Catholic Tradition Newsletter

 

A weekly presentation of News, Information, Readings and Commentary for traditional Roman Catholics and Catholic Families remaining faithful to the teaching Magisterium as held by all faithful Catholics through the centuries.


Vol 12 Issue 2                    Editor: Rev. Fr. Courtney Edward Krier


January 12, 2019

Our Lady on Saturday, opn!


  1. What is the Sacrament of Confirmation
  2. Feast of the Holy Family
  3. Baptism of Our Lord
  4. Family and Marriage
  5. Articles and notices

 

Dear Reader:

Naming the Sunday after the Epiphany the Feast of the Holy Family directs the Catholic’s attention to that which God desires: A living reflection of His nature in His creation. The revelation of God is not always clear to man’s thinking since God’s ways are not always man’s ways, and the wisdom of this world is foolishness to God—but God’s wisdom seems foolishness to man (cf. 1 Cor. 1:18ff and 2:14). In the Holy Family God is pleased to show what He desires in a family exempting the carnal and thereby demonstrating simply the act of love that conforms with His divine Will.

The reflection of God in a family is seen in the complete unity and continual active giving that is involved in this social unit. God is one, but in Three Divine Persons. Unable to be separated, there is a continual giving and wanting to exist for the other. The Three Divine Persons are perfectly happy within Themselves as they perfectly live Their one existence. This understanding, that happiness is in being perfectly what one is finds little clarity in the children of Adam today. In the beginning God said:


Let us make man to our image and likeness: and let him have dominion over the fishes of the sea, and the fowls of the air, and the beasts, and the whole earth, and every creeping creature that moveth upon the earth. And God created man to his own image: to the image of God he created him: male and female he created them. And God blessed them, saying: Increase and multiply (Genesis 1:26-28)


God did not create man for himself, but for the other. Therefore, to impress on Adam that there is not happiness in existing for oneself, after experiencing the loneliness of individual existence God points out: It is not good for man to be alone: let us make him a help like unto himself.  (Ibid., 2:18) And Adam, now seeing that happiness exists in being there for the other, says—to express the unity of the relationship—This now is bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called woman, because she was taken out of man. Wherefore a man shall leave father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife: and they shall be two in one flesh. (Ibid., 2:23, 24)

A family, therefore, is not just a man and a woman who are together physically, but are united spiritually and see that they are there for the other person by acceptance of the other person to be one with oneself. The giving of self is found in the desire to give manifestation of that love and this generally produces a child (and children as this love continues).

God made us to learn, to be taught, just as we find Him teaching Adam and Eve (cf. Genesis 2:16,17 and 3:8), so it is understood that this honor is bestowed upon the parents as stated in the Fourth Commandment: Honor thy father and thy mother (Exodus 20:

The family is to provide the social setting that allows the child to learn. This means first that the parents must be able to teach and second that they do teach their children. It has a twofold aspect:

Parents must know how to live a life that is in conformity to the Will of God. It does not mean an academic education—for neither Joseph nor Mary can be considered well educated in the normal sense—but Joseph and Mary did know how to live God-fearing and just (holy) lives that included a true marriage that united them to be the parents of the Christ Child and raise Him. God has given within the innate nature of man to be a father and woman to be a mother. He has given them the normal ability, whether they were raised properly or not, the innate understanding to direct the lives of their children toward God. It is a choice. How many children said they would not be like their parents and never listening, yet, once they arrive at being parents they did the same? Did they not know that this was not the way to teach their children? Yes! Did they take that knowledge and apply it? No! Usually it is because there is a lack of love toward the child, a giving that demands a life of sacrifice on the part of the mother and the acceptance of responsibility by the father—who is to support, guide and protect the mother and child.

The children must understand the parents hold the place of God in their lives and honor that position, as the Fourth Commandment states: Honor thy father and thy mother. This means that children must listen to their parents—not as servants or slaves, but as children of God the Father who instructs them through their parents. God has, in His divine Providence, a purpose for the child and that purpose comes to fruition when the child is molded into a God-fearing adult who is capable of fulfilling the Will of their Father in heaven. May the Holy Family be the model of the Christian Family. May this earthly trinity be the reflection of the Divine Trinity.

