Living the Sacraments
Becoming a Mature Christian
Rev. P. F. CRUDDEN
A.C.T.S. No 1490 (1966)
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This is the fourth of the "Living the Sacraments" series of eight
pamphlets on the sacraments. The writer describes the maturity
established in a Christian who has received the the sacrament of
Confirmation. The full realization and development of adulthood is
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Fr. P, F. Crudden, B.A., Dip. Ed., is a member of the staff of the
Education Office, Melbourne. He attended a course of studies overseas
at the Lumen Vitae Institute, Belgium, and has lectured extensively to
conferences of religious teachers.
Apart from the few people who discuss Confirmation in relation to their
work in the organized lay apostolate, few adult Christians ever give
serious thought to the sacrament by which they do become adult
Christians. This is a pity, because a knowledge of Confirmation is a
real help towards understanding what Christian maturity is.
This essay will consider the origins of the sacrament in the Old
Testament, its institution by Christ, its present meaning and the
anticipations of future life that it contains. However, most people are
so vague in their knowledge of Confirmation that it may be wise to
include some introductory remarks.
Confirmation is one of the three sacraments that are said to leave a
permanent imprint or seal on the soul. This imprint indicates a deeper
sharing in the priesthood of Christ that is given in Baptism. This deep
sharing is attributed to the action of the Holy Spirit. His action
equips us in a special way for spreading and defending the faith and
acting as witnesses of Christ. Thus Confirmation is especially
concerned with our responsibility towards other people.
The principal sign used in the conferring of
Confirmation is an anointing with oil associated with an imposition of
hands by the Bishop. Both of these signs aptly designate a special
conferring of the Holy Spirit, special in that it gives adult status to
the Christian. Our present task is to find out what this adult status
is and to say how the graces that come with this status operate in our
lives from day to day.
TIME OF PREPARATION
We read in the Old Testament how Samuel anointed Saul with oil to show
that God has chosen him as king. We read how men were anointed with oil
to show that God had chosen them as his priests. We read how other men
were anointed with oil to show that God had chosen them as his
prophets, his specially inspired teachers.
Oil was an apt symbol for each of these functions. It was regarded as a
most valued gift of God's goodness, a symbol of life and light and
strength and comfort. As such it was ideal for signifying that the
spirit of God had descended on the person anointed. The kings were
empowered by the Spirit of God to rule in the name of God; the priests
were empowered by the Spirit of God to offer prayers and sacrifices
that ascended with a pleasing fragrance to God. The prophets, full of
the spirit of God, were empowered to teach in his name and to awaken
the consciences of men on his behalf.
King, Priest, Prophet
Kingship, priesthood and prophecy are not functions that we immediately
attribute to the layman, even the mature layman, in the Church. Yet
these are the very functions that the sacrament of Confirmation is
concerned with. Probably the greatest difficulty of theologians in
connection with this sacrament is to define sharply its distinction
from Baptism. In a work of this kind we can avoid that difficulty. It
suffices to say that we begin to share in the kingship, the priesthood
and the prophecy of Christ at Baptism and there is an anointing at
Baptism to indicate this. But in Confirmation we receive a second
anointing and with this second anointing the action of the Holy Spirit
in giving us full membership in the people of God is complete.
It may seem that these terms have become obsolete in our day; but each
one of these functions is a vital one in the life of the Christian
today, as the Second Vatican Council has taught so clearly. It would be
moving too quickly to treat each one of these functions in fuller
detail at this point; but we can at least indicate that they are living
To Rule is to Serve
God is love and in him the exercise of kingship, of power, of rule is
always an exercise of love. His exercise of kingship is not a paternal
despotism. It is a rule of love established in the heart of man by his
free response to his makers gift of himself. As adult Christians we
exercise our "royal" priesthood by everything that we do to establish
God's rule in love in our own hearts and in the lives of our fellow men.
We Worship with Christ
We are indeed a royal "priesthood" empowered by our incorporation into
the death and resurrection of Christ to join with our ordained
priesthood in offering sacrifice to God. In fact, all prayer in the
church, including the prayers and sacrifices of ordained ministers, is
made acceptable to God by our being one with Christ who offers at his
Father's side the unchanging homage of an adoration perfected by his
self-gift on Calvary.
The Spirit of Prophecy
We are, too, prophets. Even if we do not preach we are empowered to
bring men surely to the knowledge and love of God by witness of lives
lived for God. Knowledge of God, such as the prophets of old and even
Christ himself imparted is knowledge arising from his relationship to
men. We are prophets in so far as we are open to the action of God in
our lives and instrumental in awakening the consciences of our fellow
men through our own response to God.
