Insight into the Catholic Faith presents Catholic Tradition Newsletter

Vol 11 Issue 22 ~ Editor: Rev. Fr. Courtney Edward Krier
June 2, 2018 ~ Our Lady on Saturday

  1. What is the Sacrament of Confirmation
  2. Second Sunday after Pentecost
  3. Saint Clotilda
  4. Family and Marriage
  5. Articles and notices

Dear Reader:

Pentecost seems to have lost all its importance with those attached to the New Church. Not only is the Octave removed and a novel title of Mary introduced on the day after, but even the traditional appellation, Birthday of the Church is stripped from Pentecost where an author for a conservative Conciliar Church publication falsely writes this assertion: Traditionally, Catholics have held that the Church was born three days before Easter on Good Friday.  Yet, many Catholics and most Protestants are celebrating the ‘Birthday of the Church’ at Pentecost based upon the Protestant ideal of Sola Scriptura (Scripture alone) interpretations.  Informed Catholics somberly recall the venerable and authoritative Traditional teaching based on Sacred Scripture that the Church was born amidst blood and water from the wounded side of our Lord and God, Jesus Christ on Calvary. (Cf. https://www.catholicfamilynews.org/blog/?category=CFN+Blog). Where does this author get this notion? First, let us throw out the Protestant interjection—it is just a red herring to scare Catholics into jumping on his bandwagon. Source?

Now as to the Fathers interpreting the Church coming from the side of Christ when Christ was on Calvary, this is not understood as the birth of the Church, just as one does not speak of the birth of Eve coming from the side of Adam; but the gaining the grace for the establishment of the Church and the Church receiving life are two distinct acts. On Pentecost, the Father and the Son sent the Promise of their Spirit to dwell in the Church and give it life. The Apostles came forth from the Cenacle and began the Mission of the Church: Bringing all men to the Church in order to receive salvation. So the well-known liturgist, Benedict Baur, OSB, properly writes:

Easter gives us the beginning of supernatural life and incorporation in Christ. But this new life must unfold; it must be strengthened and enkindled into a burning fire which can resist all things; it must be imbued with a love which is stronger than death, so that we are prepared to suffer all things for Christ, even the sacrifice of our life. This strengthening of our spirit is brought about by our baptism with the Holy Ghost at Pentecost. The spirit of Pentecost is the spirit that makes the confessors and martyrs. It gives light, power, and unconquerable strength. This effect is visible in the apostles, who “went from the presence of the council, rejoicing that they were accounted worthy to suffer reproach for the name of Jesus” (Acts 5:41). Pentecost is the birthday of the Church and of Christianity, the beginning of the New Dispensation. (Light of the World V. III, 1956)

And Ludwig Ott, another well-known theologian, teaches in his Fundamentals of Catholic Dogma (1954):

As regards the foundation of the Church by Christ, several stages must be distinguished; the preparation during the time of His public activity; the completion by His sacrificial death on the Cross; and the entry into the public sphere on the Feast of Pentecost after the sending of the Holy Ghost. Thus the first Christian Whit Sunday must be regarded as the birthday proper of the Church.

And, even as this confused author in the article admits:

Pope Pius XII (d. 1958 AD) in his Encyclical on the Mystical Body of Christ, Mystici Corporis Christi, authoritatively proclaimed:

“As we set out briefly to expound in what sense Christ founded His social Body, the following thought of Our predecessor of happy memory, Leo XIII, occurs to Us at once: ‘The Church which, already conceived, came forth from the side of the second Adam in His sleep on the Cross, first showed Herself before the eyes of men on the great day of Pentecost.’  For the Divine Redeemer began the building of the mystical temple of the Church when by His preaching He made known His Precepts; He completed it when He hung glorified on the Cross; and He manifested and proclaimed it when He sent the Holy Ghost as Paraclete in visible form on His disciples.”

Further, he admits he rejects what Francis Spirago wrote in 1899:

  1. FOUNDATION AND SPREAD OF THE CHURCH. 

Christ compared the Church to a grain of mustard-seed, which is the smallest of seeds, but grows into a tree in which the birds of the air build their nests (Matt. xiii. 31, 32). 

  1. Christ laid the foundation of the Church when, in the course of His teaching, He gathered a number of disciples, and chose twelve of these to preside over the rest and one to be Head of all.
  2. The Church first began its life on Pentecost, when some three thousand people were baptized. 

Pentecost is the birthday of the Church. After the miracle at the gate of the Temple some two thousand more were baptized.

