- What is the Sacrament of Confirmation
- Twelfth Sunday after Pentecost
- Saint Clare
- Family and Marriage
- Articles and notices
Last week, on August 2, Jorge Bergoglio announced that in the teaching for his Church as contained in the new Catechism of the Catholic Church(Wojtyla, 1994) the death penalty was to be inadmissible and an attack on the inviolability and dignity of the person. (cf. https://www.catholicnewsagency.com/news/pope-francis-and-the-death-penalty-a-change-in-doctrine-or-circumstances-39898) Such wording can, of course, be interpreted through the normal spectrum of relativism and situation ethics; but it also has implications that reach beyond mere discomfort of putting someone to death—which, in this Alice in Wonderlandistic society where babies are murdered in the womb and the sick and infirm are euthanized tied to their beds, people still squirm when a criminal assassin is condemned to death. Pity the assassin, but off-with-the-head of the baby. Turn off the life support of the sick needing an example of love but turn on the life support of the hate filled murderer lusting after another victim. And the Queen of Hearts, who should have a heart, is the most heartless. This is the logic of today’s world and the umbrella term, dignity of life, is applicable only to the guilty, never to the victim. Yes, these examples are given only to show the opposition to common sense that exists when such judgments are proffered.
What is the teaching of the Roman Catholic Church (vs. Conciliar Church) Regarding the death penalty? Although some may say it is not expedient, we must remember that God condemned us all to death for the sin of Adam. It is in light of this first condemnation of man to death that the death penalty must be examined. If a condemnation to death is unjust and inadmissible, what of God’s condemnation? Therefore, where one sees the forbidding of a man putting another to death—even after the other has committed a crime, such as in the case of Cain, who realizes his penalty should be death, God is seen as just in the eyes of mankind when He uses others, including the state (Society), to punish those committing heinous sins. The death penalty is a reflection of what sin causes: death. That there is mercy shown can only be in the one asking for mercy doing so with repentance—but the death penalty is seen to be only given when the criminal is unrepentant or incapable of amendment.
The rejection of the death penalty also denies one the ability to defend oneself against an unjust aggressor. Hansel and Gretel would be obliged to fatten themselves and show the witch that they were ready to be eaten rather than presenting the stick and pushing the witch into the oven. One would soon realize that defending oneself makes one the criminal and the one murdering the family the victim because he/she was stopped by being put to death. Further, it would encourage murder where it is common because there would be no feared consequence as seen now—due to the lack of deterrence. Knowing it departs from Catholic teaching, Gomez, the leader of the Conciliar Church in Los Angeles, wrote:
The Scriptures, along with saints and teachers in the Church’s tradition, justify the death penalty as a fitting punishment for those who commit evil or take another person’s life. . . And the Church has always recognized that governments and civil authorities have the right to carry out executions in order to protect their citizens’ lives and punish those guilty of the gravest crimes against human life and the stability of the social order. (cf. https://angelusnews.com/news/catholic-news-agency/us-bishops-welcome-change-to-catechism-on-death-penalty)
It is, of course, today a response to the social Gospel that has overtaken the true Gospel message. However, in order to establish a society based on the Gospel, one does not remove injustice by displacing it with mercy. Justice and mercy go together. This is why Christ had to suffer for our sins; and we, though forgiven, must accept the temporal punishment for our sins by doing penance. Laws are a reflection of the order God established for man to be free from sin. Punishment shows that the order God has established has been thrown into disorder and must be repaired (reparation). In order to establish a society based on the Gospel, one does not create laws allowing freedom to sin, but one establishes laws that reflect that freedom from sin that is desired—No murder, no adultery, no stealing, etc.
Gomez continues his concept, that is freedom from laws:
Showing mercy to those who do not ‘deserve’ it, seeking redemption for persons who have committed evil, working for a society where every human life is considered sacred and protected — this is how we are called to follow Jesus Christ and proclaim his Gospel of life in these times and in this culture.
Again, one must set the words above by Gomez in the context of tolerance, not in salvation of their souls freed from sin. Our Lord did not say to Mary Magdalene, Go; but, Go, and sin no more—knowing she was repentant.
The following are some Catholic teachings:
Saint Thomas Aquinas (ST IIa IIae, 64, 2):
Reply to Objection 3. By sinning man departs from the order of reason, and consequently falls away from the dignity of his manhood, in so far as he is naturally free, and exists for himself, and he falls into the slavish state of the beasts, by being disposed of according as he is useful to others. This is expressed in Psalm 48:21: “Man, when he was in honor, did not understand; he hath been compared to senseless beasts, and made like to them,” and Proverbs 11:29: “The fool shall serve the wise.” Hence, although it be evil in itself to kill a man so long as he preserve his dignity, yet it may be good to kill a man who has sinned, even as it is to kill a beast. For a bad man is worse than a beast, and is more harmful, as the Philosopher states (Polit. i, 1 and Ethic. vii, 6).
