LIVING THE GRACES OF THE FORGOTTEN SACRAMENT FOR FATIMA
The following is an edited transcript of the talk given by Msgr. Perez on September 9, 2017 at the Our Lady’s Army of Advocates conference in Irvine, California.
SPEECH GIVEN BY MONSIGNOR PATRICK PEREZ
Thank you for the kind introduction – I sound much better on paper. Okay, so now that you’re all full of lunch and wide awake, if you want to fall asleep during my talk it’s okay, I’ll just feel like I’m back in my own parish.
Let’s first pray, please:
In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. Amen. Hail Mary full of grace, the Lord is with Thee, blessed art Thou among women, and blessed is the fruit of Thy womb, Jesus. Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners, now and at the hour of our death. Amen.
My dear faithful, I always begin a sermon or a talk with the Hail Mary. And the reason I do that is not to fill time. You know I’m sitting here asking myself – they want me to talk for an hour. How can I talk for only an hour? But we’ll make it work. The reason is something Our Lady Herself said to Saint Dominic.
The Hail Mary, Our Key to Essential Graces
Saint Dominic, as you know, was trying to convert Albigensians to the Faith – many of them had departed the faith. Now Albigensianism is sometimes referred to as a heresy. It wasn’t a heresy. It doesn’t mean they were good Catholics. But a heresy means you take something in the Catholic Faith and you corrupt it somehow, and you believe something new or different.
Albigensianism was a rebirth of Manichaeism. It’s something like Mormonism. You can’t call Mormonism a heresy of the Catholic Faith because they’re all just weirded out and they don’t believe, you know. It’s not really Christian.
Well that was the Albigensians. For them there was a good god and bad god. The bad god created us in the material universe and you had to deny it. In fact, suicide was laudable, and unfortunately they didn’t all think it was very laudable. In any case, Saint Dominic was trying to convert them and he was very, very sad. He couldn’t make any progress and this is when Our Lady appeared to him. He was deep in contemplation and prayer to Our Blessed Lady, and She came to him.
This is the occasion when She gave him the Rosary as well. But She said:
“Wonder not that you have obtained so little fruit by your labors; you have spent them on barren soil not yet watered with the dew of Divine Grace.”
When God willed to renew the face of the earth He began by sending down on it the fertilizing rain of the Angelic Salutation, which is the Hail Mary. So if we begin everything with a Hail Mary, we fertilize the ground of our souls with grace to hear, to accept, to process and to make fruitful in our lives what it is we hear.
So that’s why I always do it. And it’s a cheap little thing for what you get out of it, really. You know, two seconds of saying the words “Hail Mary” and Our Lady has given us all this grace by even just that.
Be a Duck
Now if you looked at my original title for this talk which is still my title, but they couldn’t fit it all on the paper, it had the provocative title of “Be a Duck – Living the Graces of the Forgotten Sacrament for Fatima.”
Now, some explanation is necessary, you think? Okay, well here it is. There’s an old saying you’ve all heard: If it looks like a duck, if it walks like a duck, if it sounds like a duck, it’s a duck! That’s easy, right?
Now how do we know that something that looks like a duck, walks like a duck, and sounds like a duck is actually a duck? We know because a duck has no division, no barrier, no divergence. In fact, no ability to place any obstacle between it’s being as a duck and the outward manifestations of its duck-ness. It is perfectly obedient to its Creator and thus to its own nature. In fact, so are salamanders, pine trees, and rocks; in fact, every created thing. Every created thing is perfectly obedient to its Creator except one – man. Man is the only one of the created beings that is not always obedient to its Creator and thus to its nature.
Now that’s where the duck part came in and I’ll get back to that. Back to the theme of the conference – officially, the Consecration – the way I put it was, “What can I do?” Really, that’s what this is about. And why would we have a conference about “What can I do?” Because we seem so insignificant and so powerless and so helpless, and it’s like we’re not making any kind of a dent in the world for Our Lady. It’s almost like we’re banging our heads against the wall, and you’re going “how, what can I do, how can I make a difference?”
How Can I Make a Difference?
Now, okay what can I do, just little old me to help bring about the Consecration of Russia by one so lofty as the Pope and the bishops of the world? You know even though I’m a priest – I’m officially a part of the hierarchy of the Church – but I’m a nothing priest. You know I’m the lowest of the low, and everybody above me is busy denying the things I’m teaching every day. This is not making things easy. So what can I do?
