Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Preparation for Adult Confirmation 2010:
Class Four

“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

Class Outline for May 8, 2010

IV. The Holy Spirit and the Universal Call to Holiness
– our Heavenly Father and Jesus both call us to holiness, to be perfect, but God does not tell us to do something and then not give us the power to do it

A. The Holy Spirit – the Lord, the Giver of Life

1. Who and What is the Holy Spirit?
    (a) The Third Person of the Trinity
  • Spirit of Love and Truth in Person who proceeds from and between the Father and the Son
  • called “Holy” because He consecrates and sanctifies
  • the Holy Spirit first gives us life, then through His grace, even though He is the last of the persons of the Trinity to be revealed, He is the first to awaken faith in us and to communicate to us the new life with and in God
  • He is the Spirit of the New Covenant who, as promised by the Father, is poured out on mankind – the New Covenant is (i) a law of love because it makes us act out of the love infused by the Holy Spirit, rather than from fear; (ii) a law of grace, because it confers the strength of grace to act, by means of faith and the sacraments; and (iii) a law of freedom, because it sets us free from the ritual and juridical observances of the Old Law, inclines us to act spontaneously by the prompting of charity
  • He is the Spirit of Truth, the Paraclete promised by Jesus to guide and protect His Church
  • the Holy Spirit is sent by the Father in the name of the Son, and by the Son from the Father
  • although the Holy Spirit was not poured out on mankind until Pentecost, He has been at work from the beginning, including speaking through the Prophets
    (b) Titles of the Holy Spirit
  • Lord, the Giver of Life
  • Sanctifier
  • Spirit of Truth, Spirit of Love
  • Paraclete, a Greek word which means advocate, counselor, comforter

2. Symbols and Manifestations of the Holy Spirit or His presence
  • water, which cleanses and both destroys and maintains life – water is sprinkled in Ezekiel and Psalms to purify God’s people; the water of Baptism, recalling the Flood and Red Sea, making us dead to sin and reborn to new life; and the living water that springs from the side of the Crucified Jesus
  • fire, which transforms, purges, and purifies – the burning bush; fire on Mt. Sinai; column of fire at the exodus from Egypt; tongues as of fire descending at Pentecost
  • dove – at the end of the Flood, a dove is released by Noah; at His Baptism, the Holy Spirit descended upon Jesus like a dove, thereby anointing Him and consecrating Him in His humanity
  • breath and wind – the word "Spirit" is from the Hebrew word ruah and the Latin word pneuma, which means breath, air, wind – at Creation, a mighty wind swept over the waters; God gave man life by breathing into him; Jesus breathed on the Apostles; at Pentecost, there came from the sky a noise like a strong driving wind
  • cloud – reveals the presence of God in the Old Testament; a cloud overshadows the mountain of the Transfiguration; Jesus ascends to heaven on a cloud
  • hands and fingers – the law is written on tablets of stone and human hearts by the finger of God; Jesus heals by laying on of hands; the Apostles and their successors confer the Sacraments by imposition of hands; the priest at Mass holds his hands over the bread and wine
  • chrism (anointing oil) – a symbol of consecration, dedication to God, and sanctification

3. The Actions and Mission of the Holy Spirit
  • the Spirit gives life and grace, including the gifts of the Holy Spirit, which are permanent supernatural qualities that are given so that the faithful might bear the fruit of the Spirit
  • as the Spirit of Love, He restores to the baptized the divine likeness that was lost through sin and gives them a rebirth into the Church – “Through the Holy Spirit we are restored to paradise, led back to the Kingdom of heaven, and adopted as children, given confidence to call God ‘Father’ and to share in Christ's grace, called children of light and given a share in eternal glory.” – St. Basil, De Spiritu Sanctu
  • the Spirit acts to convince the world concerning sin
  • the Spirit builds, animates, and sanctifies the Church – He inspired the human writers of the scriptures; He inspired the oral teachings (Tradition) of the Church; He guides and protects the Church from doctrinal error throughout history; He is the principal agent of the Church’s mission of evangelization
  • the Spirit is communicated by Christ through the Sacraments
  • the Holy Spirit is the agent of the Confirmation duty of the faithful to be a witness for Christ and to serve the Church in her mission

