1. What is the Sacrament of Confirmation
2. Sexagesima Sunday
3. Saint Andrew Corsini
4. Family and Marriage
5. Articles and notices
What is love? What is charity? Unfortunately the world has taken the word love and charity to mean something totally opposite of what it really is. The world interprets love in the sense of emotion and feeling that supposedly makes another person happy. The young man says to the young girl: If you love me you would pleasure me. The child says to the parents: If you love me, you would let me go out with my friends. The illegal resident says: If you love me, you would give me citizenship. But here there is no love, rather hate. Why can it be expressed in these words? Because first, love is not one sided. Second, because love is giving to another what the other has a right to receive. A young girl cannot give the young man what he has no right to, for that would make her a prostitute—denying her the dignity of a good person. The parents cannot give the child what he or she requests because the child has no right to tell parents to give up their responsibility to form him or her into a mature responsible adult—denying the parents to be good parents. The state cannot give an illegal resident citizenship because the illegal resident has no right to claim anything from the state, for that would make the illegal resident above the law—denying the state the obligation to serve its citizenry. Is the young man unhappy? Is the child unhappy? Is the illegal resident unhappy? Yes! But true love for the young man imposes on the girl to reject the seduction because her obligation is to say no. True love for the child imposes on the parents to refuse the request of the child because their obligation is to protect the child from corruption. True love for the illegal resident imposes on the state to deny citizenship because the state obligation is to see to the welfare of its citizens—not non-citizens. The young man does not love the young girl. The child does not love the parents. The illegal resident does not love the state. But in a society that claims love is making people happy, society will tell the young girl to say yes; society will tell the parents to say yes; and, society will tell the state to say yes. What follows is no one loves because no one gives to the other what one is obligated to give. What is the opposite of love? Hate. And that is what actually exists in society today. Even though one may say what is written is hate, one must remember it is because that person is not happy about what is written—and being happy to that person is love and being unhappy to that person is hate. Yes, the young man will plead desperation and the child will cry and the illegal will scream hate. But that is because there is no rational justification for them to argue upon; nor do emotions tell the truth. Finally, remember who inspires hate—juxtaposed to love of God (cf. John 8:44).
What does Scripture say: If you love me, keep my commandments. (John 14:15) If you keep my commandments, you shall abide in my love; as I also have kept my Father’s commandments, and do abide in his love. (John 15:10; cf. Exodus 20:6) And this is charity, that we walk according to his commandments. For this is the commandment, that, as you have heard from the beginning, you should walk in the same. . . If any man come to you, and bring not this doctrine, receive him not into the house nor say to him, God speed you. For he that saith unto him, God speed you, communicateth with his wicked works. (2 John 1:6ff)
As always, enjoy the readings and commentaries provided for your benefit. —The Editor
WHAT IS THE SACRAMENT OF CONFIRMATION?
by Rev. Courtney Edward Krier
Definition of the Sacrament of Confirmation
In defining Confirmation, it can simply be stated as the reception of the Holy Ghost. This is the manner Sacred Scripture presents Confirmation to be given to the Apostles: You shall receive the power of the Holy Ghost coming upon you (Acts 1:18; cf. 2:38) And the Apostles bestow the Sacrament of Confirmation with the same intention: Who, when they were come, prayed for them, that they might receive the Holy Ghost. . . . Then they laid their hands upon them, and they received the Holy Ghost. (Acts 8:15, 17)
Innocent III (1198-1216) defined Confirmation: The imposition of the hands is designated by the anointing of the forehead which by another name is called confirmation, because through it the Holy Spirit is given for an increase (of grace) and strength. (Letter Cum venisset to Basil, Archbishop of Tirnova, Feb. 25, 1204; DB 419) Eugene IV (1431-1447) retained the same definition of Confirmation when, at the Council of Florence, he issued for the Greeks the Bull, Laetentur coeli, of July 6, 1439, which states: through confirmation we increase in grace, and are made strong in faith. (Cf. DB 695)
The Catechism of the Council of Trent also takes the definition from the Council of Florence for its definition:
[T]he person who receives it [Confirmation], when anointed with the sacred chrism by the hand of the bishop, who accompanies the unction with these words: “I sign thee with the sign of the cross, and confirm thee with the chrism of salvation, in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost,” is confirmed in strength by receiving new virtue, and becomes a perfect soldier of Christ. (Donovan, 137)
Again, the Roman Catechism states: This sacrament is called Confirmation, because by virtue of it, God confirms in us what was commenced in baptism, and conducts to the perfection of solid Christian virtue. (Ibid. 144)
Saint Augustine simply calls it the Sacrament of the Holy Ghost (Serm. ccxxvii); the receiving of the Holy Ghost and the gift of grace, which is signified by that visible unction wherewith the Church anoints the baptized (On the Holy Trinity 15.46).
