Summary of today’s show: With Cardinal Seán and 29 priests of Boston on pilgrimage in the Holy Land, Scot Landry and Rick Heil encouraged listeners to follow along on a virtual pilgrimage at TheGoodCatholicLife.com where there will be regular updates. Also, Scot and Fr. Chris O’Connor discussed the Sacraments of Initiation, especially baptism and confirmation, two sacraments that are particularly timely during the Easter season. Why do we have confirmation names? What is confirmation? Can we switch godparents later? These questions and more are answered in the show.
Listen to the show:
Watch the show via live video streaming or a recording later: BostonCatholicLive.com
Today’s host(s): Scot Landry and Fr. Chris O’Connor
Links from today’s show:
Today’s topics: The Feast of the Annunciation; The Sacraments of Initiation
1st segment: Scot Landry welcomed everyone to the show. He said the big news this week is that based on the coverage of the papal conclave in Rome, providing a pilgrimage experience to people back home, some of Cardinal Seán’s cabinet members said that the cardinal and 29 priests were going on a pilgrimage to the Holy Land and George Martell should go. Scot said he couldn’t go at the last minute, but George was. More importantly, Susan Martell allowed George to go even though he will miss Susan’s birthday.
Scot said George was a photographer at the Boston Herald for about 20 years and so he was used to being able to go on assignment at the last minute.
Cardinal Seán and the pilgrims arrived Monday evening and today was their first full day in the Holy Land, visiting Galilee, the Basilica of the Annunciation, and Mount Carmel. There are many great photos at BostonCatholicPhotos.com. Scot said it’s already a tremendous virtual pilgrimage.
Every day, we’ll have photos and video and blog posts at TheGoodCatholicLife.com.
Rick Heil said we have a TV in the Catholic Media office area showing an unending slideshow of George’s most recent photos as they get posted online. He said his favorite photo right now is from the excavation of Joseph and Mary’s home in Nazareth. It sets your faith on fire to know that this is the place.
Scot said his favorite so far is seeing three of our priests kneeling before the altar in the lower church.
Scot said our faith is rich because you learn something new every day. He was shocked to learn that yesterday was the Feast of the Annunciation because when March 25 falls during Holy Week, it is moved to the first Monday after the Octave of Easter or two weeks later. The Feast of the Annunciation is when the angel Gabriel appeared before Mary and tells her that she will be the Mother of God and she gives her fiat, an attitude of faith seeking understanding.
Fr. Chris O’Connor arrived in the studio, having been stuck in traffic. He said he was horrified to see in the New York Times that they actually published on Easter that it was the day that Jesus ascended into heaven. They then discussed the significance of the Annunciation and how it would normally fall exactly nine months before Christmas. Fr. Chris said the Annunciation reminds us to give ourselves over to Christ. He said it’s an important day in the seminary because it’s the day Mary received her vocation for all eternity.
Scot read from the Gospel of Luke 1:25-38:
The angel Gabriel was sent from God
to a town of Galilee called Nazareth,
to a virgin betrothed to a man named Joseph,
of the house of David,
and the virgin’s name was Mary.
And coming to her, he said,
“Hail, full of grace! The Lord is with you.”
But she was greatly troubled at what was said
and pondered what sort of greeting this might be.
Then the angel said to her,
“Do not be afraid, Mary,
for you have found favor with God.
Behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son,
and you shall name him Jesus.
He will be great and will be called Son of the Most High,
and the Lord God will give him the throne of David his father,
and he will rule over the house of Jacob forever,
and of his Kingdom there will be no end.”
But Mary said to the angel,
“How can this be,
since I have no relations with a man?”
And the angel said to her in reply,
“The Holy Spirit will come upon you,
and the power of the Most High will overshadow you.
Therefore the child to be born
will be called holy, the Son of God.
And behold, Elizabeth, your relative,
has also conceived a son in her old age,
and this is the sixth month for her who was called barren;
for nothing will be impossible for God.”
Mary said, “Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord.
May it be done to me according to your word.”
Then the angel departed from her.
He said Mary said, “Let it be done to me according to your Word.” Scot said he thinks that’s what someone like the pilgrim priests must be praying on their pilgrimage and he asked listeners to pray for Cardinal Seán and those priests in the next chapter of their lives.
2nd segment: Fr. Chris and Scot bring up the topic of the Sacraments of Initiation. Fr. Chris said it’s most appropriate to talk about them now because after Easter the Lord’s grace is flowing abundantly at this time and at Easter Vigil and in the weeks following people are receiving these graces. He said at the parish where he lives the kids are preparing for confirmation and first communion. Some parishes suspend baptism during Lent and hold them all during the season of Easter.
He said on the cross, when the soldier pierced the side of Christ, water and blood flowed from his side. The water represented baptism and the blood the Eucharist.
