Insight into the Catholic Faith presents Catholic Tradition Newsletter

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Vol 11 Issue ~ Editor: Rev. Fr. Courtney Edward Krier
September 15, 2018 ~ Seven Sorrows of the BVM

1. What is the Sacrament of Confirmation
2. Sixteenth Sunday after Pentecost
3. Saints Cornelius and Cyprian
4. Family and Marriage
5. Articles and notices

Dear Reader:

Next week will be the Ember days, when Holy Mother Church will fast and pray that God will bless the earth and provide a good harvest, not just in material things, but more especially in spiritual. The outcome of these prayers is the vocations to the priesthood and the ordinations that are normally administered on Ember Saturday.

Please pray this week for the candidates preparing in traditional Roman Catholic Seminaries throughout the world. As the scandals of the Conciliar Church are published, one may look askance at the priesthood—but as Catholics two things must always be placed in mind, they take God’s place in our lives as an “alter Christus” who are to administer to us the sacraments and lead us to salvation and, because they have this sacred calling, the wicked one knows all to often that in destroying a priest he destroys also the souls of those entrusted to the priest. Saint John Vianney is patron of Priests not because of his knowledge, but because he fulfilled that which is the obligation of a priest—to lead his parish to heaven. Pray for priests, pray for holy priests. Assist them in their spiritual life by supporting them in holy endeavors—for without the priest one could say there is no chance to obtain heaven.

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

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WHAT IS THE SACRAMENT OF CONFIRMATION?

by Rev. Courtney Edward Krier

XIV

Post Trent Church Teachings on Confirmation

The post-Trent decrees continue to deal with the abuse of usages by the schismatic Greeks slipping into use among the Catholics using the Oriental Rites. There are many different traditions and practices that are not allowed in the Latin Rite, but permitted in the Oriental Rites. Many of these are compromises in keeping the Uniates in the fold of the Church. Still, it must be remembered that the majority of Catholics are in the Latin Rite and the Church, where possible, seeks to have unity in practice while preserving the Oriental Rites but also reminding the Latin Rite clergy they are not to bring Eastern Rite Catholics into the Latin Rite.

On August 30, 1595, Clement VIII (1592-1605) addressed the inter-action between the Italo-Greeks (Southern Italy) and the Latins that no priest has the power of himself to confirm, while instructing the clergy that the Greeks do have the faculties to consecrate the Oil of the Catechumens and the Oil of the Sick, but not that of Holy Chrism—which has universally always been done by a bishop:

§ 1. Latin bishops should anoint with chrism children or other baptized who have in fact been signed on the forehead with chrism by Greek priests, and it seems safer for them to do this with caution and conditionally, as follows: N., if you are confirmed, I do not confirm you, but if you are not confirmed, I mark you with the sign of the cross, and I confirm you with the chrism of salvation in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit; this is especially the case when, with some probability, it can be doubted that they were baptized by Greek bishops. (Cf. D. H. 1991)

§ 3. . . . Greek priests are not to be forced to accept the holy oils, except the chrism from the Latin diocesan bishops, since oils of this kind are produced and blessed by them in the furnishing of the oils and the presentation of the sacraments according to the ancient rite. . . . Let them be forced to accept chrism, however, which, even according to their rite, cannot be blessed except by a bishop. (Cf. D.B. 1086; D.H., 1992)

In 1742, Benedict XIV (1740-58) published the Constitution, Etsi Pastoralis, on May 26, 1742, reminding the Italian-Greek priests they did not have the faculties to confirm (as those in the Ottoman empire) and were to take the children to the local Bishop to receive this Sacrament. The constitution was also   informing the local ordinaries to accept the infants (normally the age of confirmation at this time was 7), as the tradition of the Greeks was to confirm right after baptism.

(3) Let Latin bishops unconditionally confirm infants or others baptized in their dioceses and signed on the forehead with chrism by Greek priests, since neither by our predecessors nor by us has the faculty been granted, nor is it granted to Greek priests in Italy and the adjacent islands to confer the sacrament of confirmation on baptized infants. . . . (cf. D.B. 1458)

That priest, with permission from the Apostolic See, may confirm is seen in the decision of the Sacred Congregation for the Propagation of the Faith and signed by Clement XIV (1769-1774) on May 4, 1774. In this decree the Pope explains the reason.

Instruction for a Priest Administering the Sacrament of Confirmation by Delegation from the Apostolic See

Even though, according to the definition of the Council of Trent [sess. 7. confirmation, can. 3:], the bishop alone is the ordinary minister of this sacrament, nevertheless, for just reasons the Apostolic See sometimes has the custom of granting a simple priest the faculty of conferring it as an extraordinary minister.

