A fool for Christ’s sake

Christian martyrsThe grace of Confirmation is a most practical one for each of us, even in its extreme form of giving us the supernatural fortitude to suffer and die for the faith. This grace is the source of that extra-ordinary strength and courage which one sees in the martyrs.  But there is no need to wait for extreme situations before using this grace of confirmation. Every lay man and woman in modern society has a daily need for divine help to live up to the faith. The difficulty of doing so is becoming greater every day. But this power that we have of professing our faith by confirmation is something akin to the priest’s power of consecrating bread and wine. One is not conscious of it; it must be believed in, and it must be used with faith and confidence.

The martyrs' prayerOne way in which that belief and confidence should become manifest, is in courage with which we ought to face all occasions where there is any need to live up to our Catholicity in word or in act, and to face ridicule, scorn, loss, or even injury, by doing so. Once the prudence or the necessity of the action is clear, there should be no more hesitation – no more wondering where the strength is going to come from. For that strength is already ours by the sacrament of confirmation, and all God asks of us is that we admit its divine origin, by an appeal – even by a mute appeal – to Him; He will be with us in the hour of need. Such occasions are numerous nowadays.

the martyrdom of St. StephenOne such occasion is when one has to face the superior smiles that are directed to our ‘old fashioned’ notions of Catholic morality, and the strain becomes all the greater when the quiet tide of tacit assumption is slowly but surely carrying the majority away from true Catholic teaching. On such occasions one cannot help feeling unreasonable, provincial, and even childish. But there are times when one has to be a fool for Christ’s sake. There is also a more general need for special help which arises from the fact that we have to ‘die daily’, to die to ourselves and to our own life because of our faith. On all such occasions, we must remember that we are living members of Christ’s Mystical Body, and that in becoming such we have renounced ourselves, and ‘the world, the flesh, and the devil’, and that we are confirmed and strengthened by the promise of God’s grace to meet all such difficulties; we should remember that we have to live up to our membership of Christ – noblesse oblige – and instead of being self conscious by feeling, we should become Christ-conscious by faith. But it is well to remember that although we share in Christ’s strength, we must also share in His prudence, and that supernatural prudence and common sense must govern our conduct in such matters.

13 Responses to “A fool for Christ’s sake”


  1. 1 Pyralis September 2, 2009 at 16:40

    Another beautiful reflection. Thank you. I use your posts for debate and discussions with my colleagues and older children.

    When I was a boy my mother often gave me books on the lives of saints to read and there is one book which I have never forgotten and which made me cry all night and which made me stronger in my faith: “Martyrs, they died for Christ” by B.P. Lord. I’m going to look for it and make my children read it.

    I often think of these saints that have suffered incredible atrocities for Our Lord, many do so even today in places like China, Korea, Nigeria, India, and so on, and feel so ashamed of myself when sometimes I’m too shy to speak of my faith or stand up for Christ when someone is cursing or blaspheming. Shame! Shame! Shame on me!

    Please pray for me.

  2. 2 Karin September 2, 2009 at 17:20

    Gabriella,
    Thank you for this beautiful reminder of the grace we are given at our Confirmation. The gifts of the Holy Spirit which we received in this sacrament are always there~we just need to believe and rely on them.
    I love your blog and have just discovered Google translator so i can translate your Italian posts.
    God Bless!

    • 3 Judy September 3, 2009 at 04:01

      Oooo…..as soon as I leave here I am going to look for that translator for I have always LONGED to know what Gabriella’s Italian posts say!!!!!!! Thanks Karin!

      Gabriella, this reflection is so full of wisdom and Truth.
      The paragraph where you share the ways in which we should manifest the graces of our Confirmation resonated SUCH truth and strength and BEAUTY to me…thank you.

      Pyralis mentions reading a book on the martyrs…and his intent to have his children read the same if he can find it…I have noticed that children have such a ZEALOUS desire to martyr themselves for Christ….When I share some of the stories which I imagine were in Pyralis’s book with my kids…they can hardly contain themselves from exclaiming: “I wish I could do that for Jesus! I want to die a martyr’s death”…
      As an adult, I am sitting there thinking “Do they realize what they are saying? These people were often tortured and killed in gruesome ways? And they DESIRE this? I would hope that I would do it (give my life for Christ) if I found myself FORCED into that position…but do I actually WISH for it?”

