St. Francis de Sales Confirmations, 2005

On Saturday, October 15, 2005, the faithful of St. Francis de Sales Oratory of the Institute of Christ the King were treated to a very special occasion. Not only was the sacrament of Confirmation conferred on 34 candidates, but it was also the occasion of Archbishop Raymond Burke's first official visit to the Oratory.

The Archbishop's reception was conducted in the most solemn way provided for by the Traditional Roman Rite. His Grace came first to the throne room of the rectory where he was vested with the capa magna, and attired for the specific liturgical occasion, including socks and shoes in the proper liturgical color. There he recited the preparation prayers for the Mass, assisted by his secretary Msgr. Henry Breier and Fr. Thomas Keller, Master of Ceremonies of the Cathedral Basilica, and by the Master of Ceremonies of the Institute of Christ the King, Fr. Gilles Guitard. At 10:00 AM they processed to the church, behind the Metropolitan Cross, and under a canopy that was carried by four seminarians.

At the entrance of the church, Archbishop Burke was received by Fr. Karl Lenhardt, Rector of the Oratory, who presented him with a cross. He then received holy water from Msgr. Michael Schmitz, Vicar General of the Institute, as the next highest prelate present. Taking the holy water, Archbishop Burke sprinkled all present at the entrance and imposed incense, and was incensed himself by Fr. Lenhardt, after which he processed into the church under the canopy, to the strains of a setting of  Ecce Sacerdos Magnus by Cardinal Katschtahler (Archbishop of Salzburg in the early 20th century), sung by the choir.

The Archbishop went first to the side altar of St. Joseph, where the Blessed Sacrament had been reposed, and knelt before the tabernacle to pray. (The Blessed Sacrament is removed from the high altar when a bishop celebrates Mass, as the Ordinary Bishop is the source of the sacramental life of his diocese.) His Grace then proceeded to the main altar, and knelt in front of it, while Fr. Lenhardt, at the top of the altar, intoned a prayer for the Archbishop. Then the choir sang an invocation to St. Francis de Sales, patronal saint of the Oratory, while the Archbishop ascended to the altar, he himself then singing a prayer to the saint.

The Archbishop then went back to his throne which was placed at the Gospel side of the altar, to be vested for the Confirmation. Once vested, he proceeded to the foot of the altar and the Confirmation ceremony began with the singing of the hymn Veni Creator Spiritus. This was followed by a sermon, after which His Grace went to the faldistorium ("fold stool") placed next to the communion rail, and conferred the sacrament of Confirmation on thirty-four confirmants.

The Confirmation ceremony being completed, the Archbishop went back to his throne to be vested for the Pontifical High Mass, at the sound of Te saeculorum Principem, hymn for Vespers of the Feast of Christ the King.

At the end of Mass, after the Archbishop's final blessing, Fr. Lenhardt announced the plenary indulgence that the Church grants to all the faithful who take part in a Mass celebrated upon the first solemn visitation of the Ordinary of a Diocese.

When Mass had been concluded, Archbishop Burke sat at the throne to be vested once more with the capa magna for the final thankgiving after Mass, during which the choir sang Christus vincit, Christus regnat, Christus imperat, the famous acclamations that date from the 9th century, which were sung for the coronation of Charlemagne, and a most appropriate final salute to Our Lord at this Oratory of the Institute of Christ the King.

Then all confirmants, their families, and guests, to a total of 400 people, joined Archbishop Burke for a memorable luncheon.

His Grace has already scheduled his next official visit to the St. Francis de Sales Oratory for the year 2006, an occasion no doubt already eagerly anticipated by all.

A DVD of the event is available.

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