As always, enjoy the readings and commentaries provided for your benefit. —The Editor

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WHAT IS THE SACRAMENT OF CONFIRMATION?

by Rev. Courtney Edward Krier


Summary of Church Teaching Concerning Confirmation*



*The same introduction to this section was included when speaking of Baptism.—The Author.


Having taken the time to present the Church’s teaching on Confirmation, it would be well to summarize what is generally presented in the theology books regarding baptism, where the sources have already been provided, modeled on the Summa Theologica of Saint Thomas Aquinas (III, q. 66-71.) and the Roman Catechism or Catechism of the Council of Trent (II, 2). Drawing from the Roman Catechism, in the United States of America the Baltimore Catechism was decreed to be published at the Third Council of Baltimore (1884). It was first written by the priest, Father Januarius de Concilio at the request of the Council, as a well known and accepted author who also had experience as a parish priest. Bishop John Spalding of Peoria, Illinois, worked with de Concilio and later revised the Catechism into two parts. The Catechism was considered. Both de Concilio’s and Spalding’s versions were considered the standard text until the edition of Fr. Francis J. Connell was published by the Episcopal Committee for the Confraternity of Christian Doctrine (CCD, 1941), having received the approval of the Vatican and all the Bishops in the United States. There were and are many other Catechisms, but taking consideration of place, use and approbation, the Baltimore Catechism of Francis Connell will be the text referenced. For that of summarizing the doctrines of the theological books, again, several authors could be used (Pohle-Preuss, Tanqueray, Hunter, or Henry among others), but Ludwig Ott’s Fundamentals of Catholic Dogma will be used for practical reasons.

Some of the wording may be unfamiliar, but this is provided to present the continuum of the faith and a source to confront those who would claim the Church has constantly evolved in its faith (neo-Modernists) or that certain doctrines (Baptism in desire or by blood) were not taught and believed until the beginning of the twentieth century.


AAS means Acta Apostolicae Sedis, or all official papal documents and Vatican (Roman curia pronouncements approved by the pope) documents since 1865.


AS is for Anathema sit, or Latin for anathema—which means a condemnation of such a statement because it is opposed to Church teaching.


CIC refers one to the 1917 Code of Canon Law.


The D, such as in D 844, refers to Heinrich Denzinger’s Enchiridion symbolorum, definitionum et declarationum de rebus fidei et morum, a collection of the Church’s creeds, definitions and declarations on matters of faith and morals. The number, 844, refers to numbering the documents for easy reference.


PG refers to Migne’s collection of Greek Fathers, e.g., Basil and John Chrysostom.


PL refers to Migne’s collection of Latin Fathers, e.g., Ambrose and Augustine.

Where the Latin was not translated, the English translation was inserted by the author.


In Fundamentals of Catholic Dogma, Cork: Mercier Press, 1955 (pages 350- 360), there is this following theological outline on Confirmation:




II The Sacrament of Confirmation

 

1. Concept of Confirmation and Its Sacramental Nature

 

  1. Concept

 

Confirmation is that Sacrament in which, by the imposition of hands, unction and prayer, a baptised person is filled with the Holy Ghost for the inner strengthening of the supernatural life and for the courageous outward confession of Faith: St. Thomas defines it as a Sacrament of the fullness of grace and as "that Sacrament in which strength is conferred on the regenerate": sacramentum, quo spirituale robur regenerato confertur. S. th. III 72, I ad 2, S.c.G. IV 60.

 

  1. The Sacramental Nature of Confirmation

 

Confirmation is a true Sacrament properly so-called. (De fide.)

 

The Council of Trent declared against the Reformers, who rejected Confirmation as unbiblical: Si quis dixerit, confirmationem baptizatorum otiosam caeremoniam esse et non potius verum et proprium sacramentum, (If anyone says that confirmation of baptised persons is an unnecessary ceremony and not a true and proper sacrament) A.S. D 871.

 

According to the Apologia Confessionis of Melanchton (Art. 13,6), Confirmation is a rite composed by the Fathers, which is not necessary for salvation since it has not been commanded by God. According to the rationalists (e.g. Harnack), it developed out of the fact that symbolic actions, which originally accompanied the administration of Baptism, became separate and independent. Pius X rejected the assertion of the Modernists that Baptism and Confirmation were not two separate Sacraments in the Primitive Church. D 2044.