Well, first we must realize that we are not talking about lobbying Rome – that can’t be done. For no amount of democratic process or crafty cajoling can accomplish this goal. Only the grace of God can do this.
And God will do it with His grace when He determines that it is right to do it, and that perhaps we have merited it by various things, or it suits His Glory, by His Providence. But me, just little old me, I can’t hope to get that grace from God for the Pope and the Church, can I?
A Medieval Saint for Our Time
Well, I want to tell you about a person or two who did just that, individuals like ourselves who were able to move the papacy, and sometimes in directions the Popes didn’t want to go. Sometimes they did and they were amenable to it, but these individual souls still – by their prayers and sacrifices and their saintly lives – gained the grace to accomplish even bending the wills of the Popes, the highest office in the world, to a Holy purpose.
Alright, now I’m going to talk about a little-known one (I’ll mention some others, maybe, too), and this is Saint Juliana of Liege. Anybody ever heard of her? Okay so there’s one person in here who has heard of Saint Juliana of Liege, the rest of us have not. Now Saint Juliana was born in the city of Liege [in Belgium], in 1192, and did the usual Catholic thing. She was baptized, confirmed and received the Sacraments as anybody in her state did at that time, but she had it rough from the start.
She was orphaned at the age of five, and placed in an orphanage of sorts run by the Norbertine nuns and monks. She entered that order at the age of 13 and she worked. Now imagine this, a 13-year-old – right? Most 13-year-olds, what are they doing? I don’t want to know. I’m just so happy I don’t have to deal with that. But in any case, when she entered the Norbertines at 13 she went to work in their leprosarium for a year. She worked for many years with the lepers, and doing acts of charity.
I mean everything one did for a leper was an act of charity because they were contagious. Nobody wanted to touch them; nobody wanted to show them God’s kindness, to love them, and she wanted to do all of those things. So she worked in this leprosarium from her early youth.
She had a great devotion to the Holy Eucharist. Now, you know I can read that and I could say she had a great devotion to the Holy Eucharist and people will go, “Oh well you know it’s good to have a devotion to the Holy Eucharist. You know she just happened to have a devotion to the Holy Eucharist.”
You have to understand that this is one of the key things we’re talking about.
What is a devotion to the Holy Eucharist? It’s not something you’re born with. It’s something that comes from knowing what the Holy Eucharist is. And then because of your love of God (which hopefully you will have cultivated over the years), when you find out that the Holy Eucharist is Christ Himself, sacrificed for our redemption, Who is present in His Body, in His Blood, in His Soul, in His Divinity under the appearance of bread, this will give your informed soul a love, and devotion to the Holy Eucharist.
The Rosary given to St. Dominic and St. Catherine of
Sienna by the Infant Jesus and the Blessed Mother
So she wasn’t born with it and she didn’t fall out of bed one day with the devotion to the Holy Eucharist. She definitely had to work on the love of God, and the love of the Holy Eucharist came from just that. Because the Holy Eucharist is God.
A Tiny Seed Planted
Now when she was 16 she began having visions. I guess it’s vision, because she had the same vision over and over again. And she was startled by it at first and didn’t know what it meant, but finally Our Lord revealed to her what this was.
So the vision was that of a full brilliant moon, and in the full brilliant moon there was a dark spot. And she saw this repeatedly over a course of several years. Finally after she did much praying, Christ told her that the moon stood for the life of the Church on earth, and the spot represented the absence of a liturgical feast in honor of Christ’s Body and Blood.
Seeing no practical way of looking at it, she might have thought: “I’m this poor little orphaned girl that entered into this convent, and my parents are dead and I have no state in life, how can I bring about a feast in the Church? I’m a nothing.” But she knew that Christ had not told her these things in vain, that He had not shown her this vision in vain. But seeing no practical way that she could bring about such a feast, Juliana kept this to herself and decided that if she lived a life pleasing to God, that God Himself would somehow, through her, bring it about.
So around the year 1225, out of humility and obedience, she told her visions to her confessor who was one Canon John of Lausanne, who (as God’s providence would have it) had many contacts among the local theologians, distinguished holy men of the Liege area. Among these contacts that he told about Juliana’s vision was Robert de Thorete and Jacques Pantaléon de Trois – remember that.
