- What is the Sacrament of Confirmation
- Seventh Sunday after Pentecost
- Saint Elizabeth of Portugal
- Family and Marriage
- Articles and notices
The wisdom of this world can be seen clearly in light of the wisdom of God. It is difficult to ask oneself what ever happened to common sense when sometimes engaging in conversation with people. The path of logic they follow is illogical, because it is based on one or more of the seven deadly sins: For all that is in the world, is the concupiscence of the flesh, and the concupiscence of the eyes, and the pride of life, which is not of the Father, but is of the world. (1 John 2:16). They demand that a guilty murderer should not die for his crime, but they are willing and do condemn innocent babies to death. They demand that children of foreign nationals be not taken from smugglers and undocumented persons entering the United States illegally, but demand the children of its citizens be taken away because they disagree with the parents home schooling their children (which isn’t illegal) or teaching them to be moral. They will defend left-wing radicals but prosecute right wing-radicals for the same actions. They provide a platform for mentally deranged sodomites to expose themselves while citing as a hate crime normal men and women requesting the normal definition of marriage remain that of a man and woman joined together—which has been scientifically and medically proven that children can only come from the union of a man and woman (though, again, common sense should tell one that). Saint Paul wrote to the Romans the consequence of rejecting reality:
Because that, when they knew God, they have not glorified him as God, or given thanks; but became vain in their thoughts, and their foolish heart was darkened. For professing themselves to be wise, they became fools. And they changed the glory of the incorruptible God into the likeness of the image of a corruptible man, and of birds, and of fourfooted beasts, and of creeping things. Wherefore God gave them up to the desires of their heart, unto uncleanness, to dishonour their own bodies among themselves. Who changed the truth of God into a lie; and worshipped and served the creature rather than the Creator. . . . (Rom. 1:21-25)
The more man sins, the darker his thoughts. It is only the grace of God, because flesh and blood hath not revealed it to thee, but my Father who is in heaven (cf. Matt.16:17), that can draw a soul out of this darkness; but the soul must cooperate with that grace. Unfortunately, just as the alcoholic, just as the addict, the sinner cannot see one is in the darkness because they only know the darkness as an experience and convince themselves it alone can provide them what they need even though it is destroying them. They sleep in sin and believe the dream they dream is true life when it is only a dream. The commentary on the liturgy this week brings out the contrast. Therefore Saint Paul can tell the Corinthians: The wisdom of this world is foolishness with God. For it is written: I will catch the wise in their own craftiness. (Cf. 1 Cor.3:190
The section on marriage and married life is provided for your benefit and instruction. Since it is difficult today to find authoritative and true Catholic teaching, it is included so those who need the information have it and do not resort to non-Catholic sources that may be misleading. The Editor is open to any comments.
As always, enjoy the readings and commentaries provided for your benefit. —The Editor
WHAT IS THE SACRAMENT OF CONFIRMATION?
by Rev. Courtney Edward Krier
Saint Thomas Aquinas and the Sacrament of Confirmation
A consequence of holy Chrism being necessary for the Sacrament, it follows that holy Chrism must be what it is: holy Chrism. What makes the Chrism what it is? That it be olive oil mixed with balsam and consecrated by a bishop; and therefore the question of Article 3: Whether it is essential to this sacrament that the chrism which is its matter be previously consecrated by a bishop?
Since plain water can be used for baptism, one may ask whether plain oil could be used for used to confirm in the first objection:
It seems that it is not essential to this sacrament, that the chrism, which is its matter, be previously consecrated by a bishop. For Baptism which bestows full remission of sins is not less efficacious than this sacrament. But, though the baptismal water receives a kind of blessing before being used for Baptism; yet this is not essential to the sacrament: since in a case of necessity it can be dispensed with. Therefore neither is it essential to this sacrament that the chrism should be previously consecrated by a bishop.
