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Confirmation

Acts 8:14-17: 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 19:6: And when Paul had laid his hands upon them, the Holy Spirit came on them; and they spoke with tongues, and prophesied.

Hebrews 6:2: . . . with instructions about ablutions [baptisms], the laying on of hands, the resurrection of the dead, and eternal judgment.

Extracting of the final anointing of baptism took along with it the confirmation rite. Two sacraments, which stood together, became separated in the West so that the bishop might “confirm” the sacrament of baptism when he became available. The sacrament of confirmation includes the laying on of hands, a gesture that functions as an invocation of the Holy Spirit. Such a ritual is decisively presented in the Scriptures. As a further sign of the Holy Spirit’s presence, the laying on of hands was often associated with incredible supernatural effects. This is the same sacrament offered by the successors to the apostles, the bishops, today.

For more such reading, contact me about getting my book, DEFENDING THE CATHOLIC FAITH.

6 Responses

  1. Dear Paul,

    Christian believers are not of one mind about pets and the afterlife. My stress has been simply that the kerygma of faith stresses the eternal destiny and redemption of human beings, not animals. I can well detect the sadness in your words, that you might never again “see” your dog, Henry. But remember for a moment what you will be seeing. Christians live in the hope of seeing God. Heaven is literally sharing the beatific vision for all eternity. Everything that made your dog special and a friend, along with all the other non-human companions of men, will be manifest and alive in the vision of that infinite source for creation. The substantial form for animals exists as perfect paradigms in the divine mind. Nothing good is lost. We will know a fulfillment and joy that knows no bounds. That is our abiding hope as adopted children of God and kin to Christ.

    Peace and blessings,
    Father Joe

  2. Dear Fr Joe,
    As one who is probably used to having the last word, I must surrender and leave it with you, but not, thanks to your wisdom, without some result. I suppose I do expect too much at times from the ‘magic’ of the Church, and in times of difficulty I do struggle and wonder why I find it so difficult to be consumed by my faith.
    You asked: “Can we do too much for our faith?” and I have to admit that the answer, applicable to me is: “I really should do much, much more”
    I was in great distress internally, and looking for answers and consolation when I stumbled across your site. My dear old dog really is on his last legs, and not surprisingly my confessor and spiritural adviser is a bit of a hard man like you, and sees no reason nor realistic scriptural justification to assume that I will ever ‘see’ my Old English Sheepdog, Henry, again after his death, which will be by my decision within the next few days. I was drawn to your various posts looking for consolation, rather than finding colsolation in Christ as Paul would have said. I was drawn to his letter to the Hewbrews, and It really does apply to me, and the dangerous position of falling away after having been given the gift, doubled and more by the reinforcing action of Confirmation, Pennance and the Eucharist.
    The rapture of being consumed in the love of my creator will be more than I could ever contemplate and the presence or absence of my dear old loving dog will probably be totally and absolutely immeasurably insiginificant, but still I do not know for sure.
    I’m not a fanatic or extreemist as some pet lovers, putting that obsession even before God, and I’ve raised pigs and lambs for slaughter, and kept a house cow for a number of years for milk and then beef products, and all animals differ, I too have a cat and she kills mice and birds but she’s neither evil nor good, she’s just a rather nice cat, but, it’s in these times of sadness and impending loss that I seek consolation from my Saviour and my Church and it feels that I don’t receive it, and worse than that what I get is perhaps what they both see as ‘tough love’, but perhaps that is what I need.
    There’s nothing wishy-washy about the Catholic Church, it, like the Law of Moses, is very clearly defined, and I don’t see the warnings of Christ when He admonished the Pharasies for imposing harsh rules on the chosen race that they struggled to keep, necessarily applies to the Church.
    I, too, am on my last legs, and in what is best described as heart failure, so I might not make it for much longer even than dear old Henry, and it’s that inescapable realness of my own mortality that is very sobering.
    I also remember the last words of my Lord and Saviour as he struggled for breath under the weight of His dying body, and when He, too, was possibly troubled with the frailities of being truely human and finding it difficult to “do too much” as you put it; He cried out in a loud voice “Eloi, Eloi, lema sabachthani” according to Mark; but John tells us that He said “Father, into your hands I commend my spirit”, and I guess both can apply to me even at the same time.
    With thanks, Paul

  3. I made some general remarks. But I do not think I came out and said you were an agnostic or atheist. Rather, I gave a scenario where such people find themselves. Along with your confessor or spiritual director, you must judge your own experience. Over the years I have sometimes doubted myself, but I cannot say that I have ever doubted God. But I respect the fact that others have had a more severe struggle over this matter.