Canon John shared Juliana’s visions with them, as well as their meaning – the meaning that Juliana was given. These theologians consulted with each other and decided that such a feast would be a good idea, and they endorsed it.
Now remember these are local theologians, but already you have to understand the work of God’s hand. He gave this [vision] to this woman, who had chosen this confessor, and under obedience she told him the vision, and he shared it with some of his friends who were influential theologians. See how God is just behind everything, working things according to His Providence.
In any case, upon getting the approval of the theologians, did Saint Juliana just rest and decide that now I’m just going to pray and just hope for the best, or say something like that? I’ll say a bunch of Rosaries and see what happens? No, she began actually to compose an Office for the feast (meaning compose the set of prayers that would be said by priests if this were to become a feast day). She had every faith that, you know, “God is doing this for a reason,” so she decided to plow ahead.
So she composed an Office; and in 1246 Robert de Thorete, who became the bishop of Liege, instituted the first ever Feast of Christ’s Body and Blood, Corpus Christi, in his diocese – because that’s all an individual bishop can start out doing.
Any bishop can institute a feast in his diocese. I mean it has to be a kind of Catholic feast, we can’t have the feast of In and Out Burger or something like that. Even things we hold in great esteem in southern California the bishop of Orange cannot do. But they can take something pious and make a diocesan feast day out of it. And that is exactly what the Bishop of Liege did, and it was the first ever.
Mind you, it took 1246 years of Catholic souls living on this Eucharist to actually have a feast in honor of It. It seems a little incredible, but that was God’s will.
The Seed Is Watered with Her Tears
Now for the next 18 years Juliana had much to suffer. This suffering was given to her by Our Lord, much as the sufferings that were given to various people – Mother Mariana and others – so that if they were to accept it willingly a greater good would be done by it. So for the next 18 years she had much to suffer. I’ll give you a general idea of it. She became prioress of the convent.
And remember Saint Theresa of Avila and what happened to her? She was very strict according to the Carmelite rule, and all of her nuns were in an open revolt. Why? Because things had gone downhill. The nuns were from wealthy families and they were wearing rings and pearls, and jewels. They didn’t want any of this austerity business and so they actually pushed her out of the convent – this is Saint Theresa – locked the doors behind her and she had to make for another convent. But one by one she reformed them all.
It was the same with Saint Juliana. She instituted strict reforms. The nuns wanted no part of it and they made her suffer. They went to various people and they told lies about her. She was persecuted. She was thrown out of the convent, and then she was brought in again. And then she was thrown out again, then she was brought in again. And all that time – remember the spiritual work of mercy to bear wrongs patiently? – she certainly had that first and foremost before her eyes.
The First Joyful Mystery: The Annunciation
So she accepted this suffering. To make a long story short, the theologian I mentioned earlier, the other one, Jacques Pantaléon de Trois – he became the Arch-deacon of Liege, and then Bishop of Verdun, then Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem, and finally Pope – Pope Urban IV. He was one of the theologians who said that the Corpus Christi feast sounds good and whose theological opinion was that it was not against the Faith.
Well immediately then, I mean no sooner had the dust settled on his papal slippers than Saint Juliana was in contact with him and said: “Hello, do you remember me? Are you a pope now? Remember that feast we talked about” And he did. And she asked him to make it a Feast in the Church. So the first thing he did – when we talk about the way God puts things together – is he called his personal theologian, his house theologian at the time. Who was his house theologian? Saint Thomas Aquinas, as a matter of fact. And he said to Saint Thomas, “Okay, she made this Office; would you look it over and would you write a new Office for the Feast?” And so Saint Thomas Aquinas did.
And what did he come up with? He came up with a beautiful Office that we use to this day, but he also composed the Tantum Ergo that we sing in honor of the Blessed Sacrament. He wrote that, which is part of a longer hymn that he wrote for the Feast. And we still use his Office to this day. Well, after the Office was written, the Pope was happy with that, and he instituted the Feast of Corpus Christi to be universally celebrated in the Latin Rite on the Thursday after Trinity Sunday.
So just keep this in mind. A woman who was just like any of us here, moved mountains by her prayers and sacrifices, so that a vision she had – which is like the vision the shepherd children were given by Our Lady of Fatima – translated into something that the Pope did for the whole Church, just as we hope to accomplish by our own prayers and sacrifices.
