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On July 7 the President of the Philippines, during a Science Conference, rejected the concept of original sin and redemption as also the proliferation of seers claiming to see God. That attention seekers can conjure up visions was first given impetus under Paul VI removing laws that forbade printing of anything that dealt with religion without an ecclesiastical imprimatur. With the internet the number of false seers has increased exponentially and continues as each attention seeker provides his or her daily messages from Jesus or Mary and gather a cult following. It is only natural that the ignorant and those seeking signs and wonders would fall for such deceptions. The Conciliar Church has cut off any recourse to counteract these secretaries of Christ or Mary that daily have their horoscope of how their devotees should adjust their day according to the whims of the con-artist. Hopefully, within the Roman Catholic Church, the bishops and priests remind the faithful that they should not be reading or giving credence to these make-believe revelations. (If one believes they are being given a message, let them recall that they must submit it to their confessor and that even then that spiritual message is considered personal, and they may not propagate it. Saint Bernadette only delivered the message to her priest. The children of Fatima revealed their messages to a priest or spiritual guide. Neither instances did they claims on their own to say they saw Mary. Saint Catherine Laboure lived her whole life in the convent without any of her fellow sisters knowing it was to her the Virgin Mary gave the Miraculous Medal. So it is not surprising Duterte is mocking this aspect within the Conciliar Church. That said, his denial of original sin is only congruent to the Protestant faith system he grew up in. Protestants don’t baptize because they do not believe children come into this world with original sin. So, on both points he can attack the Conciliar Church which allows false prophets, and also has made original sin a myth, a symbol, but still requires children to be baptized. Still, lest my readers believe I support Duterte, no! He is also attacking the Catholic Faith that teaches all men are born in sin and must be cleansed in order to obtain salvation. This is an essential element of redemption theology which is why Christ Jesus came into this world and is found in Scripture. We outlined this teaching in the thesis on Baptism, but simply stated: Adam, as head of the human race, chose to reject God knowing it would be the cause of death spiritually and physically for himself and all posterity. As his descendants, we come into this world spiritually dead and to die physically at some point in time. Christ died so that mankind could have spiritual life again and the means to obtain that life, as He Himself instituted, is baptism. That the Church asks for a fee is only an expression of gratefulness to Christ and to support the Church, instituted also by Christ, as a means to assist us to obtain and retain that life. So little is asked when you compare it to the state fees of the government for every little thing they do for their citizens. A link and a portion of the article are included below. Let all my enemies be ashamed, and be very much troubled: let them be turned back, and be ashamed very speedily. (Ps. 6:11)
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
Defending the Church’s use of the Form of Confirmation, Saint Thomas goes on to then discuss the effects of the Sacrament which the Matter and Form signify:
. . . The Sacraments of the New Law, as sensible and efficient signs of invisible grace, ought both to signify the grace which they effect, and effect the grace which they signify. Although the signification ought to be found in the whole essential rite, that is to say, in the “matter and form”, it still pertains chiefly to the “form”; since the “matter” is the part which is not determined by itself, but which is determined by the “form”. (Leo XIII, Apostolicae curae, 1896)
First, of importance, is that the Sacrament of Confirmation imprints a character. In the presenting objections here, it doesn’t appear the propositions are other than to bring forth the truth of the character bestowed by the Sacrament. Thomas simply introduced the topic as: Whether the sacrament of Confirmation imprints a character? The objections, as was said, elucidate what that character is:
Objection 1. It seems that the sacrament of Confirmation does not imprint a character. For a character means a distinctive sign. But a man is not distinguished from unbelievers by the sacrament of Confirmation, for this is the effect of Baptism; nor from the rest of the faithful, because this sacrament is ordained to the spiritual combat, which is enjoined to all the faithful. Therefore a character is not imprinted in this sacrament.
Objection 2. Further, it was stated above (III:63:2) that a character is a spiritual power. Now a power must be either active or passive. But the active power in the sacraments is conferred by the sacrament of order: while the passive or receptive power is conferred by the sacrament of Baptism. Therefore no character is imprinted by the sacrament of Confirmation.
Objection 3. Further, in circumcision, which is a character of the body, no spiritual character is imprinted. But in this sacrament a character is imprinted on the body, when the sign of the cross is signed with chrism on man’s brow. Therefore a spiritual character is not imprinted by this sacrament.