A priest to whom this faculty has been granted should therefore above all take care to carry with him chrism blessed by a Catholic bishop in communion with the same Holy See and should be aware that he is never allowed to administer confirmation without it or to receive it from heretical or schismatic bishops. (cf. D. H. 2588)

With the French Revolution and the end of Catholic Monarchies, the education systems fell into the hands of secular states, the leaders of which revised the view of the world from Christocentric to anthropocentric. As Protestantism rejected the grace of God so the Jansenists, attempting to reconcile with Protestantism also rejected grace working with man’s cooperation; as the rationalists rejected the supernatural so the Modernists denied direct divine intervention, i.e, that God as God actually spoke to the sacred writers and actually came on earth in the Person of Jesus. Imbibing the teachings of August Comte, Religion has become the social conscience of the believer that changes with the progress of humanity. Modernism rejected revealed religion and all the facets that are corollaries of a revealed religion which makes the Truths of religion absolutes. Regarding the Sacrament of Confirmation, the Modernists attempt to show the evolution of the faith by claiming Baptism and Confirmation were a single Sacrament, but eventually became two. This error was condemned by the Decree of the Holy Office, Lamentabili, on July 3, 1907 and signed by Pope Saint Pius X (1903-1914).

Error 44. There is no proof that the rite of the sacrament of confirmation was practiced by the apostles; but the formal distinction between the two sacraments, namely, baptism and confirmation, by no means goes back to the history of primitive Christianity. (cf. D.B. 2044)

Later the same Pope would remind the Orientals that certain errors taught by the Schismatics could not be held by Catholics, including that a priest could confirm without apostolic faculties. He enumerates the errors as follows:

No less rashly than falsely does one approach this opinion, that the dogma concerning the procession of the Holy Spirit from the Son by no means is taken from the very words of the Gospel, or is sanctioned by the faith of the ancient Fathers; — most imprudently, likewise, is doubt raised as to whether the sacred dogmas on purgatory and on the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary were acknowledged by the holy men of earlier years; — . . . regarding the constitution of the Church . . . first of all an error, long since condemned by Our predecessor, Innocent X, is being renewed [cf. Decree of the Sacred Office January 24, 1647], in which it is argued that St. Paul is held as a brother entirely equal to St. Peter; — then, with no less falsity, one is invited to believe that the Catholic Church was not in the earliest days a sovereignty of one person, that is a monarchy; or that the primacy of the Catholic Church does not rest on valid arguments. — But . . . the Catholic doctrine on the most Blessed Sacrament of the Eucharist is not left untouched when it is taught inflexibly that the opinion can be accepted which maintains that among the Greeks the words of consecration do not produce an effect unless preceded by that prayer which they call epiclesis, although, on the other hand, it is well known that to the Church there belongs no right whatsoever to innovate anything touching on the substance of the sacraments; and no less inharmonious with this is the view that confirmation conferred by any priest at all is to be held valid. [From the letter, Ex quo, to the Archbishops Apostolic Delegates in Byzantium, in Greece, in Egypt, in Mesopotamia, in Persia, in Syria, and in the Oriental Indies, December 26, 1910; cf.D.B. 2147a]

(To be continued)

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Dr. Pius Parsch

The Church’s Year of Grace (1959)

SEVENTEENTH SUNDAY AFTER PENTECOST

Be enthroned at My right hand

As has already been pointed out, the past two Sundays together with the present seventeenth Sunday after Pentecost are transitional from summer to autumn; and therefore they exhibit characteristics of both seasons. Beginning with the seventh Sunday after Pentecost, the major and most frequently recurring theme consisted in the antithesis between the flesh and the spirit, between the world and God. During the approaching fall and winter phase of the Church year, emphasis will lie on preparation and expectation for the Lord’s Second Advent. Let us analyze these strains more closely.

1. Text Analysis. The Summer Theme. Ever since Adam’s sin, disorder and conflict have wearied the soul of man. Original sin takes its toll – and this is what St. Paul refers to by the term flesh, Christ endowed us with another principle of action, and Paul calls this spirit. “Spirit” consists primarily in the manifold supernatural gifts granted us by God. It was not part of the divine plan to restore paradise to us as such. Earth would continue to be the battleground between good and evil, the stage for the holy war of which Christ said: “I did not come to bring peace, but the sword.” The Christian, therefore, must be a soldier—this line of thought was developed in the liturgy on summer Sundays. His struggle continues all during life, with light and darkness, spirit and flesh constantly at odds. God’s side will not always emerge with flying banners, and there will be some major disasters. But final victory will be ours. Today’s Mass gives a preview of the aftermath, when it no longer will be a matter of opposing parties but of peaceful unity.