 

  1. a) Scriptural proof

The institution of Confirmation by Christ can only be proved indirectly from Holy Writ. The Prophets of the Old Covenant having already foretold the outpouring of the Spirit of God over the whole of humanity as a characteristic of the Messianic era (cf. Joel 2, 28 et seq.; Is. 44, 3-5; Ez. 39, 29), Jesus promised His Apostles (John 14, 16 et seq.;26; 16, 7 et seq.; Luke 24, 49; Acts 1, 5) and all the future faithful (John 7, 38 et seq.) the mission of the Holy Ghost. On the Feast of Pentecost He fulfilled His word to the Primitive Christian Community. Acts 2, 4: "And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and they began to speak with divers tongues according as the Holy Ghost gave them to speak."

Subsequently the Apostles communicated the Holy Ghost by the outward rite of the imposition of hands on the baptised. Acts 8, 14 et seq. narrate: " Now, when the Apostles, who were in Jerusalem, had heard that Samaria had received the word of God, they sent unto them Peter and John 15. “Who when they were come, prayed for them that they might receive the Holy Ghost. 16. For He was not as yet come upon any of them: but they were only baptised in the name of the Lord Jesus. 17. Then they laid their hands upon them: and they received the Holy Ghost." According to Acts 19, 6, St. Paul communicated the Holy Ghost to some twelve disciples in Ephesus after they had received Christian Baptism, by the same rites: "And when Paul had imposed his hands on them, the Holy Ghost came upon them, and they spoke with tongues and prophesied." According to Hebr. 6, 2, the imposition of hands, which effects the communication of the Holy Ghost (V. 4), belongs, side by side with Baptism, to the foundations of the Christian religion.

 

That Confirmation is a sacrament is evident from the passages cited, since: α) The Apostles performed a sacramental rite, consisting of the imposition of hands and prayer; β) The effect of this outward rite was the communication of the Holy Ghost, i.e., the Principle of inner sanctification. According to Acts 8, 18, a causal connection existed between the imposition of hands and the communication of the Spirit (per impositionem manus Apostolorum);

γ) The Apostles acted in the mandate of Christ. As Christ promised the communication of the Spirit for all the faithful, it must be assumed, that He also gave detailed indications of the nature and manner of the communication of the Spirit. The matter-of-course manner in which the Apostles, who regarded themselves merely as the ministers of Christ and the dispensers of the mysteries of God (1 Cor. 4, 1), undertook the rite of the imposition of hands, presupposes its ordinance by Christ.

     

St. Thomas teaches that Christ instituted the Sacrament of Confirmation non exhibendo, sed promittendo, that is, in such a manner than He Himself did not administer it, but that He merely promised its administration for the future, because in this Sacrament the fullness of the Holy Ghost is conferred, which was not to be given before the Resurrection and Ascension of Christ (S. th. III 72, 1 ad 1). Individual scholastic theologians, for example, Magister Roland and St. Bonaventura, take the view that Confirmation was instituted by the Apostles, or by the Holy Ghost through the Apostles (mediate Divine institution). Alexander of Hales, or the Summa going under his name, favoured the opinion that the Sacrament of Confirmation was instituted by the Council of Meaux (in concilio Meldensi) under the inspiration of the Holy Ghost, but in this he had in mind, merely the final determination of the Confirmation rite which was current in his time. He does not dispute that Christ established the rite of imposition of hands, for the conferring of the Holy Spirit.

 

  1. b) Proof from Tradition

Although in the early Christian era Confirmation was most intimately associated with Baptism, still, according to the testimonies of early Christian Tradition, it a was a sacramental rite distinct from Baptism.

 

Tertullian sees in Baptism a preparation for the reception of the Holy Ghost: “Not that we attain the Holy Ghost in the water, but in the water. . . we are purified and prepared for the Holy Ghost" (De bapt. 6). After the Baptism an anointing of the whole body (baptismal unction), and then the imposition of the hands takes place: "Emerged from the bath of Baptism we are anointed with consecrated ointment" (c. 7). After that the hand is imposed, in the course of which the Holy Ghost is invoked and invited by means of the blessing (dehinc manus imponitur per benedictionem advocans et invitans Spiritum Sanctum; c. 8). The effect of this rite is the communication of the Holy Ghost. In his work, De carnis resurrectione 8, Tertullian names the following initiation rites: Baptism, Unction, Signing (with the Cross), Imposition of Hands, Reception of the Eucharist.