4. The Holy Spirit and Grace
  • Jesus says to be holy and perfect, to be true to our being man and woman made in the image and likeness of God, as He originally intended, and so that we imperfect humans might be able to be perfect, He gives us the grace of the Holy Spirit
  • justification by the grace of the Holy Spirit is not only the remission of sins, but also the sanctification and renewal of the interior person
  • grace is the Spirit poured into our hearts – it is a form of divine favor, assistance, help, or power so that we are able to be or do or attain something
  • all grace is completely gratuitous, a gift that is not earned by us or demanded as of right, but given to us by God as a matter of love and truth
  • the types of graces include (i) sanctifying (or habitual) grace, which purifies and perfects the state of the soul and provides a stable and supernatural disposition to live in holiness and attain salvation; (ii) sacramental graces, the various gifts that are proper to the different sacraments; (iii) special graces, also called charisms; and (iv) actual grace, the transient everyday forms of help to act in a given situation
  • the quintessential models of grace and righteousness are the Blessed Virgin Mary, full of grace, and Joseph

5. The Holy Spirit at the Annunciation and Pentecost
  • fifty days after the Resurrection, at Pentecost, the glorified Jesus Christ poured out the Spirit in abundance and, on that day, the Holy Trinity is fully revealed
  • the Church was born at Pentecost by virtue of her anointing by the Holy Spirit, and the mission of Jesus and of the Spirit became the mission of the Church
  • what took place in Mary’s womb when the Holy Spirit came upon her at the Annunciation happens again at Pentecost, when the Holy Spirit descends upon the people and the Body of Christ comes into the world
  • by His coming, which never ceases, the Holy Spirit causes the world to enter into the “last days,” the time of the Church, the Kingdom already inherited though not yet consummated

6. The Unforgiveable Sin – Blasphemy Against the Holy Spirit
  • “I say to you, every sin and blasphemy will be forgiven people, but blasphemy against the Spirit will not be forgiven. And whoever speaks a word against the Son of Man will be forgiven; but whoever speaks against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven, either in this age or in the age to come.” – Mt. 12:31-32
  • God loves us and seeks our love in return, but love, by its very nature, is something that must be freely given and freely received
  • God does not force His love or forgiveness on us, He does not save us against our will or without our consent – “He who made you without your participation does not justify you without your participation. He has made you without your knowledge; He justifies you if you will it.” – St. Augustine
  • the gifts of God’s forgiveness and salvation, like any gift, must be actually accepted, if we refused to accept a gift, it is necessarily not received
  • the refusal or failure to ask for or accept forgiveness for sin – whether out of obstinance, an erroneous belief that God lacks the power to forgive, or from a claim that one has a “right” to persist in sin – is to “blaspheme” the Holy Spirit, and such rejection of God and His forgiveness is, by its very nature, an unforgiveable sin
  • if one refuses to be forgiven, he cannot be forgiven; if one fails to accept the salvation offered to him, he cannot be saved – “The inner rejection of the Holy Spirit is the rejection of the very source of life and holiness.” – Pope John Paul II
  • God does not send anyone to Hell, which is eternal separation from God; rather, we choose it by our own will by not seeking or accepting His merciful love and forgiveness
  • by dying in a state of mortal sin, which separates us from God, one necessarily chooses to be separate from God – to be with Him eternally in Heaven, we must affirmatively choose to return to Him and be restored to a state of grace