One might here justifiably digress a moment to speak about the spirit
of prophecy that is re-awakening the Church in our time. It was
characteristic of the prophets that they presented God as relevant.
Under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit they discerned the anguish of
their times, denounced social injustice and awakened in men a fierce
desire to create a new order of things. They spoke in burning words of
love, sacrifice, conversion, commitment, discipline, hope, fulfilment.
They spoke to the heart of man and penetrated the externality of law.
Surely this is the very thing that the Church in our time is learning
again to do. Before, it sometimes seemed we were jealous of conserving
a past order. Now we speak of renewal, renewal directed towards the
creation of a new order. But the creation of a new order demands that
by involvement in the world we become sensitive to the anguish of the
poor and the emptiness of the rich; that, full of the compassion of
Christ for the poor and empty, we direct men's lives towards the living
God. This is a work for the whole Church; it is a work of priesthood,
of kingship in the divine sense and of prophecy, especially of
prophecy, for the prophet is essentially a restless man, too moved by
injustice to remain inactive in the face of suffering; if it is a work
of the whole Church it is a work not merely or even primarily of the
ordained ministers; it is a work of all those raised to adult status by
the gift of the Spirit. Part of the renewal is a deeper grasp by the
church of the implications for the laity of the anointing with the
Spirit that they have received in Confirmation, an anointing best
understood in terms of priesthood, kingship and prophecy.
TIME OF FULFILMENT
Although the gospels give no direct evidence for the institution of the
rite of Confirmation by Christ, it is worthwhile exploring them for
evidence of the action of the Spirit in Christ's life and work. The
information given there helps our understanding of the action of the
Spirit in the life and work of the christian who continues the life and
action of Christ in the world. Every Christian is in some way Christ to
We know that it was by the power of the Holy Spirit that God the Son
became man. More interesting, perhaps, is that Christ was anointed by
the Spirit at his Baptism in preparation for his public ministry.
A Twofold Anointing
This dual anointing plays quite an important part in the sacramental
system. A priest is anointed with the Spirit on the occasion of his
ordination. He receives a second anointing if he receives the fullness
of orders, becoming a bishop. Presumably the second anointing confers
new strength to sustain new responsibilities. A similar thing occurs in
the life of the layman. He is first anointed with the Spirit at his
Baptism. Then he receives a second anointing on the occasion of his
Confirmation, obviously in view of new responsibilities.
Our Life is a Fight
After the Baptism Christ was led by the Spirit into the desert for his
initial conflict with Satan. The imagery of fight, conflict, combat is
strongly associated with the sacrament of Confirmation. By this
sacrament we are even said to become soldiers of God. This means that
we undertake to join with Christ in his fight against sin and evil in
ourselves and in our world. The
Constitution on the Church in the Modern World acknowledges just
how much our life is a fight:
"All of human life, whether individual
or collective, shows itself to be a dramatic struggle between good and
evil, between light and darkness. Indeed, man finds that by himself he
is incapable of battling the assaults of evil successfully, so that
everyone feels as though he is bound by chains. But the Lord himself
came to free and strengthen man, renewing him inwardly and casting out
the "prince of the world" who has held him in the bondage of sin."
It is significant that Christ emerged victorious from his initial
combat in the desert. This foreshadowed the victory he won on the
cross. It is in virtue of this victory that we are confirmed. His
victory is our finest motive for confidence in the face of opposition.
God's Spirit upon Us
Once this conflict with Satan in the desert was over, Christ was led by
the Spirit into Galilee. According to Luke's account he returned quite
soon to Nazareth and read in the synagogue there the passage from
Isaiah that throws so much light on the nature of his work:
"The Spirit of the Lord is upon me; he
has anointed me, and sent me out to preach the gospel to the poor, to
restore the broken hearted, to bid the prisoners go free and the blind
have sight. . . ." Luke 4:18-19.
If the Spirit of God has anointed us, too, it must surely be to make
the solicitude of Christ for men live on in the world. After all, the
Holy Spirit is the spirit of God's love.
Christ to the World
The work of men in the world includes that of subjecting material
creation to human needs. This is shown in the Constitution on the Church in the Modern
World to be a part of Christ's work for mankind, a work done in
the power of the Spirit.
"Christ is at work in the hearts of men
through the energy of his Spirit
. . . animating, purifying, strengthening those noble longings by which
the human family makes its life more human and strives to render the
whole earth submissive."