Two Other Great Saints to Inspire Us in Our Present Difficulties
Now, another example of the same thing is Catherine of Siena, but you know we kind of all know most of her story. The interesting thing about her to remember, is that she too suffered an awful lot. What was her goal? She took over the torch, as it were, for Saint Bridget of Sweden. Now we know the promise, you know, the promises of Saint Bridget. Well that was the same Saint Bridget and this was the time of what we call the Great Western Schism.
Now in case you’re not too up on that, what happened was that in the year 1309, the Pope moved the papacy – the central offices of the Church – to France, and they were in France, in fact, for another 70 years. Obviously it was not the will of God that it be in France because Saint Peter and Saint Paul both died in Rome, so that is the traditional center of the Catholic Church.
So Saint Bridget of Sweden prayed and sacrificed and wrote to the pope, trying to get him to move. She softened the ground, she definitely tilled the ground and Saint Catherine took up the torch. She prayed and she wrote to the Pope a beautiful letter which you can still find. And the Pope did agree to come back to Rome, and there they’ve been ever since.
So, that was another woman who persuaded the Pope – and they [the Church hierarchy] didn’t want to go either because I guess the partying was much better in Avignon in France than it was in Rome. Many of the popes were French at the time and they wanted to be, you know, on their home turf and what not. That’s just another of the examples.
With God, All Things Are Possible
Now I know what you’re thinking. You’re saying: “These were saints. That’s not fair. I’m not a saint. I don’t have it in me. They were saints, they were great people, they were very holy. And I know I’m no saint, I don’t have it in me.”
But you do! You do.
And I’m saying that not to cause pride; if anything, it’s to cause humility and awe at God’s grace and His power, that everyone here and everyone hearing this has what it takes in them to be a saint, like they were. And that’s really something that has to hit us hard and we have to be able to digest.
You are confirmed, I’m confirmed too. And in this Sacrament, the Sacrament of Confirmation, God has not only increased in you, but perfected in you, by the coming of the Holy Ghost, everything necessary to be a perfect soldier of Christ – a saint.
The problem is that most Catholics have forgotten that they have been confirmed, or they ignore it, or worse yet, deny it. In either case, precious few Catholics are availing themselves of the graces of that Sacrament and thus are not being soldiers of Christ.
In other words, the inward reality that I was talking about with the duck, the inward reality of their confirmed souls with all the gifts of the Holy Ghost, has no visible outward expression. They’re denying the visible outward expression of the reality of their confirmed souls.
Now you see this all the time. You know countless people that have been confirmed who have gone different ways, parted from the Church, purposively gotten into bad marriages against the teaching of the Church. You know, for example, that a baptized, certainly a baptized and confirmed Catholic, is obliged to be married by a priest in the Church. If they chose to marry outside of the Church it’s not a marriage. If somebody who’s baptized and confirmed Catholic decides, “Well, we’re just going to go to Vegas to the little Chapel of the Flowers, and we’re going to pay five bucks and get married by, you know, the guy who runs the little chapel there”, they’re not married, that isn’t a marriage.
And no Catholic can go to it and no Catholic can send a gift to somebody under those circumstances. No Catholic can do anything which pretends that these people are actually married. And what do they do to get there? They deny their Confirmation. They denied, they ran away from being a soldier of Christ. Christ called them to something, He equipped them to do something and they threw it away. And, in fact, in a sense, spitting in the face of Christ by their actions. And people do that in a number of ways, of course. They are not, in a word, being ducks. So how do we be good Catholic saintly ducks?
If He Talks Like a Catholic and Acts Like a Catholic…
You know you’re going to think I’m a quack for telling you this. But I have some suggestions. Let’s look at the sacrament of Confirmation. Now what do people remember? “Oh yeah, well my class got confirmed and I remember that, we went through, we learned about the stuff and then we went to the bishop thing and then we had…” Okay, now you’re confirmed, right? Do you remember the slap?
I remember when Bishop Williamson would come around to do Confirmations, people always got a little extra warning because he hit harder than the other bishops. And he said, “Don’t be surprised”, and “Don’t hit back, whatever you do.”
So they remember that part. But what do they know about the Sacrament they received?
Well, we know that the Sacrament makes us soldiers of Christ. But how does it work?
The majority of people we see in the Church –
and this is no judgment, this isn’t an evaluation. People say, “Oh you’re judging them.” I go, “Well, you know, when I say that two and two is four, I’m not really judging numbers, I’m just kind of saying that that’s what the math says, okay?” –
the majority of Catholics are not acting up to their roles as soldiers of Christ. They’re not doing it.