The peculiar beauty of our formulary is its clear picture of the compelling unity of our holy religion: unity in faith, unity in morals, unity in grace and worship. One Christ, one Church, one Love. The wonderful sevenfold oneness of the Church is seen through the prism light of the Epistle; one Body, it is enlivened by one Spirit and strives for a single goal, heaven. That Body has a single head, Christ; one faith enlightens us, and but one sacramental order sanctifies us from baptism to our last anointing. While above all reigns God, our only Father! With bowed heads we stand in reverential fear before this awesome unity, a oneness into which we have been immersed and by which we have been assimilated. Are we then to continue vacillating between spirit and flesh? The Gradual, perfectly fulfilling its function of echoing the Epistle, places the proper words on our lips: “How fortunate is the nation for whom Yahweh is God, how fortunate the people whom He has chosen as His inheritance.” The Collect outlines the way to attain the good fortune of such blessed unity: avoid all contact with the devil and practice perfect obedience to the only God.

From another approach, that of the Gospel, the oneness of our holy religion is due to Christ and to supernatural charity. Christ stands at the center of our faith. One of the objectives of the liturgical apostolate is to restore a Christocentric outlook. “I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life.” Both the Epistle and Gospel contain memorable words on the virtue of charity. “Bear with one another in love, anxious to preserve the unity of the spirit by means of the bond of peace.” “You must love Yahweh, your God, with your whole heart. . . . You must love your neighbor as yourself.” It was toward the realization of such earth-transcending unity through the Church, through Christ, through love that the liturgy of the summer Sundays was oriented.

The Church’s Harvest Time. The Christ-picture unfolded before us in today’s liturgy is set against the background of harvest time in the year of grace: “Christ enthroned at God’s right hand until He makes His enemies His footstool.” It is a fearsome scene, embracing the whole of world history and the Last Judgment. Serene and calm Christ sits as King and abides the time till He may place His foot upon the neck of every foe. Unto the proud and stubborn He “stands in dreadful magnificence; He breaks the obstinacy of princes and strikes down with fear all the kings of the earth” (Comm.). Upon the docile “beams the light of His countenance from the sanctuary; and He turns mercifully toward the people upon whom His Name is invoked” (Off.). How well this passage pinpoints the purpose and nature of holy Mass.

2. Holy Mass (Justus es). Today’s liturgical mood is not quite as heavy and depressing as last Sunday’s; there is a greater sense of calm and composure arising from the knowledge that all human suffering forms part of God’s just judgment; and the Church pleads for mercy (Intr.). As her obedient children, our great endeavor is to walk “undefiled in the way of the Lord,” to “follow God alone with a pure mind” and to “avoid the diabolical contagion” of sin (Coll.). (Note the words, via, ambulant, sectari, ambuletis—life is a pilgrimage.)

The Apostle of the Gentiles stands before us “in his chains” and entreats us “to walk worthy of our Christian vocation in humility and meekness, in patience and charity, ever anxious to maintain the bond of unity and peace” (Epist.). Mother Church is greatly concerned over keeping these ideals alive in her children’s hearts; for this end she seeks to impress us by unveiling before our spiritual eyes the profound sevenfold oneness that is hers: (1) one body, Head and members, (2) enlivened by one Holy Spirit, (3) having one common goal, heaven, (4) one Lord, Christ Jesus, (5) one common faith, (6) unified by the same sacraments (baptism, Eucharist), and (7) governed by one common Father in heaven. What mighty motives for peace and harmony in one’s own soul and among all mankind! Every Christian should reflect this unity, should strive constantly to exemplify it, because it alone can transform us into the “blessed nation that He has chosen as His inheritance” (Grad.), a people whose strength is the Triune God.

From this thought of the earthly Church united in Christ, it is but a small step to the heavenly Sion; therefore the Alleluia verse is a maranatha, a longing cry to be at home with Christ (the whole of Psalm 101 could be interpreted as the outburst of a homesick soul in exile). The Master Himself speaks of the great law of love of God and neighbor in the Gospel. But we must limit ourselves to its principal feature, the 109th psalm, which is prayed so often in the liturgy. This psalm adumbrated the Messiah as God’s eternal Son sharing the royal throne with the Almighty on High; furthermore, it has afforded the liturgy a Christ-picture which may still be seen portrayed in richest colors in the apses of ancient basilicas. The liturgical thought—content of the Gospel may be summed up thus: in the midst of persecutions, in the soul’s dark night, the Church (individual members too) glances longingly upward toward her glorified Lord at the Father’s right, waiting for Him to subdue all enemies.