B. The Sacrament of Confirmation – the Outpouring of the Spirit as at Pentecost

1. “You will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you will be my witnesses.” - Acts 1:8
  • The Sacrament of Confirmation is probably the least understood sacrament other than Anointing of the Sick, in part because of its breadth, such that its description is not easily reduced to a single phrase, as are the others, but this statement of Jesus from Acts comes as close to summing up Confirmation as we might find in scripture
  • In the Sacrament of Confirmation, we receive the full outpouring of the Holy Spirit, as was promised by God the Father in the Old Testament (Jer. 31:31-34; Joel 3:1-5; Ez 36:25-28) and by Jesus in the Gospels (John 14:15-26, 15:26-27, 16:13-14), and as happened to the faithful at Pentecost (Acts 1:8-9, 2:1-33)
  • In the Sacrament, by the visible outward sign of the laying on of hands, anointing, and the words, “be sealed with the gift of the Holy Spirit,” the recipient (confirmand) receives the invisible reality of the grace of the Holy Spirit in order to be sanctified and made perfect in love and truth, as our Father in heaven is perfect, including being a better servant and witness for the Son, and joining in the redemptive mission of Christ and His Church
  • Confirmation completes what began at Baptism – making us complete Christians – uniting us more firmly to Christ and binding us more perfectly to the Church
  • By Confirmation, instead of being merely passive members of the Church, we are called to actively participate in the redemptive mission of the Church to be a witness for Jesus. Instead of being merely concerned with our own personal welfare and salvation, we are concerned with the welfare and salvation of others, helping Jesus in the work of salvation
2. The Who of Confirmation
  • the Holy Spirit – the Sanctifier and Paraclete promised to us by Jesus
  • the bishop or priest acting in persona Christi
  • the confirmand and sponsor
  • the communion of the entire faithful of the Church
3. The Where of Confirmation
  • in and by the Holy Catholic Church
  • preferably in the Mass, although those in danger of death may be confirmed outside of the Mass
4. The When of Confirmation
  • after Baptism, while the confirmand is still in a state of grace
  • in the Western Latin Church, Confirmation is conferred after the age of discretion and after a period of catechetical preparation (children in danger of death should be confirmed even if not yet at the age of discretion)
  • although Confirmation is received only once, it is not a one-time Sacrament, but is instead an everyday Sacrament – the graces received in Confirmation can and should be used in our everyday lives
5. The How of Confirmation – “the Holy Spirit has come upon you”
  • the minister first extends his hands over the whole group of confirmands (imposition of hands) while invoking the outpouring of the Spirit with prayer
  • the minister anoints the forehead of the confirmand with sacred chrism oil saying, “be sealed with the gift of the Holy Spirit,” while the sponsor lays his or her right hand on the right shoulder of the confirmand
  • the rite is concluded with a sign of peace signifying ecclesial communion with the bishop and all the faithful
  • a gift – any gift – is not completed and is totally useless unless it is accepted by the recipient and then actually used, so that for us to fully benefit from Confirmation, we must allow the Holy Spirit and gift of grace to come into our hearts and grow within us, and then utilize those graces in our everyday lives
6. The What of Confirmation – “you will receive power”
  • In Confirmation, we receive power, that is, certain graces from the Holy Spirit, to help us participate in the mission of the Church to be a witness for Jesus. The recipient of Confirmation is given whatever power (grace) is needed in order to be an effective witness to others on behalf of Christ – the right tool for the job at hand.
    (a) Sacramental Graces
  • alters our very being in a fundamental way by imprinting on the soul an indelible spiritual seal and character, which marks us as belonging to Christ and perfecting us in the common priesthood of the faithful to profess faith in Christ publicly
    (b) Sanctifying Graces
  • an increase and deepening of sanctifying graces completing what began in Baptism and uniting the recipient more firmly to Christ
  • provides the strength, fortitude, and perseverance that are necessary to spread and defend the faith by word and action as true witnesses of Christ – we are made “soldiers of Christ” in order to fulfill our duty of witnessing to and defending the Faith and fighting against evil