There are supposedly a billion Catholics on earth. Now, how many of them that you know really qualify? I’m not sure. But let’s say half, or a quarter; let’s take 250 million of them.
If we had 250 million – a quarter of the people that claim to be Catholic – living the graces of their sacramental Confirmation, we would take over the world! Every country would be a Catholic country, and we wouldn’t have any of the problems that we’re having now. We would not.
There might be a little overfishing because of Fridays, but otherwise we would not have the problems that we havenow. But how many people do you know live out being a soldier of Christ? I mean, we all know at least one or two I would hope, but you have to admit that the number isn’t a big one. The Sacrament then confers grace. This is what Confirmation does, it confers graces which are, think of this, substantially the same as those given directly by the Holy Ghost on the First Pentecost Sunday.
We know the story. Our Lady and the Apostles were in the upper room for fear of the Jews and a noise comes through as a great wind, and tongues of fire appear over their head. Minus the great wind and tongues of fire, that same event happens in our souls when we are confirmed – the same Holy Ghost, and the same graces.
Furthermore, in addition to the graces, the Holy Ghost imparts to us, fully and perfectly, His special Gifts. So besides the graces, He gives us fully and perfects in us, His special Gifts that allow us to live as soldiers of Christ and become saints.
And Confirmation not only bestows on us a claim – that is, a right before God – to those graces which will enable us to become saints, undeterred by human respect or other worldly obstacles, able to successfully fight against the world, the flesh and the devil, and ever ready to profess our Faith, to suffer for it, to persevere in it no matter what the cost, and to radiate it.
What are these special gifts? The Seven Gifts of the Holy Ghost which are enumerated in the book of the Prophet Isaias, Chapter 11, verse 2.
I’m not plagiarizing, but this book which I’ve used for over twenty years to teach people the Faith, called, ‘This is the faith’ from Tan books, and written by Canon Francis Ripley in the 1950s, is the best thing in print covering every topic that is essentially what the Church teaches and in the best way.
We all know the Baltimore Catechism, but the Baltimore Catechism is not good for teaching people the Faith because it is just questions and answers, but not the why and the wherefore.
The First Sorrowful Mystery: The Agony in the Garden
But this book, This is the Faith, begins the chapters with the question and answer but then the rest of the chapter is developing it. And they have such nice explanations in here. So from this book, I’m reading the Seven Gifts of the Holy Ghost, exactly as written but minus some of the explanation. Having said that, no one will accuse me of plagiarizing.
The Seven Gifts of the Holy Ghost
Wisdom, the first of them, enables us to consider the eternal truths, to judge all things by them, to set a right value on salvation and the means to attain it, and to relish the things of God. It illuminates the intellect, moderates the passions, rectifies the affections, and directs the will. To the soul it brings vigor and energy, facility and well doing, contempt of earthly riches and – most precious of all – union with God.
Then there’s Understanding, which is the power of penetrating the hidden meaning of the great spiritual truths. On those who possess this Gift, the gospels make a deeper impression than on others. They appreciate more deeply the Sacraments and ceremonies of the Church. They love more deeply the lives of the saints. They show the world due contempt and they are better able to guide and advise others.
Next is Counsel, which is the power of deciding prudently about the concerns of God and salvation, a certain readiness of will to do the better thing.
Fortitude brings firmness of soul in bearing difficulties for God, courage to profess the Faith and to do penance, and the energy necessary for perseverance. It makes us patient, and steadfast in our trials and temptations.
Knowledge enables us to see and use temporal things in such a way as to help us toward our eternal salvation.
Piety is the disposition to serve God with tenderness and devotion. And it helps us to practice what religion teaches us especially about the loving fatherhood of God, the motherhood of Mary and the Church, the spiritual brotherhood of all the members of Christ, and our duty to relatives and fellow countrymen.
And finally, the Fear of the Lord is filial and reverential fear of the majesty, power, and justice of God, and of the ease with which one can offend Him by sin. This gift of the Holy Ghost is always united with the love of God.
Now these Seven Gifts are necessary for salvation. They are already there in our souls after Baptism, but they are strengthened and perfected by Confirmation.
