Friday, June 14, 2019

(228) SOLDIERS OF CHRIST SEMPER FIDELIS, ALWAYS FAITHFUL......... Confirmation is the beginning of a great adventure in the Faith, not the end.


The First Confirmation…….the Birthday of the Church.  
It’s our turn when we receive the sacrament.

       Where have we seen “Semper Fidelis” before?  You probably saw the motto of the United States Marines on its flag.  It’s Latin for, “Always Faithful”.  What’s that got to do with the sacrament of Confirmation which 20 of our youth will be receiving this Sunday?  It’s our largest Confirmation class ever at St. Louis Church in Gallipolis, Ohio.

       Our youth will be anointed as soldiers of Christ and will receive many graces to combat the forces of evil.  Evil affects us as individuals (personal sin) and as members of a society engulfed in a deadly cultural spiritual war on many levels over abortion, euthanasia and assisted suicide, promiscuity both heterosexual and homosexual, gender change, same sex marriage, drugs, corruption, violence, social injustice, violations of religious freedom, laxity regarding the faith, etc.

       To be an effective soldier of Christ, one must be first and foremost, faithful.  What does that mean?  Our Lord founded a Church to guide us to eternity through teaching us what He taught, passing it down from generation to generation with the help of parents.  The Church’s mission is to help us to get to Heaven.  Christ uses His Church as the primary source of the graces we need through the sacraments to help us along the way.  The Church brings us closer to God through the sacraments and prayer during the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass and devotions.  

       Holy Mother the Church applies the teachings of Jesus Christ to the reality of today’s problems.  If we rely on ourselves to determine what is right or wrong, we can play mind games and talk ourselves into believing that almost any evil is OK, such as abortion when carrying the baby to term is inconvenient.  Holy Mother the Church settles theological disputes and moral dilemmas; she establishes certain rules such as the grave Sunday obligation and Confession at least once a year to keep us on track to Heaven and closer to God.
Faithful to Church Teaching.  When everyone interprets the Bible in his own way, we have chaos and some 35,000 different Christian religions.  The Magisterium of the Church is a tremendous gift for preserving the unity, consistency, and coherence of the teachings of Christ over the centuries as our understanding of doctrine develops while theological disagreements and new problems occur.  The foundation is the Bible and also tradition passed down from the apostles.  The great secular historian, Arnold Toynbee was amazed by this as unprecedented. 

The Pope, the Vicar of Christ and Successor of St. Peter as a shepherd and teacher, has the last word on matters of faith and morals after prayer, discussion, and study when he speaks “ex cathedra” which is rare.  We know that the Holy Spirit is there to guide the Church and keep it from doctrinal error.  

We know that “the gates of hell shall never prevail (Matthew 16:15-20)” despite the presence of some corrupt laymen, priests, bishops, and even popes over the centuries.  That’s why Pope Pius VI told Napoleon after arrogantly declaring that he will destroy the Church:  “We ourselves tried to destroy the Church and couldn’t do it; you won’t either”.
       Thus a faithful Catholic will: attend the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass every single Sunday and worthily receive the Eucharist each time.  The faithful Catholic will go to Confession every few months to assess how he or she is doing, what he has to work on in the development of virtue, and obtain advice from his confessor.  The faithful Catholic will follow Church teaching as outlined in the Catechism of the Catholic Church.  He won’t go off on his own as a “Cafeteria Catholic” and believe what s/he chooses to believe.  

       He or she will have a strong prayer life……..daily Bible reading, daily Mass and Eucharistic Adoration when able.  Pray for God’s will in everything you do.  One cannot be a good soldier of Christ without prayer.   A good soldier needs constant training.  That includes participating in Bible studies, doing spiritual reading, watching EWTN and DVDs, using CDs, attending conferences, etc.
       If one misses Mass when simply tired or for no grave reason, he or she will start to drift.  Confession disappears from his or her life.  That soldier is derelict of duty.  Soon s/he goes to Mass only when convenient, then only Christmas and Easter, finally not at all.  That soldier of Christ is no longer a soldier at all, but a deserter.  DON’T BECOME A DESERTER.  ALWAYS REMAIN A FAITHFUL SOLDIER OF CHRIST TO THE END when our Lord will tell you:  “WELL DONE GOOD AND FAITHFUL SERVANT!” (Matthew 25:23).  Win that super bowl trophy……Heaven!

The Church is the Mystical Body of Christ as the head and we are the parts 
(1 Corinthians Chapter 12).
        For the first apostles, Confirmation was the beginning, not the end…….the birth of an eternal Church, the Mystical Body of Christ.  The first apostles were set on fire to go out and spread the Faith, to defend the Faith, to make any sacrifice, to endure any hardship, to even suffer martyrdom if necessary.  Christ told His apostles and us too: “Let your light shine before others that they may see your good deeds and glorify your heavenly Father” (Matthew 5:16).  We are not any different from the first apostles.  Confirmation is not the end of the Parish School of Religion (PSR), but the beginning of a lifetime adventure in serving the Lord.  DON’T JUST KEEP THE FAITH; SPREAD IT in little or big ways…….by prayer, your example, your witness, by word, or deed.
There’s probably a big mission field right in your own extended family!  Every extended family has fallen away Catholics and non-Catholics.  Take advantage of little opportunities to evangelize with courage by boldly standing up for the truth, by courageously defending the faith when attacked, by talking about the Faith when moral or spiritual issues come up in conversation.
       Through the graces of Confirmation, Our Lord expects us to be His witnesses for the truth and in the never ending battles between the forces of good and evil.  Whose side are you on?  God gave each one of us a special mission in life.  Each one of us has a part in the battle and the graces of Confirmation equip us for the battle.  In Confirmation we are anointed for a special mission with the strength and help to accomplish it, to be witnesses……..SOLDIERS OF CHRIST!

Confirmation increases the gifts of the Holy Spirit in us.  Pray that the gifts may grow in you throughout your life.
      What is Confirmation?  As in any sacrament, it is Christ who administers it through His Persona Christi, the priest or bishop.  Jesus invokes the Holy Spirit to complete the sacrament of Baptism and its graces.  By the sacrament of Confirmation, the baptized person is more perfectly bound to the Church and is enriched with a special strength of the Holy Spirit against sin and evil.  He or she is anointed to be a true witness of Christ, is more strictly obliged to spread and defend the Faith by word and deed (#1285 of the Catechism of the Catholic Church).  In Confirmation we become more firm in the Faith and are consecrated to the Lord as we receive an outpouring of the Holy Spirit the same as at the first Pentecost and with the first converts, noted in the Bible’s New Testament Acts of the Apostles.

Confirmation makes us better disciples and increases the gifts of the Holy Spirit in us and unites us more closely to Christ.  In Baptism our godparents professed the faith for us.  In Confirmation we individually profess the faith and become more firm in it.  The seven gifts of the Holy Spirit are: wisdom (to discern what is important in life as God sees it); understanding (to see how God works in our lives); counsel (to see what is right and wrong); fortitude (courage to do what is right despite the consequences); knowledge (the ability to see things from God’s perspective); piety (faithfulness to God); and fear of the Lord (reverence and respect for God in awe with fear of offending Him).  

When one allows himself to be completely formed by God, he or she reaps the 12 fruits of the Holy Spirit: charity, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, generosity, gentleness, faithfulness, modesty, self-control, and chastity (Galatians 5:22-23).
A Closing Short Daily Prayer:  Dear Holy Spirit: always tell me what to do, what to say, and what to write.  Never let me do or say anything against your will.  Renew in me your seven gifts and the graces of Confirmation.    

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