Our community decided in 2008 that the mission of our parish was life-long learning. Everything we do centers around teaching the depth and richness of the Roman Catholic Faith. Our weekly 3-Minute Catechesis is read from the Ambo prior to Mass beginning. A written copy is made available in our weekly bulletin along with additional information for those who want to learn more. Visit us online at www.risensaviorcc.org for more information.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Acts of the Apostles

The first reading in the Liturgy of the Word usually comes from the Old Testament.  However, following the liturgical tradition of the Churches in the East, the Roman lectionary does not use the Old Testament during the fifty days from Easter to Pentecost.  Instead, we hear readings from Acts of the Apostles.  It appears that this tradition is a very ancient one, established in the early Church and mentioned by St. Augustine in the fifth century.  Why do we read Acts during the Easter season?
 Acts was written by the same author as the Gospel of Luke, and it is really the second volume of a two-volume history.  Like the Gospels, it is not a “history” in the sense of an eyewitness account.  Luke himself says, at the beginning of his gospel, that “many have undertaken to set down an orderly account of the events that have been fulfilled among us, just as they were handed on to us by those who from the beginning were eyewitnesses and servants of the word.” (Luke 1: 1-2)  Acts is Luke’s collection of stories about the early Church, and an explanation of how Christianity spread under the direction of the Holy Spirit.
In Acts of the Apostles, we learn how the eleven remaining apostles replaced the apostle Judas with Matthias, and about the descent of the Holy Spirit on the Apostles.  But Acts is mostly about two of the apostles, Peter and Paul, including Paul’s conversion and his missionary travels.  In Acts, we read about the first church council in Jerusalem, where a decision was made to accept Gentiles as Christians without requiring that they also become practicing Jews.  We discover how the believers celebrated Eucharist together and shared their belongings, and how the Gospel message was preached, first to Jews in the synagogues and later to Gentiles.
As the apostles preached and performed signs and wonders, Luke tells us, they were persecuted by the Jewish leaders, but would not stop evangelizing because, as Peter says, “We must obey God rather than human authority.”  A wise Pharisee in the council named Gamaliel tells the council, “…if this undertaking is of human origin, it will fail; but if it is of God, you will not be able to overthrow them…”
We read Acts of the Apostles between Easter and Pentecost because it shows the remarkable transformation in Jesus’ followers as they come to terms with the reality of His resurrection.  After receiving the Holy Spirit at Pentecost, they do what all disciples of Christ are called to do: carry their faith beyond the communities of their own people and share it with the world.

Friday, April 13, 2012

The Sacrament of Confirmation

On several occasions, Jesus promised an outpouring of the Spirit, a promise which he fulfilled first on Easter Sunday. The Resurrected Christ appeared to the disciples, breathed on them, and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit.” This promise of the Spirit was even more strikingly fulfilled in the disciples at Pentecost, when “divided tongues, as of fire, appeared among them, and a tongue rested on each of them.” (Acts 2: 1-4) Filled with the Holy Spirit, the apostles began to witness to “God’s deeds of power.” Scripture tells us that three thousand people were baptized that day.

Confirmation is one of the seven sacraments recognized by the Roman Catholic Church. It is, along with Baptism and Eucharist, one of the Sacraments of Initiation. All three are necessary to be a fully-initiated Catholic.

Every baptized person who has not yet been confirmed should receive the sacrament of Confirmation. In Roman Catholic tradition, it is customary to confirm candidates between the age of reason and about sixteen years of age, although many Catholics are confirmed as adults. The candidates should be in the state of grace, well prepared by prayer and catechesis, and committed to the responsibilities entailed by the sacrament.

What are the effects of Confirmation? This sacrament brings an increase and deepening of baptismal grace, which roots us more deeply as children of God; it unites us more firmly to Christ; it increases the gifts of the Holy Spirit in us; it makes our bond with the Church more perfect; and it gives us the courage to spread and defend the faith as true witnesses of Christ.

The ordinary minister of the Rite of Confirmation in the Roman Catholic Church is the bishop. The sacrament of Confirmation is conferred through the anointing with Sacred Chrism on the forehead, together with the laying on of the minister’s hands, and the words “Be sealed with the gift of the Holy Spirit.” Because Confirmation, like Baptism, imprints an indelible or un-erasable mark on the soul, it is received only once in a lifetime.

Why should you be confirmed? Practically, it opens doors. For example, canon law recommends, when it comes to getting married in the Church, that, “If they can do so without serious inconvenience, Catholics who have not yet received the sacrament of confirmation are to receive it before being admitted to marriage.” Also, in order to be a baptismal godparent or a sponsor for Confirmation, you must be a fully-initiated Catholic. But the real reason Catholics should be confirmed is because they desire the fullness of the Holy Spirit guiding them in a life of discipleship.