The Descent of the Holy Spirit upon the apostles, disciples,
and Mary……160 in all received the first Confirmation.
It's Confirmation season and we're only a few weeks away from the great feast of Pentecost. Our students at St. Louis Church, Gallipolis, Ohio were confirmed today by Bishop Jeffrey Montforton. So permit me to share the contents of the class that I gave to the Confirmation students. It might give a few ideas to Confirmation class teachers and might also serve as a refresher and review for all of us. There’s so much to learn about the faith; it’s a life long process. If we don’t continually learn through Bible Study, spiritual reading, often referring to the treasury of Church teaching, the Catechism of the Catholic Church, etc., deepen our faith, and mature in it through daily prayer, Sunday Mass without fail and the sacraments, we risk becoming lax and eventually losing the faith. Almost every extended family has a fallen away Catholic or two.
AND ITS MEANING
What a privilege it is for us to be with you to help you grow and to grow ourselves! Let’s pray. In the name of the Father and of the Son and the Holy Spirit. Amen. Thank you, Lord for this opportunity! Please help us to give our students the best preparation possible for the great sacrament of Confirmation. Dear Holy Spirit, always tell us what to do, what to say, and what to write. Never let us do anything against your will.
Before starting, let me ask: Did you see the two articles that I wrote in the Church Bulletin……. "We are IN the Super Bowl" (Blog #151 at http://paulrsebastianphd.blogspot.com) and the one that came out last Sunday, “Blessed José Sanchez……Boy Martyr and Real Soldier of Christ” (Blog #132)? Only 14 years old, he was a flag bearer in the fight of the Cristeros for religious freedom against the intense persecution of the Mexican Government in the 1920s. José was captured and they told him: “Deny Christ and we’ll let you go free”. He answered: “Viva Cristo Rey”. José died a martyr because he refused to deny Christ. How would you fare in a similar situation? Can something like that happen here? We already have a subtle persecution. Catholic organizations are being forced to provide health insurance that includes abortifacients. I’d like to ask you to read the articles because my primary motivation in writing them was for you. It’s all about Confirmation.
When did the first Confirmation occur? It was the first Pentecost when the apostles and Mary received the Baptism of the Holy Spirit. Now let’s backtrack to the Ascension. Imagine that you were at the Ascension of the Lord into Heaven and that you are with the apostles waiting for the Baptism of the Holy Spirit. Then during the Confirmation Mass, imagine that you are one of the apostles receiving the Holy Spirit on that first Pentecost. After all, we are apostles of the Lord. An apostle is one who is sent and you are sent.
What did Christ tell the apostles before He ascended into heaven on Ascension Thursday? To stay in Jerusalem and wait for the Baptism of the Holy Spirit (Acts 1:4). In Acts 1:8 Christ says: “You will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you, and you will be my witnesses……to the ends of the earth”.
According to Matthew (25:19) He also said: “Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit……” Did our Lord say all that only to the first apostles? He said that to us too! He gave each one of us a special mission to be His witnesses in everything we do, in whatever career we follow, wherever we are. We are to teach our children ESPECIALLY, our students, our friends, our coworkers on the job, etc. We have the mission of furthering the Lord’s kingdom. Remember in the Our Father…….”Thy kingdom come, thy will be done”. We are called to establish a civilization of love as St. John Paul II asked us to do. Each one of us by virtue of Baptism are apostles and missionaries (see my blog #5). Of course as a lay missionary abroad or a priest or nun you would be more deeply involved.
How do we evangelize non-Catholics and fallen away Catholics? In little ways or in big ways at home or abroad…….by prayer and example, by word and deed. We can encourage fallen away Catholics to come back home. At the same time, we are engaged in a tremendous battle between the forces of good and the forces of evil. Whose side are you on? As a soldier of Christ, can you engage in that battle by yourself? You’re going to need all the help you can get. That’s where the Holy Spirit comes in? You will receive tremendous graces and gifts in Confirmation. For the rest of your lives you must develop and nurture the gifts of the Holy Spirit which you will have to tap when the critical moments come and cooperate with the graces.
What were the apostles doing during their time of waiting for the Holy Spirit? They were cooped up together, hiding out in probably the upper room…..praying and preparing for the Baptism of the Holy Spirit…..day and night. In addition, Christ Himself gave them an intense preparation for how long? Three years. He taught the apostles all the time…..while walking, eating, resting, etc. Was that enough? They were scared and timid. Since late evening Holy Thursday, they were hiding out and laying low in fear of the Jews. They needed something more. That was the Baptism of the Holy Spirit to set them on fire with zeal and fearlessness to spread the good news about our Lord. They needed the gifts and charisms of the Holy Spirit.
If the apostles needed all that knowledge, preparation, and prayer…..how about us? Without a good preparation, the Sacrament of Confirmation will not be meaningful to you. It won’t be effective? You won’t get much out of it. If you don’t receive the sacrament of Confirmation with faith, it won’t be effective either.
How should we prepare for this great sacrament to get the most out of it and obtain the maximum amount of grace? Confirmation is not a coming out party like a debutante announcing to the world she is of age and eligible for a handsome guy. This is not like the Jewish Bar Mitzvah ceremony and party for coming of age and a milestone in their education in the Jewish faith. If that’s all Confirmation is to you…..a sort of graduation from CCD, a party and gifts, and you don’t have to learn any more about our faith, YOU’RE IN BIG TROUBLE. Knowing very little about the faith, it won’t make much sense and you’ll fall away. You might marry a Protestant and join your spouse’s church because all religions will appear to be the same. One of our former Confirmation students did just that.
