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Photo: Feast of the Immaculate Conception, Dec 8 2011, St. Stephen Church

Monday, November 10, 2014

Sacrament of Confirmation, Sunday

On Sunday, November 16, 2014, the Sacrament of Confirmation in the traditional form will be celebrated at Immaculate Conception's 12 noon High Mass by The Most Reverend Richard G. Lennon, Bishop of Cleveland. Please consider attending this very special occasion 

Perhaps this is a good opportunity to remind ourselves of some truths about the Sacrament of Confirmation. Excerpts are from Manual of Confirmation.

''The life of man on earth is a warfare" says Job. When
we receive the Sacrament of the Holy Spirit, we take upon our-
selves all the duties of a loyal soldier. The first duty of a
good soldier is Fidelity.

a). But what does fidelity imply? Surely nothing less than
the constant tendency to devote himself with all the powers of
soul and body to the service of his Supreme Lord and Master.
Having once put on the livery of his King, the soldier must
fight the battles, even though he sacrifice his very life on the
field of action. It is a solemn pact entered upon between the
Holy Ghost and the soul. "Be steadfast in thy covenant."
The Apostle speaks to the point : "My beloved brethren, be ye
steadfast and immovable : always abounding in the work of
the Lord." "Be thou faithful,'' says the angel of the Church of
Smyrna. You will keep this fidelity as long as you guard
yourself against the snares of the enemy, and do not surrender
yourself to works of darkness. Rise in the morning with a holy
resolve to be faithful during the day, and ask for help from
above. For "God is faithful, who will strengthen and keep
you from evil."
This fidelity of a soldier of Christ knows of no distinction
between small and great things. The whole life of man, if you
will, is composed of many small duties and functions, but taken
together they constitute the total — the sum of perfection. The
saying, ''Who makes litte of small things will by-and-by fail
in greater ones," is verified also in the life of a Christian. The
Lord says : '' He that is faithful in that which is least, is faithful
also in that which is greater. " Any and all success depends
on the faithful adherence to duty. The loyal Christian soldier
only can exclaim in the embrace of death : ''I have fought a
good fight, I have kept the faith.'' 
b). Bravery is the second quality of a good soldier. It is a
most indispensable virtue in face of the enemy. When the soldier
meets an equal foe with undaunted courage, and wavers not in
the critical moment, then we may call him brave. The Chris-
tian has three formidable enemies to contend with, namely, the
flesh, the world and Satan. ''Every man is tempted by his own
concupiscence, being drawn away and allured." "Whatso-
ever is born of God, overcometh the world, '' "Put you on the
armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the de-
ceits of the devil," says the Apostle. In order to overcome
these cunning and ever-watchful adversaries, it needs bravery
which relents not. St. Peter calls upon us to be watchful and
brave : "Because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion,
goeth about seeking whom he may devour ; whom resist ye,
strong in faith. " Only he who fights bravely with resolute will,
can hope to be crowned. "Blessed is the man that endureth
temptation ; for when he hath been proved, he shall receive the
crown of life which God hath promised to them that love Him."
"The brave Christian will resist at the first onset ; he will not
parley with temptation ; he will resist with unflinching courage
without relaxing, that is to say, with perseverance to the end.
Therein shall we recognize genuine bravery that must charac-
terize the anointed of the Holy Ghost. 
c). Generosity, which means the spirit of sacrifice, is the third
quality of a true soldier. What great fatigues, how many pri-
vations, what wearisome marches await the soldier! Likewise
the Christian has, in a higher sense and to a greater degree, an
arduous road before him. Our great Master Himself points
at it : "How narrow is the gate, and strait is the way that
leadeth to life." Great efforts and exertions are required :
"The kingdom of heaven suffereth violence, and the violent
bear it away" Burdensome labors must be undertaken:
''Whosoever doth not carry his cross and come after Me, can-
not be My disciple." We must be ready to part with what is
most dear to our natural inclinations, rather than to yield to the
enemies of our soul and of our God. Behold what the Apostles
and disciples of Christ were when they fled, abandoned and
denied their Master in the hour of trial. No sooner, however,
were they endued with the Holy Ghost, than they were ready to
sacrifice everything, to suffer the loss of all things, that they
might gain Christ. What an admirable effect of this grace, of
which the Apostles gloried, and of which all who have been
strengthened by the Holy Ghost in His Sacrament, are in like
manner inspired to the same sacrifices, with a generosity of heart
in the grand cause and service of the King of Kings! 
St. Jerome, in a letter to his friend Heliodorus, says as fol-
lows : "In these sacraments, that is, Baptism and Confirma-
tion, you were made a soldier of Jesus Christ. What have you
done to this day that corresponds with this calling? Where are
the trenches you have made to the discomfiture of your
enemies? Where are the breastworks you have built up against
their arrows? How many winters have you been in the field?
What are the hardships you endured? The ringing war-trumpet
sounds from Heaven above. The great King, clad in full armor,
advances to give battle to the whole world. How will you step
out of your voluptuous repose to battle? His double-edged
sword will mow down in its passage everything opposed to Him.
How will you venture out of the shade into the heat of combat?
How will that body so slender bear the weight of the armor?
Will those hands, now so idle, be able to take up severe and
arduous labors? No one is crowned, except he strive law-
Such are then the qualities of a good soldier; such also the
duties of a loyal Christian, which he has vowed to fulfill. That
is the glorious character with which the Holy Ghost invested the
soul in the great Sacrament of Confirmation.

1 comment:

  1. See you Sunday! Also, I would suggest complementing the long quote from the Manual of Confirmation with quotes from the Catechism of the Catholic Church and the oration texts of the 1962 Rite of Confirmation. The local catechisms of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, while laudable in their time, were often myopic in their ecclesiologies and too closely reflected the personal opinions of their authors that were rarely the full exposition of the faith of the Church.