Monthly Archives: August 2013

Seeking Confirmation

Pentecost cover

All-powerful God, Father of our Lord Jesus Christ,
by water and the Holy Spirit
you freed your sons and daughters from sin
and gave them new life.
Send your Holy Spirit upon them
to be their helper and guide.
Give them the spirit of wisdom and understanding,
the spirit of right judgment and courage,
the spirit of knowledge and reverence.
Fill them with the spirit of wonder and awe in your presence.
We ask this through Christ our Lord.

Philip went down to the city of Samaria and proclaimed the Messiah to them. The crowds with one accord listened eagerly to what was said by Philip, hearing and seeing the signs that he did, for unclean spirits, crying with loud shrieks, came out of many who were possessed; and many others who were paralyzed or lame were cured. So there was great joy in that city. […] Now when the apostles at Jerusalem heard that Samaria had accepted the word of God, they sent Peter and John to them. The two went down and prayed for them that they might receive the Holy Spirit (for as yet the Spirit had not come upon any of them; they had only been baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus). Then Peter and John laid their hands on them, and they received the Holy Spirit. (Acts if the Apostles 8:5-8 & 14-17, NRSVCE)

Is it not interesting that those is Samaria heard the gospel and believed, but that wasn’t enough. They were baptized, but that also wasn’t enough. Only when Peter and John laid their hands on them did they received the Holy Spirit. Only then did those Samarian believers enter the Church established by Christ. Do we believe this today? Protestants (and non-protesting evangelicals) seem to deny the need for confirmation, and most even deny the need for baptism (other than as a merely symbolic act). We like to think that all it takes is that one believes. Believe in Jesus, ask Him into your heart, have good feelings about your commitment to whatever your Christian-sub-culture group likes to define as Christianity, or whatever you’ve decided the Bible says. But that is not the same thing as entering the Church.

I have been a Christian my entire life (born into a devout Baptist family, asking Jesus into my heart around 1970, baptized in 1977, etc.) and yet I have not been in the Church established by Christ. I was never confirmed and welcomed into the one, holy, catholic, and apostolic Church. At this point I don’t know how all this applies to my eternal salvation. I like to think that my salvation is not in question regardless of confirmation, but I’m still learning the theology and Church teaching on confirmation. One thing, however, I know I am not yet in the Church.

I too am seeking to have apostolic hands laid on me, to receive the Holy Spirit, to fully enter the Church. Believing is where it begins, true, which is then followed by being baptized for the forgiveness of sins. But both of these acts should be followed by confirmation (the laying on of hands and receiving the Holy Spirit). I was baptized as a youth in the Baptist church in which I grew up, and in which I heard the gospel proclaimed (forcefully and masterfully as good Baptist preachers do). I have been in our local parishes RCIA program for several months. Recently I did my first reconciliation (confession). Now I am looking forward to receiving confirmation and entering into full communion with the Church Christ Himself founded two thousand years ago. This is no little thing, especially for an old Baptist like me who was trained to be anti-Catholic. God works in mysterious ways.

From the Catechism of the Catholic Church:

1285 Baptism, the Eucharist, and the sacrament of Confirmation together constitute the “sacraments of Christian initiation,” whose unity must be safeguarded. It must be explained to the faithful that the reception of the sacrament of Confirmation is necessary for the completion of baptismal grace. For “by the sacrament of Confirmation, [the baptized] are more perfectly bound to the Church and are enriched with a special strength of the Holy Spirit. Hence they are, as true witnesses of Christ, more strictly obliged to spread and defend the faith by word and deed.”

1300 The essential rite of the sacrament follows. In the Latin rite, “the sacrament of Confirmation is conferred through the anointing with chrism on the forehead, which is done by the laying on of the hand, and through the words: ‘Accipe signaculum doni Spiritus Sancti’ [Be sealed with the Gift of the Holy Spirit.].” In the Eastern Churches, after a prayer of epiclesis the more significant parts of the body are anointed with myron: forehead, eyes, nose, ears, lips, breast, back, hands, and feet. Each anointing is accompanied by the formula: “The seal of the gift that is the Holy Spirit.”