Saint Ambrose tells the newly baptized and confirmed: you received the seal of the Spirit; the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of counsel and strength, the spirit of knowledge and godliness, and the spirit of holy fear (cf. Isaiah 11:2; On the Mysteries, 7, 42.)
Saint Cyril of Jerusalem terms it an Unction (Chrism):
Christ’s gift of grace, and, by the advent of the Holy Ghost, is made fit to impart His Divine Nature. Which ointment is symbolically applied to your forehead and your other senses; and while your body is anointed with the visible ointment, your soul is sanctified by the Holy and life-giving Spirit. (Catechetical Lectures, 21, 3)
St. Thomas defines it as a Sacrament the fulness of the Holy Ghost is bestowed and is therefore the sacrament of the fulness of grace (Summa Theol. III, q. 72, a. 1 ad 2). Again, he writes: In this Sacrament. . . the Holy Ghost is given to the baptized for strength: just as He was given to the apostles on the day of Pentecost. (Ibid. a. 7.)
The Baltimore Catechism has the Catholic learn: Confirmation is the Sacrament through which the Holy Ghost comes to us in a special way to enable us to profess our faith as strong and perfect Christians and soldiers of Jesus Christ (c. 25, q. 330).
Ludwig Ott gives this concise concept of the Sacrament of Confirmation: Confirmation is that Sacrament in which, by the imposition of hands, unction and prayer, a baptized person is filled with the Holy Ghost for the inner strengthening of the supernatural life and for the courageous outward confession of faith. (Ott, 361)
In summary, one may take the writings of the Councils, the Popes, the Fathers and Doctors of the Church and find the Sacrament of Confirmation called by various names: the Sacrament of the Holy Ghost, the Seal of the Holy Ghost, the Sacrament of Chrism, Holy Chrism, Chrism of Salvation, the Mystery of Anointing, and the Laying on of Hands; but all agree with the Roman Catechism that it is a Sacrament in which God confirms in us what was commenced in baptism, and conducts to the perfection of solid Christian virtue. (Cf. Donovan. 144)
Difference between Baptism and Confirmation
Taking what the Roman Catechism states: This sacrament is called Confirmation, because by virtue of it, God confirms in us what was commenced in baptism, and conducts to the perfection of solid Christian virtue (Donovan, 144), the words infer that a person must be baptized to receive this sacrament. This follows from what one reads in Acts 8:12ff:
But when they had believed Philip preaching of the kingdom of God, in the name of Jesus Christ, they were baptized, both men and women. Then Simon himself believed also; and being baptized, he adhered to Philip. And being astonished, wondered to see the signs and exceeding great miracles which were done. Now when the apostles, who were in Jerusalem, had heard that Samaria had received the word of God, they sent unto them Peter and John. Who, when they were come, prayed for them, that they might receive the Holy Ghost. For he was not as yet come upon any of them; but they were only baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. Then they laid their hands upon them, and they received the Holy Ghost. (Acts 8:12-17)
Since the deacon Philip administers baptism and the Apostles (bishops) the sacrament of the Holy Ghost (Confirmation), they must be distinct. Even in Holy Orders one recognizes that a Bishop confers all three and no priest or deacon can bestow the deaconate or the priesthood, showing the Sacrament to be one. But here we see a deacon bestow baptism and the bishops bestow confirmation—clearly showing that the deacon Philip could bestow the one, but not the other as the Apostles Peter and John were sent to Samaria to administer what Philip was unable and thereby expressing a distinction.