It is true that all these words concern all men; but the christian has a
deeper motive for involvement in activity of this kind:
"Hence it is clear that men are not
deterred by the christian message from building up the world, or
impelled to neglect the welfare of their fellows, but that they are
rather more stringently bound to do these very things."
Activity of this kind implies a love both for the world and for mankind.
"Redeemed by Christ and made a new
creature by the Holy Spirit, man is able to love the things themselves
created by God and ought to do so."
Love for creation, which must be there if one is to build up the world,
is related to the new law of love which is the basic law of the world's
"To those who believe in divine love,
he gives the assurance that the way of love lies open to men and that
the effort to establish a universal brotherhood is not a hopeless one."
In speaking of this wide concern that the mature christian ought to
have for the world and his fellow men, we must not lose sight of its
deeply personal nature.
"In our times, a special obligation
binds us to make ourselves the neighbour of every person without
exception and of actively helping him when he comes across our path,
whether he be an old person abandoned by all, a foreign labourer
unjustly looked down on, a child born out of lawful union and wrongly
suffering for a sin he did not commit, or a hungry person who disturbs
our conscience by recalling the voice of the Lord, 'As long as you did
it for one of these, the least of my brethren, you did it for me'."
Concluding this line of thought we might ask whether it is too daring
to read this deep compassion for men into the Galilean ministry of
Christ, whether it is too daring to believe that our own anointing with
the Spirit confers a vocation to make the compassion of Christ for men
live on. Surely not; surely it is at the heart of our sacramental
initiation into Christ. Certainly if we need any re-assuring about the
answer to the latter question it is given by the Holy Spirit speaking
to us in and through the pages of the Vatican II documents.
At the Service of Men
A longer study of Christ's life and work would show him being led
through trial, conflict and opposition to Jerusalem, the place of his
sacrifice and his glory. Inspired by the Spirit of God, he bore the
supreme witness of fidelity in love for God and men on Calvary and in
so doing reconciled mankind with God and won the gift of God's spirit
for us all. It is on Calvary and in the resurrection of Christ that the
real institution of this sacrament, and every other sacrament, is
The christian vocation conferred by Baptism and Confirmation is an
involvement in both the death and resurrection of Christ. Our
apostolate of charity and renewal is both our cross and our glory. To
place oneself at the service of the world and one's fellow men is to
undertake to live by sacrifice, by total commitment and by discipline.
"He is not worthy of me," says Christ,
"that will not take up his cross and follow me." Mt. I0: 38.
Strength from the Spirit
Perhaps the heaviest cross of all is to fail in this work for God and
our fellow men, even as Christ seemed to fail. But the gifts of the
Spirit include courage and fortitude, so that the lay apostles of
Christ need not be deterred by anything, even apparent failure. Christ
himself, the Son of God made man, needed to be strengthened by the
Spirit for the work he had to do. In winning a victory in the face of
greater opposition than we shall ever encounter, he secures for us the
gift of the Spirit.
"I will ask the Father and he will give
you another to befriend you, one who is to dwell continuously with you
forever. It is the truth-giving Spirit, for whom the world can find no
room because it cannot see him, cannot recognize him. But you are to
recognize him; he will be continually at your side, nay, he will be in
you." John 14:16, 17.
This gift of the Spirit comes to the individual christian through the
sacraments of Baptism and Confirmation. He is to befriend us, to be
continually with us, even in us, enabling us to continue in the name of
Christ the work of spreading and defending the kingdom of God.
TIME OF CONTINUATION
Christ's promise to send the Holy Spirit was fulfilled at Pentecost.
The coming of the Spirit had an enormous impact on the apostles,
probably because they now saw for the first time that the Lord Yahweh
had come amongst them in the person of Christ. They had walked, talked,
eaten with, and enjoyed the companionship of the very Son of God. In
the light of this knowledge and in their newly found confidence,
courage and strength they launched the Church in the world. To
understand the power of their preaching we need to recall that by the
power of the Spirit Christ had come to preach and to establish the
kingdom of God amongst men. Now it was by the power of the Spirit that
this work was to be continued in the world through the efforts of his
chosen disciples. The present stage in the history of mankind is best
understood as the age of the outpouring of the Holy Spirit.
