Sunday, April 29, 2012

In Defense of Trinitarian Baptism: Part 2

Here is Part 2 of my response to Steve Welborn's comments in refutation of Trinitarian baptism and his defense of speaking in tongues as the sign of authentic baptism. Also see Part 1. Like before, his words will be indented and italicized.

Go to Acts of the Apostles:

If you read Acts 2:14-36, there was such an uproar at Pentecost because everyone was speaking in tongues, hear me though, not everyone was speaking a different earthly language. This is why some said 'they were drunk with new wine' because they were speaking in something that no one understood (1 Corinthians 14 explains). After Peter stood up and preached to them Christ, (37) They were pricked at the heart - which means they believed and they asked the 64 million dollar question - What must we do to be saved!?

Now Peter could of said so many things here, but remember he was filled with the Holy Spirit - so as God promised, God will give Peter words to speak.

Peter could of said 'Just say a sinners prayer and you will be saved!' or 'Just ask Jesus into your heart and you will be saved' or 'Just believe that I am 3 distinct people in one and you will be saved' OR 'be baptized in the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost and you will be saved'

But he didn't - He said exactly what was told of them at the Great Commission: "Repent (Luke 24:47) and be baptized everyone of you in the Name of Jesus Christ (Luke 24:47) for the remission of sins (Luke 24:47 - remission of Sins in HIS NAME), and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost (thus fulfilling John 3:5)"

As you can see, how the Apostles baptized leans more towards Luke than Matthew. But why? Because Matthew knew who Jesus was, so he was saying what he understood Jesus to be - Father, Son and Holy Ghost.
First of all, nowhere in Mt 28 does Matthew say that Jesus IS the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. You're pulling this interpretation of yours out of thin air b/c it's the only way you know how to reconcile Mt 28 with your preferred method of baptism. Worse than that, you have distorted who Jesus is and who God is. You would benefit greatly from seeing the biblical defense of the distinction in personhood that exists within God. This particular debate is not the best place to get into it, but perhaps you will read my blog posts on this subject:
Secondly, what Peter said on the feast of Pentecost in no way contradicts the use of the Trinitarian formula for baptism. Like I said in the original post that elicited your responses, Peter is not determining the formula that should be used. Jesus already did that! What Peter is doing (and what Luke, the author, is doing elsewhere in Acts) is emphasizing by who's power it is that we receive salvation -- by the power of Christ, by the power of the man who the Jews put to death but the Father raised from the dead (cf. Acts 2:22-24). There were many different kinds of baptism being performed at that time, and many men saying they were the way to salvation. Peter is singling out Christ and HIS baptism as the way. Jesus told the apostles to baptize using the Trinitarian forumla. There's no way on earth that Peter would preach against that.

Again I stress this No one in Scriptures were baptized in the Titles! you MUST have His Name upon you to be saved - you Must have His Name upon you in order to be 'Dead in Christ'
It is true that in the Book of Acts the actual Rite of Baptism -- the formula for baptism along with any other prayers or gestures and postures that were used -- is not given to us. But, since Jesus told the Apostles to baptize using the Trinitarian formula, the only safe assumption is that this was in fact how they baptized.

I feel like I'm repeating myself now, but I don't really know what else to say. You choose to reconcile Mt 28:18-20 with the "baptism in his name" passages (cf. Acts 2:38; 8:16; 10:48; 19:5) by destroying the tri-personality of God. I think the safer approach, the one that is less hostile to Scripture and to God Himself, is the one I used to conclude my last post. Perhaps stating it as a syllogism will be helpful:
  1. To do something "in the name of Jesus" is to do it by His power and authority, or to be able to do it because of what He has done for us (allowing us to be reconciled with God through the application of the grace He won for us by his Passion, Death, and Resurrection).
  2. Trinitarian baptism is performed by the power and authority given to the minister of the Sacrament, and is able to be done because of what Jesus has done for us.
  3. Therefore, Trinitarian baptism is performed in the name of Jesus.
Beyond that, I can only reiterate what I said in the original post: We know that the Book of Acts is not establishing a formula for administering baptism because:
  1. the words you mistake for a forumla are not the same in every instance (in 2:38 and 10:48 it is "in the name of Jesus Christ," in 8:16 and 19:5 it is "in the name of the Lord Jesus."), and
  2. Jesus gave them a formula from which they would not have deviated.
You have yet to really refute this.

