Carthusians and Confirmation

Today, I had my fortnightly opportunity to visit Parkminster. We were working through the theology Sacrament of Confirmation, covering the later Fathers, looking briefly at the contributions of the medieval theologians and then spending some time on the reformation controversies as they bore on the sacrament, before going on to look at the matter, form, and (most importantly) the effects of the sacrament.

Speaking of Confirmation, St Thomas used the military metaphor made popular by St Faustus of Riez (and even more popular by the medieval belief that this was included in teh false decretals and ascribed to Pope Melchiades).
The sacrament by which spiritual strength (robur) is conferred upon the regenerate constitutes him in a certain way as a fighter for the faith of Christ. And because fighters under any prince bear his insignia, those who receive the sacrament of confirmation, are signed with the sign of Christ. […] Those who receive this sacrament are in a certain way enrolled in a spiritual army.
(Summa Contra Gentiles 4.60)
St Thomas applied this especially to the duty of defending the faith under persecution. Following the teaching of the second Vatican Council's decree on the Lay Apostolate, whch itself drew from the lay movements of the 20th century, more emphasis has been laid on the idea of this mission and apostolate deriving from the sacrament of Confirmation. This is helpful because not everyone is going to be called to defend the faith in times of persecution but everyone is called in one way or another to share in the mission of the Church.

A thought occured to me, sitting in the classroom at Parkminster. The Carthusians at the time of Henry VIII were peacefully going about their daily life and prayer. When they were suddenly called to witness to the faith through martyrdom, they accepted this with serenity and heroism. The grace of the sacrament of Confirmation came into play in the most stark manner.

After the lecture I always stay for Vespers. We are back to the time after Pentecost and the ordinary round of psalms and antiphons with which - for Monday Vespers - I am now familiar. There is a proper responsory for St Romuald, who the Roman Breviary says, "sought solitude and founded small monasteries".

Waiting for me as I leave is a bottle of the Carthusians apple wine. It is sometimes referred to as "Cider" but at 10% abv it is much safer to think of it (and drink it) as wine.

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