  1. Soon after the descent of the Holy Ghost the apostles began to preach the Gospel throughout the world, in accordance with the commands of Christ (Mark xvi. 15), and founded Christian communities in many places.(The Catechism Explained, 230)

As a priest, I could not claim that such a distinguished pope and honored priests are wrong simply because I might not agree. But the author of the article, The Church Was NOT Born at Pentecost: CANCEL The Birthday Party!, apparently believes he is better qualified and does claim they are wrong.

Never has it been said that Good Friday was the birthday of the Church. So, if some modern Conciliar priest comes up with some new-fangled idea, you should tell him to find out what the Church actually holds as doctrine and tradition, and not condemn those who hold to a tradition he does not know or accept.

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

________________

WHAT IS THE SACRAMENT OF CONFIRMATION?

by Rev. Courtney Edward Krier

VIII

The Ante-Nicene Fathers Continue Pentecost

The necessity of Confirmation and that it was distinguished from baptism is found in the Spanish Synod of Elvira (cir. 306):

Can. 38. If people are traveling by sea in a foreign place or if there is no church in the neighborhood, a person of the faith who keeps his baptism sound and is not twice married, can baptize a catechumen placed in the exigency of sickness, on condition that, if he survives, he bring him to a bishop, in order that it may be made perfect by the imposition of the hand. (Cf. DB 52d)

Can. 77. If any deacon ruling the people without a bishop or priest baptizes some, the bishop will have to confirm these by a blessing; but if they should depart the world beforehand, in the faith in which anyone of them has believed, that one can be justified. (Cf. DB 52e)

Saint Denis the Areopagite writes: The priests clothe the person with a garment emblematic of purity, in order to conduct him to the Bishop; and the Bishop, signing him with the sacred and truly divine ointment; makes him partaker of the most holy communion (De Eccl. Hie., c.ii. 7.) Further, the Areopagite writes: But further, the perfecting unction of the Muron [Chrism] gives to him who has been initiated in the most sacred initiation of the Birth in God, the abiding of the supremely Divine Spirit; the sacred imagery of the symbols, portraying, as I think, the most Divine Spirit abundantly supplied by Him, Who, for our sakes, has been sanctified as man by the supremely Divine Spirit, in an unaltered condition of His essential Godhead. (Ibid. c. iv.)

Pope Melchiades is quoted in the Gratian: In Baptism man is enlisted into the service, in Confirmation he is equipped for battle; at the baptismal font the Holy Ghost imparts fullness to accomplish innocence, but in Confirmation he ministers perfection to grace; in Baptism we are regenerated unto life, after Baptism we are strengthened; regeneration of itself saves those who receive Baptism in time of peace, Confirmation arms and makes ready for conflicts (Gratian, p. 3. dist. v. c. 2).

And there is Firmilian of Caesarea in Cappadocia, who also speaks of the Bishops possessing the power of baptizing, laying on of hands, and ordination: In Ecclesia, ubi praesident Majores natu, qui et baptizandi, et manum imponendi, et ordinandi possident potestatem.” (Routh’s Opusc. , vol. ii, 236)

From these sources it demonstrates that there was a rite that was distinguished from baptism to bestow the Gift of the Holy Ghost as was conferred on Pentecost and that the early Church held a necessity to receive this Sacrament of Confirmation to be perfected in their faith.

The necessity of Confirmation and that it was distinguished from baptism is found in the Spanish Synod of Elvira (cir. 306):

Can. 38. If people are traveling by sea in a foreign place or if there is no church in the neighborhood, a person of the faith who keeps his baptism sound and is not twice married, can baptize a catechumen placed in the exigency of sickness, on condition that, if he survives, he bring him to a bishop, in order that it may be made perfect by the imposition of the hand. (Cf. DB 52d)

Can. 77. If any deacon ruling the people without a bishop or priest baptizes some, the bishop will have to confirm these by a blessing; but if they should depart the world beforehand, in the faith in which anyone of them has believed, that one can be justified. (Cf. DB 52e)

Saint Denis the Areopagite writes: The priests clothe the person with a garment emblematic of purity, in order to conduct him to the Bishop; and the Bishop, signing him with the sacred and truly divine ointment; makes him partaker of the most holy communion (De Eccl. Hie., c.ii. 7.) Further, the Areopagite writes: But further, the perfecting unction of the Muron [Chrism] gives to him who has been initiated in the most sacred initiation of the Birth in God, the abiding of the supremely Divine Spirit; the sacred imagery of the symbols, portraying, as I think, the most Divine Spirit abundantly supplied by Him, Who, for our sakes, has been sanctified as man by the supremely Divine Spirit, in an unaltered condition of His essential Godhead. (Ibid. c. iv.)

