December 28, 2004

Friar Jack’s Christmas Message

by Friar Jack Wintz, O.F.M..


Since you are receiving this E-spiration a few days after Christmas, it seems appropriate to offer you a musing on this touching Bethlehem scene, which unites Jesus and Mary with the larger family of creation.

When God entered the family of humanity, as well as the whole family of creation, through Mary’s “Yes,” all creatures drew near and rejoiced as one family. — Jack Wintz, O.F.M.

In my last musing, I reminded you of how Francis of Assisi wanted all creatures to join in the celebration of the feast of Christmas because all creatures were blessed by God’s entering the family of creation.

Francis wanted people to strew grain along the roads so the birds would enjoy a special treat on Christmas Day. Even the beasts in the stables should get special food on this feast day.

We can imitate the spirit of Francis by throwing some extra bird seeds on our feeders or bread crumbs on the ground outside our doors during the Christmas season. Or you could give your pets some kind of treat or go out and hug a tree or bend over and kiss Mother Earth or a snowball or stone. Or, we could just praise God for our favorite “brother” or “sister” creatures, as Francis did in his Canticle of Brother Sun, the wonderful hymn he sang to God’s creatures, even when he was dying!

Be praised, O God, in all your creatures! May the Christmas celebration continue!

Friar Jim’s Inbox

Readers respond to Friar Jim’s “What Is the Sacrament of Confirmation?”

Dear Friar Jim: I was born into the Church of England faith and was baptized in England and at a later date Confirmed in the Anglican Church of Canada. When I was 20 years old I returned to England and became a Roman Catholic, and the priest at that time (39 years ago) conditionally baptized and, also, he reconfirmed me. I did become a lapsed Catholic for about 15 years but am now returning back into the Catholic faith here in Canada. I am at the present time taking the RCIA course (Rite of Christian Initiation for Adults), and the priests have said that one can only be baptized and confirmed once in their lifetime. This had been bothering me, and I want to know your thoughts regarding what happened to me. Hoping to hear from you soon, Sarah

Dear Sarah: Let me reassure you that once you are baptized and confirmed, you are always baptized and confirmed. Each of those sacraments leave an indelible mark upon your soul, a kind of “identity” that says, “I am a believer.” The fact that you may be now returning to the Church after a time will not in any way affect those two sacraments. And I wouldn’t worry about what occurred 40 years ago. The Sacrament of Reconciliation is what now applies to you. This is a sacrament which we receive again and again all through our lives; its purpose is to be there for us as often as we need. Hope this helps. Friar Jim

Dear Friar Jim: Is the Sacrament of Confirmation as essential as Baptism? I am not sure if I was confirmed or not. Do I need to be confirmed? Sincerely, Vilma

Dear Vilma: No, the Sacrament of Confirmation is not absolutely necessary (e.g., it is not necessary for Marriage). But it is very much a part of our faith and if possible we should try to receive all the sacraments that fit with our state of life, and Confirmation fits the life of every Catholic. Call your pastor and find out when the adults in the Diocese can be confirmed. I can assure you that you are not the only one in your area who was never confirmed. Friar Jim

Dear Friar Jim: When I was very young I had the Sacrament of Confirmation. I don’t like the Confirmation name. I wonder if it is possible to change this with the Church, legally and officially? Chris

Dear Chris: You could change the name yourself if you wanted to and choose a different patron saint. But the Church records would stay the same. People change their legal names from time to time, but their baptismal record would stay the same. What they will do is make a note of the “new legal name” in the margin or the back of the certificate. But they would not change the historical document. Friar Jim


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