  • the Spirit of Love and Truth dwells within us, even if we do not immediately perceive Him, planting graces in our heart which, if we nourish them, will grow and bear such fruit as to permit us to be perfect and do that which otherwise might be impossible to do on our own
    (c) Seven Gifts of the Holy Spirit (Is. 11:1-2)
  • wisdom, counsel, knowledge, and understanding
    • wisdom helps us to evaluate things properly; counsel helps us to solve moral problems and choose rightly; knowledge helps us to know truth and perfect our faith; and understanding gives us insight to grasp the truths of religion as far as is necessary
  • fortitude, piety, and fear of the Lord
    • fortitude gives us strength and courage to persevere in the faith and do what is right even in the face of hardship; piety inspires us with a tender and filial confidence in God; and fear of the Lord, far from meaning making us afraid of God, helps us understand His greatness, so as fill us with a reverential awe and concern to avoid being unfaithful to Him
  • the supernatural gifts of the Holy Spirit are specifically intended for the sanctification of the recipient – they are used by Isaiah to describe the Messiah, the Christ, and we too are anointed with them in a special way in Confirmation so as to be made a complete Christian
  • these gifts bring the virtues to perfection and help us share in the life and nature of God
    (d) The Gifts of the Holy Spirit in turn lead to the Twelve Fruits of the Holy Spirit (Gal. 5:22-23)
  • charity, generosity, kindness, gentleness, and patience
  • goodness, faithfulness, chastity, modesty, and self-control
  • joy and peace
  • the fruits of the Holy Spirit have the character of both qualities and acts, they are the effect of grace, but also give us a greater ability to do virtuous acts
    (e) Actual Graces and Virtues
  • grace presupposes nature, it does not replace it – grace builds on and works within our nature to heal, perfect, elevate, and transform it
  • we should strive to do what we can, but whatever may be lacking in our own will or power, God will give by grace to those who ask – “God does not command what is impossible; but when He commands, He exhorts you to do what you can and to ask for what you cannot do” – St. Augustine
  • actual grace is granted by God for the performance of specific salutary acts and is present and disappears with the action itself
  • the Spirit of Truth and Love in Confirmation helps us to recognize and know the moral truths that God has written on our hearts and thereby properly form our consciences and overcome temptation to sin
  • a virtue is an habitual and firm disposition to do the good, and the graces of Confirmation strengthen us in living a virtuous life and thereby be a more perfect witness for Christ, including –
    • the theological virtues of faith, hope, and love (charity) (1 Cor. 13:13)
    • the cardinal virtues of prudence, temperance, fortitude, and justice
    (f) Examples of the Effects of Receiving the Holy Spirit in Confirmation
  • after the arrest and Crucifixion of Jesus, the Apostles were afraid to go out in public, but after the Spirit descended upon them at Pentecost, they had the fortitude and perseverance to come out of hiding and immediately go out and loudly proclaim the Good News and even endure persecution and martyrdom
  • prior to receiving the Holy Spirit, the Apostles and other disciples often struggled with understanding the teachings of Jesus, but afterward, they began for fully comprehend what He taught them so that they could faithfully preach the Gospel to the world
  • by the power of the Spirit, the martyrs of the Church, like Saints Lawrence, Polycarp, Perpetua, and Felicity have been able to joyfully accept and endure the suffering of martyrdom for the sake of Christ
  • with God, all things are possible and, with His grace, we can do that which otherwise would be very difficult or impossible for us to do on our own, including the power to –
    • endure and withstand hardship, carry those crosses which are far too heavy for humans to carry, and accept suffering so as to transform it by the love and redemptive power of the Cross
    • love our enemies and pray for those who persecute us
    • forgive those who have committed “unforgiveable” and unspeakable crimes against us
    • love our families, neighbors, and strangers as God loves, truly, perfectly, and fully, without conditions or the selfishness that stems from our fallen nature
    • choose Christ, rather than the world, when we are pressured to do something which is contrary to the Faith or else suffer some sanction, such as the loss of a job