      Children amaze me.

      I particularly love where you mentioned that we should have no more “hesitation or wondering from where the strength will come”…that’s awesome…I will ponder it into the weekend.

      Thanks as always Gabriella…you help me to be a better person.

  3. 4 Torkel September 2, 2009 at 17:35

    We admire martyrs, but we don’t want to be one. And this is especially true of Christian martyrdom since
    a) the devil really tends to pull out the stops for Christian martyrs (just read the hair-raising stories of the fiendish cruelties devised for them),
    and b) these days, you don’t even get the payoff of the admiration of the mob that some of the early Christian martyrs got. William Sherman once remarked that the lot of a soldier is to die in battle and have his name spelled wrong in the papers. The lot of the soldier for Christ in our current culture is to get beat up in the culture wars (and in some parts of the world, killed) and have it covered by headlines like “Sectarian strife in Iraq” (meaning “Innocent Christians who did nothing to provoke their neighbors but exist are getting threatened, robbed, beaten and shot by Muslims”), or “Religious zealot hits innocent man in fist with nose, assaults bystanders’ knee with groin.”
    We see this all over the place among the Manufacturers of Culture, where the general media narrative goes something like this (inhale deeply and read the next paragraph as quickly as possible without taking a breath):
    “That Radical Muslims fly planes into buildings or burn down Europe over cartoons is the fault of religion – and by “religion” we mean “Christians” and especially Catholics, who are every bit as evil (if not more so) as the 9/11 bombers. Let’s not forget the 45 million people killed by the Inquisition and besides those Indian Christians getting bombed and burnt alive had it coming for proselytizing and the real murderer is the pope who wants to kill all the AIDS victims in the world and oppress all women and Christians hate science and reason and they think too much and don’t trust the intuitive Flow of Nature’s Energy and they cause all the wars and they refuse to fight for what’s right and they are always changing their tune and they refuse to change with the times and they complicate the simplicity of Love and they are unbelievably simplistic and they don’t admit the truth that Jesus was really a New Age Sacred Feminist, a marginal Jew, a magician, a homosexual, a myth, etc.”

    So, what was I saying? Oh, yes, we don’t want to be one – but we are, folks, all of us Catholics alive today – we’re all martyrs and Soldiers of Christ (excluding those Catholics that have excluded Christ from their lives).

  4. 5 Victor S E Moubarak September 2, 2009 at 18:51

    Reminds me of the famous saying:

    If Christianity was outlawed; is there enough evidence to convict you?

  5. 6 Mary Nicewarner September 3, 2009 at 04:20

    Gabriella….what would we do without you? Thank you for another wonderful post and a reminder of the graces received through Confirmation. May God bless you!
    From your sister ” Fool in Christ”.

  6. 7 Ron September 3, 2009 at 09:39

    “But beware of supposing this to be plain ointment. For as the Bread of the Eucharist, after the invocation of the Holy Ghost, is mere bread no longer, but the Body of Christ, so also this holy ointment is no more simple ointment, nor (so to say) common, after invocation, but it is Christ’s gift of grace, and, by the advent of the Holy Ghost, is made fit to impart His Divine Nature. Which ointment is symbolically applied to thy forehead and thy other senses; and while thy body is anointed with the visible ointment, thy soul is sanctified by the Holy and life-giving Spirit.”
    Cyril of Jerusalem,Catechetical Lectures(On Chrism),21:3(A.D. 250),in NPNF2,VII:150

    “THEY who are baptized must after Baptism be anointed with the heavenly chrism, and be partakers of the Kingdom of Christ.”
    Council of Laodicea,Canon 48(A.D. 343-381),in NPNF2,XIV:154

    “He would likewise be permitting this to the Apostles alone? Were that the case,He would likewise be permitting them alone to baptize,them alone to Confer the Holy Spirit…If,then,the power both of Baptism and Confirmation,greater by far the charisms,is passed on to the bishops…”
    Pacian,Epistle to Sympronian,1:6(A.D.292),in JUR,II:142

    “The living water of holy Baptism is given to us as if in rain,and the Bread of Life as if in wheat,and the Blood as if in wine.In Addition to this there is also the use of oil,reckoned as perfecting those who have been justified in Christ through holy baptism.”
    Cyril of Alexandria,Commentary on the Minor Prophets,32(A.D. 329),in JUR,III:219

    …… and many more writings on Confirmation from the early Church.

