Tuesday, May 05, 2009

Preparation for Adult Confirmation -- Class Three

“You will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you will be my witnesses.” (Acts 1:8)
Preparation for Adult Confirmation - Outline and Extended Notes

Class Outline for April 30, 2009

III. The Holy Catholic Church – the Universal Sacrament of Salvation
-– the sign and instrument both of the reconciliation and communion of all of humanity with God and of the unity of the entire human race

A. The Church – Children of the Father, Body of Christ the Son, Temple of the Spirit
    1. The Christian Faithful – People of God, Family of God
  • the origin of the People of God is the Heavenly Father, and it is His plan to save and sanctify men and women, not in isolation, but as part of a people that are gathered together, in their diversity and multiplicity, by the unity of the Trinity
  • they participate in Christ's priestly office insofar as the baptized are consecrated by the Holy Spirit to offer spiritual sacrifices
  • they share in Christ’s prophetic office when with a supernatural sense of faith they adhere unfailingly to that faith and deepen their understanding and witness to it
  • they share in his kingly office by means of service, imitating Jesus Christ who as King of the universe made himself the servant of all
    2. The Body of Christ
  • the faithful united to Christ by the Holy Spirit form one Body, the Church, which lives from Him, in Him and for Him
  • Christ and His Bride the Church are one, making up the “Christus totus” (whole Christ)
    • the mystery of the nuptial union of Christ and the Church is both unitive and fruitful – two different persons, yet one in the conjugal union
    • to be one with the nuptial union of Christ and His Bride is to one with that everlasting loving communion
  • Jesus, the Head of the Body, calls other parts of His Body to perform different roles
    3. The Holy Spirit Makes the Church the Temple of the Living God
  • the Holy Spirit inspires and sanctifies the Church – “What the soul is to the human body, the Holy Spirit is to the members of Christ, that is, the Body of Christ, which is the Church.” (St. Augustine)
  • the Holy Spirit builds up the Church in charity, by the Word of God, the sacraments, the virtues, and charisms (special graces which benefit the Church)
  • the Spirit confers different kinds of spiritual gifts for the various parts of the Body, including both the hierarchy and the lay faithful

B. The Four Marks of the Church – One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic
– these four characteristics are inseparably linked to each other and they indicate essential features of the Church and her mission