7. The Why of Confirmation – “you will be my witnesses”
  • we receive the anointing and graces of Confirmation in order to fully become a “Christian” and be able to join in the mission of the Church to serve and witness for Christ
  • to be a witness for Jesus means to (i) testify to the truth of the faith and (ii) to share the love of Christ with others
    (a) Testifying to the Truth

  • Testifying to the truth of the faith means, first, learning the deposit of faith and, secondly, spreading that Good News of Jesus Christ to the world – being a light of truth and love in a dark world and making disciples of all nations. (Mt. 28:19)
    (b) The Commandments of Love – Summation of the Whole Law and Prophets (Mt. 22:36-40)
  • You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind
    • Jesus asks us for complete and total love, but He will accept a lesser love if that is all we think we can give, and He will offer us the grace to perfect that lesser love to a complete and total love
  • You shall love your neighbor as yourself – as Jesus loves us, so too should we love one another
  • love can be “commanded” by God because it has first been given to us by God – the commandment to love is no more than a command to be true to ourselves inasmuch as we are made to love and be loved in truth
    (c) What is Love?
      (i) Types of Love
    • “Fundamentally, ‘love’ is a single reality, but with different dimensions; at different times, one or other dimension may emerge more clearly” – Pope Benedict, Deus Caritas Est, 8
    • eros – a joyous, passionate, ascending, intimate kind of love, longing to be with the other
    • philia – love between family, close friends
    • agape (caritas) – unconditional, outward-looking, subordinate love that seeks the good of the other and is prepared and willing to sacrifice oneself for the other
    • genuine (true) love is necessarily consistent with truth, including the truth of the other as a human person, and not that counterfeit “love” which seeks to possess, use and/or objectify the other
      (ii) Perfect and Complete Love
    • authentic, pure love involves the whole person, body and soul, and it embraces and transcends the whole of existence in each of its dimensions, including time and space
    • God is Love and God is Truth, so the highest, truest, and most perfect and complete kind of love is God’s love – to love perfectly and truly, we must love as God loves
    • God’s relationship with His chosen people, and Christ’s relationship with His Bride the Church, is repeatedly described in scripture in terms of betrothal and marriage, an elective, personal, monogamous eros-type of love
    • God’s love for mankind, especially as shown by Christ on the Cross, is also described as the unconditional, gratuitous, and sacrificial love of agape (caritas) – “No one has greater love than this, to lay down one's life for one's friends”
    • mankind has given God little more than rejection and infidelity throughout history, and yet, He continues to love us fully, completely, and unconditionally – He refuses to stop loving us, even when we torture Him and murder Him
    • “God loves, and His love may certainly be called eros, yet it is also totally agape” – Pope Benedict, Deus Caritas Est, 9
    • God’s love is both (a) a purified and supremely ennobled eros, a joyous, wanting, ascending, passionate kind of love, even a spousal/conjugal kind of love, a communion of two become one that is both unitive and fruitful, and (b) agape (caritas), a conscious, everlasting, merciful, radically oblative gift of self
    • genuine love is not merely a human sentiment, which comes and goes, or may not happen at all; rather, love is an action, it is a choice
    • love in its truest and fullest sense is a conscious act of the will to subordinate yourself, and to unconditionally and selflessly seek the good and welfare of the other, including the gift of yourself for the other’s benefit, including the ultimate sacrifice of your life, whether or not the other “deserves” it, and without concern for what you may or may not receive in return, although there is great joy when it is reciprocated
    • if we find that such complete love is difficult, if we cannot find the strength within ourselves to do this, then we must choose to ask God for help, we must ask for grace
    • we most become like God, not by eating from the Tree of Knowledge, but by eating from the Tree of Love, and true happiness in love is paradoxical because it is obtained, not by seeking happiness for yourself, but by giving of yourself
    (d) Love of God and Neighbor Necessarily Means Sharing with Them the Truth and Love of Christ
  • it is part of God’s plan to depend on His people to help Him in the salvation of mankind – whether He is dwelling in the womb of Mary, growing up as a child, or now, Jesus has chosen to need our assistance in His redemptive mission, including building up the Church as the universal sacrament of salvation
  • Jesus calls those in the Church to be His witnesses –
    • to go out and testify to the Truth and proclaim the Good News
    • to make disciples of all nations
    • to be a light of truth and love to the world – the light does not come from us, but comes from Jesus and is reflected by us, and from the Holy Spirit which dwells within us
  • Jesus promised us that, in being His witness, the world would hate us and persecute us, but that He would send the Spirit to give us strength, consolation, and perseverance
  • Jesus calls us to be perfect in love and truth as our heavenly Father is perfect
  • the most fundamental way to be a witness for Him is to love Him and love one another in truth as He has loved us
    (e) Our Vocation to Beatitude – Life in the Spirit (Mt. 5:3-10)
  • the Beatitudes are paradoxes, a transformation of worldly values, they bring hope and joy amidst affliction and hardship
  • the Beatitudes are words of both promise and spiritual direction, indicating the way of conversion and reform of life – teaching how to love God and one another and thereby be a light of truth to the world