1301 The sign of peace that concludes the rite of the sacrament signifies and demonstrates ecclesial communion with the bishop and with all the faithful.

I too want to be “more perfectly bound to the Church”.

2 Comments

Filed under Catholic Church, Sacraments

Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults

rcia

For about eight months now I have been going to the RCIA (Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults) class at our local parish church (St. Peter Catholic Church). If one is an adult and wants to enter the Church, then RCIA is the typical path these days. RCIA is also open to anyone just curious about the Catholic Church.

Our version of RCIA is a rather informal round-table discussion that usually involves reading from the lectionary’s daily scripture passages, and then using those as a springboard for discussion. Most of the time our discussions, however, range all over the map, and it’s not unusual for us to forget the readings altogether (for good or ill) and dive right in to various topics. Anything is open for inquiry. Quite often we end up with personal stories of faith. My guess is that at larger, wealthier churches RCIA is more lecture-based and the number of attendees is significant. In our RCIA there were only three of us, and then the other two entered the Church at Easter, leaving just me. I came in to RCIA late, and I’ve already been baptized. My wife has come with me a few times to RCIA as well. She is not at the same place as me on this journey, taking it slow and just checking it all out, watching me. She is curious and wants to support me, which I appreciate.

I have also discovered some recorded RCIA classes online, which I listen to frequently. I see the formats can vary. Some are more lecture-based, typically with a priest presenting key theological points, liturgical practice, and traditions of the Church, followed by Q&A. Some are more round-table, but still with some lecture or structured presentation to keep it moving forward. Obviously a recorded round-table is less enjoyable to listen to as a podcast, but I like being in our round-table at St. Peter’s.

It is typical for many who want to join the Catholic Church to begin RCIA in the fall and conclude at Easter, when they are baptized, confirmed, and receive their first communion. For me, I’ve already been baptized in a manner acceptable to the Catholic Church, which means I’ve had a Trinitarian baptism (“in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit”) thanks to my Baptist upbringing. Thus, it becomes a slightly “easier” for me to enter the Church outside of the normal RCIA calendar. Also, since I’ve been a Christian my whole life, and have been studying Catholicism for the past seven years, I perhaps don’t need as much RCIA as those who are altogether new to Christianity or are young. However, that’s not really up to me to decide. And truly, we spend our entire lives learning about Christ and His Church. It’s interesting to put one’s trust in the guidance of others when it comes to faith-related issues. In fact, this is something I would have chaffed at a few years ago, but now welcome.

Also, since baptism is the sacrament through which one is forgiven all one’s sins, and since it’s been a lot of years since I was baptized and therefore I’ve committed a lot of sins since then, it was appropriate for me to instead go to my first reconciliation (confession) and be forgiven before I get confirmed. This I did recently and loved it. I wrote a bit about it the other day.

All in all I can hardly wait to finally enter the Church and take my first communion. Right now we’re just waiting for a response from our Archbishop granting permission for my confirmation outside of the normal calendar schedule.

2 Comments

Filed under Catholic Church, Education

Three great talks on the Eucharist

Leave a comment

Filed under Catholic Church, Sacraments

My First Reconciliation

reconciliation

Today I did my first Reconciliation (confession) and received absolution for my sins, and the “pardon of peace”. This is a necessary step in  my entering the Catholic Church.

I can’t say much about the experience. Of course it’s very personal. But also, this being my first time, I was in a bit of a fog. Not to say I wasn’t clear-headed, but it was emotional and powerful, and I’m still pondering it a great deal, though I have no doubt about the sacrament. Fr. Francis lead me through the process. He is kind and gentle, and very encouraging. Like with so much of my first-hand experiences with Catholicism over the past few months, this was another occasion for me to say, “why didn’t I do this earlier?”

After the confession and absolution, the penance consisted, in part, of reading the following Psalm, which I find wonderful and beautiful.

