At the 9 o’clock mass last Sunday, we “commissioned” the young people who are beginning their preparation for the Sacrament of Confirmation. In talking to them about what it is they are taking on I reminded them that the priest at their baptism had spoken prophetically telling their parents and godparents that one day the newly baptized child would be sealed with the Holy Spirit in completion of initiation into the church. That sealing with Sacred Chrism at Confirmation echoes and reinforces a similar anointing with the same Chrism at Baptism where the priest reminds the newly baptized that they will share in the threefold ministry of Christ: Priest, Prophet, and King.
Pope Saint Leo the Great spoke of that sharing 1500 years ago in a sermon to a Church beleaguered by constant attacks:
“Although the universal Church of God is constituted of distinct orders of members, still, in spite of the many parts of its holy body, the Church subsists as an integral whole, just as the Apostle says: We are all one in Christ, nor is anyone separated from the office of another in such a way that a lower group has no connection with the head. In the unity of faith and baptism, our community is then undivided.
There is a common dignity as the apostle Peter says in these words: And you are built up as living stones
into spiritual houses, a holy priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices which are acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. And again: But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people of election.
For all, regenerated in Christ, are made kings by the sign of the cross; they are consecrated priests by the oil of the Holy Spirit, so that beyond the special service of our ministry as priests, all spiritual and mature Christians know that they are a royal race and are sharers in the office of the priesthood. For what is more king-like than to find yourself ruler over your body after having surrendered your soul to
God? And what is more priestly than to promise the Lord a pure conscience and to offer him in love unblemished victims on the altar of one’s heart?….
So that your people may walk in innocence, you came to us, Lord Jesus, and told us to be holy as your Father is holy. Help your children to love what is truly perfect, so that we may neither speak what is evil nor do what is wrong. Let us stand in your sight and celebrate with you the Father’s love and justice.”
Let us take good Pope Saint Leo’s words to heart. In Christ through the Blessed Virgin Mary may we bear witness to the sacred ministry with which we have been entrusted.
Love and peace,
Fr. Liam Quinlan