Resorting to tradition and the teaching of the Church, once more Saint Thomas shows why there is a character in the following argument:
On the contrary, A character is imprinted in every sacrament that is not repeated. But this sacrament is not repeated: for Gregory II says (Ep. iv ad Bonifac.): “As to the man who was confirmed a second time by a bishop, such a repetition must be forbidden.” Therefore a character is imprinted in Confirmation.
I answer that, As stated above (III:63:2), a character is a spiritual power ordained to certain sacred actions. Now it has been said above (Article 1; III:65:1) that, just as Baptism is a spiritual regeneration unto Christian life, so also is Confirmation a certain spiritual growth bringing man to perfect spiritual age. But it is evident, from a comparison with the life of the body, that the action which is proper to man immediately after birth, is different from the action which is proper to him when he has come to perfect age. And therefore by the sacrament of Confirmation man is given a spiritual power in respect of sacred actions other than those in respect of which he receives power in Baptism. For in Baptism he receives power to do those things which pertain to his own salvation, forasmuch as he lives to himself: whereas in Confirmation he receives power to do those things which pertain to the spiritual combat with the enemies of the Faith. This is evident from the example of the apostles, who, before they received the fulness of the Holy Ghost, were in the “upper room . . . persevering . . . in prayer” (Acts 1:13-14); whereas afterwards they went out and feared not to confess their faith in public, even in the face of the enemies of the Christian Faith. And therefore it is evident that a character is imprinted in the sacrament of Confirmation.
Taking the three points up once again, he then gives these further thoughts on continuity of Sacramental graces, reason for Sacrament and distinction from Baptism and Old Testament sacraments which makes the character appropriate:
Reply to Objection 1. All have to wage the spiritual combat with our invisible enemies. But to fight against visible foes, viz. against the persecutors of the Faith, by confessing Christ’s name, belongs to the confirmed, who have already come spiritually to the age of virility, according to 1 John 2:14: “I write unto you, young men, because you are strong, and the word of God abideth in you, and you have overcome the wicked one.” And therefore the character of Confirmation is a distinctive sign, not between unbelievers and believers, but between those who are grown up spiritually and those of whom it is written: “As new-born babes” (1 Peter 2:2).
Reply to Objection 2. All the sacraments are protestations of faith. Therefore just as he who is baptized receives the power of testifying to his faith by receiving the other sacraments; so he who is confirmed receives the power of publicly confessing his faith by words, as it were “ex officio.”
Reply to Objection 3. The sacraments of the Old Law are called “justice of the flesh” (Hebrews 9:10) because, to wit, they wrought nothing inwardly. Consequently in circumcision a character was imprinted in the body only, but not in the soul. But in Confirmation, since it is a sacrament of the New Law, a spiritual character is imprinted at the same time, together with the bodily character.
In the next article, Saint Thomas addresses the necessity of Baptism before the reception of Confirmation, a necessity seen in all the sacraments. The arguments against the necessity are weak, but allows, again in the manner the Angelic Doctor uses to illustrate the Church’s understanding of the Sacraments, and here, in particular, the Sacrament of Confirmation. He states the question as follows: Whether the character of Confirmation presupposes of necessity, the baptismal character? The objections are interpretations of events, even in Scripture, that portray the manifestation of God’s Spirit, but not clearly tied to the reception of Baptism being received. God has not excluded Himself from working outside the Sacraments, though the Sacraments are the means He chooses to work through in the New Testament especially in granting a participation in His Life. In the Sacraments, Christ has bound Himself to give at least the Sacrament essentially, if not the graces that come with it, if received validly. For example, in Confirmation the Sacrament is received with the character, but a giving of sanctifying grace and the allowance of the Holy Ghost to work in the soul is inhibited if received in a state of mortal sin. If the person recovers God’s grace, the Holy Ghost is now able to operate in the soul with His sevenfold gifts, but there was no increase of sanctifying grace as a result. Of course, the means of this grace is Christ, Who, as Head of the Church, has obtained the forgiveness of sin by His death on the Cross and sends His Spirit to His members and those who come to Him.
The arguments against the necessity are as follows:
Objection 1. It seems that the character of Confirmation does not presuppose, of necessity, the baptismal character. For the sacrament of Confirmation is ordained to the public confession of the Faith of Christ. But many, even before Baptism, have publicly confessed the Faith of Christ by shedding their blood for the Faith. Therefore the character of Confirmation does not presuppose the baptismal character.
