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Sacrament of Christian maturity


We rejoice that five adults will be entering into the fullness of the Catholic faith through the Sacraments of Initiation: Baptism, Confirmation and Holy Communion, at the Easter Vigil, Saturday, March 30, 8:00 PM Solemn Mass. Please pray for: Fred Graack, Wilma Seither, Laural Seither, Nate Curtis and Cooper Utley who have been attending Mass and becoming active members of Holy Trinity Parish. Fred, Nate, Wilma and Laural will receive the Sacrament of Baptism as catechumens. The candidate, Cooper Utley, has already been baptized as a Lutheran, which we recognize when done “In the Name of the Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.” All of them will receive the Sacrament of Confirmation and receive Holy Communion which is a sign that they believe, profess and will defend everything that Jesus Christ and his Catholic Church teaches.

On Holy Thursday, March 28, Archbishop Hebda will celebrate the Chrism Mass at the Cathedral of St. Paul, 10:00 AM, and all are invited to participate. At that Mass the priests of the Archdiocese renew their priestly vows, and the Archbishop consecrates the Holy Oils used in the sacraments: The Oil of the Infirm is used in the Sacrament of the Sick; the Holy Oil is used as a sacramental before an infant is baptized; and the Sacred Chrism is used at Baptism, Confirmation, Ordination and the consecration of altars and church buildings.

We read in the Catechism of the Catholic Church about the importance of the Sacrament of Confirmation:

1306: Every baptized person not yet confirmed [Catholic] can and should receive the sacrament of Confirmation. Since Baptism, Confirmation, and Eucharist [reception of Holy Communion in the state of grace] form a unity, it follows that “the faithful are obliged to receive this sacrament at the appropriate time,” for without Confirmation and Eucharist, Baptism is certainly valid and efficacious, but Christian initiation remains incomplete.

1307: For centuries, Latin custom has indicated “the age of discretion” as the reference point for receiving Confirmation. But in danger of death children should be confirmed even if they have not yet attained the age of discretion.

1308: Although Confirmation is sometimes called the “sacrament of Christian maturity,” we must not confuse adult faith with the adult age of natural growth, nor forget that the baptismal grace is a grace of free, unmerited election and does not need “ratification” to become effective. St. Thomas [Aquinas, STh, III, 72,* ad 2: cf. Wis 4:8] re-minds us of this:

Age of body does not determine age of soul. Even in childhood man can attain spiritual maturity: as the book of Wisdom says: “For old age is not honored for length of time, or measured by number of years.” Many children, through the strength of the Holy Spirit they have received, have bravely fought for Christ even to the shedding of their blood.

1309: Preparation for Confirmation should aim at leading the Christian toward a more intimate union with Christ and a more lively familiarity with the Holy Spirit – his actions, his gifts and his bid-dings – in order to be more capable of assuming the apostolic responsibilities of Christian life. To this end catechesis for Confirmation should strive to awaken a sense of belonging to the [Catholic] Church of Jesus Christ, the universal Church as well as the parish community. The latter bears special responsibility for the preparation of confirmands.

1310: To receive Confirmation one must be in a state of grace.

One should receive the sacrament of Penance in order to be cleansed for the gift of the Holy Spirit. More in-tense prayer should prepare one to receive the strength and graces of the Holy Spirit with docility and readiness to act.

1311: Candidates for Confirmation, as for Baptism, fittingly seek the spiritual help of a sponsor. To emphasize the unity of the two sacraments, it is appropriate that this be one of the baptismal godparents.

1313: In the Latin Rite, the ordinary minister of Confirmation is the [Catholic] bishop. If the need arises, the bishop may grant the faculty of administering Confirmation to priests, although it is fitting that he confer it himself, mindful that the celebration of Confirmation has been temporally separated from Baptism for this reason. Bishops are the successor of the apostles. They have received the fullness of the sacrament of Holy Orders. The administration of this sacrament by them demonstrates clearly that its effect is to unite those who receive it more closely to the [Catholic] Church, to her apostolic origins, and to her mission of bearing witness to Christ.

1315: “Now when the apostles at Jerusalem heard that Samaria had received the word of God, they sent to them Peter and John, who came down and prayed for them that they might receive the Holy Spirit; for it had not yet fallen on any of them, but they had only been baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. Then they laid their hands on them and they received the Holy Spirit (Acts [of the Apostles] 8:14-17)

1316: Confirmation perfects Baptismal grace; it is the sacrament which gives the Holy Spirit in order to root us more deeply in the divine filiation, incorporate us more firmly into Christ, strengthen our bond with the Church, associate us more closely with her mission, and help us bear witness to the Christian faith in words accompanied by deeds.

1319: A candidate for Confirmation who has attained the age of reason must profess the [Catholic] faith, be in the state of grace, have the intention of receiving the sacrament, and be prepared to assume the role of disciple and witness to Christ, both within the ecclesial community and in temporal affairs.

1320: The essential rite of Confirmation is anointing the forehead of the baptized with sacred chrism… together with the laying on of the minister’s hand and the words: “Accipesignaculumdoni Spiritus Sancti” (Be sealed with the Gift of the Holy Spirit) in the Roman rite, or: Signaculumdoni Spiritus Sancti (the seal of the gift of the Holy Spirit) in the Byzantine [Eastern Catholic] rite.

Some people wonder, “Maybe I wasn’t in the state of grace when I was confirmed. What then?” Catholic theology suggests that once a person celebrates a good confession (repenting of mortal sin and seeking God’s holiness by naming the kind and number of mortal sins to the best of their ability) the Holy Spirit becomes activated in a powerful way whereby they have a greater understanding and zeal to live their faith by sharing the Good News of following Jesus Christ in his Catholic Church – the certain path to Eternal Life and Perfect Happiness.

Peace in Christ,

Fr. Thomas McCabe

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