So Jesus' "Final will and testament", as you call it, is wrong. If His will was for everyone to be baptized this way, knowing that those who were baptized will be saved and those that didn't wouldn't be saved - then I am 500% positive the Apostles would of obeyed Him. Not only that - it would of been written in the other two books as well.
For your sake, I'll assume you meant that I am wrong about Jesus' final will and testament, NOT that Jesus is Himself wrong. That said, I'm 500% positive that the Apostles would have obeyed him too (we finally agree on something!). The difference is that you have to destroy the Trinity in order to reconcile Acts with Mt 28 and I don't.

So let me leave you with this:

Luke 10:16 - "He that heareth you heareth me; and he that despiseth you despiseth me; and he that despiseth me despiseth him that sent me."

And finally

Galatians 1:6-9
6 I marvel that ye are so soon removed from him that called you into the grace of Christ unto another gospel:
7 Which is not another; but there be some that trouble you, and would pervert the gospel of Christ.
8 But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed.
9 As we said before, so say I now again, if any man preach any other gospel unto you than that ye have received, let him be accursed."

History shows, and the catholic church is admitting, to not only creating the doctrine of the trinity; but also changing the baptismal formula to fit this trinity. Based off of just Matthew 28:19 they created a doctrine and forced people to be baptized this way. Which is a different doctrine, a different way then the Apostles taught..even Paul.
Now we're finally getting to the heart of the matter! Your real beef is with the Trinity. To say that the Son and the Holy Spirit are simply "manifestations" or "modes of being" of the One God simply does not follow from Scripture at all. Yet you bring this confusion to bear upon the Word, which forces you to come up with novel ways of interpreting even the simplest of passages.

But, while I want nothing more than to refute your claim that the Catholic Church "created the doctrine of the Trinity" and "changed the baptismal formula", that's not quite the topic at hand, now is it? If you would like to debate the merits of the dogma of the Trinity, then let me know. We can start a new conversation. I've linked you to some blog posts of mine that you can read, if and when that time comes. Until then, you still have a long way to go before you can say that you've really proven your initial claims: that baptism in the name of Jesus is an actual formula we're required to use AND that speaking in tongues is required of every truly baptized believer.

From here you may proceed to Part 3 of the debate.

Pax Christi,

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

In Defense of Trinitarian Baptism: Part 1

Recently, Steve Welborn, a Protestant from a "Pentecostal / Assembly of God" -type church in Indiana wrote a 3-part rebuttal to my post on Baptism in the name of Jesus (see his words in the Comments section). I would like to respond to his rebuttal.

As I understand it, Steve is actually making two arguments:
  1. Authentic baptism is in Jesus' name, not in the Trinitarian formula
  2. You know someone has been authentically baptized b/c they speak in tongues afterwards (I'm assuming he believes this should happen immediately, until he says otherwise)
I've been in conversations with Christians like this before, but I don't think any of it has ever made it on my blog. It's been a while since I've been in a debate of any kind, so this should be fun. His words will be italicized and indented.

There are a few things I would like to address in this blog post that I find misguided.

You quote just Matthew 28:18-20 as the only book that speaks of the Great Commission. I find that this is the most over used Scripture in not only defending a trinity, but also on how to baptize someone.
Well, in all fairness, I didn't say it was the only book that contained the Great Commission. I simply cited Matthew's gospel as a place where you can find Jesus' final words to His apostles. I have no doubt that similar exchanges take place in the other Synoptic Gospels.