St. Hippolytus of Rome (235) in his Church order (Apostolic Order) mentions the following rites of Confirmation: Imposition of hands by the Bishop and prayer, anointing with consecrated oil — this unction must be distinguished from the baptismal unction performed by the priest after Baptism — together with imposition of hands and the simultaneous  pronouncement of a Trinitarian formula of blessing, signing of the forehead and the kiss of peace. Cf. in Dan. 1 16. Pope St. Cornelius (251-253) makes the reproach to Novatian that after the Baptism which he received on a sick bed, by the effusion of the baptismal water, "the illness being gone he did not receive the other things, which, according to the rule of the Church one must receive, as also the sealing by the Bishop." It is his conviction that the latter has the communication of the Holy Ghost as a consequence. Hence the question: " How could he, if he has not received this, receive the Holy Ghost ? " (Ep. ad Fabium Ant.: Eusebius H.e. VI 43, 15).

 

St. Cyprian (+ 258) says, with regard to Acts 8, 14 et seq.: "This still happens in our community. Those who are baptised in the Church are brought before the overseers of the Church (Bishops) and by our prayer and our imposition of hands receive the Holy Ghost, and by the zeal of the Lord they are perfected " (Ep. 73, 9). Cf. Ep. 74, 5 and 7.

 

According to the Spanish Synod of Elvira (about 306) a person, who, in serious sickness, has received emergency Baptism either from a layman or from a deacon, must be brought before the Bishop, “so that he may be perfected by the imposition of hands " (can. 38 and 77). D 52 d-e.

 

St. Cyril of Jerusalem (+ 386) (or his successor John), devoted to Confirmation the third mystagogic catechesis, which is entitled: "On Unction" (περὶ χρισµατὸς). Further testimonies are given by St. Ambrose (De sacr. III 2, 8-10; De myst. 7, 42), St. Jerome (Dial. c. Luciferianos 8 et seq.), Pope St. Innocent I (Ep. 25, 3) St. Augustine, (De trin. XV 26, 46; In ep. I loan. tr. 6, 10), St. Leo I (Sermo 24, 6), Ps.-Dionysius (De eccl. hier. 4, 3, 11). Scholasticism establishes the existence of the Sacrament of Confirmation speculatively on the analogy between the natural life of the body and the supernatural life of the soul. As a Sacrament of spiritual rebirth, Baptism corresponds to the bodily birth, so the Sacrament of strengthening and completion of the supernatural life, Confirmation, corresponds to bodily growth. S. th. III 72, 1.

(To be continued)

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The Sunday Sermons of the Great Fathers

  1. F. Toal


THE GOSPEL OF THE SUNDAY

LUKE ii. 42-52


And when Jesus was twelve years old, they going up into Jerusalem, according to the custom of the feast, and having fulfilled the days, when they returned, the child Jesus remained in Jerusalem; and His parents knew it not. And thinking that He was in the company, they came a day's journey, and sought Him among their kinsfolk and acquaintances. And not finding Him, they returned into Jerusalem, seeking Him. And it came to pass, that, after three days, they found Him in the temple, sitting in the midst of the doctors, hearing them, and asking them questions. And all that heard Him were astonished at His wisdom and His answers. And seeing Him, they wondered. And His mother said to Him: Son, why hast thou done so to us? Behold Thy father and I have sought Thee sorrowing. And He said to them: How is it that you sought me? Did you not know, that I must be about my father's business? And they understood not the word that He spoke unto them. And He went down with them, and came to Nazareth, and was subject to them. And His mother kept all these words in her heart. And Jesus advanced in wisdom, and age, and grace with God and men.


EXPOSITION FROM THE CATENA AUREA

CYRIL, Catena G.F.: Since the Evangelist had said that the Child grew and waxed strong, he thereupon verifies his words, and shows Jesus going up to Jerusalem together with the sacred Virgin. Hence he says: And when He was twelve years old, they going into Jerusalem.


GEOMETER, Catena G.F.: Not that the unveiling of His wisdom exceeded the measure of His years; but when as with us the age of discretion is usually attained, that is, in the twelfth year, the wisdom of Christ was made known.

AMBROSE, in Luke ii. 32: Or, the beginning of the Lord's Disputation is reckoned from His twelfth year. For here the number of those announcing the faith that was to be made known ought to be commemorated. BEDE in Luke: This we may here affirm: that because by the septenary number, as by the duodenary (which is made up from the parts of the septenary number multiplied by each other) the whole universe of things and events and their perfection is signified; and accordingly that He may teach in what manner all places and times are to be employed, the divine Light of Christ rightly makes a beginning from the number twelve.