    1. The Church is One – One God, One Truth, One Church, One Faith
  • the Church is one because of her source in and communion with the Trinity
  • visible bonds of communion of the Church on earth include (a) profession of one faith received from the Apostles, (b) common celebration of worship, especially the Sacraments, (c) apostolic succession through the sacrament of Holy Orders and under the leadership of the Pope, as successor of Peter, to whom Jesus entrusted the pastoral care of the Church
  • schisms, divisions, and dissensions have wounded this unity of Christ’s Body
    • while elements of sanctification and truth may be found outside the visible confines of the Catholic Church, the one Church of Christ subsists in the Catholic Church governed by the Successor of Peter and the bishops in communion with him
    2. The Church is Holy
  • Christ gave Himself up for the Church, so as to sanctify her, joining her to Himself as His Body and endowing her with the gift of the Holy Spirit
  • the Holy Spirit inspires the Church (gives her life) with charity, guiding and protecting her, and it is the Holy Spirit who is the principal agent of the Church’s mission
  • it is in the Holy Church, by the grace of God, that we acquire holiness and salvation – each of us is called to be holy and perfect in love and truth, just as God is perfect
  • the pilgrim Church on earth is endowed with a sanctity that is real, even though individual members are imperfect sinners ever in need of conversion and purification
    3. The Church is Catholic (Universal)
  • the Church is universal, existing as a communion of the faithful both horizontally across the world and throughout time and vertically with God, the angels, and saints in heaven, and the faithful in purgatory
  • the Church is universal because Christ is present in her and because she has been sent out by Him on a mission of love to proclaim the truth of the Good News to the whole world
  • particular local churches (dioceses) under the care of a bishop as their shepherd are fully catholic (universal) through their being in communion and accord with the Church of Rome, whose bishop is the Pope
    4. The Church is Apostolic
  • the word “apostle” is from the Greek for delegate, envoy, or emissary
  • the Church was and is built on the foundation of the Apostles – Jesus Himself is the Father’s emissary
  • the original Apostles took care to appoint successors and assistants, who are today’s bishops and their priests and deacons, so that the Church and her divine mission would continue to the end of time
  • the apostolic ministry of the Church is a continuation of the mission of Jesus
  • Jesus sent the Holy Spirit, which dwells in the Church, to guide, teach, and sanctify the Apostles and their successors
    5. The Structure of the Pilgrim Church
  • in calling certain men to be Apostles and giving them special authority, together with special charisms of the Holy Spirit, Jesus established a certain structure for His Church, with a diversity of ministry, but unity of mission
  • to the Apostles and their successors, Christ entrusted the office of teaching, sanctifying and governing in His name and by His power
  • the essential nature of ecclesial ministry is humble service
  • individual bishops exercise their pastoral office as shepherds of that portion of the People of God assigned to them, such as a diocese
  • Jesus named Peter the rock of His Church and instituted him as shepherd of the entire flock, and the Pope, as his successor, shares that primacy and pastoral office of Peter
    • the Roman Pontiff, by reason of his office as Vicar of Christ, and as pastor of the entire Church has full, supreme, and universal power over the whole Church
  • the Magisterium, the authoritative teaching office of the Church, is guided and protected by the Holy Spirit, and it includes authoritative interpretation of Divine Revelation, defining dogmas, discernment of moral truth, and assistance in the formation of the individual consciences of the faithful
    • Scripture, Tradition, and the Magisterium are so closely united with each other that one of them cannot stand without the others
  • the task of the Magisterium is to preserve God's people from deviations and defections and guarantee them the objective possibility of professing the true faith without error
    • the Pope possesses the charism of infallibility when he proclaims by a definitive act a doctrine pertaining to faith or morals, acting either in virtue of his office as Supreme Pontiff, or together with the college of bishops in union with him, especially in an Ecumenical Council
    • in the exercise of his magisterial authority, the Pope is not free to simply impose his opinion or personal preferences, but is necessarily bound by and to love and truth
    • even when not making a formally infallible pronouncement, the teachings of the Magisterium should be given our religious assent as presumptively true
  • as successors of Peter and the other Apostles endowed with the Spirit, the Pope and his fellow bishops are owed our respect, harmony, Christian obedience in charity
  • Jesus established the Church: It is His Church, not ours – we are not free to reinvent it or the faith in the way that we would prefer it to be
    6. There is No Salvation Outside the Church
  • Jesus Christ is the one mediator and redeemer of mankind – no one can be saved by his or her own efforts and no one can be saved except by the Crucified and Risen One through His Body, the Church
  • the fullness of grace and truth, including the fullness of the means of salvation, was entrusted by Jesus to Peter and the other Apostles, their successors, and the faithful who make up the Catholic Church
  • there are some who, through no fault of their own, are separate from the One Church – such non-Christians and Christians not in communion with the Catholic Church might still be saved in God’s infinite mercy, but lacking the fullness of truth, it is more difficult and any such salvation is nevertheless by Jesus through the Catholic Church
  • God wills the salvation of everyone through the knowledge of the truth and those who obey the prompting of the Spirit of truth are already on the way of salvation
  • mere membership in the Catholic Church does not guarantee salvation – one who does not persevere in charity or take advantage of the benefit of the graces of the Sacraments is not saved, one must have Jesus in his or her heart, not merely in the head or on the lips