One still may want to know what distinguishes these two Sacraments, Baptism and Confirmation, when both bestow upon us the Holy Ghost.
Simply, Baptism establishes a relationship between the soul and the heavenly Father. Through original sin the ability of a relationship was impossible due to the offense by Adam rejecting God. Through redemption this relationship can be restored by accepting the means the Father established to be reconciled with Him, Baptism. We receive His love, His Holy Spirit, and we are adopted as His children, inheriting His Kingdom. Though we receive His Love or Life, the action of that Love or Life is not ours, but dwells in us because of the relation we have established with the Father. The Father bestows upon us His Love as parents bestow love upon a child. In Confirmation, we are given the ability to actively return that love by consciously serving the Father, receiving the faculties or gifts necessary to fulfill the service just as a child who matures can actively return the love of his parents.
Bernard Leeming presents it this way:
In early Christian writings, all God’s sanctifying action upon men is attributed to the Holy Ghost: it is the Holy Ghost who is active in the blessing of the baptismal water, of the oil and chrism, and in all blessings. It is the Holy Ghost who remits sin, who imprints the image of Christ, who causes Christ to dwell in the baptized, who prepares a temple for himself in the souls of the baptized, who gives his seven-fold gifts, and, above all, gives the all-important gift of charity, and is himself sometimes said to be charity. [Augustine, Tract. in Ep, loan. ad Parthos, 3, 12, P.L. 35, 2004; and cf. Tract. in loan. 75, nn. 1, 2, P.L. 35, 1827; De Trin. 6, 5, 7, P.L. 42, 927.]
Consequently, such expressions as ‘to receive the Holy Ghost’, ‘to have the Holy Ghost’, are by no means self-explanatory, as the author of the De Rebaptismate clearly shows against Cyprian: those, he says, who die before the imposition of the bishop’s hands are certainly saved and ‘not without the Holy Ghost’, [N. 4, Hartel, p. 74, 1, 24.] and it is the Holy Spirit who cleanses souls from sins. [N. 18, ibid. p. 91, 1, 29.]
In the reconciliation of heretics and of repentant sinners a gift of the Holy Spirit is given, [37 Cyprian, Ep. 69, 2, Hartel, p. 751; Ep. 73, 16, ibid. p. 789; Ep. 74, 5, ibid. p. 8o3; Ep. 69, 10, 11, ibid. p. 758; the De Rebaptismate, n. 10, Hartel, p. 82; the Council of Aries of 314, Denz. 53, Mansi, 2, 472; Leo the Great, Ep. ad Nicetam etc., 6, 7, P.L. 54, 1138-9. Cf. Coppens, op. cit. pp. 276-7.] and St Cyprian says that where the Holy Spirit is not, there can be no sanctification of the oblation in the Eucharist. [38 Ep. 65, 4, Hartel, p. 725.]
For this reason confusion may easily arise in distinguishing the presence of the Holy Spirit in the soul through sanctifying grace, given both in Baptism and in Penance, from his presence through the additional gift given in Confirmation.