Objection 2. Further, it is not related of the apostles that they were baptized; especially, since it is written (John 4:2) that Christ “Himself did not baptize, but His disciples.” Yet afterwards they were confirmed by the coming of the Holy Ghost. Therefore, in like manner, others can be confirmed before being baptized.
Objection 3. Further, it is written (Acts 10:44-48) that “while Peter was yet speaking . . . the Holy Ghost fell on all them that heard the word . . . and [Vulgate: ‘for’] they heard them speaking with tongues”: and afterwards “he commanded them to be baptized.” Therefore others with equal reason can be confirmed before being baptized.
To these arguments Saint Thomas gives the following rebuttal:
On the contrary, Rabanus says (De Instit. Cleric. i): “Lastly the Paraclete is given to the baptized by the imposition of the high priest’s hands, in order that the baptized may be strengthened by the Holy Ghost so as to publish his faith.”
I answer that, The character of Confirmation, of necessity supposes the baptismal character: so that, in effect, if one who is not baptized were to be confirmed, he would receive nothing, but would have to be confirmed again after receiving Baptism. The reason of this is that, Confirmation is to Baptism as growth to birth, as is evident from what has been said above (Article 1; III:65:1). Now it is clear that no one can be brought to perfect age unless he be first born: and in like manner, unless a man be first baptized, he cannot receive the sacrament of Confirmation.
The ensuing responses to the objections are based on the common understanding and teaching of the Church regarding the events that were brought forward:
Reply to Objection 1. The Divine power is not confined to the sacraments. Hence man can receive spiritual strength to confess the Faith of Christ publicly, without receiving the sacrament of Confirmation: just as he can also receive remission of sins without Baptism. Yet, just as none receive the effect of Baptism without the desire of Baptism; so none receive the effect of Confirmation, without the desire of Confirmation. And man can have this even before receiving Baptism.
Reply to Objection 2. As Augustine says (Ep. cclxv), from our Lord’s words, “‘He that is washed, needeth not but to wash his feet’ (John 13:10), we gather that Peter and Christ’s other disciples had been baptized, either with John’s Baptism, as some think; or with Christ’s, which is more credible. For He did not refuse to administer Baptism, so as to have servants by whom to baptize others.”
Reply to Objection 3. Those who heard the preaching of Peter received the effect of Confirmation miraculously: but not the sacrament of Confirmation. Now it has been stated (Reply to Objection 1) that the effect of Confirmation can be bestowed on man before Baptism, whereas the sacrament cannot. For just as the effect of Confirmation, which is spiritual strength, presupposes the effect of Baptism, which is justification, so the sacrament of Confirmation presupposes the sacrament of Baptism.
After holding to the teaching of the Catholic Church that Baptism is necessary before the reception of any other Sacrament and giving the points that what is not mentioned in Scripture but is found only in Apostolic Tradition is to be held as what must still be believed by the Church. The Church has held since Apostolic times that one must be baptized before receiving any other sacrament. A corollary is the acceptance that the Apostles were all baptized in the baptism of Christ. In the Roman Catechism (Part II, Chapt. 1) one reads:
Judas Iscariot, as the Holy Fathers infer from the Gospel of St. John, (4:2) conferred baptism on many; and yet none of those whom he baptized are recorded to have been baptized again. To use the memorable words of St. Augustine: “Judas baptized, and yet after him none were rebaptized: John baptized, and after John they were rebaptized, because the baptism administered by Judas was the baptism of Christ, but that administered by John was the baptism of John: not that we prefer Judas to John, but that we justly prefer the baptism of Christ, although administered by Judas, to the baptism of John although administered by the hands of John.” (On John’s Gospel)
(To be continued)
Dr. Pius Parsch
The Church’s Year of Grace (1959)
EIGHTH SUNDAY AFTER PENTECOST
Children of Light
The theme of today’s liturgy and its development follow much the same mold as that of last Sunday. Again we stand as children of light opposed to the children of the world. The chants are more joyous, charged with more confidence than ordinarily.
- Text Analysis.The first indication of a relationship between today’s formulary and last Sunday’s may be found in the psalms used for the Entrance Chant (Pss. 46-47). In the Lessons the antithesis between the two kingdoms is again made obvious, men of the flesh versus men of the spirit, children of the world versus children of the light. A typical example of the disgraceful conduct of carnal man is contained in the Gospel (the unfaithful steward). This contrast between the virtuous and the wicked also forms the basis of the Offertory chant: humble people—the eyes of the proud.
