May 21, 2002

Friar Jack's Catechism Quiz:
The Holy Spirit, Pentecost and Confirmation
by Julie Zimmerman

With this issue of Friar Jack's E-spirations, we launch a new feature, Friar Jack's Catechism Quiz. Once a month we'll take a Catholic topic and test your knowledge of it with questions about the Catholic faith, Catholic culture and Catholic daily life. Don't worry -- there are no grades, and no one will rap your knuckles with a ruler! In fact, peeking is encouraged.

With our celebration of Pentecost this past Sunday and many Confirmation ceremonies scheduled in our parishes in the upcoming weeks, it's time to take the Catechism Quiz on the Holy Spirit, Pentecost and Confirmation.

If you enjoyed the "Web Catholic" column, you'll be glad to know we're developing an e-newsletter for those who want to keep up with what's happening on the Web for Catholics. We'll let you know when it's ready and how to sign up.

Also, because mail continues to pour in about Friar Jack's reflections on the "Child Sex-abuse Scandal," we will share a few more comments from readers, along with comments from Friar Jack. Now, on with this month's Catechism Quiz.



This Month's Quiz: (peeking encouraged!)

What are the gifts of the Holy Spirit?
Why is oil used at Confirmation?
What is the meaning of the clothes the bishop wears at Confirmation?

Friar Jack's Inbox:

More responses on the clergy sex-abuse scandal


What are the gifts of the Holy Spirit?

The biblical origin of these seven gifts is found in Isaiah (11:1-3) where he is foretelling the qualities of the Messiah. These seven gifts are the signs that the Messiah will be guided by the Spirit. Throughout the Gospels we see how these seven gifts form Jesus' personality and characterize his actions.

The relation of these gifts to the Sacrament of Confirmation becomes clear when we remember that the word Messiah (Christos in Greek) means "anointed." Jesus was "anointed," filled with the Holy Spirit at his baptism. At Confirmation we are anointed with the Holy Spirit. The seven gifts of the Holy Spirit are the manifestation of the Divine Power active in the life of Jesus of Nazareth.

So what are they? In the order recited in the Rite of Confirmation: [1] wisdom, [2] understanding, [3] right judgment, [4] courage, [5] knowledge, [6] reverence and [7] awe.

Adapted from Confirmation: Sacrament of the Spirit, by Rev. Thomas Richstatter, O.F.M., S.T.D.

Why is oil used at Confirmation?

This one is a little trickier, because the origins of Confirmation's symbols are many and diverse. One source can be found in the bathing customs of the Roman Empire.

In our times, when you take a shower, you wash up and dry off. Drying off is understood to be part of the total shower. In the same way, the early Church saw Confirmation as a part of the Baptism experience. In Roman times, oil was a part of the bathing "ritual." A bath included both water and oil. The water ritual (Baptism) came to mean the washing away of sin, and the oil ritual (Confirmation) was interpreted to mean the sweet fragrance of God's presence: sanctifying grace.

We know that sin cannot be removed except by grace just as, for example, a vacuum cannot be removed from a container without replacing it (the emptiness) with something. The two go together. In the same way God's grace fills us with redemption and salvation. This grace, this presence of God in us, is the Holy Spirit. Confirmation is the Sacrament of the Holy Spirit.

Adapted from Confirmation: Seven Symbols in One Sacrament, by Thomas Richstatter, O.F.M., Th.D.

What is the meaning of the clothes the bishop wears at Confirmation?

The "special" clothes (called liturgical vestments) worn at Confirmation were originally "ordinary" clothes. The white garment (alb) that priests and bishops wear under their other vestments was the garment that ordinary Romans in the first and second century wore around the house during the day. When they went out in public, they put on a tent-like colored garment (chasuble) over the alb just as you might put on a jacket over your shirt when going out.

The tall, pointed hat (miter) the bishop wears was originally just a hat. Little by little (in the 13th and 14th centuries), it became a sign that the one wearing it was a "high priest." In early days, priests and bishops got a special haircut (tonsure) and a round spot was shaved off on the top of their heads. The little round hat (zucchetto) kept their shaved head warm in the winter Eventually, it too became a religious sign. The pope wears a white one; the cardinals, red; bishops, violet. When other priests wear one, it is black.

Adapted from Confirmation: Seven Symbols in One Sacrament, by Thomas Richstatter, O.F.M., Th.D.

Friar Jack's Inbox

More responses to Friar Jack's reflections on the clergy sex-abuse scandal

"Dear Friar Jack: Since reading your insightful article about the pedophile clergy, I have discovered that a good friend has been put out to pasture. I was aware of the allegations when he was moved to our parish and put in a position where he had no contact with youngsters, yet I stood up for him publicly saying "Hate the sin; love the sinner." I continue to find the behavior abhorrent but this is a good man who has ministered well to a vast number of people and who has been in remission for 15 years. Now, because of the scandal being made public, he's gotten the door. For the young people with whom he had contact, its too little too late. For himself, he had done the appropriate therapies and was finally at peace with himself and the good he continued to do in the world. I don't know the "right answer"; I just feel that in this particular situation, a bit of sensitivity would go a long way. God help us all."

"Dear Friar Jack: Just want to get my two-cents worth in here. I think it's time my Roman Catholic sisters and brothers in faith take a long and penetrating look at the whole notion of priestly celibacy. As you know, Father, it was not something instituted by Jesus but rather something that came along in the 11th century. My own feeling is that celibacy is a gift from God not given to everyone called to ordained ministry. It has baffled me for a long time why the Roman Catholic community holds on to it as a condition for ordination. I do not think this is what Jesus had in mind at all." (Signed, from the Lutheran side)

Friar Jack responds: One thing that pleases me about publishing on the Internet is the ecumenical dialogue and brotherhood/sisterhood it seems to promote. We often receive helpful comments from members of other religious traditions. Thanks and God's blessing on you all!

"Dear Friar Jack: I too am concerned about our hierarchy who will be meeting in June to further explore this issue. What weighs heavy on my heart is the breach of trust I feel some members of the hierarchy have perpetuated on the people of the church. By not addressing the issue of these priests who are mentally ill, and moving them to different parishes, I wonder if some of those attending the meeting should really be deciding future church policy...I pray Christ continues to cleanse his church of all offenders as he cleansed the temple 2,000 years ago. I can find more forgiveness in my heart for those who actually committed the sinful act than I can at this point for those who hold higher church positions and continually passed the buck on this behavior. May the peace of Christ heal us all."

Got an opinion? Due to strong reader interest in the topic, we've set up an online forum on clergy sexual abuse at Read others' opinions and submit your own comments there for everyone to see!

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