The gift of the Spirit was not reserved to the apostles. They handed on
their gift to others, both to the bishops who succeeded them and to the
"And now the apostles at Jerusalem,
hearing that Samaria had received the word of God, sent Peter and John
to visit them. So these two came down and prayed for them, that they
might receive the Holy Spirit, who had not as yet come down on any of
them; they had received nothing so far except Baptism in the name of
the Lord Jesus Christ. Then the apostles began to lay hands on them so
that the Holy Spirit was given them."
The Confirmation Rite
In post-apostolic times the successors of the apostles continued to
hand on the Holy Spirit to the laity, although it is not always easy to
isolate from Baptism the rite by which this was done. The rite varied
greatly from church to church and from age to age and it was not until
late in the fifteenth century that our present rite in its current form
was included in the Roman Pontifical. As mentioned earlier, it suffices
for this brief study to say that whether an anointing was used or an
imposition of hands by the bishop, adult status in the Church was
always conferred by an anointing with the Spirit of God. Further
modification of the Confirmation rite is (1966) to be expected as the Constitution on the Liturgy states:
"The rite of Confirmation is to be
revised." -Par. 71.
The revised rite is to lay emphasis on Confirmation as a step towards
christian maturity. There is no better way of understanding the present
sign by which the Spirit is conferred, namely an anointing on the
forehead with the oil of chrism, than by looking at the prayers used in
the Mass of the Oils on Holy Thursday morning. Chrism is there
presented as the cause of Life, of Holiness and of Peace, all three of
which are to be attributed to the gift of the Spirit.
A Kiss of Peace?
Perhaps this is the place to mention that a kiss of peace is associated
with post-baptismal anointing as far back as the beginning of the third
century and is undoubtedly the older meaning of the tap on the cheek
given by the bishop in the present rite. It is possible that it will
again take on this meaning when the rite is renewed. A gesture of love
and affection from the bishop on the occasion of a christian achieving
adult status in the Church seems more positive in meaning than a blow
given as a sign that one must be prepared to suffer rebuffs in the
course of serving Christ.
The Constitution on the Church
refers only briefly to Confirmation, but it reassures us of its value.
"Christians are more perfectly bound to
the Church by the sacrament of Confirmation; the Holy Spirit endows
them with special strength so that they are more strictly obliged to
spread and defend the faith, both by word and deed as true witnesses of
Your Kingdom Come
Each time that we say the Our Father we pray "Your kingdom come." When
we pray in this way we are asking that God's reign of love may be
established in our own hearts and in the hearts of our fellow men.
God's reign of love is established in our own hearts primarily through
our effort to ratify by an adult commitment the gift of faith that we
have received in Baptism. This is largely a matter of saying to God
with Christ in the whole of our lives "Father, your will be done." The
will of God is that we be sanctified and that all men may come to
knowledge and love of him. When we pray "Your kingdom come", we are
committing ourselves to working to bring men to know and love God. This
is so basic to the christian way of life that our sanctification
depends upon it. We must, therefore, see Confirmation as completing the
work that Baptism has begun in us by strengthening us to spread and
defend the faith as witnesses of Christ. A real understanding of
Confirmation therefore requires that we fully appreciate what is
involved in christian witness.
Witnesses of Christ
Witness is an elusive word in English. We are witnesses of Christ in
the world in so far as people can see Christ in us. It is difficult to
associate this concept with the word witness; but it is nonetheless the
real force of the word in this context.
Christ is undoubtedly in us, in the sense that we share his life by
faith and by grace. Every christian has the vocation to be Christ to
this world. Confirmation is concerned with everything that enables the
christian in his world to be Christ bringing men to the knowledge and
love of the Father.
Witness through the Family
Parents are witnesses of Christ in educating their children by word and
example. They are assisting the Holy Spirit in this, because all growth
in faith comes ultimately from him. They are also assisted by the Holy
Spirit in doing their work with Christ and for Christ. If it were not
for this assistance who would dare to suggest that children ought to be
able to see Christ in their parents? It goes without saying that they
will do this in so far as they see in their parents a mutual love for
God, for each other and for them. Although this kind of love is
fostered by human effort, it is made possible through the grace of the
sacrament of Matrimony. But this sacrament is one for those who have
already been made mature christians by the gift of the Spirit in
Confirmation. There is a very obvious continuity between Confirmation,
Matrimony and christian family life because the Holy Spirit is the
Spirit of a God who is love. His special work is to awaken and nourish
Christ's love in us and he relies on our co-operation to ensure that
this love of Christ expresses itself in our relationships with other
people. In this case the relationships we are considering are those of
husband and wife with each other and with their children. Where
christian love flourishes in these relationships, the truth of
christianity and the presence of Christ in the world are being
manifested in a highly significant way.