The prayers are positive in character, the chants redolent with trust and joy. Because of the Gospel, the formulary, at first glance, may indeed appear weighted and moralistic in tone, but deeper study will show it to be as buoyant and lightsome as an Easter Mass. The substratum upon which the entire thought-content rests is baptism grace (note how St. Paul assumes its importance in the Epistle). Effortlessly we sense that we are standing on sacred ground while praying the Introit, the sacred ground of Easter; for in baptism at Easter and now at holy Mass “we received God’s mercy” in fullest measure. And this gives us solid reason to praise Christ “unto the ends of the earth.”
The Collect affords occasion to ask for the ability always “to think and to act rightly”; this means genuine Christ-like conduct, a mode of living pleasing to our heavenly Father. The few words Paul has to say on living according to the spirit cut deep into the sphere of morality. The Gradual, the Mass’s only text voicing suffering and need, is nevertheless surcharged with positive trust and confidence in God. With the Alleluia verse we resume our praise of Christ. With such precedent we are hardly in the mood to read the Gospel in anything but a brightsome light and to observe how the Church uses the story of the clever swindler as an example to spur on the children of light to make better use of their endowments. Humility, however, must not fall by the way because these endowments are not from men but from God (Off.). The remaining three prayers are Eucharistic in nature and show the transforming effects of the Bread from heaven.
Three areas of thought, therefore, may be isolated in this Mass Formulary, viz., (1) the high dignity of a Christian, a man led by the spirit; (2) that dignity must be reflected in his activity; (3) the Eucharist confers effective aid. Could more be expected from one Sunday’s liturgy?
- Holy Mass (Suscepimus).Sunday is Easter, the Lord’s day. This is the spirit with which we enter God’s “temple” (Intr.). Before us we see themajestas Domini, the radiant Lord, and are grateful for the graces of Easter, the “mercy we have received.” With Psalm 47 our voices break into praising the “great Lord” in the “city of our God” upon the mystical “mountain” of the altar. Thus the Introit again is a typical “entrance” into the Mass-drama. The feast of the Purification of the Blessed Virgin uses the same Entrance Chant.
Entirely consonant with the liturgy’s primary message is the petition for correct thinking and upright living contained in the Collect; acknowledgment of human insufficiency together with the desire to live according to the will of God is the burden of this striking and meaty prayer. In the Epistle St. Paul again addresses us. The eighth chapter, the climax of the letter to the Romans, describes the Christian equipped with “the spirit.” A comparison is made between the man of the flesh and the man with pneuma, spirit; the former centers his thoughts and ambitions upon the earthly and temporal like the clever steward, while the latter is a man of God, a man blessed with all the graces and privileges of revealed religion. He has the gifts of supernatural faith, of grace, of the divine indwelling; he is a child with a heavenly Father and has Christ as his Brother. Heaven and happiness are his inheritance! All this the Apostle includes in the word “spirit.”
In the Gradual we place our trust in Christ, employing the same psalm (30) as last Sunday at the Communion. A genuine paschal note is again struck by the Alleluia verse, Magnus Dominus et laudabilis valde. It may be noted that the Entrance chant and the Alleluia verse of the present and preceding Sundays are taken from the same psalms (46; 47). Unless the moral of the story be kept in mind constantly, the Gospel (the parable of the unfaithful steward) will occasion difficulties. Christ praises the unjust steward not for fraud but because of the cleverness and zeal with which he provided for his future, earthly career. The zeal of the children of this world in earthly affairs should serve as a model in our strivings after an eternal goal. Powerful forces are slumbering within us which must be utilized for eternity. Well may we learn from the wisdom of the worldly-minded. Again in the Offertory we meet a prayer constructed antithetically, perhaps an echo to the Liturgy of the Word; God humiliates “the eyes of the proud” but exalts and saves “a humble people.” With an act of humility upon our lips, we join our hearts to the Mass action. A lengthy Secret tells what our Sacrifice effects: it should sanctify ordinary daily life and lead men to eternal joy. Psalm 33 was the favorite song of Christians for centuries as they proceeded to the Communion table, because of the verse, “Oh taste and see that the Lord is sweet.” The Greek word for “sweet” is chrestos; the similarity in sound with the word “Christ” gave rise to a play on the phrasing: “Oh taste and see that (it is) Christ (chrestos) the Lord!” The sacred liturgy concludes with a final plea for the “renewal of body and soul” (Postc.) in order that the man according to the flesh may truly be transformed into a man according to the spirit.
