Instruction on the Tuesday after Pentecost
The Introit of the Mass is:
INTROIT Receive the joy of your glory, allel.; giving thanks to God, allel.; who hath called you to a heavenly kingdom, allel., allel., allel. (IV. Esd. 2.) Attend, O my people, to my law: incline your ears to the words of my mouth. (Ps. LXXVII.)
COLLECT Grant, we beseech Thee, O Lord, that the power of the Holy Ghost may be ever present with us to purify our hearts from sin, and to defend us from all adversity. Thro’.
LESSON (Acts VIII. 14-17) In those days, when the apostles that were in Jerusalem had heard that Samaria had received the word of God, they sent unto them Peter and John. Who, when they were come, prayed for them, that they might receive the Holy Ghost: for he was not as yet come upon any of them, but they were only baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. Then they laid their hands upon them and they received the Holy Ghost.
Is Confirmation a Sacrament?
Yes, for it has the three marks of a Sacrament: the visible sign, the invisible sanctifying grace, and institution by Christ.
Did Christ institute this Sacrament?
Christ is the Author of this Sacrament as He is of all the others, with this difference only, as St. Thomas of Aquin says, that He instituted this only by promise, for it was necessary that He should die, should rise from the dead, and ascend into heaven (John XVI. 7.) before giving the fulness of the Holy Ghost, in which consists the proper effect of this Sacrament. This according to the tradition of the Fathers, is the doctrine of the infallible Church. Thus St. Clement, a disciple of the apostles, writes that St. Peter taught him, and that the other apostles had also announced it, in accordance with the command of the Lord. That the apostles administered this Sacrament by Christ’s command, is clear from the Acts of the Apostles (viii. i4?z7.) which state, that Peter and John laid their hands upon the newly baptized at Samaria, and prayed over them, thus imparting to them the gifts of the Holy Ghost, which St. Paul also did to the baptized at Ephesus. (Acts XIX. 5, 6.)
What, is the visible sign in confirmation?
The imposition of the bishop’s hands, the anointing with holy chrism, and the words: N. N., I sign thee with the sign of the cross, and confirm thee with the chrism of salvation, in the name of the Father, &c.”
What graces are received in this Sacrament?
This Sacrament gives to those who have been baptized, the Holy Ghost with the plenitude of His gifts, and thus completes the grace of baptism; for which reason confirmation is also called by the holy Fathers: “Completion,” “Sealing.” It especially gives strength to profess the faith firmly, and to live in accordance with it, and is therefore called Confirmation from the Latin confirmare, to strengthen, to confirm; it elevates man, who has by baptism become a child of God, to the dignity of a soldier of Christ, enrolls him as a warrior under the banner of the cross, imprints upon him an indelible mark, and thus distinguishes him from those who have been baptized, but not confirmed, and can therefore be received but once.
Who has power to administer confirmation?
The ordinary ministers of this Sacrament are the bishops only; for according to the Acts of the Apostles (VIII. 16.) only the apostles and their successors who are bishops, can impart the Holy Ghost by imposition of hands.
What is the holy chrism which the bishop uses in confirmation?
The holy chrism which Christ commanded to be used in confirmation, consists of balsam and olive?oil mixed, and signifies the plenitude of grace which comes down from Christ through the Holy Ghost upon those to be confirmed; the balsam represents the good odor of the edifying life which those confirmed should lead, as said by the apostle: We are a good odor of Christ; (II Cor. II. 15.) the balsam also indicates, that as the bodies of the dead are preserved from corruption when embalmed with it, so the soul by the heavenly grace obtained in confirmation, is preserved from the infection of sin.
Why is the forehead anointed with chrism in the form of a cross?
To remind the Christian that he is never to be deterred by either shame or fear from the public acknowledgment of the name of Jesus, but must fight valiantly as a true soldier of Christ, under the banner of the cross, against all the enemies of his salvation.
Why does the bishop impose his hands upon those to be confirmed?