The graces of Confirmation are operative equally strongly in the
relationships between person and person in the community of men.
Friendship is an art that ought to be cultivated by mature people. True
friendship needs to be cultivated; it requires generosity and a certain
amount of self-sacrifice. It is not being suggested here that one
cultivates friendships for the sake of apostolic action. There is
something patently insincere about this attitude, something unworthy of
human dignity. Rather it is being suggested that sincerely formed
friendships are valuable in God's sight because in them we really see
man at his best. For this reason they have real religious significance
and the Holy Spirit works in and through them.
Witness through Work
Within the human community there are many human relationships based
more on service than personal friendship. The work of the doctor, the
nurse, the teacher, the tram conductor, the tradesman. , the shop
assistant, the public servant and all the rest must be seen by the
christian as a work of faith. These people are called to co-operate
with the Holy Spirit in developing their own integrity and in valuing
the human dignity of all with whom their work brings them in contact.
Their witness does not consist in saying, "Have you noticed how
competent and courteous I am; that's because I'm a christian." It is
rather a matter of saying, "I know by faith that the Holy Spirit is
working in my world. Do I hinder or assist his work?" So completely
have religious life and work life been compartmentalized that we needed
the Second Vatican Council to remind us that integrity of approach in
our work and in the personal relationships demanded by our work is part
of our christian vocation. This brings it within the scope of the
sacrament of Confirmation.
Those christians whose lives are taken up with the pursuit of truth in
science or art; those christians whose life is taken up with the
betterment of the human condition whether through psychology,
sociology, technology, education, economics, politics or international
relations; all of these must see that their work is eminently
christian, in that everything that helps to overcome material
destitution, ignorance, war or any kind of sub-human or inhuman
condition is laying a necessary foundation for the growth of God's
kingdom. Any vocation of this kind is to be seen as a christian's
response to his vocation to restore all things in Christ. The Holy
Spirit, who is the Spirit of Truth, is given to the christian as a gift
in virtue of work of this kind.
Organized Lay Apostolate
Up to this point we have considered the role of the layman as witness
in a very general way. Within the vocations of those already mentioned
it may be possible often for people to speak explicitly of God and the
christian faith and even lead people directly to the knowledge of God
by word as well as example. But in the ordinary life of the ordinary
individual these occasions will be rare enough to be especially
treasured and prayed over.
There are as well those who co-operate more directly in the work of
Christ by membership in various forms of organized lay apostolate.
Already people of this kind have done a great service to the Church by
re-awakening in the People of God a sense of apostolic commitment to
Christ. Great work still lies ahead for them in these days of renewal.
Since they co-operate in the work of Christ in the world in such a
privileged way, they can look to the sacrament of Confirmation for the
wisdom, counsel and fortitude that their specific dedication to Christ
requires of them. Those lay people who work with youth, whether as
leaders or catechists, although they may not regard this sacrament as
their exclusive domain, can surely take heart from the fact that they
receive their mission and the grace to fulfil it through the gift of
the Spirit of God.
LOOKS TO THE FUTURE
Christ is the sacrament of God. Our God is the God who walked amongst
us in the person of Christ. In knowing Christ and loving him and
committing ourselves to him we are knowing God, loving God and living
But Christ is also humanity. In some way he has become all men in
taking to himself a human nature. St. Paul expressed this by saying
that Christ is the new Adam. As in the first Adam all men sinned, so in
the new Adam all men find life. Thus it is inconceivable that we could
commit ourselves to Christ without at the same time living for him in
our fellow men and serving him in our fellow men.
Since the Church is the sacrament of Christ, and therefore of God, in
the world, our commitment to Christ is a commitment to the Church. It
is through the Church which continues the action of Christ in the
world, that all men are drawn into the life of Christ. Therefore, the
sacrament of Confirmation in making us full members of the Church
commits us to the service of men.
Consecration of the World
This service is firmly rooted in the present. The christian needs to be
able to read his times and meet the needs of the men of his times by
positive action. This positive action will consist in consecrating his
world to God through the Eucharist, the cosmic sacrifice of Christ. It
will consist in witnessing to the truth and relevance of Christ's
presence as the Word of God in the world of men. It will consist in a
special way in the witness of charity understood as positive action to
foster brotherhood between men and to establish harmony between men and
their environment. The christian works to mould material creation to
meet the physical needs (food, clothing, housing) and the psychological
needs (security, truth, beauty) of all mankind. These actions have
already been interpreted in terms of priesthood, prophecy and kingship.