Confirmation is distinct from Baptism not because both give Sanctifying Grace, that is the gift of God’s life, the Holy Ghost. Confirmation is distinct from Baptism because the reception of Sanctifying Grace in Baptism is the beginning of the life of grace which is the life of God in the soul that justifies or sanctifies one—the life lost through Original Sin but restored by Baptism; the reception of Sanctifying Grace in Confirmation perfects and strengthens the life given in Baptism. One must be baptized to be confirmed; one need not be confirmed to possess Sanctifying Grace. But one must normally be confirmed after baptism if the action of the Holy Ghost is to be made operative in the soul. This is seen in the Acts of the Apostles in the following passages:
And Philip going down to the city of Samaria, preached Christ unto them. And the people with one accord were attentive to those things which were said by Philip, hearing, and seeing the miracles which he did. . . . But when they had believed Philip preaching of the kingdom of God, in the name of Jesus Christ, they were baptized, both men and women. Then Simon himself believed also; and being baptized, he adhered to Philip. And being astonished, wondered to see the signs and exceeding great miracles which were done. Now when the apostles, who were in Jerusalem, had heard that Samaria had received the word of God, they sent unto them Peter and John. Who, when they were come, prayed for them, that they might receive the Holy Ghost. For he was not as yet come upon any of them; but they were only baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. Then they laid their hands upon them, and they received the Holy Ghost. (Acts 8:5ff)
And as they [Philip and the Eunuch] went on their way, they came to a certain water; and the eunuch said: See, here is water: what doth hinder me from being baptized? And Philip said: If thou believest with all thy heart, thou mayest. And he answering, said: I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God. And he commanded the chariot to stand still; and they went down into the water, both Philip and the eunuch: and he baptized him. And when they were come up out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord took away Philip; and the eunuch saw him no more. And he went on his way rejoicing. (ibid. 8:36ff)
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 19:2, 5-7)
In these three examples one can see (1) that Philip the Deacon could baptize but not give Confirmation, (2) that it was necessary for the Apostles to administer the Sacrament of Confirmation, (3) that Confirmation was not absolutely needed for salvation for the Eunuch departs not having received Confirmation, and (4) Paul not only baptizes, but he then confirms, showing a clear distinction between Baptism and Confirmation and the different results between Baptism and Confirmation—for the visible results are seen only after Confirmation, both when Paul confirms the Ephesians and when Peter and John confirm the Samaritans.
(To be continued)
Dr. Pius Parsch
The Church’s Year of Grace (1957)
Station at St. Paul
Noe, Paul, Christ
Underlying today’s liturgical message is a fine, artistic plan. As we begin our meditation, we may imagine ourselves entering a splendid basilica. First, in the dark vestibule, we see the sower of the flesh, Noe. He typifies nature, which is the prerequisite and at the same time the figure of the supernatural; in the image of ark and flood we see the redemption implied and prefigured. A few steps farther and we enter the nave of the basilica; before us stands the sower of the word, Paul. He embodies faith, which indeed is a part of the supernatural, but does not yet represent the essence of God’s kingdom. Finally we come to the sanctuary; here the Sower of life, Christ, meets us and gives us grace.
1. The Sower of the Flesh. Noe, the one just man amid universal godlessness! A powerful figure! We see him building the ark through many years, at God’s command, while his contemporaries revel in vice and mock at his admonitions. At Matins St. Ambrose gives us a few penetrating observations on the Bible story:
“In order to indicate the reprobate condition of all men then alive as well as to remind us of God’s love, the sacred text reads: ‘Noe found grace before the Lord.’ The very words show how the wickedness of some does not blot out the sanctity of those who are virtuous. It was, as we know, Noe, the Just, who was preserved in order to continue the human race. Not because of noble birth, but because of the merit of his holiness and piety is he praised. The real nobility of this good man is his nobility in virtue. For as the human race produces human beings, so a pious soul produces virtue. Among men families are ennobled by descent; beauty of soul, however, depends wholly upon the light of virtue.”
Scripture Reading (Gen. 6:1-2). The holy Bible relates the sad conclusion to Adam’s family history. By marriage between the children of Cain and the children of Seth immorality became universal. God therefore decreed to strike the world with judgment by means of a flood. We should read this passage of holy Scripture very carefully. The various responsories at Matins treat of the flood and direct our thinking to this topic. The deluge account is our night meditation in the vestibule; at sunrise there stands before us:
The design gives the three sowers featured in today’s liturgy; Noe, with his three sons, the ark, rainbow, and vine; Paul, the great herald of Christ; and our Blessed Savior who is both the Sower of good seed and wheat to be eaten in the Eucharist.
