Ouellet: Christ’s Resurrection was his Confirmation

An excerpt from Cardinal Ouellet’s article, Confirmation: A Sacrament of Christian Initiation, from the Winter 2013 edition of Communio:

This relationship of obedience to the Father in the Spirit leads Jesus to the total gift of himself out of love – as far as the extreme kenosis of the Cross, which accomplishes the world’s redemption. In this precise moment in the life of Jesus, at the “end” of the obedience of love that reveals his identity as the divine Son (cf. Jn 13:1), a role reversal occurs between Christ and the Spirit. Having perfectly obeyed the Father in the Spirit, Christ receives from the Father the fullness of the Holy Spirit in his own flesh. He receives the Spirit without measure, who confirms Christ’s filial identity and surrenders himself totally to him in order to be distributed, communicated, and poured out by him over “all flesh” (cf. Joel 2:28).

The Resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead is his Confirmation by the Holy Spirit. St. Paul make this the central statement of his kerygma: “The gospel of God which he promised beforehand through his prophets in the holy scriptures, the gospel concerning his Son, who was descended from David according to the flesh and designated Son of God in power according to the Spirit of holiness by his resurrection from the dead, Jesus Christ our Lord” (Rom 1:2-4). {Communio, Winter 2013, p. 733-734]

Cardinal Ouellet also makes an important link between Confirmation and the sacrament of the Eucharist and argues that Confirmation is preparation for Eucharist, which entails the full participation in the Body of Christ:

Before the Resurrection, Christ welcomes and obeys the Spirit that is given to him. After the Resurrection, he possesses the Spirit in fullness in his own flesh (“Christ”) and communicates him in abundance to the Church for the fulfillment of the mystery of the Covenant. But this fulfillment is effected through the Eucharist, which in the power of the Spirit joins the Body of the risen Christ to his ecclesial Body, though the mediation of his eucharistic Body. Without Christ’s Confirmation, that is to say, his Resurrection, the Eucharist would lack its ultimate foundation. Its value as “memorial” of the new and eternal Covenant would be reduced to a vague recollection of an event buried in the past. In the light of the Resurrection, the Eucharist appears instead as the “presence of the Paschal Mystery,” the goal of the kenosis, the source and summit of the Church’s participation in Christ’s priesthood. [Communio, Winter 2013, p. 734]

To this effect, Cardinal Ouellet asks us to re-examine the way in which we order the sacraments of initiation. In the diocese I reside in confirmation is done at adolescence, however, this can result in those seeking (or pressured) into receiving the sacrament formally to misunderstand the meaning of the sacrament. In short, it may be better to be confirmed before first Holy Communion – and the Church (as a whole) had arranged the order in this manner before 1932, when more leeway was given to ordering the sacraments of initiation at the local/diocesan level.

If you would like to read the whole article I would encourage you to subscribe to the journal, or borrow a copy from a seminary library (or perhaps a friend).

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