Pope Pius XII (Discourse to the Catholic Jurists of Italy, December 5, 1954):
Modern Penal Theories are Incomplete
Most modern theories of penal law explain punishment and justify it in the last resort as a protective measure, that is, a defense of the community against crimes being attempted; and, at the same time, as an effort to lead the culprit back to observance of the law. In these theories, punishment may indeed include sanctions in the form of a reduction of certain advantages guaranteed by the law, in order to teach the culprit to live honestly; but they fail to consider expiation of the crime committed, which itself is a sanction on the violation of the law as the most important function of the punishment. . . .
Yet, from another point of view, and indeed a higher one, one may ask if the modern conception is fully adequate to explain punishment. The protection of the community against crimes and criminals must be ensured, but the final purpose of punishment must be sought on a higher plane.
The Essence of Punishment: To Proclaim the Supremacy of Good Over Evil
The essence of the culpable act is the freely-chosen opposition to a law recognized as binding, it is the rupture and deliberate violation of just order. Once done, it is impossible to recall. Nevertheless, insofar as it is possible to make satisfaction for the order violated, that should be done. For it is a fundamental demand of ‘justice,’ whose role in morality is to maintain the existing equilibrium, when it is just, and to restore the balance when upset. It demands that by punishment the person responsible be forcibly brought to order; and the fulfillment of this demand proclaims the absolute supremacy of good over evil; right triumphs sovereignly over wrong.
Now we take the last step; In the metaphysical order the punishment is a consequence of our dependence on the supreme Will, a dependence which is written indelibly on our created nature. If it be ever necessary to repress the revolt of a free being and re-establish the broken order, then it is surely here when the supreme Judge and His justice demand it. The victim of an injustice may freely renounce his claim to reparation, but as far as justice is concerned, such claim is always assured to him.
The Need for Expiation, Protection of the Juridical Order
The deeper understanding of punishment gives no less importance to the function of protection, stressed today, but it goes more to the heart of the matter. For it is concerned, not immediately with protecting the good ensured by the law, but the very law itself. There is nothing more necessary for the national or international community than respect for the majesty of the law, and the salutary thought that the law is also sacred and protected, so that whoever breaks it is punishable and will be punished.
These reflections help to a better appreciation of another age, which some regard as outmoded, which distinguished between medicinal punishment – paena medicinalis – and vindictive punishment – paena vindicativae. In vindictive punishment the function of expiation is to the fore: the function of protection is comprised in both types of punishment.
Without the Notion of Expiation, One Does not Understand Divine Justice “Finally, it is the expiatory function which gives the key to the last Judgment of the Creator Himself, Who ‘renders to everyone according to his works’… (Matt. 16:27; Rom. 2:6). The function of protection disappears completely in the after-life. The almighty and all-knowing Creator can always prevent the repetition of a crime, by the interior moral conversion of the delinquent; but the Supreme Judge, in His last judgment, applies uniquely the principle of retribution. This, then must be of great importance.
Therefore, it must be pointed out that if states choose not to impose a death penalty, it is a civil decision. One need not advocate the death penalty. But to say the death penalty is not a teaching of the Church is to:
- a)Claim Sacred Scripture is merely an opinion that can be accepted or rejected.
- b)Claim the Church was in error, conforming only to social structures of the time, and has now evolved in the new discovered truth.
- c)That sin is not punishable according to the offense.
- d)That one need not expiate one’s sins.
- e)That mankind retains its original dignity even after sin—denying Original Sin.
- f)An implicit rejection of eternal punishment (Hell), let alone temporary punishment (Purgatory)
- g)A denial of the state to be able to defend itself from its enemies (which I am sure a rejection of even a just war will be next)
- h)A rejection of the right of a person to defend himself, his family and/or his property.
And, therefore, the Conciliar Church forbidding one to say it is a teaching of the Catholic Church once again publicly announces its departure from the Catholic Church. This discussion of departure goes on even in the Conciliar Church. (cf. http://magister.blogautore.espresso.repubblica.it/2018/08/06/the-absolute-no-to-the-death-penalty-a-victory-for-the-gospel-or-for-secular-humanism/)
The teaching of the Conciliar Church under Jorge Bergoglio:
CCC 2267. Recourse to the death penalty on the part of legitimate authority, following a fair trial, was long considered an appropriate response to the gravity of certain crimes and an acceptable, albeit extreme, means of safeguarding the common good.
Today, however, there is an increasing awareness that the dignity of the person is not lost even after the commission of very serious crimes. In addition, a new understanding has emerged of the significance of penal sanctions imposed by the state. Lastly, more effective systems of detention have been developed, which ensure the due protection of citizens but, at the same time, do not definitively deprive the guilty of the possibility of redemption.
Consequently, the Church teaches, in the light of the Gospel, that “the death penalty is inadmissible because it is an attack on the inviolability and dignity of the person” , and she works with determination for its abolition worldwide.
 Francis, Address to Participants in the Meeting organized by the Pontifical Council for the Promotion of the New Evangelization, 11 October 2017: L’Osservatore Romano, 13 October 2017, 5.
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
Finally, the Angelic Doctor looks at the Rite of Confirmation, not in its ritual form—the form already discussed—, but that which pertains to the preparation: day assigned, fasting before, and day established for blessing of Chrism in the Latin Rite. These details may mean little to most in today’s liturgical questions, but Saint Thomas takes them into consideration in his day when he places the question in Article 12: Whether the rite of this sacrament is appropriate?