Putting On Our Armor
Now, at this point you’re saying: “Well, I don’t think I have any of those. Did they do my Confirmation wrong? Maybe I should go back and try it again, and tell them to slap the other cheek this time because, you know, that must have been a left-handed bishop or something like that.”
No. The news for us is we have all of those Gifts, and we have them perfected in our soul, by the Sacrament of Confirmation.
You might say: “But I don’t, I don’t feel that. I don’t get the feeling of any of those things.” That’s because it’s not a feeling. This is the problem with Protestantism. Protestantism is a feeling.
It’s like, “Oh, we just rejoice in the Lord; oh, can we fellowship and discipleship, oh Jesus, oh Jesus, I’ve got a fill of Jesus in my heart. Oh yes, I’m so holy now because I got a word of knowledge, okay.”
No. There is no feeling involved in this. This is what we know from God and from the teaching of the Church that these Gifts have been strengthened and perfected in our souls by the Sacrament.
These Gifts enable us to live our human lives as God would live in human life; as God did live a human life. So why are so few Catholics doing it, being real soldiers of Christ?
Okay, imagine a modern soldier equipped with all the most modern weapons and protective gear. All that would do him no good whatsoever if he put it all on a shelf and chose to enter battle in his pajamas. It doesn’t matter what gear, how many billions of dollars the government pumps into buying our soldiers the best bullet-proof vests, the best helmets, the finest guns, whatever they have, the prettiest bullets, you name it. If the soldier says, “Well, I’m just going to put them on the shelf here. I just feel like wearing my pajamas out into the mine field today because its much lighter.”
Well, thankfully he’d be taken out of the gene pool pretty quickly and the government would not have to spend any more of our tax money on that one.
Now a soldier of Christ must claim the rights of his Sacrament, and through an act of the will – knowing what they are and can do – he possesses them in their perfected form. We must consciously apply them, employ them, demand them, exercise them. As Saint Paul says, we must “put on the armor of light.”
What is the armor of light? It is the armor of grace of the soldier of Christ given to us in the Sacrament of Confirmation.
If we, the children of Our Lady, step up to the plate and commit ourselves to the graces of our Confirmation, to being undeterred single-minded soldiers of Christ and soldiers of Mary – you can’t actually separate the two – for the purpose of letting ourselves be used by God as He wills, then the heavens will open and rain down the graces now lacking.
And the Pope and the bishops will finally do the Consecration that we have all been praying for and hoping for.
It will happen, but only if the people of God take up the sword of Christ and put on the armor of light and start living the graces of their Confirmation, just like Saint Juliana did, just like Saint Bridget of Sweden did, just like Saint Catherine of Siena did.
These were all people who moved the papacy by their putting on the armor of light of the Sacraments. We must become, in fact, ducks.
For Your Homework…
Now I have just a suggestion for this, something to bring consciousness of the dignities and obligations of the Sacrament of Confirmation to us on a regular basis. We conquer with the Rosary and I think there is a way – and you can all do this is in your own way – to take each mystery of the Rosary and think of a way that it applies to your Confirmation and how you exercise the graces of your Confirmation. You can make it part of the meditation before each mystery.
The First Glorious Mystery: The Resurrection
Remember that meditation is one of the keys of the Rosary. The Rosary is essentially a meditation on a background of different prayers – Hail Mary’s, Our Fathers and others. Now why do we lose track of the meditation part? Because there’s the family Rosary which is a laudable custom but it doesn’t leave much room for meditating because you’re worried about the kids jumping into the fire place and all this kind of stuff. So you know it’s not the best place to sit and meditate on the spiritual truths and the events of Our Lady, and Our Lord’s life.
Also car Rosaries, which I’m guilty of because I say the car Rosary. Because of my steering wheel, I don’t have a Rosary in my hand, so my fingers are the Hail Mary’s, but then I miss my exits, etc. So that’s not the best place, but you can do this better.
I just want to read a couple of little ideas I put together to give you the gist of it and then you take off with it and do what you want.
But remind yourself of the graces, the Gifts of the Holy Ghost that you have, and remember to ask for them and what you should be doing.
Let’s take the Joyful Mysteries:
The Annunciation: Our Lady conceived by the Holy Ghost, but She still had nine months before His birth to contemplate the obligations and duties of being the Mother of God incarnate. So too, must a soldier of Christ daily ponder the duties and obligation of his Confirmation.