The second objection seems to imply that just as one consecrates the bread and wine it is a Sacrament, i.e, the Blessed Sacrament, therefore the consecration of the oil mixed with balsam would make it a similar sacrament, not of the Body and Blood of Christ, but of the Holy Ghost. Here is the objection:
Further, the same should not be consecrated twice. But the sacramental matter is sanctified, in the very conferring of the sacrament, by the form of words wherein the sacrament is bestowed; hence Augustine says (Tract. lxxx in Joan.): “The word is added to the element, and this becomes a sacrament.” Therefore the chrism should not be consecrated before this sacrament is given.
Finally, a further weak objection is given that matter cannot receive grace (spiritual life) and such a consecration speaks as though it is sanctified as the words of the preface for the consecration of the Chrism seem to indicate: . . . Therefore we beg Thee, holy Lord, Father almighty, eternal God, through the same Jesus Christ Thy Son our Lord, that Thou wilt deign to sanctify the richness of this creature by Thy blessing and to mingle with it the virtue of the Holy Spirit, . . . (Cf. Mass of the Chrism)
So the objection is worded by Saint Thomas as thus: Further, every consecration employed in the sacraments is ordained to the bestowal of grace. But the sensible matter composed of oil and balm is not receptive of grace. Therefore it should not be consecrated.
As previously done, the Angelic Doctor simply turns to the Church and her tradition:
On the contrary, Pope Innocent I says (Ep. ad Decent.): “Priests, when baptizing, may anoint the baptized with chrism, previously consecrated by a bishop: but they must not sign the brow with the same oil; this belongs to the bishop alone, when he gives the Paraclete.” Now this is done in this sacrament. Therefore it is necessary for this sacrament that its matter be previously consecrated by a bishop.
He then goes on to explain the use of visible matter in the bestowal of Sacraments:
. . . The entire sanctification of the sacraments is derived from Christ, as stated above (III:64:3). But it must be observed that Christ did use certain sacraments having a corporeal matter, viz. Baptism, and also the Eucharist. And consequently, from Christ’s very act in using them, the matter of these sacraments received a certain aptitude to the perfection of the sacrament. Hence Chrysostom (Chromatius, In Matth. 3:15) says that “the waters of Baptism could never wash away the sins of believers, had they not been sanctified by contact with our Lord’s body.” And again, our Lord Himself “taking bread . . . blessed . . . and in like manner the chalice” (Matthew 26:26-27; Luke 22:19-20). For this reason there is no need for the matter of these sacraments to be blessed previously, since Christ’s blessing is enough. And if any blessing be used, it belongs to the solemnity of the sacrament, not to its essence. But Christ did not make use of visible anointings, so as not to slight the invisible unction whereby He was “anointed above” His “fellows” (Psalm 44:8). And hence both chrism, and the holy oil, and the oil of the sick are blessed before being put to sacramental use.
With the explanation he considers the act of Christ, who used matter but did not sanctify it first as it would deviate from Himself possessing all sanctification, yet He has, through apostolic tradition at least, required that the matter for certain sacraments be sanctified. He then replies to the second objection that the consecration sets aside the chrism to be used only for the administration of the Sacrament and becomes the instrument only when the sacrament is administered:
Each consecration of the chrism has not the same object. For just as an instrument derives instrumental power in two ways, viz. when it receives the form of an instrument, and when it is moved by the principal agent; so too the sacramental matter needs a twofold sanctification, by one of which it becomes fit matter for the sacrament, while by the other it is applied to the production of the effect.
Regarding the sanctification of matter, the Saint informs that the intent is not to sanctify as a person, but to be the means of sanctification in the administration of a Sacrament: Corporeal matter is receptive of grace, not so as to be the subject of grace, but only as the instrument of grace, as explained above (III:62:3). And this sacramental matter is consecrated, either by Christ, or by a bishop, who, in the Church, impersonates Christ.
There is no mention here of the laying on of hands as part of the matter of the Sacrament and will be taken up later. Saint Thomas then introduces, in Article 4, the Form of the Sacrament. The form that was used at his time is the same form used today (by bishops of the Latin Rite adhering to the teachings of the Roman Catholic Church—Conciliar clergy use another form taken up in the last chapter) and has been used generally in the Western Church: N., I seal (sign) thee with the sign of the Cross +, And I confirm thee with the Chrism of salvation. In the name of the Father + and of the Son +, and of the Holy+ Spirit. ℟. Amen. So he places the question: Whether the proper form of this sacrament is: “I sign thee with the sign of the cross,” etc.?