You are correct in saying that the Apostles baptized in the Name of Jesus. Notice too that everyone that was baptized this way received the Holy Ghost with evidence of speaking in tongues (John 3:5).
Everyone did? I don't see how that follows. When the 3,000 from Acts 2 were baptized (cf. vs. 37-41), there's no mention of them speaking in tongues. Yes, Peter said they would receive the gift of the Holy Spirit (cf. Acts 2:38), but it's a great leap to assume that he's referring to the charism of speaking in tongues. When the people of Samaria were baptized by Philip, there's no mention of them speaking in tongues (cf. Acts 8:12). When the eunuch was baptized by Philip, no tongues then either (cf. Acts 8:38). When Saul was baptized, no tongues (cf. Acts 9:18; 22:16). When Lydia and her household were baptized, no tongues (cf. Acts 16:14-15). When the jailer and his household were baptized, no tongues (cf. Acts 16:33). When the Corinthians were baptized, no tongues (cf. Acts 18:8). I'm starting to see a trend!

Even when speaking in tongues does appear in the vicinity of baptism it does not prove your point. In Acts 10:44-48, Cornelius and the Gentiles with him began speaking in tongues before they were baptized, as a way of confirming Peter's message that salvation was as much for the Gentiles as it was for the Jews. In Acts 19:5-6, the disciples in Ephesus began speaking in tongues when Paul laid his hands on them (what Catholics would call their Confirmation), not when they were baptized.

The reason I'm pointing this out is because Christians like Steve are fond of saying that a person's baptism is ineffective if it is not accompanied by speaking in tongues, or a person is not saved until he speaks in tongues. But, "Do all possess gifts of healing? Do all speak with tongues? Do all interpret?" (1 Cor 12:30). Obviously not. Why then must every Christian speak in tongues before their baptism, or their salvation, or their faith can be considered genuine? This requirement of yours is man-made and anti-scriptural.

What I don't understand is why someone would desire to get baptized in a way that was never done in Scriptures? You do realize that not one single person in Scripture were ever baptized in the Titles right? No one. So why do it?
How about because Jesus said so? Seems like a good enough reason to me. At any rate, in Acts, where we see people being baptized, there is no record of the formula that was used. Instead, we only see the type of baptism that was being administered. The only safe assumption is that the Apostles would have went out and did what Jesus told them to do.

You are right in saying the Apostles were not disobedient when they baptized that way.
I never said they used the Jesus-only formula when they baptized, nor did I say that such action would be okay. Instead, I said that it is nonsensical to assume that they baptized in any other way than in the Trinitarian formula that Jesus instructed them to use.

However, those that baptize in the titles ARE being disobedient. Here is why

We know that there are TWO other accounts in Scripture of the Great Commission, lets see what they say:

turn to Mark 16:15-17

15And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature.
16He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned.
17And these signs shall follow them that believe; In my name shall they cast out devils; they shall speak with new tongues;"

We see here that Jesus told the Apostles to preach the Gospel to every Creature. To those that believe, are to be baptized.

To those that are baptized here are the signs that will follow those - They shall cast out devils, in MY Name (whos Name? Jesus). They will speak in new tongues - Now this doesn't mean I'll be speaking German after baptism - For God said that He will speak to His people with stammering lips and a new language (Read 1 Corinthians 14 on this).

So we know we are going to be doing things in His Name, who is Jesus.
First of all, if Jesus tells the Apostles to go out and baptize in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, and then the apostles go out and baptize in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, I really don't see how in the world that can be considered disobedient.

Secondly, all Mark is saying here is that believers will speak in tongues. He's not saying that this gift will be received immediately upon their baptism. He's also not saying that all believers will speak in tongues. He's simply saying that the people who evidence this charism will be believers. If I say, "Girls will play with dolls" does that mean that all girls will play with dolls? Of course not. It just means that the ones you find playing with dolls will be girls. As we have already seen, Paul refutes any notion that every Christian will or should speak in tongues.

Finally, no formula for baptism is actually given here. They will cast out devils in His name, but there's no mention of how baptism should be done.

