Catholic Tradition Newsletter A10: First Sunday in Lent, Confirmation, Holy Martyrs, Family

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Vol 12 Issue 10 ~ Editor: Rev. Fr. Courtney Edward Krier
March 9, 2019 ~ Saint Frances of Rome

1.      What is the Sacrament of Confirmation
2.      First Sunday in Lent
3.      Forty Holy Martyrs
4.      Family and Marriage
5.      Articles and notices

Dear Reader:

Last week the life of Saint Joseph according to the Gospels was begun and I wish to continue this week.

The Evangelist Luke introduces Joseph first in conjunction with the Annunciation, identifying Mary as the one espoused to Joseph:  And in the sixth month, the angel Gabriel was sent from God into a city of Galilee, called Nazareth, to a virgin espoused to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David; and the virgin’s name was Mary. (Luke 1:26-27) Joseph will become the legal father of the Child, but at the time of the Angel’s visit Mary was not yet married. Luke makes sure the reader is aware that Joseph is of the house of David, and establishes the lineage later (3:23ff). But he also makes the reader aware that Mary is also of the house of David, for everything is addressed to her—Joseph having no claim:

Behold thou [Mary] shalt conceive in thy womb, and shalt bring forth a son; and thou shalt call his name Jesus. He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the most High; and the Lord God shall give unto him the throne of David his father; and he shall reign in the house of Jacob for ever. And of his kingdom there shall be no end. (1:31-33) in the house of David his servant

Zachary, at the birth of John testifies about the Christ: and John the Baptist And hath raised up an horn of salvation to us, (1:69) Mary would not have returned to Nazareth before the birth, as she abode with her cousin Elizabeth three months. Saint Paul confirms that Mary was of the house of David:  His [God Father] Son, who was made to him of the seed of David, according to the flesh (Rom. 1:3; cf. 2 Tim. 2:8)

Once Joseph accepts the Child as His own, Joseph takes on all the legal obligations, such as giving the name, Jesus, at the time of the Circumcision: and he called his name Jesus (cf. Matt. 1:25) The lineage of Joseph is not presented by Luke until chapter 3:

And Jesus himself was beginning about the age of thirty years; being (as it was supposed) the son of Joseph, who was of Heli, who was of Mathat, . . . who was of David, who was of Jesse, . . . who was of Judas, who was of Jacob, who was of Isaac, who was of Abraham, . . . who was of Sem, who was of Noe, . . . who was of Seth, who was of Adam, who was of God. (Luke 3:23-38)

In Semitic tradition, lineage can be of legal or natural, and Eusebius 3rd-4th century, in his History of the Church explains the difference, writing among other explanations:

Thus we shall find the two, Jacob and Eli, although belonging to different families, yet brethren by the same mother. Of these the one, Jacob, when his brother Eli had died childless, took the latter’s wife and begot by her a son Joseph, his own son by nature and in accordance with reason. Wherefore also it is written: ‘Jacob begot Joseph.’ Matthew 1:6 But according to law he was the son of Eli, for Jacob, being the brother of the latter, raised up seed to him. (1, 7, 9)

The next mention of Joseph is his taking the role of husband of Mary and father of the Child. Luke expresses this in the obligation Mary and the Child had in accompanying Joseph to Bethlehem.

And it came to pass, that in those days there went out a decree from Caesar Augustus, that the whole world should be enrolled . . . . And all went to be enrolled, every one into his own city. And Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth into Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem: because he was of the house and family of David, to be enrolled with Mary his espoused wife, who was with child. (Luke 2:1-5)

Despite the hardship, Joseph took his civic responsibility seriously. He must have seen God’s hand in everything, even having to take his wife in her condition, to Bethlehem. It is a lesson for us who find any excuse not to fulfill our obligations—civic or ecclesiastical. Here the prophecy that the Christ would be born in Bethlehem finds its fulfillment. Prophecies are not made to happen; what happens is because it was prophesied, i.e, God is revealing to man what He already knows.

