Saturday 18 March 2023

Confirmation The Spirit of Christ - Sister Mary David Totah - Sacraments Meeting Christ Series

Confirmation: The Spirit of Christ
Sacraments Meeting Christ Series
ISBN 9781860822339
eISBN 9781784694104
CTS Booklet DO713

Over the past few years I have read over 340 volumes from the Catholic Truth Society. This is the first I have read from the Sacraments Meeting Christ Series, and the second from Sister Mart David Totah. While researching for this review I discovered that Sister Totah passed away in 2017 right around the time the eBook edition of this volume and a few of her other works were published digitally. This one was originally published in 2004. There is another CTS series on Living the Sacraments and based on rebranding I am uncertain if originally this was part of that series. But no matter what series it belongs to it was an excellent read. My youngest child is most of the way through her yearlong preparation for this sacrament as school and church. I decided to give this volume a read after our last session at the parish with the Sacramental Prep team and the other confirmandi and their sponsors. I am thankful I did, even though this is my third time through this year long process. 

The description of this volume is:

“This booklet uses scripture and the Church fathers to unlock the beauty of a life enriched by the gifts of the Holy Spirit received through the sacrament of Confirmation.

The sacrament of Confirmation is full of powerful symbolism and has a rich history going back to its origins in the very early church. This booklet uses scripture and the Church fathers to unlock the beauty of a life enriched by the gifts of the Holy Spirit.”

And the sections and chapters in the book are:

1. A Question-raising Sacrament

2. The Effects of Confirmation
     Unites us more firmly to Christ
     Makes us “perfect” Christians
     The Eucharist perfects Confirmation
     Increases the gifts of the Holy Spirit in us
     Perfects our bond with the Church
     Strength to be true witnesses of Christ
     Strength to defend the faith

3. The Liturgy of Confirmation
     Liturgy of the Word
     Presentation of the Candidates
     Renewal of Baptismal Promises
     The laying on of hands
     The anointing with chrism
     The sign of the cross
     Be sealed with the Gift of the Holy Spirit
     The Kiss of Peace

4. Yesterday and Today
     Origins of Confirmation
     In the early Church
     The Break-up of Christian Initiation
     The Forgotten Sacrament
     Age of Confirmation and Order of the Sacraments
     Our Lady and Confirmation
     Further Reading

The one sentence in this volume that stood out the most to me was:

“Confirmation makes us Christian soldiers.”

And I know that sentiment is not popular today, outside the church and even from many within. But it is one that resonates with me and my reading of church history. The volume opens with a quote from St Therese of Lisieux’s, The Story of a Soul:

“I went into retreat again for Confirmation, and I prepared myself with great care for the coming of the Holy Spirit; I can’t understand how anyone could do otherwise before receiving this Sacrament of Love... Like the Apostles I waited for the promised Holy Spirit, and was overjoyed that soon I would be a perfect Christian, and have my forehead sealed eternally with the mystic cross of this great sacrament.” 

The first chapter of this book is a series of letters back and forth between a priest Fr Murphy and a woman Mrs Smith. Mrs Smith raises many questions about why be confirmed, for her child, and for her husband who was not raised in the church. These letters in some ways read like a negative image of C.S. Lewis’s Screwtape Letters. And to be honest they were so well written that I think this volume is worth the price first for these 10 correspondences. And I would have loved it if the rest of the volume has been written in the same fashion. But from there it explores point after pint, and these points are strongly supported by biblical quotes and quotes from the catechism. They are also supported by quotes from the Popes and Saints throughout the ages. 

This volume is a clear and concise presentation of what Catholics understand Confirmation to be and to do. It is well written. It is an engaging read and can easily be read by candidates, sponsors and parents. For most readers it can be read in a few hours or spread out reading a chapter or section a day. The material is masterfully researched and well organized and presented. This volume has left me wanting to read the other works of Sister Totah. This is another great resource from the Catholic Truth Society, I can easily recommend it.

Note: This book is part of a series of reviews: 2023 Catholic Reading Plan! For other reviews of books from the Catholic Truth Society click here.

CTS Sacraments Meeting Christ Series:
Holy Orders 

Other Books by Sister Mary David Totah:
A Divine Gift: The Consecrated Life
Deepening Prayer
The Spirit of Solesmes
The Joy of God: Collected Writings 

French editions:
La vie consacrée, un don divin
La joie de Dieu: Écrits choisis

Other CTS Books and Booklets on Confirmation:
Why be Confirmed – Bishop Michael Evans
Confirmed A Treasury of Faith and Prayers
YOUCAT Confirmation Book

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