Lets look at Luke 24:45-49

45 Then opened he their understanding, that they might understand the scriptures,
46 And said unto them, Thus it is written, and thus it behooved Christ to suffer, and to rise from the dead the third day:
47 And that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in his name among all nations, beginning at Jerusalem.
48 And ye are witnesses of these things.
49 And, behold, I send the promise of my Father upon you: but tarry ye in the city of Jerusalem, until ye be endued with power from on high.

The first thing Jesus did before giving the Apostles direction was open their understanding. Upon opening their understanding they KNEW not only everything Jesus had said and taught them - but also WHO Jesus was.

Jesus said in 47 repentance and remission of sins should be preached in His Name among all nations, beginning at Jerusalem.

What I am trying to point out is that upon their understanding being opened they knew who Jesus was - Matthew knew who Jesus was and that is why He wrote it the way He did. Jesus is the Father, and the Son and the Holy Spirit - He is the Fullness of the Godhead bodily. Matthew knew this, which is why it says Name and not plural for Names.
Now you've completely gone off the reservation. Jesus is the Father? Jesus is the Holy Spirit? Yes, the apostles knew who Jesus was ... but you don't seem to know him at all! I see now that the only way you can reconcile Mt 28:19 with your preferred practice is to completely confuse the inner-life of God, to destroy the distinction in Personality that exists within God. Yet, the bible is clear that such a distinction exists. How can Jesus send the Holy Spirit if he IS the Holy Spirit? How can the Father send the Son into the world if the Son IS the Father? Absolutely none of the Biblical data about who God is makes any sense once you blur these distinctions. I'm afraid your problems go much deeper than the formula for baptism!

Matthew 28, Mark 16 and Luke 24 all say the same thing; That we are to do all these things in HIS Name - which is Jesus.
Instead of destroying the inner-life of God, there really is a much simpler way to reconcile all of this. Baptism with the Trinitarian formula is in the name of Jesus insofar as it is in or by His power that anyone baptizes. That's what it means to do something "in the name of" Jesus: You're doing it in or by the authority and power you have received from Him.

Catholics believe that when a person is baptized, it is actually Christ who is doing the baptizing. He is the great High Priest and celebrant of all the sacraments of the Church. The priest (or in times of urgency, the lay person) is acting in persona Christi ("in the person of Christ"), as if Christ Himself was there, in that moment, pouring water on the sinner's head. In this light, the Catholic baptism is very much "in the name of Jesus Christ" (2:38; 10:48) and “in the name of the Lord Jesus” (8:16; 19:5) even though it is performed using the Trinitarian formula.

From here, you may proceed to Part 2 of the debate.

Pax Christi,

Monday, April 23, 2012

Catholic Q&A: Part 23

This post continues my series of short answers to common questions about Catholicism. For the previous parts in the series, see the "Catholic Q-A Series" blog label.

If Jesus was only a prophet to Muslims, why do they think so highly of Mary?

Because she is spoken of so highly in the Qur'an. For more on this, see Islamic Views of Mary and Mary in Islam.

Whats the Catholic stance on speaking in tongues?

In the Catechism, no 2003, we read in part:
There are furthermore special graces, also called charisms after the Greek term used by St. Paul and meaning "favor," "gratuitous gift," "benefit." Whatever their character - sometimes it is extraordinary, such as the gift of miracles or of tongues - charisms are oriented toward sanctifying grace and are intended for the common good of the Church. They are at the service of charity which builds up the Church.
Speaking in tongues is a legitimate gift that a person can receive, but it is ultimately for the Magisterium of the Church to determine whether or not the gift is genuine. Also, since speaking in tongues is meant for the building up of the Body, if it does not come with the gift of interpretation of tongues (either by the person speaking the language or by someone present when the language is spoken), then this can be an indication that the tongue is not of the Spirit. If no one can interpret the message, then it is simply a bunch of noise that doesn't edify anyone. Read 1 Cor 14.

Is there a specific saying we are supposed to say during the sign of peace?