C. Liturgy and the Sacraments Generally
    1. Liturgy – Public Worship and Celebration of the Mysteries of the Lord
  • the entire Holy Trinity is at work in the liturgy – the Father is the source and the Son acts through the power of the Holy Spirit
  • liturgy is an action of the entire Church – God, angels, and all the faithful on earth and in heaven
  • the liturgy is celebrated particularly in making present Christ’s paschal mystery in the Mass
  • it is the whole Christ, as High Priest, who acts in the liturgy, with the bishops and priests acting in persona Christi
  • liturgy includes the Word, prayer, signs, symbols, and the Sacraments
    2. The Paschal Mystery in the Sacraments of the Church
  • a Sacrament is (i) an outward visible sign (ii) instituted by Christ (iii) to convey the invisible reality of sacramental and sanctifying grace, so that we might be redeemed and sanctified
  • the “outward sign” is composed of the matter (e.g. water) and form (words) together with the right and proper intention of the minister, that is, celebrated in accordance with the intention of the Church
  • since we are bodily creatures who experience and come to know things through our bodily senses, the Sacraments offer us a way for us to know the reality of being provided certain graces
  • the Sacraments were instituted by Jesus and entrusted to the Church, which has the authority to confer them or withhold them
  • it is Christ who acts in the Sacraments through the Holy Spirit
    • by virtue of the saving work of Christ, the Sacraments are efficacious ex opere operato – they convey the particular grace by the very fact that the sacramental action is performed
    • because it is Christ who is acting, the efficacy of the Sacraments does not depend upon the personal holiness of the minister
  • “sacramental grace” is the grace of the Holy Spirit, given by Christ and proper to each sacrament
  • the recipient must necessarily have the right disposition to receive the graces to be conferred
    • Baptism and Confession/Penance give sanctifying grace
    • the other Sacraments increase sanctifying graces in our souls, such that one must already be in a state of grace (rather than a state of sin) to receive them
  • additional ceremonies or actions are used in the rites in order to increase our reverence and devotion for the Sacraments and to explain their meaning and effects
  • the seven sacraments include --
    • the Sacraments of Christian Initiation (Baptism, Confirmation, and Eucharist)
    • the Sacraments of Healing (Confession/Penance and Anointing of the Sick)
    • the Sacraments at the Service of Communion and Mission (Matrimony and Holy Orders)
      • just as Abraham was marked by circumcision with the sign of the covenant, so too is the soul of the recipient of Baptism, Confirmation, and Holy Orders marked with a permanent, indelible seal, so as to configure him or her to Christ and the Church, such that these Sacraments cannot be repeated