Pope Melchiades is quoted in the Gratian: In Baptism man is enlisted into the service, in Confirmation he is equipped for battle; at the baptismal font the Holy Ghost imparts fullness to accomplish innocence, but in Confirmation he ministers perfection to grace; in Baptism we are regenerated unto life, after Baptism we are strengthened; regeneration of itself saves those who receive Baptism in time of peace, Confirmation arms and makes ready for conflicts (Gratian, p. 3. dist. v. c. 2).

And there is Firmilian of Caesarea in Cappadocia, who also speaks of the Bishops possessing the power of baptizing, laying on of hands, and ordination: In Ecclesia, ubi praesident Majores natu, qui et baptizandi, et manum imponendi, et ordinandi possident potestatem.” (Routh’s Opusc. , vol. ii, 236)

From these sources it demonstrates that there was a rite in the early Church that was distinguished from baptism whose purpose was to bestow the Gift of the Holy Ghost as it was conferred on Pentecost and that the early Church held it a necessity to receive this Sacrament of Confirmation to be perfected in their faith.

IX

The Nicene Fathers Continue Pentecost 

As one considers the Fathers, they still do not explain in detail the form of the Sacraments, as even Pope St. Innocent I (402-417) indicates when he gives instructions pertaining to the administration of the Sacrament.

As regards the sealing of infants, it is clear that it may not lawfully be done by anyone but a bishop. For presbyters, though they be priests of the second rank, have not attained to the summit of the pontificate. That this pontifical right belongs to bishops only,—to wit, that they may seal or deliver the Spirit, the Paraclete,—is demonstrated not merely by ecclesiastical usage, but also by that portion of the Acts of the Apostles wherein it is declared that Peter and John were sent to give the Holy Ghost to those who had already been baptized. For when presbyters baptize, whether with or without the presence of a bishop, they may anoint the baptized with chrism, provided it be previously consecrated by a bishop, but not sign the forehead with that oil, which is a right reserved to bishops only, when they give the Spirit, the Paraclete. The words, however, I cannot name, for fear of seeming to betray rather than to reply to the point on which you have consulted me. (From the epistle (25) “Si instituta ecclesiastica” to Decentius the Bishop of Gubbio, March 19, 416; cf. DB 98)

But they continue to speak of Confirmation in that tradition of laying on of hands while anointing.

Saint Basil (+ 379), bishop of Caesarea, comments briefly about Confirmation as he touches on tradition concerning baptism and confirmation:

Moreover we bless the water of baptism and the oil of the chrism, and besides this the catechumen who is being baptized. On what written authority do we do this? Is not our authority silent and mystical tradition? Nay, by what written word is the anointing of oil itself taught? And whence comes the custom of baptizing thrice? And as to the other customs of baptism from what Scripture do we derive the renunciation of Satan and his angels? Does not this come from that unpublished and secret teaching which our fathers guarded in a silence out of the reach of curious meddling and inquisitive investigation? (De Spir. S., c. 27, 66)

The Apostolic Constitutions, a compilation of earlier writings for the Church at Antioch about the year 380 but whose authorship was attributed to Saint Clement of Rome, gives he following instructions to the bishops:

But if any one returns, and shows forth the fruit of repentance, then do you receive him to prayer, as the lost son, the prodigal, who had consumed his father’s substance with harlots, who fed swine, and desired to be fed with husks, and could not obtain it. This son, when he repented, and returned to his father, and said, I have sinned against Heaven, and before you, and am no more worthy to be called your son; Luke 15:21 the father, full of affection to his child, received him with music, and restored him his old robe, and ring, and shoes, and slew the fatted calf, and made merry with his friends. Therefore, O bishop, act in the same manner. And as you receive an heathen after you have instructed and baptized him, so do you let all join in prayers for this man, and restore him by imposition of hands to his ancient place among the flock, as one purified by repentance; and that imposition of hands shall be to him instead of baptism: for by the laying on of our hands the Holy Ghost was given to believers. . . (1, 5, xli)

The bishop of Barcelona, Saint Pacianus (+395), writes regarding the bishop confirming:

Do you say that this (the power of remitting sins) was granted only to the apostles? Then I say, that they alone could baptize, and give the Holy Spirit, for to them alone was the command of doing it given. If, therefore, the right of conferring baptism, and of anointing, descended to their successors, to them also has come the power of binding and loosing. (Ep. i. ad Sym. 11)

Saint John Chrysostom stresses also that the administration of Confirmation is by the Bishop for it was necessary for Philip to send for the Apostles, expressing that this Sacrament was continued to be administered in the Greek Church:



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