The first objection that is raised, as was also concerning the matter, is that there is no Scriptural proof of the words of the Sacrament of Confirmation.
It seems that the proper form of this sacrament is not: “I sign thee with the sign of the cross, I confirm thee with the chrism of salvation, in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost. Amen.” For the use of the sacraments is derived from Christ and the apostles. But neither did Christ institute this form, nor do we read of the apostles making use of it. Therefore it is not the proper form of this sacrament.
The next argument, which would negate the Roman Catholic Church being guided by the Holy Ghost, implies that she has strayed from the proper ministration by having a form that is not the same as the Eastern Churches:
Further, just as the sacrament is the same everywhere, so should the form be the same: because everything has unity, just as it has being, from its form. But this form is not used by all: for some say: “I confirm thee with the chrism of sanctification.” Therefore the above is not the proper form of this sacrament.
Finally, a third objection would look at a simplification of the form and requesting change to conform (to the Eastern Church—which Giovanni Montini also invoked with the other two objections when he changed the Sacrament of Confirmation.)
Further, this sacrament should be conformed to Baptism, as the perfect to the thing perfected, as stated above (Article 2, Objection 2). But in the form of Baptism no mention is made of signing the character; nor again of the cross of Christ, though in Baptism man dies with Christ, as the Apostle says (Romans 6:3-8); nor of the effect which is salvation, though Baptism is necessary for salvation. Again, in the baptismal form, only one action is included; and the person of the baptizer is expressed in the words: “I baptize thee, whereas the contrary is to be observed in the above form.” Therefore this is not the proper form of this sacrament.
It is proper to bring up, speaking of this Sacrament, that Saint Thomas understands, as Saint Augustine, that when the Roman Pontiff decided on faith and morals, the matter was settled. So here the Angelic Doctor once more looks to that decision: On the contrary is the authority of the Church, who always uses this form.
He then gives an explanation of how the form properly determines the Sacrament:
I answer that, The above form is appropriate to this sacrament. For just as the form of a natural thing gives it its species, so a sacramental form should contain whatever belongs to the species of the sacrament. Now as is evident from what has been already said (1-2), in this sacrament the Holy Ghost is given for strength in the spiritual combat. Wherefore in this sacrament three things are necessary; and they are contained in the above form. The first of these is the cause conferring fulness of spiritual strength which cause is the Blessed Trinity: and this is expressed in the words, “In the name of the Father,” etc. The second is the spiritual strength itself bestowed on man unto salvation by the sacrament of visible matter; and this is referred to in the words, “I confirm thee with the chrism of salvation.” The third is the sign which is given to the combatant, as in a bodily combat: thus are soldiers marked with the sign of their leaders. And to this refer the words, “I sign thee with the sign of the cross,” in which sign, to wit, our King triumphed (cf. Colossians 2:15).
He continues the clarification in his replies:
Reply to Objection 1. As stated above (Article 2, Reply to Objection 1), sometimes the effect of this sacrament, i.e. the fulness of the Holy Ghost, was given through the ministry of the apostles, under certain visible signs, wrought miraculously by God, Who can bestow the sacramental effect, independently of the sacrament. In these cases there was no need for either the matter or the form of this sacrament. On the other hand, sometimes they bestowed this sacrament as ministers of the sacraments. And then, they used both matter and form according to Christ’s command. For the apostles, in conferring the sacraments, observed many things which are not handed down in those Scriptures that are in general use. Hence Dionysius says at the end of his treatise on the Ecclesiastical Hierarchy (chap. vii): “It is not allowed to explain in writing the prayers which are used in the sacraments, and to publish their mystical meaning, or the power which, coming from God, gives them their efficacy; we learn these things by holy tradition without any display,” i.e. secretly. Hence the Apostle, speaking of the celebration of the Eucharist, writes (1 Corinthians 11:34): “The rest I will set in order, when I come.”