BEDE, in Hom. Dom. infra oct. Epiph.: That Our Lord went each year with His parents to Jerusalem for the Pasch is an indication of His humility as man. For it is in the nature of men to come together to offer sacrifice to God, and to join in prayer to Him. The Lord, therefore, born a man among men, did that which God commanded by His angels.1 Hence it is said: According to the custom of the feast. Let us then imitate the way of His earthly converse among men if we desire to rejoice in the vision of His glory.


GEOMETER: The feast being over and the others having departed, Jesus secretly remains behind. Hence there follows: And having fulfilled the days, when they returned, the child Jesus remained in Jerusalem; and his parents knew it not. He says: Having fulfilled the days; for the solemnity continued for seven days. He then remains, secretly, lest His parents be a hindrance to the disputations He was about to hold with the Doctors of the Law. Or perhaps, putting this reason aside, that He might not appear to despise them if He did not obey their commands. He therefore remains secretly lest He be either brought back, or become disobedient.


ORIGEN, Hom. 19 in Luke: We need not wonder they are called parents, since one, by giving Him birth, the other through obedience, merited the names of mother and father. BEDE in Luke: But someone may ask how could the Son of God, cherished with such care by His parents, be forgotten and left behind? To which we answer, that it was the custom of the children of Israel that when they were either going or returning from Jerusalem at the time of the festival that men and women journeyed separately: infants and children could go with one or other parent as they pleased; hence we have: Thinking he was in the company.


ORIGEN: As when the Jews rose up against Him and He passed through the midst of them (Lk. iv. 29; also Jn. viii. 59; x. 39), so now I believe did the Child Jesus remain, and His parents did not know that He had remained; for there follows: And not finding him, they returned into Jerusalem, seeking Him. GLOSS: On one day they travel home from Jerusalem. On the next they search among their kindred and friends, and not finding Him with them they return on the third day to Jerusalem and there they find Him. Hence: And it came to pass that after three days they found him in the temple.


ORIGEN: He is not found immediately He is looked for; nor is He found among cousins and kindred of the flesh; no mere human tie could stand in the way of the Son of God. He is not found among the famous of the world, because He is above all fame. He is not found in the company of those travelling; they find him nowhere but in the Temple. And you must therefore seek Him there in the Temple, seek Him in the Church, where you will find the Word and the Wisdom of Christ, that is, of the Son of God.


AMBROSE: After three days He is found in the Temple for, a sign that after the three days of His triumphal passion, He rising up that was believed dead, would reveal Himself to our faith in the heavenly Seat, surrounded with divine honour. GLOSS: Or, because, the Coming of Christ was sought first by the Patriarchs, before the Law, and was not found; secondly, it was sought by the prophets and by the just, under the Law, and not found; it was then sought for by the Gentiles, under the dispensation of grace, and found.


ORIGEN, as above: Because He was the Son of God He was found in the midst of the Doctors, giving them wisdom, and instructing them; because He was a little boy He is found in their midst, not teaching, but asking them questions; hence: they found Him, sitting in the midst of the doctors, hearing them and asking them questions; and this was a task of piety, that He might teach us what is becoming to the young, although they be wise and learned, that they should rather desire to hear their Masters than wish to teach them, and not leave themselves open to idle boasting. He questioned, not that He might learn, but that by questioning He might instruct. For to question and to answer wisely flows from the same source of knowledge. Hence: and all that heard were astonished.


BEDE: To show He was a Man He humbly listened to men as to teachers: to show that He was God He answers these same with Wisdom from on high. GEOMETER: He questions reasonably, He listens prudently, and replies yet more prudently; at which they were astonished. CHRYSOSTOM, Hom. 20 in John: The Lord performed no 'miracles in His Childhood. Luke however discloses this single event, through which He is seen to be astonishing. BEDE: The divine tongue showed forth the divine wisdom, but the tender years give the semblance of human frailty. Hence the Jews, between the sublimity of what they hear, and the lowliness of what they see, are troubled with doubting wonder. We however do not wonder, knowing from the Prophet Isaias that the Child that is thus born to us remains still God the Mighty (ls. ix. 6).


