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Back in the 90s, I remember being approached by someone who suggested to me that I needed to get prayed over for the special gifts of the Holy Spirit. Thank God my reaction then is as it is today: I received the Blessed Sacrament, and I’ve been Confirmed, are you saying those are somehow deficient? Surely nobody really means that the Sacraments aren’t enough because that would be anathema – it is as if they imply that Jesus gave us sacraments that had an expired “sell by” date on them. They’d be speaking their own perdition with such nonsense. Yet, sometimes you have to wonder if people aren’t looking for a bloody nose in the spiritual world.
Anyone who has been Confirmed (or Chrismated in Oriental Churches) has received the FULLNESS of the Holy Spirit. There is nothing else wanting, nothing lacking, no secret door at the back of the church where one must know the password before gaining entrance. You got it! Anyone who suggests otherwise, unless they are pointing out an invalid sacrament, is a direct agent of Satan, for they speak against the Church and her sacraments. A small reminder of the object of each sacrament indicates that Confirmation is for the Confession of faith, while the Holy Eucharist is for making progress in the spiritual life:
Each sacrament has besides its own individual object, and confers a grace peculiar to itself. Thus Baptism confers the grace to live according to the precepts of the Gospel ; Confirmation, to confess the faith fearlessly ; the Holy Eucharist, to make progress in the supernatural life; Penance preserves us from relapse into sin; Extreme Unction is a remedy; Holy Orders and Matrimony confer the graces appropriate to those states in life. Such is the great practical efficacy of the sacraments, and yet how little we appreciate their value!
(The Catechism Explained: An Exhaustive Exposition of the Catholic Religion, p. 575. Benzinger, 3d ed. 1932)
I find it odd that for a number of years, over and over again, I still hear people, who claim to be Catholic, talk of getting hands laid on them so they may receive the fullness of the Holy Spirit (yikes!). Others say that it is the best way to be holy because this is the age of the Holy Spirit. Again, these claims can only be effective on someone who does not know (or intentionally ignores) what the Sacrament of Confirmation is:
Confirmation is so-called from its effect, which is to confirm and strengthen in the faith those who receive it; it is also spoken of as the laying on of hands (Acts viii. 17), from the nature of the ceremonies. Our Lord had given the Holy Spirit to His apostles before His ascension, yet they were timid and fearful, and did not lose this timidity until the Day of Pentecost, when the plenitude of the Spirit was poured out upon them. So we receive the Holy Ghost at our baptism, but not in all His fulness; this we receive at our Confirmation.
(id. p. 584)
My other favorite claim is that only by charismatic activity conducted by self-certified charismatics can one receive the gifts of the “spirit” (I wonder if this spirit is related to the spirit of Vatican II?). Nonsense. Even if I weren’t a cessationist and thus believing that the radical signs recorded in Acts were a sign peculiar to the confirmation of the nascent Church (as was all my favorite saints and fathers of the Church), the open teaching of the Magisterium and tradition of the Church is squarely that ALL GIFTS of the Holy Spirit are conferred at Confirmation:
On the Day of Pentecost the Holy Ghost came down upon the apostles under sensible signs, tongues as of fire and a mighty wind ; so in Confirmation the visible sign is the imposition of hands, the audible sign the prayers repeated by the bishop. At Pentecost the apostles received the seven gifts of the Holy Spirit, pre-eminently the gift of fortitude, and the extraordinary gift of tongues; it is the same with us at Confirmation, only the gift of tongues is not now given. What the Day of Pentecost was to the apostles, Confirmation is to the Christian.
(id.) Please look at that last line again. The part I bolded. There is no need for someone else to lay hands on a confirmed Catholic. There is nothing deficient — they have everything the apostles got.
Nevertheless, we see pentecostalism still spreading today. I believe Fr. Hardon nailed this analysis dead on 42 years ago. I include below Fr. Hardon’s analysis of these movements. I’ve had a copy of these notes in my squirrel file for 17 years. I hope they got spread far and wide.
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