Here's what the GIRM says (emphasis mine):
82. There follows the Rite of Peace, by which the Church entreats peace and unity for herself and for the whole human family, and the faithful express to each other their ecclesial communion and mutual charity before communicating in the Sacrament.

As for the actual sign of peace to be given, the manner is to be established by the Conferences of Bishops in accordance with the culture and customs of the peoples. However, it is appropriate that each person, in a sober manner, offer the sign of peace only to those who are nearest.

154. Then the Priest, with hands extended, says aloud the prayer Domine Iesu Christe, qui dixisti (Lord Jesus Christ, who said to your Apostles) and when it is concluded, extending and then joining his hands, he announces the greeting of peace, facing the people and saying, The peace of the Lord be with you always. The people reply, And with your spirit. After this, if appropriate, the Priest adds, Let us offer each other the sign of peace.

The Priest may give the Sign of Peace to the ministers but always remains within the sanctuary, so that the celebration is not disrupted. In the Dioceses of the United States of America, for a good reason, on special occasions (for example, in the case of a funeral, a wedding, or when civic leaders are present), the Priest may offer the Sign of Peace to a small number of the faithful near the sanctuary. According to what is decided by the Conference of Bishops, all express to one another peace, communion, and charity. While the Sign of Peace is being given, it is permissible to say, The peace of the Lord be with you always, to which the reply is Amen.
Note that a greeting during the Sign of Peace is suggested, but I don't think this necessarily excludes similar greetings, as long as they express "ecclesial communion and mutual charity" (no. 82) or "peace, communion, and charity" (no. 154) in a manner that is "in accordance with the culture and customs of the peoples" (no. 82).

Maria, Madonna, Mary ... are these all the same name just different languages?


UPDATE: A reader left a comment in response to my answer here that I would like to incorporate into this post. It reads:
You are partly right and partly wrong. "Maria" and "Mary" are the same name in different languages. "Madonna," however, is an Italian combined form that means "My lady." "Donna" is the feminine counterpart of "Don" (as in Don Bosco). They are derived from the Latin, "Dominus/Domina."

Maria/Mary does not mean, "my lady." It is derived from a Semitic name, transliterated as Miryam, Maryam, etc.
I should have known better. I think I probably read the question too fast.

Did the Holy Spirit not let the apostles go east to Asia? If so why?

According to Scripture, Paul and Timothy were prevented by the Spirit from going into Asia (cf. Acts 16:6-7). Why they were prevented from going there, I do not know. Perhaps the timing just wasn't right. Later, in Acts 19 we see that Paul goes to Ephesus, which is in Asia, and spent a lot of time there.

That said, keep in mind that in the New Testament "Asia" refers to the Roman province that occupied an extensive region in Asia Minor (in modern western Turkey). This is more "Middle East" than Asia as we know it today. Tradition does have it that St. Thomas traveled all the way to India, which is a country in Asia (as we know it today).

Pax Christi,

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Catholic Q&A: Part 22

This post continues my series of short answers to common questions about Catholicism. For the previous parts in the series, see the "Catholic Q-A Series" blog label.

Why couldn't the Holy Spirit come while Jesus was still among the apostles?

I'm not entirely sure, but I have a few educated guesses, for what it's worth. First, I think that as long as Jesus was on earth with the apostles, it was not really necessary for the Holy Spirit to be sent. Remember, Jesus' primary reason for sending the Spirit was to lead the Church into all truth. Once He is gone, they will need such a leader, desperately in fact. But, as long as Jesus is with them, this is not necessary.

Also, Jesus had to finish His work before the Holy Spirit could come and make it bear fruit in the Church. Once Jesus ascended into heaven and took His seat at the right hand of the Father, then the Spirit could get to work extending that reign in the world by moving in the sacraments and protecting the Church from error and helping men to pray and doing everything else that the Holy Spirit does. The Spirit's role in the Church is sort of dependent upon Jesus fulfilling His role first. I hope that makes sense.