GEOMETER: The most admirable Mother of God, sorrowing in her Maternal heart makes anguished inquiries, as if with tears, and as a mother puts all into words, truthfully, humbly, and lovingly. Hence:And His mother said to Him: Son, why hast thou done so to us? Behold thy father and I have sought thee sorrowing. ORIGEN, Homily 19: The sacred Virgin knew that He was not the son of Joseph, and yet calls her spouse His father, because of the Jews, who commonly regarded Him as conceived. Homily 17: It may perhaps be said simply that the Spirit honoured him with the name of father because he had nurtured the Child Jesus; but legally, because the genealogy of Joseph descended from David, and lest the genealogy be considered superfluous, he is called father. Homily 19: Why did they seek Him sorrowing? Was it that He had perished or strayed? Far from it. Was it possible they feared that the Child could be lost Whom they knew to be the Lord? But it was as when you are reading Scripture, and you seek with pain to find the meaning within it, not that you think that the Scripture has erred, or narrated something wrongly, but you strive to find the truth that is hidden there. So they sought for Jesus, lest perhaps leaving them He might have returned to heaven, whence He would again descend when it pleased Him. Whoever therefore seeks Jesus must not seek Him carelessly, or disconnectedly, as many seek but do not find Him; but with toil and anxiety.


GLOSS: Or they were fearful lest what Herod had sought to accomplish when Jesus was an Infant, now, grown into boyhood, others, finding an opportunity, might achieve. GEOMETER: But the Lord Himself replied to all their anxieties, and correcting in a certain measure her saying regarding him who was reputed His father, revealed His true Father; teaching that here He walked not with weak footsteps, but that He was raised on high. Hence follows: and he said to them: how is it that you sought Me? BEDE Not that He chides them for seeking Him as a son, but rather He compels them to raise the eyes of their mind to what is due to Him of Whom He is the Eternal Son. Hence: Did you not know, that I must be about my Father's business?


AMBROSE: There are two generations in Christ, one paternal the other maternal; the Paternal is the more (divinior), the maternal is that in which He has descended for our need and benefit. CYRIL, in the Catena of C.F.: He said this showing that He passed above the measure of men; and intimating that the sacred Virgin had been made the Handmaid of a purpose when she brought forth a man. He Himself was naturally and truly God and Son of the Heavenly Father. Hence let the followers of Valentinus, reading that it was the Temple of God, be ashamed to say that the Creator, and the God of the Temple, and of the Law, was not the Father of Christ.

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January 13: THE BAPTISM OF OUR LORD JESUS CHRIST


The King purifies His Bride in the Jordan


On the eighth day after Epiphany the liturgy places stress on the second major mystery of the feast, the baptism of Jesus in the Jordan. Consideration, evidently, is given to historical sequence, in as much as this event forms the bridge from the hidden life of Jesus to the beginning of His public life and teaching.


  1. Divine Office. St. Gregory Nazianzen voices some beautiful and elevating thoughts on the baptism of Jesus:

"Christ becomes radiant with light! Or better still, He floods us with the brightness of His light. Christ is baptized; let us descend with Him, so that with Him we may also ascend.

"John is baptizing. Jesus comes to him, indeed to sanctify the Baptist, but more particularly to bury the old Adam in the waters; the principal reason, however, was to sanctify the waters of the Jordan by that act. For as He Himself united spirit and flesh, those who would be baptized in the future should be sanctified through water and the Spirit. The Baptist demurs, Jesus insists. 'I ought to be baptized by You.' So, speaks the lamp to the Sun, the voice to the divine Word. Jesus comes up out of the water, bringing aloft the submerged world. He sees heaven not merely parted but opened; for Adam once had closed heaven to himself and to us, his posterity, even as the entrance to paradise was barred by a flaming sword. The Holy Spirit bears witness, because similar things often occur together. From heaven comes testimony, since He came from heaven in whose behalf testimony was being given."

  1. Holy Mass (Ecce advent). Today's Mass text pertain to the Magi mystery. The Gospel alludes to the baptism of Christ; the account does not give the details that may be found in the Synoptics, for the pericope is an excerpt from the Fourth Gospel. The evangelist John, a disciple of the Baptist, brings in only incidentally the sublime revelation that accompanied the event. What he stresses is the role of the Baptist.