    D. The Seven Sacraments
      1. Baptism – Passage through the Water from Death to Life
    • in Baptism, one is immersed into the death of Christ, so as to rise again with Him
    • the water of Baptism is sanctified by Jesus and the Cross
    • Baptism by water in the name of the Triune God gives us sanctifying grace, so that the stains of Original Sin and individual sin are wiped away
    • in Baptism, by water and through the Spirit, we are reborn as children of God and thereby initiated into the communion of the Church
    • the ordinary ministers of Baptism are the bishop, priest, or deacon, although any person can baptize in case of necessity, provided he or she has the intention of doing what the Church does
      2. Confirmation – Consecrated and Sealed with the Gift of the Holy Spirit
    • brings an increase and deepening of sanctifying grace so as to join us to the mission of the Church and thereby complete what was begun in Baptism
    • in being anointed with chrism oil, sanctified by Jesus and the Cross, the recipient is joined more intimately with the Christ, which means “anointed one”
    • in Confirmation, we receive the power of the Holy Spirit to be witnesses for Christ in love and truth, including the strength and perseverance to go out and spread the Good News and even endure persecution
    • the original minister of Confirmation is the bishop, as a successor of the Apostles, but if authorized by him, a priest may also confer the Sacrament
      3. The Eucharist – the Blessed Sacrament
    • before ascending to heaven, Jesus said that He would be with us always, to the end of the age – in the fullest and most obvious sense, Jesus is with us in the Eucharist, which is His Real Presence, Body and Blood, Soul and Divinity
    • in the Eucharist, we have not only spiritual communion with Jesus, as we might praying at home, we have full communion with Him in the totality of our being, body and soul
    • reception of Holy Communion is both unitive and procreative, that is, in the profoundly intimate encounter with Jesus that is the Eucharist, we are joined in a mystical fashion so as to become one in a communion of persons and to receive life
    • the ministers of the Eucharist are the bishop and priest
      • the power and authority of Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion is limited to assisting in the distribution of the Eucharist
      4. Penance/Confession/Reconciliation
    • while Baptism cleanses us of Original Sin, it does not abolish the weakness of our impaired human nature nor our inclination to personal sin
    • through a sacramental confession, by the Crucifixion and Resurrection, we are absolved of our individual sins and reconciled to God
    • the penitent should first make a careful examination of conscience and, to be a “good” confession, one must confess all serious and grave sins (because they would be mortal if not so confessed), and there must be an interior penance, that is, a contrite heart and determination to avoid further sin
    • in addition to expressing contrition, the penitent is obligated to perform the acts of penance given to him or her
    • in addition to absolution, grace is given, if we accept it, to avoid further sin
    • the ministers of Penance are a bishop or priest, although the forgiveness of certain grave sins that incur excommunication may be reserved to the Pope or particular bishop (except in case of imminent death)
      5. Anointing of the Sick
    • Jesus healed many who were sick, as did Peter and the other Apostles
    • anointing of the forehead and palms of the sick with chrism oil is a sacrament of healing, if not physically, then spiritually, including the forgiveness of sins if the recipient is not able to make a sacramental confession
    • a special grace is conferred which unites the sick person more intimately to the Passion of Christ
    • the Sacrament prepares us for the final journey in order to join God in heaven, offering us comfort, peace, and courage
    • the ministers of the Anointing of the Sick are the bishop and priest
      6. Matrimony – as it was “in the beginning” and the blessing of Jesus at Cana
    • at the Creation, God said that it is not good for Man to be alone
    • Man, male and female, is not merely a social creature, but a spousal creature made in the image of the Triune God, who is a loving communion of persons in one being
    • God made us to love and be loved and, in creating man and woman for each other, He gave us the ability to share in His creative power, telling us to be fruitful and multiply
    • in Matrimony, a man and woman are two made one in a communion of persons by Christ through the power of the Spirit of Love, and spouses should love each other as Christ loves the Church
    • the Sacrament is conferred upon the giving of matrimonial consent, that is, when a man and a woman manifest the will to give themselves to each other irrevocably in order to live a covenant of faithful and fruitful love
    • such matrimonial consent is sealed by God, and the Sacrament establishes a perpetual and exclusive bond between the spouses
    • this communion of persons in marriage is not only unitive, such that it is indissoluble, but fruitful and procreative, just as the love between Christ and His Bride, the Church, is unitive, fruitful, and procreative
    • a special grace is conferred to give the husband and wife the ability to maintain their union in accord with the original divine plan, even in the face of threats to the unity and fruitfulness of marriage
    • the ministers of Matrimony are the man and woman to be married, with the priest receiving that consent in the name of the Church and giving her blessing to the union
      7. Holy Orders
    • those who do not marry are still, by human nature, called to love in communion and, if we are not called to marry, we may be called to follow Christ, who is the fullness of Love
    • some men may be called to follow Jesus in the ministerial priesthood, in which the one priesthood of Jesus Christ is made present, while other men and some women may be called to the religious or consecrated life
    • by Holy Orders, instituted by Jesus calling His apostles, the Church is passed on to the generations throughout time
    • the Sacrament is conferred by the laying on of hands, anointing with chrism oil, and the consecratory prayer proper to each grade of the Sacrament: deacon, priest, or bishop
    • anointing by the Spirit in ordination to the priesthood seals a baptized and confirmed man with an indelible, spiritual character that configures him to Christ the Bridegroom of the Church and Christ the High Priest, enabling him to act in His name, especially in the Sacraments
    • episcopal ordination of a bishop as a successor of the Apostles confers the fullness of the Sacrament on him, including the offices of teaching, sanctifying, and ruling
    • the minister of Holy Orders is the bishop

    E. Sacramentals and Forms of Popular Piety
      1. Sacramentals
    • sacred signs instituted by the Church to sanctify different circumstances of life, including
      • blessings, which are the praise of God and a prayer to obtain his gifts
      • the consecration of persons
      • the dedication of things for the worship of God
    • sacramentals always include a prayer, often accompanied by a physical sign, such as the sign of the cross, laying on of hands, or sprinkling water
      2. Forms of Popular Piety
    • expression of the religious sense of the Christian people in various forms of devotion which accompany the sacramental life of the Church
    • such forms of piety include the rosary and other Marian devotions, stations of the cross, veneration of relics, visits to sanctuaries, pilgrimages, and processions
    • these expressions of piety extend the liturgical life of the Church, but do not replace it

    F. Prayer – a Personal and Living Relationship with God
    – prayer is our response to God’s revealing of Himself to us – our ongoing friendship with God requires ongoing communication with Him
    – a dialogue, not a monologue – we must allow God to speak to us also
    – the ultimate aim of prayer should be love and fidelity to God