Why is Peter never called “Pope” Peter? Always the “Apostle” Peter or “Saint” Peter?

I don't really know for sure. Perhaps it’s because, while Peter is certainly the first pope, he’s also much more than that. He is after all the only pope who can say he personally witnessed the life of Christ. Not only was Peter one of the 12 apostles, he was among the inner circle (with James and John) who received special instruction and witnessed certain events the others did not see. I think that, for this reason, in people's minds Peter is an apostle before he's anything else. Plus, the word "pope" emerged in the time of St. Leo the Great (440-461 AD) to refer to the successor of St. Peter. Peter, of course, is the original, so this may be another reason why the title never really caught on in reference to him.

Is it okay to swear on the Bible in court?

Yes. See the following paragraph from the Catechism:
2154 Following St. Paul (cf. 2 Cor 1:23; Gal 1:20), the tradition of the Church has understood Jesus' words as not excluding oaths made for grave and right reasons (for example, in court). "An oath, that is the invocation of the divine name as a witness to truth, cannot be taken unless in truth, in judgment, and in justice" (Code of Canon Law, can. 1199 § 1).

Is cloning okay as long as it is not human cloning?

From what I can tell, not very much has been said about this by the Church. The most authoritative statement I could find comes from the document “Reflections on Cloning” by the Pontifical Academy for Life. Part 4, para. 5 reads in part:
“There is a place for research, including cloning, in the vegetable and animal kingdoms, wherever it answers a need or provides a significant benefit for man or for other living beings, provided that the rules for protecting the animal itself and the obligation to respect the biodiversity of species are observed.”
Human cloning is always forbidden.

After the Resurrection did Jesus stay on earth the whole time until Pentecost or did He come and go from Heaven?

He seems to have come and gone. In Lk 24 for example, we see that Jesus appeared on the road to Emmaus (vs. 15), then vanished from their sight (vs. 31), then appeared again (vs. 36). He did this for a period of 40 days (cf. Acts 1:3). Then He ascended into heaven and ten days later sent the Spirit on the Feast of Pentecost.

Pax Christi,

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Catholic Q&A: Part 21

This post continues my series of short answers to common questions about Catholicism. For the previous parts in the series, see the "Catholic Q-A Series" blog label.

What is the square board that the priest places on top of the chalice?

That is called a "pall." From Fr. Peter Stravinska's Catholic Dictionary we read:
Pall (PAWL): 1. The piece of stiff linen, or cardboard covered with linen, usually between four and seven inches square, that covers the chalice at Mass so as to prevent dust and other particles from landing in the chalice. Often, the pall is either simply adorned with across or may have a colorful depiction of Our Lord, Our Lady, or some Eucharistic design. 2. The cloth that is spread over the coffin at funeral Masses, usually of the same color as the vestments used for the liturgy.

I was listening to one of Scott Hahn's cd's and he said that the part about forgiveness in the Our Father should be in the past tense: "forgive us our tresspasses, as we have forgiven those who tresspass against us". If this is true then why is it not translated that way or said that way?

I'm not sure if that's true or not, so for now I'll just have to take Hahn's word for it. This wouldn't the only place where the Our Father could use a better English translation. "Lead us not into temptation" should be translated "Let us not be lead into temptation." I've also read that "super-substantial bread" would be more accurate than simply "daily bread." The problem is that people have been praying the Our Father this way for so long, it almost feels like a crime to change it. When the new translation of the Mass was being prepared, and the Sanctus, the Gloria, and even the Nicene Creed were changed, the bishops felt it would be too much to change the Our Father too.

Are there franchise Catholic stores out there (Protestants have Life Way and others)? Putting more Catholic info and items (books, rosaries, statues, etc.) out there would keep Catholics from going into these other stores for religious items.

