Regína sacratíssimi Rosárii, ora pro nobis!

Ave Maria!
Nineteenth Sunday after Pentecost

Ordinary of the Mass
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Sacrament of Confirmation

I gave this sermon yesterday at Our Lady of Good Hope in Pinellas Park, Florida when two of our men received the Sacrament of Confirmation.  I hope you will find it useful.

The Sacrament of Confirmation—10 October AD 2009

Archbishop Humphreys, parishioners of Our Lady of Good Hope, Mr. Rollin, and our Confirmandi, Joseph Torres and Felipe Seidel: dear friends in Christ.  Please understand that my remarks today are directed to all of us—not just those being Confirmed.

    A great deal of the public worship of the Catholic Church makes use of the Old Testament Book of Psalms, the sung poetry of the Jewish people, generally attributed to King David.  Even when translated into English via Latin, many of the psalms preserve an uplifting quality.  Certain psalms and fragments of psalms are recited every day at Mass; other Psalms vary with the day, as they are read by the priest or chanted by the choir and congregation.  The Divine Office is made up of all 150 psalms, arranged so that they are said or sung over the period of the week.

    One of my favorite psalms is often recited at Vespers on important feasts, Psalm 147.  It begins with some of the beautiful nature imagery that is common to many of the psalms—God spreads the frost, the ice, and the snow of winter; but then He sends the warm breezes of spring to melt and let the waters run.[1]  But, today, let us concentrate on the last two verses, which emphasize the interest that God takes in His people:

   He has proclaimed His word to Jacob, *
His statutes and His ordinances to Israël.

    He has not done this for any other nation; *
His ordinances He has not made known to them.

    Our God has intervened in human history, telling those who believe in Him about Himself and what He expects of us—He has proclaimed His word and His ordinances to those of us who acknowledge Him.

    Now, please understand, men and women can know that there is a God through the use of their natural human reason;  they can know something of how He expects us to behave through the natural moral law that is written in our hearts.  But such knowledge of God and His law is often a bit “fuzzy,” blurred by our biases, our cultures, our concupiscences, and, very often, our simple human laziness and failure to seek the truth.  So God determined that He would reveal Himself to mankind through Moses and the Prophets of the Old Testament and the Temple, and through His Son Jesus Christ in the New Testament and His Church.

    But, God’s revelation of Himself is more than just a sharpening of the focus of our natural reasoning.  It is that, of course, but God has also chosen to reveal things about Himself that we could otherwise never know.  As we studied for Confirmation we learned that God can be known from what we observe in the world around us—He is the necessary being, the first cause, the prime mover, and the one who brought forth an ordered cosmos out of nothing—but we see all of these things, so to speak, “from the outside,” seeing only the “exterior of God.”  But in revealing Himself, God chose to introduce us to Himself more intimately, showing us what we might think of as His “interior relationships—showing us that He exists in a Trinity of Persons, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost.

    There were hints of this in the Old Testament, but only hints.  In Genesis we read that when “the earth was void and empty, and darkness was upon the face of the deep, the spirit of God moved over the waters” as God began to create.[2]

    In Isaias we read something that has to remind all of us of our Confirmation; of the gifts of the Holy Ghost—“the spirit of the Lord shall rest upon him: the spirit of wisdom, and of understanding, the spirit of counsel, and of fortitude, the spirit of knowledge, and of godliness ... he shall be filled with the spirit of the fear of the Lord.[3]

    Only in retrospect, do we understand the hint of the Son of God in that passage in Genesis in which God promised a redeemer:  “I will put enmities between thee and the woman, and thy seed and her seed: she shall crush thy head, and thou shalt lie in wait for her heel.”[4]

    Only when the Second Person of God took human form and nature did God fearing people receive the revelation of the Trinity:  “Hail full of Grace, the Lord is with thee ... the Holy Ghost shall come upon thee ... and the Holy which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God.[5]

    At Jesus’ Baptism in the River Jordan all three Persons are mentioned “the Holy Ghost descended ... as a dove upon Him; and a voice came from heaven: ‘Thou art my beloved Son; in thee I am well pleased.’”[6]  And we heard the same words again when Jesus was transfigured on Mount Thabor: “This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased: hear ye him.”[7]

    “The Father and I are one.”[8]  “It is my Father that glorifies me, of whom you say that he is your God.”[9]  “I came forth from the Father, and am come into the world: again I leave the world, and I go to the Father.”[10]

    At the Last Supper, our Lord spoke in earnest about the Holy Ghost, Whom He would send after His ascension into heaven:  “I will ask the Father, and He shall give you another [Advocate, the] Paraclete, that he may abide with you for ever ... the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, He will teach you all things, and bring all things to your mind, whatsoever I shall have said to you.”[11]   “When the Paraclete comes, whom I will send you from the Father, the Spirit of truth, who proceeds from the Father, he shall give testimony of Me.[12]

    Indeed, God has revealed Himself to us in the otherwise unknowable details of the Holy Trinity.  But His revelation is much more than just an intellectual thing to gratify our powers of human reasoning—it is much more than just an emotional thing in which the human will may delight.  Far more than abstract or intangible revelation, God has revealed Himself in the absolutely concrete.

    God came and dwelt amongst His people on earth—but even now, centuries later, and thousands of miles removed from the land on which He walked, He remains amongst His people.  First of all, we become His people through Baptism, “through water and the Holy Ghost.”[13]  As long as the baptized person remains in the state of sanctifying grace, God dwells in his soul.  “The charity of God is poured forth in our hearts, by the Holy Ghost who is given to us.”[14]

    But God doesn’t stop with Baptism.  The Holy Ghost is given to those of us who believe and have been baptized to further strengthen us in this Sacrament of Confirmation.  We receive an increase of sanctifying grace;  of faith, hope, and charity, and of those seven gifts mentioned by the Prophet Isaias.  Our souls are marked again with a permanent character as the special sacramental grace of Confirmation makes us “soldiers of Christ.”  We are helped “to live our faith loyally and profess it courageously.”[15]  That could mean professing the Faith in spite of mortal persecution.  It certainly means prayer and sacrifice for our own souls and those of others;  it certainly means giving good example to others and encouraging those who take an interest in the Faith.  It ought to mean further study in order to know the Faith even more well than we do today.

    Finally, let us recall that God has given us another gift of His presence amongst us—the gift of His Real Presence in Holy Communion, the Most Blessed Sacrament of the altar.  The Presence of the true body and blood, the humanity and divinity of Christ, is a necessary compliment to the indwelling of the Holy Ghost.  Resolve to receive our Lord frequently in Holy Communion, as often as the opportunity presents itself—daily if possible.

    By yet another gift of the Holy Ghost, our priests have the power to forgive us our sins[16]—another opportunity of which we ought to avail ourselves quite frequently.

God has proclaimed His word to us, *
His statutes and His ordinances He has made known.

He has come to dwell amongst us in reality and truth, *
It remains only for us to receive Him as in a Temple,

Professing our complete belief in Him.
preserving ourselves from sin,

Asking Him to abide in our souls
until that day on which we will abide with Him in heaven.



[1]           He sends forth His command to the earth; * swiftly runs His word!
He spreads snow like wool; * frost He strews like ashes.
He scatters His hail like crumbs; * before His cold the waters freeze.
He sends His word and melts them; * He lets His breeze blow, and the waters run.

[15]   Saint Joseph Baltimore Catechism #2, Q. 338.


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