Since our glorified Lord is very near during the holy Sacrifice, we keep in mind this Gospel scene, and during the Offertory procession we petition Him to “look favorably upon His sanctuary and upon His people” at His Second Coming and also now during the holy Sacrifice because holy Mass is the parousia anticipated. In the Communion too the Lord appears in glory, annihilating all enemies (the entire psalm would fit wonderfully well here). Secret and Postcommunion plead for the remission of sin.

A discerning eye would quickly perceive references to “The Returning King” throughout the Mass. Introit: the just and merciful Judge; Collect: following in His train; Gradual: Creator, King; Alleluia: parousia prayer; Gospel: at the Father’s right hand; Offertory: let Your face shine upon us; Communion: awe-inspiring, glorious One!

3. Divine Office. The two principal thought areas in the Gospel—charity, Christ—are found summarized in the day’s greater antiphons. “Master, which is the great commandment in the Law? Jesus answered: You must love Yahweh, your God, with your whole heart. Alleluia.” Charity is the great commandment! “What is your position regarding the Messiah? Whose son is he? They said to Him: David’s. Jesus asked them: If so, how then can David, being inspired, call him Lord, saying: Yahweh said to my Lord: Sit at My right hand”? Jesus Christ is equal to almighty God! St. John Chrysostom comments on the law of love:

“Why did He say: And the second is like unto this? Because the second commandment prepares the way for the first, and itself in turn is supported and aided by it. For, as it is written, Everyone who does evil hates the Light and never attains to the Light. Or, according to another passage: The fool says in his heart: God does not exist. This passage then continues: They have become corrupt, their deeds abominable. Another text tells us: The root of all evil is avarice, and its victims have strayed far from the truth. While in the Gospel we read: If anyone loves Me, he will keep My commandments.

“Now for all of these quotations the basis is: You must love the Lord your God, and your neighbor as yourself. If, then, to love God implies love of neighbor (according to Christ’s words: If you love Me, Peter, feed My sheep), and if love of neighbor results in the observance of God’s commandments, it is indeed quite right for the Lord to say that on these two commandments the whole Law and the prophets depend. Once, when questioned on the subject of the resurrection, Jesus replied at greater length than they had anticipated; now again, although questioned only with regard to the first commandment, does He add the second gratis, a commandment not too distantly related to it at all; for although it is second, it is like unto the first. Thus very unobstrusively He brings home to them that it had been out of hatred that they had questioned Him.”

4. Sunday Meditation. A. Psalm 109. For a better understanding of the Gospel it would help immensely to study this important psalm in detail:

I. The King

An oracle of Yahweh to my Lord (the Messiah):

Be seated at my right;

your enemies, I will make them your footstool.

The sceptre of your power Yahweh extends from Sion (saying):

Rule in your enemy’s midst,

for the triumph is yours.

On the day of your might

you will proceed in holy splendor.

I have begotten you from the womb

before the morning-star.

II. High Priest and Judge

Yahweh has sworn an oath, never will he retract it:

You are a priest forever,

after the model of Melchisedech.

At your right hand

Yahweh destroys kings on the day of his wrath.

A judgment day he holds against the nations,

makes corpses lie in heaps.

Heads he shatters

over the plains.

From a brooklet on the wayside he drinks,

then nobly lifts up his head.

Psalm 109 is directly Messianic; and Jesus Himself used it as such. In boldest pictures it depicts the Messiah’s victory and triumph. Divided into two strophes, it first considers the Redeemer as co-Regent with His eternal Father (according to Oriental etiquette a co-regent assumed the place at the ruler’s right). In due time He will vindicate His regency by triumphing over all enemies and on the day of His Second Advent He wilt appear in the full glory of His majesty.

In the second strophe the Messiah appears as a Priest resembling Melchisedech and remains such even though a portion of mankind rejects and despises His priestly work. The final verses show Him as Judge. On the day of retribution, the great judgment day, He deals with His enemies like the conquerors of old; He heaps corpse upon corpse, crushes the skulls of adversaries, fills the land with ruins—a very realistic picture indeed. Even though in the original and in translations the psalm suffers from obscure phrases, for purposes of prayer the text remains sufficiently clear; we need simply to keep our gaze fixed upon the Messiah as King, as Priest, and as Judge.

This venerable psalm, so deserving of prayerful meditation, will, if permitted, exercise a beneficent influence upon one’s daily life. For in it we children of the light are privileged to behold in clearest sunlight the One for whom the psalmist so ardently awaited, Christ our King. What new insights fulfillment throws upon the oracle! He does not make His enemies into a footstool through force, but through grace brings them to their knees. Recall St. Paul’s reflections. The sceptre which He stretches forth from Sion is the Cross; on it He truly reigns in the midst of enemies. Then the psalm raises the curtain hiding eternity and we behold our King “proceeding in holy splendor” in the glory and brightness of His saints. Shall I also be numbered among them?…

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