    Cheers!

  7. 8 Antonella Oliver September 3, 2009 at 10:53

    Gosh that is so enlightening Ron…never seen or heard it put that way before.

  8. 9 Judy September 3, 2009 at 12:54

    Wow … thank you Ron!
    What an WONDERFUL way to begin my school day with my children today…being enlightened and enriched first myself that I may now share with them the BEAUTY and SIGNIFICANCE of the writings you have shared here on Gabriella’s blog!

    I have always loved the Holy Chrisms…but had never before read
    St Cyril’s words…THANKS

  9. 10 Wendell September 3, 2009 at 14:41

    Ron has quoted a couple of interesting writings of the Church Fathers on Confirmation, there are quite a few mentions of this sacrament also in the gospels. Here are two:

    We read in the Acts of the Apostles (8:14-17) that after the Samaritan converts had been baptized by Philip the deacon, the Apostles “sent unto them Peter and John, who, when they were come, prayed for them, that they might receive the Holy Ghost; for he was not yet come upon any of them, but they were only baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus; then they laid their hands upon them, and they received the Holy Ghost”.

    Again (19:1-6): St. Paul “came to Ephesus, and found certain disciples; and he said to them: Have you received the Holy Ghost since ye believed? But they said to him: We have not so much as heard whether there be a Holy Ghost. And he said: In what then were you baptized? Who said: In John’s baptism. Then Paul said: John baptized the people with the baptism of penance . . . Having heard these things, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. And when Paul had imposed his hands on them, the Holy Ghost came upon them, and they spoke with tongues and prophesied”.

    From these two passages (and there are more) we learn that in the earliest ages of the Church there was a rite, distinct from baptism, in which the Holy Ghost was conferred by the imposition of hands (dia tes epitheseos ton cheiron ton Apostolon), and that the power to perform this ceremony was not implied in the power to baptize.

  10. 11 ginny September 3, 2009 at 16:47

    Excellent post GAbriella! Here in the U.S. it is increasingly more difficult to defend the faith. The Church is so persecuted here, and it takes the strength of the Holy Spirit to uphold our beliefs.

  11. 12 anne bender September 5, 2009 at 20:29

    That daily dying to self is the hardest part! I am so darn selfish! I’m getting quite used to playing the fool though, especially in the grocery store where I meet the most criticism for my family size based on the large size of my grocery purchases!

    Now, how do I get that translator!?!

  12. 13 booklady September 6, 2009 at 16:47

    Gabriella,

    I LOVE this post .. for two reasons! My second daughter was Confirmed in the Faith this past April and there were many times–perhaps too many(!)–when I wondered if she was going to make it through the Sacrament preparation process. She’s strong willed to begin with, and lately seems to be questioning everything I taught her all those many years of homeschooling. However, she did receive Confirmation and then this summer absolutely amazed me by witnessing and explaining her Catholic faith to adults at a Baptist Bible camp in July. Thanks be to God, the Holy Spirit!

    The second reason this post spoke to me was because of what you wrote here: ‘Once the prudence or the necessity of the action is clear, there should be no more hesitation – no more wondering where the strength is going to come from. For that strength is already ours by the sacrament of confirmation, and all God asks of us is that we admit its divine origin, by an appeal – even by a mute appeal – to Him; He will be with us in the hour of need.’

    I was asked by my parish priest to apply for the position of Director of Religious Education on the Feast of St. Ignatius. After much prayer, consulting my family and my spiritual director, I knew that lack of self-confidence was my only real concern … and yet if He had called me to do this (and I certainly didn’t go looking for this job!) He would have to supply the Graces for me to do it. So I applied. Last night, my pastor told me that although there were numerous applicants for the position, if I still wanted the job, it was mine. Now I read what you wrote about wondering where the strength will come from … and I know! It will come from Him, the one true source of all strength, who always has and always will be with me.

    God bless you dear sister-in-Christ!


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