist of which it, and to gather the precious fruits we have spoken above, regarding which it produces."
it as the true bread come down · Is it not obvious, that this pre- from heaven, given us, while we paration of mind and heart does not are pilgrims upon earth, in a mandepend on the number of years we ner suited to our present state, to have attained? What then do fathers support our weakness during our and mothers mean, when they pre- journey, and designed to constitute tend, that their children are of age, in a more perfect manner our eterand ought to celebrate their first nal nourishment after this life is communion ? Have we not a right ended; whether they know what to reply to them, “ The age de- are the duties of a Christian towards termines nothing in a matter of God, towards his neighbour, towards such importance ?” The point to himself, which are all comprehended be ascertained is, whether they in the commandments of God and of have a sufficient measure of instruc- the church, whether they are contion; whether they know all the vinced of their inability to fulfil truths included in the Creed of the them without a succour, which Apostles; whether they bave a cor- God owes to no one, but which he rect notion of original sin ; whether grants by the merits of Jesus Christ they understand in what an abyss to all those who, perceiving their of spiritual and of bodily miseries need of it sensibly, pray for it with the disobedience of our first parents humility and fervour, and by means has plunged us, and by what mira- of which they will be able to surcles of wisdom, omnipotence, and mount all the obstacles, which may mercy it has pleased God to de- impede them in their endeavours to liver us out of it; whether they have become faithful to the law. an idea of the greatness of the It is necessary, in the second grace which has been granted to place, to exainine whether the inthem in holy baptism,-a grace of structions, which must be given privilege, which is not extended to them on all these points, have made so many others, as well as of the an impression on their hearts, sufsanctity of the engagements which ficiently deep to satisfy us, that in they have contracted in it, whether the use of the ordinary means of they have learned what is the grace it will not only not be efnature of sacraments in general, faced, but will become more lively, what admirable effects they pro- and continue to strengthen more duce in souls well prepared for the and more hereafter ; whether they reception of them, and with what dis- have appeared to have a taste for positions they ought to be received; the service of God, to be pleased above all, whether they have been with the exercises of piety, attencarefully taught what is Christian tive to the correction of the faults justification, how deplorable is the to which they have been subject, loss of it which is incurred by mor- and to avoid a repetition of them ;
whether they have à borror of sin, notion of Christian doctrine, insoán esteem and love for holiness ; much, that in many instances they whether they are humble and do- do not even know what it is that cile, enemies of falsehood, of oaths, the faithful receive in the Lord's of quarrels, devoted to the fultil- Supper ; although, so far are they ment of all their duties, and, in one from having tasted, they do not even word, so attached for some time suspect the first sweetness of piety; past to the paths of rectitude, that although they are still ignorant, in it may be hoped they will derive what Christian humility, which is much fruit from the sacraments, the foundation of all virtues, conand persevere in righteousness. sists; and although they are en
When a young person unites slaved to anger and to self-love, that these dispositions to an age some- melancholy source of all vices? what advanced, on being admitted “What fault,” say they, “is to be for the first time to the communion, found in our children? Is it wished, he will there taste that the Lord is that, before they are admitted, they gracious. There is no reason to should acquire the knowledge of fear, that such a person will prefer evil?” Ah, would to God, ye inconsithe deceitful allurements of the derate parents, that you had not your. world; such as the ball-room, the selves, by your evil examples, by your theatre, and the like; or that he will ill-advised proposals, raised in their attempt to unite the world with minds the first ideas, and infused or Christ, darkness with light, false- developed in their hearts that germ, hood with truth; and, even though of evil of which you venture to asit should happen that evil example, sert that they have no knowledge ! or repeated solicitations, may one would to God, that by your con. day entice him into those assemblies, tinued vigilance you had succeeded amusements, and diversions, which in keeping them far from all society Christianity reproves, he will feel capable of corrupting them ! But it is the difference which subsists be- hoped, you say, they have not as yet tween the true bappiness which he formed any idea of those gross and has enjoyed at the foot of the altar, shameful vices which disgrace huand the vain joys to which men are man nature. Do you therefore hold delivered up in the tabernacles of them innocent, and worthy, for that the wicked. But, when these holy reason alone, to be united io a thrice dispositions are wanting in any one holy God, who requires, in order to who is presented for the first time our union with himself, that we for the purpose of being admitted should be holy? Are there besides to the sacred table, though he should those outward and shameful vices even have more than sufficient in- no spiritual ones, which easily elude struction, yet, as his heart is not the view and escape the hatred of sincerely devoted to God, it is an mankind, the consciousness of which indispensable duty to keep him we often conceal from ourselves, away from it, whatever be the num- but which cannot be hidden from ber of his years, until Divine grace the eye of Him who searches the have changed the affections of his heart, and with whom the darkness heart; of which change no assurance and light are both alike? To go can be had, unless a corresponding further, let it be supposed, that the change be displayed in all his con- grace of God has so prevented your duct.
children, that no symptom can be What then can exceed the blind- discerned in them of those vices ness of those parents, who, because which are enveloped and concealed their children have come to a cer- in the folds and windings of the soul: tain age, require, that they should let it be supposed, that they are communicate for the first time, al. even to a certain point exempt from though they have only a very slight them: is it enough for the purpose CHRIST. OBSERV. No. 307.