    (i) Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven
    • the “poor in spirit” are not those who are spiritually deficient, but those who humbly are in need of God, who are detached from worldly things and rely on Him, unlike those who have no want or need for God
  • (ii) Blessed are they who mourn, for they will be comforted
    • those who “mourn” are sorrowful, they have compassion for, and therefore suffer with, others and, in comforting others, they receive comfort as well
    (iii) Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth (the land)
    • one who is “meek” is humble and, as with the descendents of Abraham, their inheritance is the promised land of a secure home in which to live and worship God in peace
    (iv) Blessed are they who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be satisfied
    • those who look for good, who seek true justice, will find it in Christ
    (v) Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy
    • to be forgiving and merciful to others is to show our love for the Lord who is Divine Mercy
    (vi) Blessed are the pure of heart, for they will see God
    • we see God with the eyes of the heart, not the eyes of the head – if we humbly seek Him, with love and truth in our heart, only then can we see and hear God
    (vii) Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God
    • those who help overcome enmity, especially with God, are reconciled to Him, such that, just as the Prince of Peace is the Son of God, so too are we allowed to be called children of God
    (viii) Blessed are those persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven
    • in steadfastly keeping the faith and being one with the Crucified Christ, we will be one with Him in heaven
    (ix) Blessed are you when people revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on account of Jesus, rejoice and be glad, for your reward will be great in heaven
    • Jesus invites us to follow Him, even to the Cross

    (f) “I desire mercy, not sacrifice” – the only acceptable sacrifice is sacrifice of the human heart
  • charity (love) for others includes being merciful – as the Crucified Jesus in His mercy loves us, so too should we love one another
  • mercy is also an act of justice, giving others what they are due as children of God and doing unto others as we would have them do to us
  • God, who is “rich in mercy,” wants us to receive His mercy and let it flow through us to others, He wants us to extend love and forgiveness to others just as He does to us
  • the Church’s mission is a mission of mercy – “the Church cannot neglect the service of charity any more than she can neglect the Sacraments and the Word” – Pope Benedict XVI
  • mercy is a virtue influencing one's will to have compassion for, and, if possible, to alleviate another's misfortune or misery (the Latin word miserere means “have mercy”)
    • the three ways of exercising mercy toward others is by deed, by word, and by prayer
  • we should do works of mercy because even the strongest faith is of no use without works of love
    The Corporal Works of Mercy (Mt. 25:31-46)
  • feed the hungry
  • give drink to the thirsty
  • clothe the naked
  • shelter the homeless
  • visit the sick
  • visit the imprisoned
  • bury the dead
    The Spiritual Works of Mercy
  • counsel the doubtful
  • instruct the ignorant
  • admonish sinners
  • comfort the afflicted
  • forgive offenses
  • bear wrongs patiently
  • pray for the living and the dead

“Charity begins today. Today somebody is suffering, today somebody is in the street, today somebody is hungry. Our work is for today, yesterday has gone, tomorrow has not yet come—today, we have only today to make Jesus known, loved, served, fed, clothed, sheltered, etc. Today — do not to wait for tomorrow. Tomorrow might not come. Tomorrow we will not have them if we do not feed them today.”
– Blessed Mother Teresa

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