This indicates that the actual imparting of the Holy Ghost is taking place, (Heb. VI. 2.) and that the person confirmed is placed under God’s special protection.
What prayers are said by the bishop while he imposes his hands upon those to be confirmed?
The bishop repeats the following prayers: Almighty, eternal God, who halt deigned to regenerate these Thy servants by water and the Holy Ghost, who hast also granted them the remission of all their sins, pour out from heaven the sevenfold gifts of the Holy Spirit, Thy Paraclete. Amen.
The spirit of wisdom and understanding. Amen.
The spirit of counsel and of fortitude. Amen.
The spirit of knowledge and of piety. Amen.
Fill them with the spirit of fear towards Thee, and sign them with the sign, of the cross of Christ, granting them eternal life, through the same Jesus Christ, our Lord, who with Thee in the unity of, the same God,, the Holy Ghost liveth and reigneth for all, eternity. Amen.
Why does the bishop ask especially for the spirit of the fear of the Lord?
Because the filial fear of the Lord is the foundation of all good, the beginning of all wisdom, the fountain of life, and gains for him who possesses it eternal happiness. (Ps. CXI. 1.)
Why does the bishop give those confirmed a slight blow on the cheek?
To remind them that like Christ and the apostles, they must courageously bear all adversities and persecutions for the holy faith, and thus obtain that true peace which the bishop wishes them.
Why do the sponsors lay their right hand on the shoulder of the one to be confirmed?
To show that they are witnesses of the renewal of his faith; that they will exhort him, when necessary, to preserve the faith; that they will walk before him in the true .path of virtue by good example. (In regard to the spiritual affinity arising from confirmation, see the instruction concerning baptism on the feast of the Holy Trinity.)
Is confirmation necessary for salvation?
It is not absolutely necessary for salvation, but he who having the opportunity would neglect to receive it, would commit a grievous sin, even a mortal sin, because he openly shows by this, that he has no regard for the assistance of the Holy Ghost: Baptism lays the foundation for the Christian religion, but confirmation crowns the work baptism has commenced, because in confirmation, as the Roman Catechism teaches, the form of a true Christian is perfected.
What is required of those who are to be confirmed?
They must be in the state of grace, or purified by a good confession from the sins committed after baptism, for, to receive this Sacrament while in mortal sin, would be a sacrilege; they should be well instructed in the truths of faith, especially in those relating to confirmation; they should have a sponsor or witness who has been confirmed; they should arouse in themselves a great desire for the gifts of the Holy Ghost; they should receive the Sacrament with great reverence and devotion, and while being confirmed should make the resolution to become and remain henceforth true, zealous Catholics; finally, those who are to be confirmed, should never forget that they must be present from the first imposition of hands by the bishop, because this is the especial signs to which the granting of the gifts of the Holy Ghost is annexed. It is seen from all this, that it is not advisable to allow infants to be confirmed, because they do not know what they receive, nor can they be properly prepared, and they can be saved even if they die without confirmation.
What should be done after receiving confirmation?
Those confirmed should remain in church some time, and thank the Holy Ghost for the graces received; renew the promise to serve God faithfully henceforth, and to preserve the faith. They should daily show themselves, by an edifying life, to be true Catholic Christians, and thus add to the truth that unbelievers may also see the fruits of confirmation, and learn to love and respect a Church, that gives such glorious gifts to her children.
PRAYER AFTER CONFIRMATION
[To be said often during the year.]
I thank Thee, O Holy Ghost, that Thou bast given me Thy grace in the Sacrament of Confirmation to strengthen me against all temptations and persecutions, and I most humbly beseech Thee that by Thy inward inspirations Thou mayst continually so urge me on, that in all the dangers to my salvation, I may faithfully cooperate with the graces I have received, and never from fear or false shame transgress the commandments of God and the Church. Let me die rather than ever offend Thee, O Holy Ghost, or refuse to heed Thy inspirations, or drive Thee from me by mortal sin. Amen.