2. The Sower of the Word. Today we pilgrimage to the grave of the great St. Paul and there with the universal Church offer the holy Sacrifice. Only a few Sunday Mass formularies have such an intimate connection with the saint of the station. We are not merely standing at the grave of St. Paul; according to the spirit of the liturgy he is in our very midst, our intercessor (Collect), our preacher (Epistle).
Today and throughout the whole year Paul is the sower of the Word. Almost every Sunday he scatters the seed of God’s message in the souls of Christians. And what does he sow today? The example of his life in the service of Christ, in its breadth and height and depth. Its breadth: how he worked, suffered, and sacrificed for Christ! How ashamed we should be to do so little! Its height: he gives us a glimpse of his intimacy with, God; that degree of union we can hardly attain, but we can surely go farther than we have. Its depth: he was a human being, subject to temptations; but grace triumphed over weakness. The apostle’s words should be our guiding norm, “Strength is made perfect in weakness.” Take advantage of this coming Lent to reform your life in its breadth and height and depth.
3. The Sower of Life. The real sower is Christ, who sows grace. How? In the Eucharist He is at the same time both Sower and Seed. Thus the Church points out her greatest means of spiritual renewal during the coming weeks. The divine Sower is passing through His field; it is springtime in the souls of men. He sows His seed—Himself—in your heart.
Your task is to be receptive. Do not be a road upon which the whole world wanders, do not be stony ground (unreceptive and inconstant), do not be a thorny bush (lustful and worldly). Be good ground! And God will sow the seed of self-mastery and discipline in your body. He will sow the seed of faith in your mind, and the seed of His grace in your soul.
4. Holy Mass (Exsurge). The Introit is a marrow-piercing cry! (Was it caused originally by the scourge of war?) Today it is Mother Church pleading for souls. From our heart and lips the cry of unredeemed mankind rises to God on high; paganism is voicing its plight at the threshold of the church of the apostle of the Gentiles.
Collect: rarely does a Sunday collect refer to the station saint. In the Epistle the great apostle Paul sketches for us an inspiring self-portrait. It is as if he took us by the hand and said: This is the way you must live, this is your battle, your Lenten campaign. Tract: may the coming season of Lent serve to “heal the breaches” disfiguring the soul as a result of past sins. Gospel: Lent is springtime for the soul, for during this holy season the divine Sower scatters His graces, particularly the “wheat of the Eucharist,” more abundantly than otherwise upon the plowed field of the human heart. Today in the Sacrifice proper the Gospel becomes reality as the Eucharistic wheat kernels sink into the soil of our souls; Christ dies in us and with us, and rises again; despite our weakness, the “strength of Christ” can “dwell” in us.
The Secret is short but rich in meaning; the offering we have made will have two effects, viz., protection (negative effect), enlivenment (positive effect). By the oblatum sacrificium both our sacrifices in the offertory and Christ’s sacrifice in the consecration are undoubtedly understood. The two processional chants are indeed most appropriate as pilgrim songs: “Direct my footsteps in Your path, that my feet may not go astray” (Off.); I shall go to the altar of God” (Comm.). The Postcommunion asks God to give us the grace to serve Him “by living in a manner pleasing to Him.”
5. The Day Hours. Again, this Sunday the liturgy keeps the Gospel before us throughout the day in order to have us live the parable in drama form. Now it is very interesting to note what parts of the Gospel are emphasized. At sunrise we hear the introduction and the opening words of the parable, for Mother Church wants us to know that the holy drama is beginning. “The Sower went out to sow His seed.” Christ takes the leading role.