Psalms 42 & 43

As a hart longs
for flowing streams,
so longs my soul
for thee, O God.
My soul thirsts for God,
for the living God.
When shall I come and behold
the face of God?
My tears have been my food
day and night,
while men say to me continually,
“Where is your God?”
These things I remember,
as I pour out my soul:
how I went with the throng,
and led them in procession to the house of God,
with glad shouts and songs of thanksgiving,
a multitude keeping festival.
Why are you cast down, O my soul,
and why are you disquieted within me?
Hope in God; for I shall again praise him,
my help and my God.
My soul is cast down within me,
therefore I remember thee
from the land of Jordan and of Hermon,
from Mount Mizar.
Deep calls to deep
at the thunder of thy cataracts;
all thy waves and thy billows
have gone over me.
By day the Lord commands his steadfast love;
and at night his song is with me,
a prayer to the God of my life.
I say to God, my rock:
“Why hast thou forgotten me?
Why go I mourning
because of the oppression of the enemy?”
As with a deadly wound in my body,
my adversaries taunt me,
while they say to me continually,
“Where is your God?”
Why are you cast down, O my soul,
and why are you disquieted within me?
Hope in God; for I shall again praise him,
my help and my God.
Vindicate me, O God, and defend my cause
against an ungodly people;
from deceitful and unjust men
deliver me!
For thou art the God in whom I take refuge;
why hast thou cast me off?
Why go I mourning
because of the oppression of the enemy?
Oh send out thy light and thy truth;
let them lead me,
let them bring me to thy holy hill
and to thy dwelling!
Then I will go to the altar of God,
to God my exceeding joy;
and I will praise thee with the lyre,
O God, my God.
Why are you cast down, O my soul,
and why are you disquieted within me?
Hope in God; for I shall again praise him,
my help and my God.

Here are a couple of points on the Sacrament of Reconciliation from the Catechism of the Catholic Church:

1441 Only God forgives sins. Since he is the Son of God, Jesus says of himself, “The Son of man has authority on earth to forgive sins” and exercises this divine power: “Your sins are forgiven.” Further, by virtue of his divine authority he gives this power to men to exercise in his name.

1442 Christ has willed that in her prayer and life and action his whole Church should be the sign and instrument of the forgiveness and reconciliation that he acquired for us at the price of his blood. But he entrusted the exercise of the power of absolution to the apostolic ministry which he charged with the “ministry of reconciliation.” The apostle is sent out “on behalf of Christ” with “God making his appeal” through him and pleading: “Be reconciled to God.”

1 Comment

Filed under Catholic Church, Sacraments

Prayer of Blessing for Film, TV, Radio, & Music Artists and Professionals

Malick

(Taken from the writings of Bl. John Paul II. I found it here.)

Let us ask for the blessing of the Holy Spirit upon everyone here who labors in the field of film, television, radio and music.

Throughout the history of salvation, Christ presents himself to us as the “communicator” of the Father.

May you find in the eternal Word made flesh, your perfect model in the work you do.

Like Jesus, may you be moved to compassion for the world’s suffering and seek to bring forth Good News of hope.

Like Jesus, may you always shows respect for those who listen, mindful of their situation and needs.

Like Jesus, may you serve your audience with a resolute determination to speak the truth to them, in wonderful new parables, without imposition or compromise, deceit or manipulation.

Bear in holiness the cross that beauty demands and “Do not be afraid!”

Do not be afraid of new technologies! These rank “among the marvelous things” which God has placed at our disposal to discover, to use and to make known the truth.

Do not be afraid of being opposed by the world! Jesus has assured us, “I have conquered the world!”

Do not be afraid even of your own weakness and inadequacy! The Divine Master has said, “I am with you always, until the end of the world.”

Communicate the message of Christ’s hope, grace and love, keeping always alive, in this passing world, the eternal perspective of heaven.

To Mary, who gave us the Word of life, and who kept his unchanging words in her heart, we entrust your journey as a storyteller for the Church. May the Blessed Virgin help you to communicate by every means the beauty and joy of life in Christ our Savior.

All of these things we pray for you, artists and storytellers and we ask God’s blessing on you, your families and your work.

In the name of the Father,
And of the Son,
And of the Holy Spirit.

Amen.

Leave a comment

Filed under Art, Catholic Church, Prayer