John the Baptist is the "Bridegroom's friend." During Advent he prepared the bride for receiving the divine Spouse; today "he stands in our midst rejoicing with all his heart on hearing the voice of the Bridegroom." He would say: "That joy have I been granted in fullest measure. Now He must increase, I must decrease.'' Christ will now increase (like the sun) until Pentecost; but to the Baptist there will be no reference until after the summer equinox when the sun begins to decline. Christ is the Bridegroom, the Church the Bride; John the Baptist is the Bridegroom's chaste and humble friend to whom he conducts the Bride. The three belong together.

The Orations (Coll., Secr., Post.) are proper to the Mass and deserve consideration for their content and classic form. All three treat the "appearance" of the divine "Light" (they are the Prayers originally proper to the feast). The Collect asks for interior renovation through Christ who assumed our nature. The Secret is a true Offertory prayer: Christ, the newborn Son, is the author of our sacrificial gifts; may He also mercifully accept them. Post communion: With the heavenly light (of grace) may God guide us so that we may contemplate with a clear mind and worthily utilize the Epiphany-mysteries which God has deigned to grant us.

  1. Reflections on the Day's Mystery. In the life of Christ, the baptism in the Jordan is an event of highest importance because it represents a significant phase in the work of redemption. During the ecclesiastical year not only, this episode but all the phases of Christ's redemptive work are commemorated in the liturgy. In recent weeks we have celebrated quite many important events pertaining to our redemption, viz., the annunciation (Missal Aurea of Advent), the nativity, the circumcision, Christ's coming-of-age. The baptism at the Jordan marks the beginning of our Lord's public life. Indeed, it seems as if His baptism effected His anointing as the Messiah by the Holy Spirit. Whatever its ultimate significance, the Greek Fathers regarded the event as tremendously important.

In the symbolism of His baptism, Christ displayed beforehand His redemptive death and resurrection. Himself immaculate, He assumes the sins of the world, descends into the purifying waters, and raises mankind to divine sonship. Note that Christ's baptism was vicarious in nature. There He stands in the Jordan in our stead. Consequently, the act must find its true expression in our subjective or personal redemption. Three such occasions would be baptism, holy Mass, death.

At my baptism I was immersed with Christ, and with Him I died and was buried. Then I emerged, and for the first-time heaven opened to me as the Holy Spirit made His entrance into my soul; and my Father in heaven glanced down upon me, now "His son, His child."

In each holy Mass Christ's baptism is again operative. Through the holy Sacrifice I am immersed in His sacrificial death; heaven then opens and the Holy Spirit descends in holy Communion, while through the pledge of the sacrificial Banquet the Father assures me of renewed and enriched sonship in Himself.

The baptism of Christ takes place within me a third time at death, for death is indeed a sort of baptism. Death is like immersion into the dark depths, and when I emerge, it is into heaven above. Then I will see the Blessed Trinity, no longer through the darkened sun-glass of faith, but in immediate vision, face to face.

To sum up, today's liturgy helps me to understand more clearly the basic structure of spiritual life. Christ's death is the foundation. Upon this foundation the edifice rises through baptism and the Eucharist; while the Lord's return at death spells completion to the work.  (Pius Parsch)


__________________________


The Catholic Marriage Manual

Reverend George A. Kelly

Random House, New York 1958

11


The Problem of Alcoholism


Several hundred thousand alcoholics have been helped to sobriety through the unique organization of Alcoholics Anonymous. Father Edward Dowling, S.J., who has made a thorough study of this organization, thinks that "they have an answer that no one else has been able to supply." Father Dowling states that "they ask only one thing of the prospective member. He must say that he wills to be helped." The drinker then is taught that he is powerless over alcohol and that he needs a Higher Power to help him achieve sobriety. He learns that he must concentrate on avoiding the first drink for, if he does take it, the inevitable compulsion for more will be set into motion. He learns to put into practice a "twenty-four-hour program," in which he concentrates on solving the problems of one day at a time and does not disturb himself with remorse over the past or undue anxieties for the future. He also learns to recognize emotional responses like resentments which may create tensions that lead him to drink. Above all, he learns to place complete reliance upon the will of God. In doing so, he often experiences a spiritual rebirth which has been described as the "Miracle of A.A."

This treatment is not always successful. Sometimes the alcoholic does not truly wish to become sober. Sometimes he insists that he can stop by himself "when he wants to." And sometimes he is so far advanced that no program of recovery can make an impression. Nevertheless, those who continue to attend these meetings and try to conform to its suggested steps of recovery almost invariably achieve a large, if not full, measure of success.