Reply to Objection 2. Holiness is the cause of salvation. Therefore it comes to the same whether we say “chrism of salvation” or “of sanctification.”
Reply to Objection 3. Baptism is the regeneration unto the spiritual life, whereby man lives in himself. And therefore in the baptismal form that action alone is expressed which refers to the man to be sanctified. But this sacrament is ordained not only to the sanctification of man in himself, but also to strengthen him in his outward combat. Consequently not only is mention made of interior sanctification, in the words, “I confirm thee with the chrism of salvation”: but furthermore man is signed outwardly, as it were with the standard of the cross, unto the outward spiritual combat; and this is signified by the words, “I sign thee with the sign of the cross.”
But in the very word “baptize,” which signifies “to cleanse,” we can understand both the matter, which is the cleansing water, and the effect, which is salvation. Whereas these are not understood by the word “confirm”; and consequently they had to be expressed.
Again, it has been said above (III:66:5 ad 1) that the pronoun “I” is not necessary to the Baptismal form, because it is included in the first person of the verb. It is, however, included in order to express the intention. But this does not seem so necessary in Confirmation, which is conferred only by a minister of excellence, as we shall state later on (A. 11).
(To be continued)
Dr. Pius Parsch
The Church’s Year of Grace (1959)
SEVENTH SUNDAY AFTER PENTECOST
Slaves of sin—Servants of God
It has been our practice on past Sundays to give special consideration to one dominant thought or scene characteristic of the day’s liturgy. We saw Christ as the Good Host (2nd Sunday), as the Good Shepherd (3rd Sunday), as the Good Fisherman (4th Sunday). The fifth Sunday concentrated on the love of neighbor, while the sixth was entitled “Baptism – Eucharist.” Now, however, a sequence of Sundays is beginning that features a series of contrasts; the kingdom of God is shown in opposition to the kingdom of the world, the good Christian versus the bad Christian. Various parables and pictures are employed in developing these antitheses. Mother Church is trying to draw a sharp line of demarcation between the divine and the worldly. Surely this is our greatest fault—to vacillate so easily between the things of God and the things not of God. Not that we never have made a clean, sharp break. We did that when asked at baptism: “Do you renounce Satan and all his allurements?” These Sundays after Pentecost challenge us to renew and observe inviolately that decision.
- Text Analysis.Notwithstanding the fact that the two following Sundays are still oriented to the feast of the apostles Peter and Paul, various signs indicate the beginning of another series. One such sign is the Introit-psalm (46), which breaks the sequence by nearly a score (Ps. 27 to Ps. 46; see table, p. 6). More important, though, is the content change. Today’s liturgy introduces a theme that continues until the tenth, perhaps even until the fourteenth Sunday after Pentecost; it is a theme beloved by the early Christians, that of the “two ways” or the “two kingdoms” (7thSunday: military review of the two kingdoms; 8th Sunday: discourse upon the kingdom of the devil; 9th Sunday: judgment upon the kingdom of the devil; 10th Sunday: the foundations of the two kingdoms, pride and humility; 14th Sunday: the two Masters).
The Readings today are evidently related to one another, for both treat of the two ways: servants of God—slaves of sin; good tree—evil tree; words (Lord, Lord)—action (the will of God). And in both, attention is directed primarily toward results, fruits. Also the two Orations (Coll. and Postc.) show an antithetical structure, negative (imploring deliverance from evil) and positive (beseeching the bestowal of blessings). A secondary theme is added in the Offertory and in the Secret, viz., the sacrifices of the Old Covenant typify the sacrifice of Christ.
The glory and exuberance of summertime find reflections in the Mass formulary with its allusions to light, joy, and the fruits of earth—realities from the world of nature that are employed to illustrate supernatural realities. The Church is our teacher, gathering us, her children, close and saying: “Come, children, listen to me. I am going to teach you the fear of the Lord.” It would be easy to imagine her taking an apple from the table at which she is sitting and speaking to us of the good tree and the bad tree, the good fruit of virtue and the evil consequences of vice. There is an inversion of tone and spirit if today’s Mass is placed alongside those of previous weeks; for the formulary today begins with a joyous ring and ends with a cry for help.