The Visitation: Our Lady, out of charity when She heard that Her cousin was six months pregnant, went to assist Her. Here’s the Mother of God, going to help Her cousin because she needed help, and She was so charitable. Christian life is a life of service, how do we serve? What are we serving? Whom are we serving?
The Nativity: Just as the Blessed Virgin Mary treasured the Baby Jesus, do we properly esteem and treasure the sacramental life in which Jesus comes to us, as He came to the Blessed Virgin Mary? She held Him, first in Her womb, and later in Her arms. We hold Him – when we’re in a state of grace – in our souls. Do we treasure that properly?
The Presentation: Obedient to the Law of Moses, they brought our Lord into the Temple. Are we sufficiently obedient and respectful of the commandments, laws and precepts of God and His Church?
The Finding of the Child Jesus in the Temple: The obligations of the soldier of Christ are not merely interior. Do we bring others to the Church and thus to Christ, by teaching and example? And we fail in this a lot. Like I know Catholics who go into a restaurant and they don’t want to say grace because “Oh, they might see me making the Sign of the Cross and, oh boy, what are they going to think?” Really? And you’re a soldier of Christ? You’re like a zero. You are a zero and it’s not even for Christ. If you’re afraid to say grace in a restaurant because you think of public opinion; what are they going to do, give you the stink eye? “They are crossing themselves – those wretched Catholics – call a freemason.” You know it starts with things like that.
The Sorrowful Mysteries
The Agony in the Garden: Are we willing and prepared to do battle with the devil, the world and the flesh? I’m not saying what I’m asking us to do is all roses – it’s not. We are doing battle with the most powerful of all created beings, which is Lucifer. He’s relentless and sleepless. He wants to cause us pain and eventual loss of our souls by despair and by pride – his own pet sin. We’re taking up battle and battle has costs.
The Scourging at the Pillar: Following Christ means being scourged by pain, inconvenience, rejection, hostility and so forth. Do we accept that, or do we fly from it? The thing I mentioned earlier about a Catholic who marries outside of the Church, not being married – you know if you tell them the truth, which is: “I can’t go to your thing in Vegas in the Chapel of the Flowers because it’s a mockery of Christ, it’s a mockery of the Church” – then it’s most likely that the whole family, (who’s run by emotion and peer pressure) will say: “Oh, what are you doing to the family? You’re causing problems in the family by not going to that wedding, you know! Can’t we tell them you have diphtheria or something and make up some nice little excuse?”
But no. The people making the problems are the ones marrying outside the Church. You are standing up for Christ, but it will come back on you. You will be scourged.
The Crowning with Thorns: Are we sufficiently vigilant in frequenting the means of grace available to us – the sacraments, prayers, sacrifice? A soldier of Christ who abandons the Church and the Faith not only abandons Christ but becomes a thorn in His crown.
Depicted in the Sistine Chapel in Rome:
Souls being pulled into Heaven by the Rosary.
The Carrying of the Cross: Suffering the effects of His Passion – pain, loss of blood, and weakness – Our Lord fell three times, but each time He got up and carried on. His Father’s Will was His mission. He would not fail. It should be the same for a Confirmed Catholic – the crucifixion. A true soldier of Christ should desire nothing less, and expect nothing less, than to be crucified with His master.
The Glorious Mysteries
The Resurrection: Christ leads His soldiers armed to the ultimate victory – victory over death itself. But unless we are willing to go with Him through death itself, we cannot expect to rise with Him to life.
The Ascension: His earthly mission accomplished, Christ returns triumphant to the Father. Contemplate the fact that we, His soldiers on earth, are now His arms and His legs, His mouth and His ears, here on earth until the end of time. We do His work. He ascended back to the Father and left us with that task.
The Descent of the Holy Ghost: We wonder at the scene, the rush of a great wind, and tongues of fire. Wonder at your own Confirmation then, for it is, in all its essentials, the same Pentecost.
The Assumption: Do we serve Christ with our body and soul, so as to be worthy of our own assumption at the end of this life? Our Lady, Who served Our Lord with Her whole being did not have to wait. She pre-figured what will happen to all of us who die in the grace of God. She served with Her body and soul, and so Her body and soul were reunited as ours will be at the end of time, and She was assumed. Have we served Him with our body and soul, so as to be worthy of that assumption?
And finally –
The Coronation: We are soldiers not only of our King, for we have a Queen to defend as well. Have we properly honored, defended, and promoted Our Queen?
In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. Amen.