Scot said on the Easter Vigil, the catechumens receive the three sacraments of initiation: baptism, confirmation, and first communion. Meanwhile the rest of the congregation renews their baptismal vows. Fr. Chris said on Easter Sunday everyone renews their vows because baptism is connected to the feast of Easter, newness of life. Baptism is descending into the tomb of the water and rising again with new life.
Fr. Chris said we use water to drink and to clean. Similarly, in baptism God is actively involved in offering us the washing away of original sin, membership in the Body of Christ, and the pledge of eternal life. “I was made for heaven and heaven was made for me.”
Fr. Chris said the Church doesn’t have a preference between full immersion versus pouring water in baptism. He said the formula of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit reminds us of the three days spent in the tomb waiting to burst back into life.
Scot asked what the Catechism means in 1280 that it imprints on the soul an indelible character. Fr. Chris said it’s a sign that goes with us to heaven and the eternal Father will recognize it on our souls. There are two other sacraments where this indelible mark takes place: Confirmation and Holy Orders. Once a priest, always a priest. That’s why, even in cases of priests who have left active ministry, in an emergency the priest could hear a confession or administer anointing of the sick.
He said he someone ask to have a godparent changed and he had to say no because those relationships are indelible and unchangeable. Thus those decisions are so important.
Scot asked about people at the Easter Vigil who are called “candidates for full communion with the Catholic Church.” These are people who were already baptized in any Christian church with water and using the formula: “I baptize you in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirt. Amen.”
Scot said with his kids he never wanted to wait to baptize them and chose to do it as soon as possible. He asked why in the Church we do it for infants before they reach the age of reason at which they can choose this faith.
Fr. Chris said the children are baptized into the faith of the Church, of the community. That’s why it’s essential moms and dads and godparents are living the faith. what’s most important is that God is doing the activity. With the sacraments comes the promise of God’s power. The sacraments aren’t magic. In baptism, even before we were aware, God was already present to us, acting in our lives, and claiming us as his own.
Scot noted that any Catholic in an emergency could baptize someone using the correct formula. Fr. Chris recalled an episode of All in the Family where Edith Bunker baptized her grandchild in the kitchen sink.
Fr. Chris then talked about the signs of baptism that are found at funerals, including the paschal candle and the white pall on the casket that reminds us of the white baptismal garment. Scot said a lot of priests try to find out the date of baptism of the deceased in order to preach about the connection between the funeral rite and the baptismal rite. He said many godparents take the date of baptism so seriously that they observe that date over the birthday.
3rd segment: Scot asked why baptism and confirmation are usually tied together and in some places in the Church celebrated at the same time. Fr. Chris said we look at confirmation as an outpouring of the Holy Spirit on those who are confirmed in which they are asked to be witnesses to Christ.
He said the bishop puts the sign of oil on the forehead as a sign that when we come face to face with others, we bring the face of Christ to others.
Fr. Chris read from the Catechism 1319 which says the candidate has to be the age of reason, which in some dioceses is the same age at which they receive first communion.
A candidate for Confirmation who has attained the age of reason must profess the faith, be in the state of grace, have the intention of receiving the sacrament, and be prepared to assume the role of disciple and witness to Christ, both within the ecclesial community and in temporal affairs.
He said the key why most dioceses wait is that they must be prepared to assume the role of disciple and witness which assumes some maturity.
On the question of whether a confirmation sponsor should be one of the godparents, Fr. Chris said they don’t have to be the same. He said the candidate should carefully choose the person they seek to emulate in the Christian life.
On the formulation of being sealed in the Holy Spirit, Fr. Chris said slaves used to be sealed, or branded, to show ownership, and so when the bishop seals the person, he is claiming him for Christ, affirming in them the fact they are called to be disciples and witnesses. Fr. Chris said confirmation is not graduation, but just the opposite. They are called to more deeply live the life of Christ.
On the oil, Fr. Chris said in ancient times oil was seen as a healing remedy. When someone is given holy oil, they are given some healing, some grace. Also oil has always been used to set people apart. Priests, prophets and kings were anointed with oil in the Old Testament. Messiah means “the anointed one.” When we are anointed, we are set apart.
there are three oils: chrism, oil of catechumens, and oil of anointing of the sick. Chrism is used for baptism, confirmation, and holy orders. He said there is a great smell to chrism and this saintly odor reaches to the heavens.
Scot asked the significance of selecting a confirmation name. Fr. Chris said it’s similar to the old days when someone went into the religious life, they take a new name, like Patrick O’Malley became Friar Seán O’Malley. It shows that the old person has fallen away and a new person steps forward.
Scot’s confirmation name is Theophilus, which was picked for him by Fr. Lenny O’Malley after he lost a bet.