- Divine Office.Because the Sundays at this juncture may occur in August, reference must be made to the section on Scripture readings (pp. 152-176) for comment on the Lessons from the Old Testament. The Gospel affords the subject matter for St. Jerome’s homily as well as for the greater antiphons. “The master said to his steward: What is this that I hear about you? Give a report of your work, alleluia” (Ben. Ant.). “What am I going to do now that my master is depriving me of the stewardship? To dig I am not able, and begging is beneath me. I know what I will do in order that when I lose the stewardship, people will invite me in” (Magn. Ant.). The dramatical in the liturgy is here easily seen. During the day we are to relive the parable; the liturgy assigns us the role of the steward, though, of course, as children of God.
- Meditation upon the Sunday.A. The Chants. Let us remember that the chants of the Proper have life and meaning only to the extent that they are used in union with their respective Mass actions. During the chanting of the Introit, for example, the priest clothed in festal vestments and accompanied by ministers or servers approaches the altar: he represents the “great Lord” who “in the city of our God” (the Church) is proceeding to “His holy mountain” (the altar) to make us the “receivers of His mercy” (the graces of the holy Sacrifice). What tremendous significance there is to the Introit thus understood!
The Gradual and Alleluia may be considered separately. The Gradual today is a prayer of petition, earnest and confident (Psalm 30 was prayed by Christ during His last agony). By nature the Gradual is not a joyous acclamation but a reflective prayer, an echo to the Epistle. The Alleluia verse again heralds the “great Lord” while the deacon readies himself for reading the Gospel; both he and the book of the Gospels are symbols of Christ appearing among us. And finally during the sacrificial Banquet the faithful in lengthy queues approach the Lord’s table while the choir sings Psalm 33, the Communion hymn of the ancient Church. After each verse the whole congregation could well repeat the antiphon: “Oh taste and see that the Lord is sweet.” Surely this lovely antiphon would make a deep impression if sung by all the assembled faithful. Happily it is becoming more and more evident that we will understand the missal better when the people also take an active part in the celebration of sacred mysteries.
- The Golden Bridge from Earth to Heaven. The liturgy on theSundays during the Pentecostal cycle develops three great themes. The first is that of baptism and its graces. We are baptized and in the graces of baptism we are to anchor; every Sunday means baptism repeated, a small Easter feast. The second theme, preparation for the Second Advent of the Lord, is treated in detail on the finalSundays of the season. The remaining theme, the burden of the Sundays midway after Pentecost, may be summarized in the phrase: the conflict between the two camps. Though placed in the kingdom of God, we remain surrounded by the kingdom of the world; and our souls, laboring under Adam’s wretched legacy, waver continually to and fro between two allegiances.
By these three great themes the liturgy covers rather adequately the whole range of Christian life. In baptism the precious treasure of the spirit was conferred; today’s Epistle describes some aspects of this treasure. Through it we are God’s children; we may call God Father. Through it we have become temples of the Holy Spirit, heirs and brothers of Jesus Christ. Nevertheless, baptism has not translated us to a paradise without toil or trouble. No, the Church sends us out into a troubled world and commissions us to work and struggle. We must guard the holy land of our souls against hostile attack, must learn to know and conquer the enemy, and such is the task that will continue till we have taken our final breath.
Mother Church is, we may say, both the heroine who teaches us the art of warfare and our strong fortress and shield in the conflict. Through the holy Sacrifice she bestows aid which repeatedly frees the soul from the enmeshments of temptation. We may ask, how does the Mass effect this? Courage and strength and perseverance flow abundantly from the word of God in the Mass of the Catechumens, but in a still fuller measure from the Sacrifice proper. Of ourselves we are helpless creatures wholly unable to withstand the attack, but in the Mass Another battles for us, the Mightier (Christ) vanquishes the mighty. By means of the Mass we league ourselves with our Captain, Christ; His battle becomes our battle, His triumph our triumph. His is the wondrous strength that renders us invincible.
Having matured spiritually during the many weeks of the Pentecost season, the soul becomes ready to join the retinue of its heavenly Hero and King, Jesus Christ. Therefore on the final Sundays of the cycle the Church asks her children to direct their gaze to the Second Advent longingly and lovingly. In these three great themes we have the golden bridge that spans the years of life and reaches from earth to heaven.
To overcome the tension between man’s higher and lower natures, two forces must unite and espouse each other in bridal union, God’s grace and the human will. If either is lacking, nothing good will happen. The most subl
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