Praesta, quaesumus, omnipotens Deus: ut claritatis tuae super nos splendor effulgeat; et lux tuae lucis corda eorum, qui per gratiam tuam renati sunt, Sancti Spiritus illustratione confirmet.
This is a packed prayer. Let’s unpack it quickly.
Splendor and claritas are related to the concept of glory and of light.
Illustratio is a technical term from ancient rhetoric. It is a “vivid representation” which, as it were, sheds light on the matter being discussed. It is an accurate rendering that echoes the reality of the original. It is meant to make an impression, meant to make you see with your mind’s eye what is being described. Illustratio has as its root, again, “light”.
Lux and the genitive lucis. Light.
Splendor… claritas… lux 2x… illustratio…
Confirmo is “to strengthen, establish”, or “to confirm” in the sense of give assurance, “to assert as true”. Again, there is a rhetorical or forensic overtone.
Grant, we beseech You, Almighty God, that the brightness of Your glory may shine upon us, and that the light of Your light may, through the enlightenment of the Holy Spirit, strengthen the minds of those who are reborn through Your grace.
Grant, we implore, Almighty God, that the splendor of your glory shine forth upon us; and by the vivid light-shedding of the Holy Spirit may the light of Your light confirm the hearts of those who were reborn by Your grace.
Ponderous and yet light-hearted.
A couple points to consider.
When Moses emerged from the cloud of the presence of God his face was so bright that it had to be covered with a veil. It was too bright to look at directly. God’s presence imparted to Moses something of its glory and Moses was transformed.
How much more will we be transformed when we are gloriously risen in Heaven and in the presence of God?
The rhetorical overtones of the vocabulary are surely not a coincidence. The three ends of Rhetoric are to move and to persuade and to edify. We use the words, the representations of a message we desire to impart to our listeners or readers, so that their minds and wills are conformed to the message.
Rhetoric is carried out mainly in the public square, the forum. It is “forensic“.
The Apostles, under the influence of the Holy Spirit, are changed from men hiding in their upper room to powerful preachers in the public square.
Like gerbils one day. Like lions the next.
They were “confirmed”. Thereafter, their words and lives became an illustratio which pointed to the splendor of the truth.
Have you been confirmed?
Do you consider your confirmed character when you are faced with challenges and hard decisions or temptations?
You have been given a sacrament with effects. Call upon the graces that the sacrament extends!
Also… GO TO CONFESSION if you are not in the state of grace.
Some time ago I wrote…
The character conferred by the Sacrament of Confirmation can never be removed or lost, but it can lie dormant in you while you are in the state of mortal sin.
Go to confession, if need be, make a good Communion, and pray this prayer.
For private recitation.
“Almighty God my heavenly Father, You knew me before the creation of the cosmos and You wanted me to come into existence to bring You glory. Of all the possible universes You could have created, You created this one and You called me into it at exactly the time and place You chose for me so that I could fulfill my part in Your unfathomable plan. You willed that I have the honor to be baptized into the Church You designed and You maintain for our well-being. You willed that I receive the Body and Blood of Your Son and the indwelling of Your Spirit. You willed that I should also be confirmed so that our relationship be even deeper and that I might be an even better instrument of Your will. I now call upon that mighty Sacrament of Confirmation. Through it make me strong to bear whatever burdens I must endure in Your service. Make me wise to recognize accurately and then strong to resist, resolute, whatever is out of harmony with Your will as manifested especially in the beautiful Tradition You have guided in the authoritative, infallible and indefectible Church. Even if that disharmony should come from those whom you have endowed with the grace of Orders and seated even in the highest places of teaching, governing and sanctifying, make me steadfast. With confidence in Your plan for me I ask this for myself and for the brethren through the Holy Spirit’s Gifts and in the Name of Jesus Christ Your Son, who lives and reigns with You, ever one God, world without end. Amen.”