of pleasing God, and being united on account of a paltry temporal to him, that we are not vicious ? Is interest. But is it not also a proof, is not incumbent upon us to love that there is nothing of the spirit of and to practise holiness? Is it not Christianity in fathers and mothers, necessary to know and to do what when they prefer sacrificing the is good? Is it not required from us, souls of their children, by exposing as we have said, to love God above them to trample under foot the all things, to understand how to body and blood of Jesus Christ, appreciate the gift which he has rather than leave them the leisure bestowed, in giving us Jesus Christ, which is wanted to prepare themhis Son, to feel sensibly how great is selves for receiving them worthily ? the love which that Divine Son ex. They have therefore only themselves presses towards us in the eucharist, to blame, if they have the unhapand to choose the happiness of pos- piness of seeing them after their sessing him above all the glory, the first communion increase in impiety, riches, and the pleasures which the shake off the yoke of all dependence, world can offer?
give way to the greatest irregularities, It is well known that in the greater cover themselves with contempt, and number of the houses which receive drink deep into all sorts of bitteryoung persons for the sake of quali- ness. fying them for a situation, they are To what then must we attribute rejected, if they have not previously the scandal, that so many of our received the holy communion; and first communions produce no good this is the cause which reduces fruit, but even open the door to all parents to the sad alternative of kinds of disorder, and lead directly to either compelling them to com- irreligion and impiety? Is it not the municate, or deferring the business fault of those catechists with whom of preparing them for the situation the obligation to instruct children is which they wish to embrace. This an insupportable burden, from which state of things certainly is painful. they long to be delivered? A number But is there any difficulty in choos- of catechists limit their labours to ing, while choice is possible, be- the task of making the children learn tween the evils of urging a young in haste the letter of a very short person to approach everything elementary book; they interrogate which is most august in our holy them only on that letter during a religion, without being disposed to short space of time without often it, and thus to commit a horrible giving them the least explanation : sacrilege, which will perhaps be the whether from want of intelligence, seal of his eternal reprobation, and or from distaste, they only ask them that of deferring to remove him from three or four questions on the day the guardianship of his own family, of examination, and then direct them for the purpose of giving him all the to the confessors with a ticket of time which is necessary for obtaining admission, so that the knowledge good instruction, for disengaging of salvation, which they are bound him from vicious habits, and exer- to teach, is of less value in their eyes cising him in the practice of all his than human sciences and arts, which duties? It is a sad subject of la- demand much time, care, applicamentation, and a manifest proof of tion, and pains, in order to inculcate the decline of the faith amongst us, them upon the pupils. that scarcely any one is willing to Further, if confessors would detake the trouble of initiating a vote themselves to the reparation of young man into a situation, and, at those defects, which parents and the same time, to allow him a few catechists either do not see, or wish hours in every month for religious not to see in the children, if they instruction, and for receiving the would not admit the young penitents advice of a pious director, and this to their first communion, tiil after they have examined them thorough- age is a little advanced, to admit ly, till after they bave attained as- them before they are really changed, surance of their being sufficiently and thus to drive them into the most instructed, of their having the ne. horrible sacrilege, and to render ourcessary discernment, of their know. selves chargeable with their guilt ? ing and abhorring their sins, of their May it not be said, that for the sake perceiving the necessity of forsaking of a little shew, we are less regardful them, the need which they have of having the first communions perof the grace of God, of striving to formed with piety, than of having acquire Christian suavity and hu. them distinguished by a vast number mility, of loving religion, of giving of communicants ? themselves unto prayer,
of their Such are my observations. Perheart being in word and deed turned haps they will not be to every one's to God; if, so long as these dis- taste. But I am little solicitous to positions are not discovered, they please men. What I ardently desire would be absolutely deaf to the is, that the body and blood of Jesus solicitations of parents, the face of Christ may not be profaned; and things would be presently changed. that young persons, who approach But, to the disgrace of the times in our altars for the first time, for the which we live, it seems, that with purpose of sharing in our holy many confessors, as well as with mysteries, may not there find death many catechists, and a great number instead of life. of fathers and mothers, the first communion is but a matter of fashion, which, to speak plainly, needs no other preparation than that of hav- Tothe Editorofthe Christian Observer. ing reached such or such an age.
A more lamentable fact is, that your correspondent Diaconus's rethe confessors who are remiss are marks on the misquotation of 1 Cor. the first to censure the conduct of ii. 9. were much called for, as the those who, being guided by just incorrect version of the text, which principles, have regard not to the he so justly censures, is often used; age but to the spiritual qualifications but his strictures on its misappliof the young penitents, and wait till cation perhaps require some qualiGod shall have formed them in their fication ; for it is allowed, that hearts; and one still more deplorable many passages of Scripture, besides than even this is, that there are some the sense obviously intended by of the higher ecclesiastics, who see the context, have a secondary and fit to blame a conduct so laudable. more enlarged meaning; and alIf we listen to them, it is a crime to though the former ought always to let young persons arrive at the age of be kept in view, may we not, with sixteen, seventeen, eighteen, twenty, propriety, adopt the latter for the without bringing them to hold their purpose of illustration. first communion. But if a young Admitting, then, the correctness man has early, in the bosom of his of the interpretation which restrains family, imbibed the poison of in- the primary meaning of 1 Cor. ii. 9. fidelity, if his morals have been cor- to the blessings of the Gospel disrupted since his earliest youth, if he pensation, it can hardly be deemed is engaged in criminal habits, if his improper to apply it by way of acinstruction has been neglected, and commodation to the unseen glories so forth; if a young female, having of a future state; especially when been ill-brought up, live only for we remember that the greatest of the world and its pleasures, if she these blessings, — that indeed by is far less occupied with God and which the Christian revelation is with his will than with fashions and pre-eminently distinguished, -is the vanities; is it right, because their bringing of life and immortality to