As always, enjoy the readings and commentaries provided for your benefit. —The Editor



by Rev. Courtney Edward Krier



By John J Morris (1955)

Lesson 4         The History of Confirmation.

21.       When did the first Confirmation take place?

The first Confirmation took place on Pentecost Sunday, when the Holy Ghost came down on the Apostles.

22.       Who is the Holy Ghost?

The Holy Ghost is God, the third Person of the Blessed Trinity.

23.       Did the Holy Ghost become man?

The Holy Ghost did not become man.

24.       Is the Holy Ghost a Person?

The Holy Ghost is a Divine Person having intellect and will.

25.       Did Jesus promise to send the Holy Ghost?

Jesus promised His Apostles that He would send the Holy Ghost, who would teach them all things.

It is expedient for you that I depart.  For if I do not go, the Advocate will not come to you; but if I go, I will send him to you. [John xvi.7]

26.       Where were the Apostles when the Holy Ghost descended upon them?

Ten days after the Ascension of Our Lord into heaven, the Holy Ghost descended on the Apostles who were gathered together in an upper room in a building in the town of Jerusalem.

27.       What happened when the Holy Ghost came down on the Apostles?

As the Apostles were gathered together, there was a sound like a strong wind blowing.  Then the Holy Ghost descended on each one of them, resting on the head of each in the form of a tongue of fire.

And suddenly there came a sound from heaven, as of a violent wind coming, and it filled the whole house where they were sitting.  And there appeared to them parted tongues as of fire, which settled upon each of them.  And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in foreign tongues, even as the Holy Spirit prompted them to speak. [Acts ii.2-4]

28.       Describe the Apostles before the Holy Ghost came upon them.

The Apostles were timid, afraid and slow to understand the words of Christ before the Holy Ghost came.

29.       Was there any difference in the Apostles after the Holy Ghost came?

After the Holy Ghost came, the Apostles became strong and fearless.  They were no longer ignorant.  Now they went to preach the most difficult teachings of Christ throughout the world.

30.       Did the people in Jerusalem on Pentecost Sunday notice any difference in the Apostles?

Yes, the visitors in Jerusalem heard the Apostles speak their own language.

Now there were staying in Jerusalem Jews, devout men from every nation under heaven.  And when this sound was heard, the multitude gathered and were bewildered in mind, because each heard them speaking in his own language.  But they were all amazed and marveled, saying, “Behold, are not all these that are speaking Galileans?  And how have we heard each his own language in which he was born?  Parthians and Medes and Elamites, and inhabitants of Mespotamia, Judea, and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya about Cyrene, and visitors from Rome, Jews also and proselytes, Cretans and Arabians, we have heard them speaking in our own language of the wonderful works of God. [Acts ii.5-11]

31.       How did Peter explain to the people the change that had come over the Apostles?

1)         Peter told the people that the Apostles were not full of new wine as some of the people claimed (because it was just nine o’clock in the morning), but were filled with the Holy Spirit: These men are not drunk, as you suppose, for it is only the third hour of the day. [Acts ii.15]

2)         Peter added that what they witnessed was the fulfillment of the prophecy of Joel (Joel xi.28): And it shall come to pass…says the Lord, that I will pour forth of my Spirit upon all flesh;…and I will show wonders in the heavens above and signs on the earth beneath…[Acts ii.16-19]

32.       Why did the Holy Ghost give the Apostles the power to speak in different languages?

The Apostles needed this power because they were the first to preach the word of God, and this helped them to do their work more quickly and easily.

Lesson 5         How the Sacrament was instituted

33.       When was the Sacrament of Confirmation instituted?

We do not know the exact time that the Sacrament of Confirmation was instituted.