- Holy Mass (Omnes gentes).The spirit of a particular day’s liturgy is very often crystallized in the Introit. Today it is joy, the joy of Easter with Christ our glorified King enthroned above us. The basis of this Easter joy is divine life, a blessing to which the whole of Psalm 46 is dedicated. God has crushed the enemy in us, He has chosen us as heirs; our only prayer and care must be to preserve the precious legacy of divine life, divine adoption. In the Collect God’s children beseech their Father, who wisely and providentially watches over them, to bestow all that is needed to live rightly.
Standing before us in the Epistle, the great teacher of the Gentiles points to our past lives, reminds us of our good fortune as also of our grave duties (Rom. 6:19-23). The apostle flashes before us two pictures that are worlds apart; one is entitled “Slaves of Sin,” the other, “Servants of God.” Formerly, before conversion, we served the tyranny of sin and put all our strength in its service. Now we are serving God and therefore should place soul, body, and life itself at His disposal. This is true liberty, the fruit of which is sanctity, and the end eternal beatitude. “But now having been freed from sin and having entered God’s employ, you receive holiness as your pay, and at the end, life unending.”
This is a sentence that we should mull over during the entire coming week! In the Gradual it is Mother Church herself who wishes to teach us this slave-like service of God, this “fear of the Lord” that transforms us into “children of light.” The Alleluia verse, too, is a lightsome Easter song. Culled from the Introit psalm and charged with holy joy, it is a genuine Alleluia chant.
The Apostle referred to the fruits of the twofold way of life. Now we hear the very same from the lips of the Master. In the Gospel, an excerpt from the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus warns against seducers or false prophets and bares the signs by which they may be recognized. Mother Church is enlightening her children on how to distinguish the true way of Christian life from the false. Just as the tree is known by its fruit, so the true Christian is known, not by his fervent words, but by his performance of God’s holy will. The Gospel, moreover, could serve for a serious self-examination: Am I perhaps a victim of self-delusion? Am I really a good tree loaded with good fruit?
As prayers accompanying our oblation, the Offertory and Secret are excellent; reference is made to the Old Testament and we are reminded again of the superiority of the Mass-sacrifice. The chant for the Offertory, a genuine oblation-hymn, asks God to accept Christ’s present sacrifice as formerly He accepted the many Old Covenant holocausts “that it may be pleasing unto Thee.” The thought-content of the Secret is in perfect harmony with the concomitant Mass—action (which is rather exceptional). Christ’s Sacrifice is the fulfillment of the ancient animal sacrifices; may God sanctify this perfect oblation “with the same blessing as the offering of Abel.”
The brief and simple Communion antiphon voices a petition without designating its nature. So we should formulate our own request based upon the Readings and prayers, e.g., strength and grace to fulfill the will of God, to be servants of God, to produce fruit. The final prayer follows a similar mold (Postc.).
- Divine Office.Proper to today’s Office are the accounts concerning the aged king David and his successor Solomon, taken from the Old Testament, and the Gospel story taken from the New. St. Jerome comments mystagogically upon the Sunamitess Abisag: “Upon reaching the age of seventy, David, the warrior for many years, began to suffer from senility and from the lack of body heat. Out of Israel’s tribes the maiden Abisag from Shunem was therefore chosen to sleep with the king and keep warm his aged body. Now what are we to understand by the reference to that Sunamite, that virgin woman aglow with the vitality of youth, who was needed to warm a cold, old man and who at the same time was of such holy reserve as not to arouse his lusts when comfortable? “Let the most wise Solomon explain his father’s pleasure; let the prince of peace describe the embraces of the man of war: ‘Get wisdom, get understanding. Never forget and never stray from the words of my mouth. Do not forsake wisdom and wisdom will protect you. Love her and she will save you. The first thing about wisdom is: Get wisdom; and whatever be your belongings, let understanding be among them. Embrace her, and she will embrace you and place upon your head a crown of blessings; with a garland of delights will she protect you.’
[Message clipped] View entire message