Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Anointing for Confirmation and the Battle Ahead

Bishop Paul Loverde will confer the Sacrament of Confirmation on adults from throughout the Diocese of Arlington on Pentecost and the preceding Vigil this coming weekend. As part of the Rite of Confirmation, the recipient is anointed by a sign of the cross on the forehead with chrism oil, together with the words, "(Name taken in Confirmation), be sealed with the Gift of the Holy Spirit."

A question arises with respect to this anointing -- Should you leave the oil on your forehead or wipe/wash it off right after Mass?

I don't know that there is any "official" answer. Certainly, it would seem inappropriate to immediately wipe off the oil as the newly confirmed is walking back to his seat, and it should remain throughout the Mass. But beyond that, I suppose the same considerations apply as when the question was asked about the ashes received on Ash Wednesday. However, especially in these times, I would think it good to keep it on as long as possible as a reminder to yourself for the remainder of the day.

What do you mean, "especially in these times"?

Society, the nation, the world, are facing difficult days ahead. The world has great need for witnesses of Jesus Christ. We need to keep that in mind, and keep the sign of the cross and keep the sign of Christ in the oil (the name "Christ" means "anointed one" in Greek) upon our very being.

Pope Benedict was not speaking of Confirmation specifically on Monday, but he did provide some wise words, which are directly applicable to our Confirmation duty, in thanking various cardinals for the congratulations they gave on the occasion of his birthday and anniversary of his papacy.
At this moment my word can be only a word of gratitude. Gratitude first of all to the Lord for the many years he has given me; years with so many days of joy, splendid times, but also dark nights. However, in retrospect one understands even the nights were necessary and good, a motive for gratitude.

Today the word ecclesia militans (the Church Militant) is somewhat out of fashion, but in reality we can understand ever better that it is true, that it bears truth in itself. We see how evil wishes to dominate the world and that it is necessary to enter into battle with evil. We see how it does so in so many ways, bloody, with the different forms of violence, but also masked with goodness and precisely this way destroying the moral foundations of society.

Saint Augustine said that the whole of history is a struggle between two loves: love of oneself to contempt of God; love of God to contempt of self, in martyrdom. We are in this struggle and in this struggle it is very important to have friends. And, in my own case, I am surrounded by the friends of the College of Cardinals: they are my friends and I feel at home, I feel safe in this company of great friends, who are with me and all together with the Lord.

Thank you for this friendship. Thank you, Eminence, for all that you have done for this moment today and for all that you do always. Thank you for the communion of joys and sorrows. Let’s go forward, the Lord said: courage, I have overcome the world. We are in the Lord’s squad, hence in the victorious squad. Thanks to you all. May the Lord bless you all. And let’s toast.

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