      1. Types of Prayer
    • blessing and adoration – we bless God for having blessed us and we pay homage to He who made us
    • thanksgiving and praise – showing gratitude and giving glory to God for His own sake, sharing in the blessed happiness of the pure of heart
    • petition and intercession – entreating God for assistance for ourselves or others on earth or in purgatory, often extemporaneously and, if made in humility, is already a turning back to Him
      • may include asking others, such as saints in heaven, to intercede on our behalf
    • the Eucharist contains and expresses all forms of prayer
      2. Expressions of Prayer
    • vocal – prayer with words, both aloud and interior, personal or communal
      • written and traditional prayer allows one to pray in communion with the whole Church
      • the model vocal prayer is the one Jesus taught us – the Our Father
    • meditation – a fairly active engagement of thought, imagination, emotion, and desire to discern and respond to what God is saying to us
    • contemplative – a fairly passive communion with the Holy Trinity and gaze of faith, fixed on the Lord, illuminating and purifying the heart
    • we pray with the entirety of our being, but it is most important to involve our heart in prayer
      3. Sources of Prayer
    • God Himself – Jesus’ prayer on the Cross, “I thirst,” reminds us that we thirst for God and that God also thirsts for us
    • sacred scripture and spiritual reading
      • Liturgy of the Hours, the official daily prayer of the Church
      • Lectio Divina
    • the liturgy, which proclaims, makes present and communicates the mystery of salvation
    • the theological virtues of faith, hope, and love
    • everyday situations

    G. The Church in History
      1. Persecutions of the Church – the On-Going Trial and Passion of Christ
    • the testimony of witnesses who have spread the Good News throughout history, especially during the early Church
      • testimony of Apostles and disciples who personally saw the Risen Christ, most of whom were killed, including St. Peter, the first pope, who was crucified in Rome and was the first of many martyred popes, and Paul, who was beheaded in Rome
      • testimony of other witnesses in the history of the Church who likewise submitted to tortures and death during various persecutions
      • the Greek word for “witness” is “martyr
    • “the blood of the martyrs is the seed of the Church” – Tertullian
    • If they were not certain that Jesus existed, and that He was the Christ, why would they submit to tortures and death?
      2. The Spread of Christianity, Followed by New Challenges
    • Roman persecutions ended with the legalization of Christianity by the Edict of Milan by the Emperor Constantine in A.D. 313
    • the Christian faith flourished and the Church spread throughout the Mediterranean and much of Europe
    • following the death of Mohammed in 632, Muslim armies conquered Christian lands in the Middle East and Northern Africa before passing into Europe and marching midway into France, where they were turned back in 732 by Charles Martel
    • after the Great Schism split Christendom in two, Muslim armies increased their siege of Constantinople, the capital of the Eastern Church, and in response to a request for assistance, Pope Urban II in 1095 called what has been called the first Crusade, additional crusades were held over the next few hundred years
    • military conflict existed between Christendom and Islam from the 7th century until the 17th century, when the forces of the Ottoman Empire were defeated in the Battle of Vienna
      3. Theological Issues within the Church
    • various disputes and heresies arose concerning such matters as application of the Jewish Law, the person and nature of Jesus Christ, etc., and ecumenical councils of bishops were held to definitively resolve these questions, e.g. Councils of Nicea and Constantinople
    • sometimes disputes led to schism, such as the Great Schism, which split the Church between East and West in 1054
    • in compiling the New Testament, through the guidance of the Holy Spirit, the Church discerned which of various writings were, in fact, authentically apostolic and inspired, and which were spurious and false
    • the canon of the Bible was formalized in the Vulgate produced by St. Jerome under the direction of Pope Damasus I at the end of the 4th century, and the Vulgate Bible was affirmed in the Council of Trent (1545-1563) as the sole, authorized Latin text of the Bible
    • in about the early 16th century, some rejected the authority of the Pope and the Catholic Church, including denying the sacraments, Tradition, and the Magisterium, resulting in another major split in the Church, the Protestant Reformation
    • the Council of Trent was held in response to the Protestant Reformation

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