Because of the alcoholic's traditional perversity, it is difficult to recommend any single way to call his need for A.A. to his attention. Sometimes an employer will threaten to fire him unless he stops drinking and joins. Sometimes a doctor, recognizing the limitations of physical methods of treatment, will recommend this step. Often the parish priest will suggest it. The wife herself should proceed delicately, for in most cases the alcoholic's relationship with her has reached such a sad state that almost automatically he rejects any suggestions she makes. Perhaps the most advisable procedure is for her to wait until he shows signs of remorse—usually after a prolonged bout—and obviously is groping for a way to stop. She might then delicately suggest that he interest himself in A.A. Its members will gladly call upon him and help him get started on the road to sobriety.

In extreme cases, the wife may find it necessary to leave him to protect herself and her children. She should not take this drastic step without first consulting her spiritual adviser, because leaving an alcoholic to his own feeble resources often causes him to drink even more, and makes recovery all but impossible.

An alcoholic may also be a psychoneurotic who would benefit from psychiatric treatment. A psychiatrist might be able to help the drinker understand what he is running from, diminish his feelings of guilt or inadequacy, and help him compete with the world on better terms.

The trouble is that most excessive drinkers don't want the help of outsiders, and that is precisely what they need most. Usually they are people who feel adequate only under the influence of liquor, and yet when sober are as proud as peacocks. But they do not know themselves. Before anything can be done they must accept the truth that there is nothing shameful about consulting a psychiatrist or joining A.A. Psychiatry is not just for the insane nor is the A.A. exclusively for "Bowery bums." The fact of the matter is that many people have been helped by both, particularly when they sought the help in the early stages. Unfortunately many people have to hit bottom before they will acknowledge their need for help.

What is needed in the nondrinking spouse is great patience and faith, the capacity to bear the injuries and the shame, and the faith to call for God's grace. One old lady in the midst of her husband's drinking bouts would always march up to the church on a dark morning. Kneeling before the altar rail, she "demanded" the help of Our Blessed Lord for herself and the husband. She always asserted that Christ never let her down whenever she needed sacramental grace. Once when she was asked why she had not separated from her husband long before this, she answered, "If I left Jack, I am sure he would lose his soul." This type of faith and determination kept the husband more sober than he would have otherwise been.

Total abstinence is often advisable. Couples in their early years of marriage should consider carefully the horrors that can result from excessive drink. They should also realize that this wretched affliction could come to them. If there is any indication that drink is or could be a problem in your life, by all means stop drinking immediately. If you could visit the alcoholic wards of hospitals, sit on the benches of the nation's courtrooms, visit social welfare agencies and witness the suffering deprivations of children that result from alcoholism, if you could view the records of chancery court which reveal how once ideal marriages have been ruined by excesses of drink, you would fully agree that complete abstinence is the only course open for anyone susceptible to this disease.

Total abstinence is not the joyless existence that drinkers sometimes make it out to be. Abstinence is a natural way of living; drinking is not. "There is a mistaken notion current among many Catholics in this country that there is something puritanical, or slightly un-Catholic, about the practice of total abstinence," comments the Rev. John C. Ford, S.J. "This is a false idea. Total abstinence has the highest approval of the Church and her theologians, and Catholic total abstinence organizations in this country and elsewhere have been enriched with indulgences by the Holy See.

"It would be false, however, to say, as some of our non-Catholic brethren do, that total abstinence is obligatory on all Christians. And it would be an exaggeration to say that total abstinence is always the more perfect way of practicing the virtue of sobriety. After all, Our Divine Lord drank wine. He was not a total abstainer. Yet he practiced the virtue of sobriety, as He practiced all other virtues, in a perfect degree.

"However, given the tremendous abuses of alcohol which are widespread in the United States, total abstinence is a peculiarly fitting and appropriate method of self-denial and self-discipline. It not only safeguards the total abstainer from the dangers of excess, but when practiced for a supernatural motive—for example, reparation to the heart of Jesus for one's own sins and the sins of others—it can become a means of advancing in perfection."  (To be continued)

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Father Krier will be in Los Angeles January 8 and in Pahrump, Nevada, January 10. He will be in Eureka, Nevada, January 17.

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