In the next three Hours (Prime to Sext) we have three more passages from the parable; the liturgy, however, is silent concerning the unfruitful seed, it speaks only of good seed and abundant fruit. How helpful in applying the passages! The liturgy thinks first of the faithful and the good, not of sinners. “The seed fell on good ground and brought forth fruit in patience” (Prime). “They who keep the word of God in a perfect and good heart bring forth fruit in patience” (Terce). Notice in particular how patience is emphasized in both antiphons; it is as if the Church would say: The best ground for the seed of God is a life of Christ-like patience. “The seed fell on good ground and brought forth fruit, some a hundredfold, others sixtyfold!” (Sext). Not without reason does the chant stop with the seed that brought forth sixtyfold—we are at Sext!
“If truly you wish to be rich, brethren, love true riches” (None). This passage is not from the Gospel, but from the homily of St. Gregory. Thus the four little Hours with their antiphons picture a flourishing Christian life. In the evening the Church whispers to her children, “To you it is given to know. . . . “
6. God’s Word is Seed. A Meditation. The Sundays of Pre-Lent arc recruiting days for the kingdom of heaven. God calls, invites, sows the seed, and waits for a goodly yield. The parable of the seed occupied our attention each past year; in the seed we saw a figure of grace, God’s grace, which is inwardly effective, but which needs man’s cooperation.
Yet, if we reflect more deeply upon Christ’s explanation of the parable, we make a discovery that is most helpful to movements which foster Bible reading, viz., the seed is the word of God. Jesus is telling us that the words of the Holy Spirit have an interior, or better, a sacramental power.
Let us probe deeper into what is meant by the “word of God.” God’s word is an expression of His will, a revelation of Himself. For us men words are means whereby thoughts, feelings, and wishes are communicated to one another. What God thinks, feels, and wills for us He likewise communicates to us by the use of words.
But did God actually ever speak to man? Certainly. In paradise He spoke with Adam face to face. Upon Sinai God announced His commandments in person before all the people. He often spoke to the holy men of old. The Letter to the Hebrews begins, “On various occasions and in different ways God spoke in past ages to (our) fathers by the prophets; and finally at the present time He has spoken to us through His Son.” This presence of God’s Son on earth made possible the greatest and most perfect communication between God and man.
But how does God speak to us now? In a threefold manner: 1. in holy Scripture, God’s own message; over the various books the Gospel takes precedence. 2. God speaks through His priests, “Whoever hears you, hears Me; and whoever hears Me, hears Him who sent Me.” In the sermon it is God who speaks. 3. The words of the Church in the ministration of the sacraments are effective only through the name or power of God.
What does the parable say about the words of God? The parable calls God’s message a grain of seed. Now a grain of seed is a very wonderful thing; it shows no traces of life, but it is not a stone. It is not a plant, it does not grow, it does not multiply, it seems as if it were dead. “Unless the grain of wheat fall into the ground and die, it remains alone.” By itself a grain of seed is not alive. It is inert like a pebble; but it has within itself the power of life. When it is placed in warm, moist ground, then its dormant potentialities are released, it springs to life and becomes a plant with leaf and blossom and fruit.
Isn’t this marvellous? And to such a seed Christ likens the words of God. In them are stored the dynamic potentialities of God’s grace, they embody life, divine life. For many of us this is a new discovery. All of us knew that the words of Sacred Scripture are instructive and informative and stimulate acts of piety; we admit that the words of a sermon have power to the extent that they touch our hearts. And everyone would unhesitatingly grant that in the words by which a sacrament is conferred there is special efficacy. But now our parable shows clearly that the words of God also have the power of divine life, even as a seed.
Of course, God’s words need suitable ground, viz., receptive hearts. If the heart is unreceptive, then God’s seed will not sprout, it will perish. The words of God have no magic power; they need the cooperation of man. But if man cooperates, then His words produce sacramental results. They bring life, for they contain within themselves the spirit of God. This is our happy discovery: God’s message is sacramental in character; it pulses with life, and produces life. Do not miss the parable’s conclusion: Jesus speaks of fruit thirtyfold, sixtyfold, a hundredfold. Verbum Dei non est alligatum.
4: ST ANDREW CORSINI, BISHOP OF FIESOLE (A.D. 1373)
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