I don't know of any "brick-and-mortar" franchise stores, but that doesn't mean they don't exist. I think what you find more often instead are local stores that serve the immediate area. There are thousands of these all over the country, I"m sure. There are also many Catholic retailers online where you can purchase Catholic books, statues, church supply, etc. Tonini's started out as a local Catholic supply store in Louisville, KY, but they have since grown to be one of the largest retailers of Catholic goods and church supply in the world, thanks to the catalog that they publish and their online presence.

The same for Catholic music ... there are lots of Christian bands and radio stations but I know of very few real Catholic bands.

Oh, there are a lot of Catholic bands and musicians out there too. Check out the following websites: As for radio stations, there are a lot of them too. Ave Mario Radio, Relevant Radio, and EWTN Radio have 100's of affiliates all over the country.

Missing a holy day of obligation is a mortal sin but is it really "Hell" worthy to miss a day?

Well, to be more precise, missing a holy day of obligation is a serious sin. In other words, it is grave matter. It only becomes mortal once it is performed with full knowledge and free consent of the will. If all three criteria are met, then yes, you have committed a mortal sin by missing a holy day of obligation. If you were to die in this state, then yes, you would go to hell.

Pax Christi,

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Where is the Sacrament of Confirmation in the Bible?

What follows is a brief treatment of the Scriptural evidence for the Sacrament of Confirmation. This was originally written for my parish bulletin, and so space did not permit for me to write a lengthier response to this question. This should do as a start. Perhaps I'll add more to it if the need arises.

The first place where we find Confirmation in the Bible is in Acts 8. There we read of Peter and John, who prayed for the new Christians in Samaria, “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” (vs. 15-17).

This passage doesn’t mean to say that they were receiving the Spirit for the first time here. They received their first installment of the Spirit when they were baptized. What they had yet to receive was the later outpouring of the Spirit that completes what the Spirit began in Baptism. So, Peter and John laid their hands on these new Christians in order to give them this final installment of the Spirit. That’s basically what Confirmation is.

Another reference to Confirmation is found in Acts 19. When Paul entered Ephesus and realized that the disciples there had only received the baptism of John the Baptist (which was merely symbolic), he made sure that “they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. And when Paul had laid his hands upon them, the Holy Spirit came on them; and they spoke with tongues and prophesied” (vs. 5-6).

In both cases Confirmation comes soon after Baptism. While this is no longer the case in many dioceses today, the fact remains that the one is the completion of the other, and their connection should always be emphasized when we prepare our youth for the sacraments.

The language of being “sealed by the Holy Spirit” is also very evocative of Confirmation, since it is through the anointing with oil during the celebration of this sacrament that the Christian receives the seal or “mark” of God upon his soul. As St. Paul tells us, “It is God who ... has put his seal upon us and given us his Spirit in our hearts as a guarantee” (2 Cor 1:21-22). Those who “have believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit” (Eph 1:13), and this “for the day of redemption” (Eph 4:30).

Christ Himself was sealed by the Father (cf. Jn 6:27) and He desires to mark us with this same seal. As the Catechism tells us, “This seal of the Holy Spirit marks our total belonging to Christ, our enrollment in his service for ever, as well as the promise of divine protection in the great eschatological trial” (no. 1296).

At the end of time, “only those of mankind who have not the seal of God upon their foreheads” will suffer (cf. Rev 7:2-3; 9:4). Praise God for our Confirmation!

For more information on the Sacrament of Confirmation, see the following articles:

Pax Christi,

Thursday, April 05, 2012

Holy Thursday, the Priesthood, and the Eucharist

Today is Holy Thursday, and two themes that are prevalent on this day are the ministerial priesthood and the institution of the Eucharist. As a DRE, the season of Lent and especially Holy Week is the busiest time of the year (which, by the way, accounts for my neglect of this blog as of late). I don't have the time I would like to really dive in to the meaning of Holy Thursday or the Triduum, but I am able to at least share my previous blog posts on topics related to the themes I mentioned. I hope that will suffice as you journey along this final few days that lead to Easter.

Holy Orders and the Priesthood

Holy Eucharist and the Sacrifice of the Mass

Pax Christi,
Related Posts with Thumbnails