Objection 1. It seems that the rite of this sacrament is not appropriate. For the sacrament of Baptism is of greater necessity than this, as stated above (Article 2, Reply to Objection 4; III:65:3 and III:65:4). But certain seasons are fixed for Baptism, viz. Easter and Pentecost. Therefore some fixed time of the year should be chosen for this sacrament.
Objection 2. Further, just as this sacrament requires devotion both in the giver and in the receiver, so also does the sacrament of Baptism. But in the sacrament of Baptism it is not necessary that it should be received or given fasting. Therefore it seems unfitting for the Council of Orleans to declare that “those who come to Confirmation should be fasting”; and the Council of Meaux, “that bishops should not give the Holy Ghost with imposition of the hand except they be fasting.”
Objection 3. Further, chrism is a sign of the fulness of the Holy Ghost, as stated above (Article 2). But the fulness of the Holy Ghost was given to Christ’s faithful on the day of Pentecost, as related in Acts 2:1. Therefore the chrism should be mixed and blessed on the day of Pentecost rather than on Maundy Thursday.
In his response he gives the authority of the Church in her tradition and practicality:
On the contrary, Is the use of the Church, who is governed by the Holy Ghost.
I answer that, Our Lord promised His faithful (Matthew 18:20) saying: “Where there are two or three gathered together in My name, there am I in the midst of them.” And therefore we must hold firmly that the Church’s ordinations are directed by the wisdom of Christ. And for this reason we must look upon it as certain that the rite observed by the Church, in this and the other sacraments, is appropriate.
Therefore, the Doctor rightly explains that it is not of necessity, but appropriate in these matters that the Church chooses to follow the course she sees proper:
Reply to Objection 1. As Pope Melchiades says (Ep. ad Epis. Hispan.), “these two sacraments,” viz. Baptism and Confirmation, “are so closely connected that they can nowise be separated save by death intervening, nor can one be duly celebrated without the other.” Consequently the same seasons are fixed for the solemn celebration of Baptism and of this sacrament. But since this sacrament is given only by bishops, who are not always present where priests are baptizing, it was necessary, as regards the common use, to defer the sacrament of Confirmation to other seasons also.
Reply to Objection 2. The sick and those in danger of death are exempt from this prohibition, as we read in the decree of the Council of Meaux. And therefore, on account of the multitude of the faithful, and on account of imminent dangers, it is allowed for this sacrament, which can be given by none but a bishop, to be given or received even by those who are not fasting: since one bishop, especially in a large diocese, would not suffice to confirm all, if he were confined to certain times. But where it can be done conveniently, it is more becoming that both giver and receiver should be fasting.
Reply to Objection 3. According to the acts of the Council of Pope Martin, “it was lawful at all times to prepare the chrism.” But since solemn Baptism, for which chrism has to be used, is celebrated on Easter Eve, it was rightly decreed, that chrism should be consecrated by the bishop two days beforehand, that it may be sent to the various parts of the diocese. Moreover, this day is sufficiently appropriate to the blessing of sacramental matter, since thereon was the Eucharist instituted, to which, in a certain way, all the other sacraments are ordained, as stated above (III:65:3).
One has seen in this section that the Angelic Doctor covered many of the points about Confirmation that clarify the Sacrament and that Catholics still hold to the understanding even today. Again, there is a seeming silence after him to show the Universal Church was united in the teaching on Confirmation.
(To be continued)
Dr. Pius Parsch
The Church’s Year of Grace (1959)
TWELFTH SUNDAY AFTER PENTECOST
Christ, the merciful Samaritan
During the coming week the picture of Christ as merciful Samaritan who nurses and heals the wounds of holy Church will be uppermost in our thoughts; and the commandment to which we will give zealous attention will be the first and greatest—that of love toward God and neighbor. So may it be a week framed by love and mercy.
- Content Structure.A similarity that is quickly evident exists between the present Mass text and lastSunday‘s, even though today’s formulary lacks a festive and joyous spirit. Thought unity too is hardly present, for neither the Readings nor the chants chime well together. The only perceivable sequence arises from the reference to Moses as a type in the Epistle and Offertory verse, and from the contrast between the old and the new Covenants (Epist. and Gosp.). Still the whole glistens like a colorful mosaic.
- Holy Mass (Deus, in adjutorium).Today’s Mass is far from being charged with that triumphant Easter joy proper to last Sunday’s text; rather we see mankind hastening to God’s sanctuary sorely in need of redemption. For centuries theIntroit has been man’s cry in distress; its first verses are used at the beginning of each hour of Divine Office, and the whole psalm is prayed in connection with the Litany of the Saints. (We will pray the entire psalm both for ourselves and in the name of unredeemed humanity.) In the Collect Mother Church teaches us to extend our hands in prayer “that we may run without stumbling towards the divine promises.”
The Readings and the Offertory have this in common that they compare the new Covenant with the old and place the former high above the latter. Taken historically the Epistle is somewhat difficult to apply, but understood liturgically it describes not only the glory of the new Moses, Jesus Christ, who now in the
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