    The universal catechism speaks of agnosticism as follows:

    CCC 2127 – Agnosticism assumes a number of forms. In certain cases the agnostic refrains from denying God; instead he postulates the existence of a transcendent being which is incapable of revealing itself, and about which nothing can be said. In other cases, the agnostic makes no judgment about God’s existence, declaring it impossible to prove, or even to affirm or deny.

    CCC 2128 – Agnosticism can sometimes include a certain search for God, but it can equally express indifferentism, a flight from the ultimate question of existence, and a sluggish moral conscience. Agnosticism is all too often equivalent to practical atheism.

    What would you consider a fanatic or an extremist? Is a Christian willing to suffer martyrdom an extremist? St. Paul says that we are fools for Christ. I have renounced the right to have a wife and family for the sake of the kingdom. Does that make me a fanatic? I suspect that many would think so. A reasoned faith can still be a consuming one. Yes, faith is a gift but I would shy away from judging as negative any extremism for the Gospel. While we might do too little, can we really do too much to give honor to God? It is not enough to avoid denying faith. We must actively seek the right disposition for it. There can be no methodical doubt or wagering about the divine existence. We either believe or we do not believe as we should. If we have a weak faith, then we should do all we can to feed this faith with Scripture, religious instruction, prayer and worship, and Christian service.

  4. OK Fr Joe, I go along with that to some extent, but those who I have met in the past who have no doubt whatsoever are usually fanatics and extremists and they too will claim a reasoned faith. I was told that Faith is a gift from God, and as long as I do nothing to deliberately deny the faith given and everything necessary to increase my faith as the Church teaches it will be as it should be. Now you suggest that, at best I’m an agnostic, but it may be more of a terminal diagnosis and I’m really aethist. I don’t need a spinning sun because most days when I see that sun I reason that there must be a creator because nothing would exist without Him, but I do not know for sure. I am not certain that it is so, I have a degree of doubt and so I wonder if that is healthy and normal or am I really just a freak of a Catholic or possibly a very bad aethist, even in disguise, as you suggest.
    And what’s more, didn’t Jesus go out of His way to ease Thomas’ doubt which was real despite the wood being still green? Do you ever have just that little bit of doubt or are you totally convinced that it’s all true?
    In ernest, Paul

  5. Herod wanted parlor tricks and our Lord refused to even speak to him. I suspect many people are attracted to the sensational and miraculous. However, even the special signs and healings of our Lord in the New Testament were really the precursor to something more and better. The efficacy of the sacraments is independent of any great external displays of God’s power over natural laws. Internally, emotional gratification and spiritual satisfaction might also be stripped away so that we would love the Divine Giver over the granting of such gifts and the pleasure derived. We are told that some would not believe even if a man were to rise from a dead, a prophecy realized in the Easter mystery.

    Going through the motions of faith, just in case there is a God and a chance the Christians are right, is really no faith at all. Rather, it is a form of atheism, or more appropriately agnosticism. We should have a reasoned faith and treat doubts with the medicine of prayer. I do not look for feathers from the Holy Spirit, a spinning sun or crying images. Our Lord told us, “Blessed are those who have not seen and have believed” (John 20:29).

  6. I have no problem with the sacramentals, nor the ceremonials, and remembering when Jesus, Himself, was living the life of, what was probably a Pharisaic Jew and a Rabbi or at least a Rabboni, he would have been very much a part of the institution, where the High Priest would have been vested in line with the Pentateuch, the requirements of the Melchizedek tradition, and the incense would have been burnt and the terrible and bloody sacrifices offered at the High Altar, and so it was after His death, with perhaps a little less ceremonial but nevertheless the bloodless sacrifice of the Eucharist and thus our interpretations of the seven sacraments which are clearly defined in Holy Scripture should we care to look.

    But why, oh why did it ‘work’ in those old days and why oh why doesn’t it ‘work’ today? I made my first Holy Communion and the nuns warned me about not letting the Host touch my teeth, how I should reverently swallow it after a ‘suitable’ time and how I should wait in anxious expectation for the miracle of the Real and Holy Presence to overwhelm me. That was over fifty years ago and I’m still waiting. In long years past the Apostles laid their hands on the wannabe converts and spontaneous and real miracles occurred, people’s legs were mended, they “spoke in tongues.” (I can go down the road to the Pentecostals for a dose of that!) But why don’t those sorts of things happen today? The Bishop was at our church the other week doing the old confirming bit and I didn’t see any ‘Holy Paraclete’ flapping about, not even any ruffled feathers. If it really is real, if it is so true, then why don’t I ‘see’ it?

    Or do I simply have to wait until my heart beats its last and take a chance? Eternal nothingness could also be the reality, and doubt the other side of the coin of faith.

    Greetings, again!, from Paul

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