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Feast of Saint Ambrose of Milan 2005
Again, I express that I am thankful to God for His grace that was evident when you visited us last month; and that remains evident among us. I believe the people made the right decision, namely, to receive their bishop as Christ Himself, with respect for the Apostolic office.
To follow up on our conversation, I want clear direction about the problem of Confirmations that have been performed by bishops of the Episcopal Church using the Confirmation Rite of the 1979 alleged Book of Common Prayer. My concern about the Rite itself is not merely that it has no statement of Sacramental Intention (which is bad enough), but that one of the revisers who created that Rite boasted to my brother, Fr. Addison Hart, when he was a seminarian in the 1980s, that they had changed the theology of the Church. It is not due to a mistake, but by deliberate non-Intention, that, in their Rite, no mention is made of receiving the Holy Spirit and His gifts.
The practical side of this matter is of concern to me, not because of the adults who have escaped from that sect who come forward for Communion in our churches, but rather that that we do not deny the grace of the Sacrament of Confirmation to anyone. And, this is further complicated by the fact that, after twenty-six years of the 1979 book, the probable lack of a valid Confirmation Rite in ECUSA affects more than one generation. Obviously, as a new generation of ECUSA clergy springs up, their bishops would have to be seen as invalid anyway, and their entire abandonment of Christianity would force us to disregard as valid their sacraments that depend upon the Sacrament of Holy Orders. So, we would be faced at some point with having to regard their refugees as people who could not validly have been confirmed. Since the matter will be forced upon us due to the corruption of their orders, we are not being hasty in taking a look at the Confirmation Rite itself, aside from its dependence on a valid episcopate.
In my own congregation many of the people were confirmed long before the ’79 book was in use, and so the question is irrelevant to their needs. But, I have hopes for new people coming in; and the presence of one young family that may be coming into this church, from ECUSA, has the potential of making the question relevant fairly soon. The question is whether we may present for Confirmation people who will want this sacrament, and will have come to believe that they cannot trust the ceremony performed by the ECUSA bishops with their defective Rite. Real Confirmation is, as we know, an indelible sacrament; and, never have I come across a provisional version of the form for Confirmation. Neither am I sure that the ’79 Rite is grounded sufficiently to warrant a provisional Confirmation; rather, it appears that we can be certain that no valid Confirmation was performed at all. I am bringing this up not to hinder people who have attained to an age of reason, have been through the act of what they regarded as Confirmation, and are accustomed to receiving Communion. In fact, it is not about the Sacrament of Communion that I raise the question. It is about the grace given in Confirmation itself. When and under what conditions, may we present to your Grace for Confirmation a person who was “confirmed” using the ’79 Book, but who wants to be certain that his Confirmation is valid? It is the specific grace of this particular sacrament that prompts me to ask. An analysis of the Rite in ’79 Book does not show any Intention to Confirm according to the beliefs of the Holy Catholic Church.
Hoping this finds your Grace well, I remain,
Robert Hart +