34.       Does anyone have any idea when it might have been started?

Some people are of the opinion that Christ instituted the Sacrament when He gave to His Apostles the complete episcopal power: Peace be to you!  As the Father has sent me, I also send you. [John xx.21]

35.       Is Confirmation mentioned in Sacred Scripture?

The Bible mentions Confirmation in the Acts of the Apostles, viii.4-19.  There it is explained that Philip the deacon was preaching in Samaria, and backing up his teaching with miracles.  Many were converted and received the Sacrament of Baptism.  Later Peter and John confirmed them: Now when the apostles in Jerusalem heard that Samaria had received the word of God, they sent to them Peter and John.  On their arrival they prayed for them, that they might receive the Holy Spirit; for as yet he had not come upon any of them, but they had only been baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus.  Then they laid their hands on them and they received the Holy Spirit. [Acts viii.14-17]

36.       Was this intended to be a permanent rite in the Church?

This was intended to be a permanent rite in the Church.

37.       How do you prove that this practice of confirming was intended to be continued by the successors of the Apostles?

This practice was intended to be continued by the successors of the Apostles, because Confirmation was intended for everyone, in every Period of time.  The following general statement of Our Lord shows this.

. . . He who believes in me, as the Scripture says, ‘From within him there shall flow rivers of living water.”  He said this, however, of the Spirit whom they who believed in him were to receive; for the Spirit had not yet been given, seeing that Jesus had not yet been glorified. [John vii.38-39]

38.       Is this fact confirmed by another passage in the Bible?

A later passage in the Acts of the Apostles tells that St. Paul performed the ceremony of giving the Holy Ghost to some converts at Ephesus.

And he (Paul) said to them, “Did you receive the Holy Spirit when     you became believers?     But they said to him, “We have not even heard that there is a Holy Spirit.” … On hearing this they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus; and when Paul laid his hands on them, the Holy Spirit came upon them, and they began to speak in tongues and to prophesy.  There were about twelve men in all [Acts xix.2, 5-7]

39.       Does the first ceremony mentioned in the Bible (Acts viii.14-17) contain all the elements of a sacrament; that is, an outward sign, instituted by Christ, to give grace?

Prayer and the imposition of hands was the outward sign.  It gave grace, for the Apostles received the Holy Ghost.

40.       Does this passage say that it was instituted by Christ?

This passage does not say that it was instituted by Christ.  Yet we know that Christ promised to send the Holy Ghost. Therefore we can say that He instituted the Sacrament of Confirmation sometime between the time He said that He would send the Holy Ghost and the time the Holy Ghost came.

And I will ask the Father and he will give you another Advocate to dwell with you forever, the Spirit of truth whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him.  But you shall know him, because he will dwell with you, and be in you. . . These things I have spoken to you while yet dwelling with you.  But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things, and bring to your mind whatever I have said to you. (John xiv.16, 17 and 26)

Lesson 6         What the Sacrament of Confirmation Is

41.       What is Confirmation?

Confirmation is the sacrament in which we receive the Holy Ghost in a special way to make us strong and more perfect Christians and soldiers of Jesus Christ.

42.       Why is it called Confirmation?

It is called Confirmation because it strengthens us in our faith, and makes the new life of grace given in Baptism more perfect.

43.       Why do we say that we become “soldiers of Jesus Christ”?

We say that we become “soldiers of Jesus Christ,” because we receive the power to fight for Christ and our faith, as a soldier does for his country.  We do this by leading others to live a better life and by being ready to suffer anything, even death for the sake of Christ.

44.       Has the Church declared Confirmation to be a Sacrament?

At the Council of Trent in 1546, it was solemnly declared the Confirmation is a Sacrament.

45.       Has this always been the traditional teaching of the Church?

Even before the Council of Trent, this teaching was handed down from one generation to another.  For example, St. Jerome in the fourth century said:

The imposition of hands should be performed over baptized persons and the Holy Ghost thus invoked…were there no scriptural authority at hand, the consent of the whole world in this regard would have the force of law. [Dial. Adv. Lucifer]

The Pope, St. Gregory the Great (540-640) referring to the powers of the bishops says:

Through us the faithful come to Holy Baptism are blessed by our prayers, and by the imposition of hands receive the Holy Ghost from God.  [Homily XVII, n.18]…

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