The Second Coming
Although such service is rooted in the present, it looks to the future
and takes on its full meaning in view of the second coming of Christ.
At his second coming Christ will hand over the kingdom of the redeemed
to his Father. One of the characteristics of the mature christian is
that he has a vision of God's plan for the salvation of men that
enables him to work consciously in the ways outlined to prepare the
world for the second coming of Christ. The grace of Confirmation
enables us to have this vision and to work towards its fulfilment.
There is no doubt that Confirmation is directed towards the growth of
the kingdom of God in the world. But this growth cannot be separated
from the growth of God's kingdom in ourselves. Part of our work as
christians is to identify ourselves with Christ in such a way that we
may be identified with him in worship of the Father for all eternity.
Confirmation is a vital step towards our identification with Christ. So
it is that when a very young child is in danger of death we hasten to
confirm him in the belief that he thus enters more fully into the
priesthood of Christ and is thereby more perfectly equipped both to
enter into the worship of God in heaven and to experience the happiness
Towards the Eucharist
Finally, to complete our sketch of Confirmation, it is necessary to
comment that, like every other sacrament, it is directed towards the
Eucharist. The assembly of Christians gathers in a place of worship to
hear the word of God. By the grace of this sacrament our ear is more
firmly attuned to this word and this fact quite obviously has
consequences that persist forever. But the assembly of christians also
gathers at the altar to celebrate ritually the passion, death and
resurrection of Christ. We are empowered by Confirmation to enter more
fully into this action of Christ, the eternal priest. The eating of the
flesh of Christ that is part of our Eucharistic Celebration is both our
best means of identification with him and our food for eternal life,
What Confirmation keeps before our eyes is that we cannot really
identify with Christ in worship unless our lives are lived in service
of our fellow men and that the food we receive is given as nourishment
for our christian action in the world. In this sense only is it a
preparation for eternal life. The Eucharist unites men and makes all
who eat the same bread one body with Christ. In this sense it completes
the work begun in our souls by Baptism and Confirmation and in doing
that prepares us even more fully for eternal life with God.
Confirmation confers adult status in the Church. Such a status is both
a mission and a grace. To fulfil our mission and to co-operate fully
with the grace of the Holy Spirit we need to be humanly mature persons.
A French writer has listed the characteristics of human maturity as
An adult is a man who knows himself, his powers and his
An adult is a man who has outgrown passing enthusiasms and now
lives according to convictions.
An adult recognizes that he is responsible for every aspect of
An adult is a man who is aware of his being-with-others.
An adult is a man who is well-adjusted to the realities of his life and
does not seek an escape in dreams or fantasies.
These characteristics help the christian to play his proper role in the
world. Perhaps it is true that few of us ever achieve full maturity in
all aspects of our life and work; but so long as we see human maturity
as a goal to work towards we can be an effective influence. If we
expect the sacrament to do everything for us, we will never be able to
work effectively for Christ. The precise action of the sacrament is to
give direction to the human powers that we possess by infusing them
with grace and light and charity coming from the gift of the Spirit.
Pessimists or Optimists?
One encounters a wide range of opinions about the direction that
mankind is taking in modern times. Some are frankly pessimistic; others
are openly optimistic. Although the Vatican II documents warn about
threats to individuality and personal freedom inherent in technocratic
society, they are basically optimistic about man's growth in maturity.
Only this optimism can explain the confidence with which the role of
the laity in the Church and in the world was delineated. Possibly the
best way of drawing together our thoughts about Confirmation as the
sacrament of christian maturity would be to list some of the Council's
conclusions in speaking either of the role of the whole People of God
in the world or specifically of the laity.
The obligation of spreading the faith is imposed on every disciple of Christ according
to his state.
The laity are in their own way made sharers of the priestly, prophetic
and kingly functions of Christ.
The laity engaged in each and all of the secular professions and occupations
are called to work for the sanctification of the world from within.
The status of the People of God is that of the dignity and and freedom of of
Sons of God in whom the Holy Spirit dwells as in a temple.
Between all the parts of the Church there remains a close bond of
communion whereby they share
spiritual riches, apostolic workers and temporal resources.
The People of God, although numerically few enough, is a seed of unity,
hope and salvation for the whole
The People of God spread abroad a
living witness to Christ, especially by means of a life of faith
and charity and by offering to God a sacrifice of praise.
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