If you look at Confirmation as a graduation from CCD and not much more, I can almost predict that as a soldier of Christ, you’ll end up as a deserter. You’ll fall by the wayside especially if your parents are lax in the faith. If they are faithful, then you’ll fall away as soon as you are on your own in college or move out of the house. It starts with missing mass occasionally and then it becomes a slippery slope. Then you use any stupid excuse for not coming to Mass on Sunday…..”I have too much homework; I have a big exam on Monday; my team plays over the weekend; I have a hangover from the party on Saturday night; I’m tired; I had a tough week and I have to catch up on my sleep; etc., etc., etc. Then you won’t particularly care whether a sin is mortal or not…..according to the Catechism, it is a mortal sin to miss Mass on Sunday for no good reason; also having sex with your boy friend or girl friend, engaging in porn as the movie “Shades of Grey”, etc. Finally, you will fall away completely and your immortal soul will be in grave danger.
Already I suspect that we’ve lost a few people from our previous Confirmation class. It breaks our hearts because the members of this Confirmation team put their hearts and souls into this program. We love you all very much. Are you going to be faithful? Remember! Confirmation is NOT the end; it’s the beginning of the adventure with Christ in your adult life.
True, we do have the faith that even if you do drift, the graces of Confirmation will be there for the rest of your lives. You would need extraordinary graces to come back.
Holiness. At this point you only have a taste of the beauty, the depth, the richness, and the splendor of the Catholic faith. Confirmation is just the beginning of your maturing in the Faith. There’s so much more to learn. There’s so much more growing to do. Each one of us has to work on holiness throughout our lives. In fact, you can’t enter Heaven and appear before the throne of God without being holy. So you have a choice: become holy here on earth or become holy in Purgatory and that’s much more difficult.
We are preparing for the great sacrament of Confirmation. We’ve been coming to class every Sunday for almost two years. We’ve learned a lot, but is that enough? Absolutely NOT! It barely scratched the surface. It’s only something to build on. So let’s be specific. How do we prepare for this great sacrament?
· Mass every Sunday without fail. That’s a bare minimum. The Eucharist is like Power Ade. We need that constant nutrition. Furthermore, we have readings from the Bible. Attending Mass every Sunday, we cover the highlights of the entire Bible. Fr. Tom gives good in depth homilies. We sing. The sacrifice of Calvary is brought to us.
· Learn about the Faith as you are now in this Confirmation class. In addition Read – the Bible……a little each day. You can read the daily Mass readings which are taken directly from the Bible. You can get the readings on www.ewtn.com and the booklets in the back of the church. You can read books by great spiritual authors. There’s the Catholic newspapers in the back of the church. At least read our parish bulletin every week. Ms. Dovyak has tried to get you in the habit. We can’t evangelize or defend the faith if we don’t know it ourselves.
· Prayer – What’s the first thing you should do upon jumping out of bed in the morning? Pray a morning offering: “Lord, I offer this day to you. Help me make this day pleasing to you”; talk to the Lord during the day. Monthly adoration before the Blessed Sacrament is a tremendous opportunity to get closer to God. At least stay for a little while. An hour is generally recommended. Offering your daily crosses, setbacks, defeats, and sufferings is a very powerful prayer for peace, for sinners, for the Church, the missions, and a better world.
· Confession during Advent and Lent is a bare minimum. The Church requires once a year. Mother Angelica, a feisty nun on EWTN, asked the question: “Do you take a bath once a year?” We need frequent confession for examining how we are doing and obtain the graces to conquer our faults and sins. Spiritual directors recommend once a month. I cannot emphasize enough the importance of going to Confession before receiving the sacrament of Confirmation. You’ll take a good shower before the prom, right? You want your soul to be spic and span for the sacrament. You must be in the state of grace to receive the sacrament of Confirmation and should profess and know well the truths and duties of our faith. People tell all to a shrink, but are afraid to confess to a priest who is under the very strict Seal of Confession…….so strict that he must die first or face excommunication.
· Charity. Helping others. Being patient and kind with people. Also consoling, encouraging, and counseling.
May this Confirmation class develop virtues and habits that will stay with us for the rest of our lives. We have to continue this spiritual growth in this quest for holiness until the day we die. We are called to holiness. We are called to be saints.
The Rite of Confirmation and Its Meaning
First of all, what is a sacrament? It is an outward sign instituted by Christ to give grace.
What is Baptism? Baptism is the sacrament that gives our souls the new life of sanctifying grace by which we become children of God and heirs of heaven. It cleans our souls of original sin and other sin. It gives us sanctifying grace which is divine life in the soul. We are born again of water and the Holy Spirit. It is our initiation as members of the Church. We are anointed with chrism as a member of Christ who is Priest, Prophet and King.
What is Confirmation? Confirmation is the sacrament through which the Holy Spirit comes to us in a special way and enables us to profess our faith as strong Christians and soldiers of Jesus Christ. Confirmation makes Baptism more complete. It’s a deepening of Baptism in which we receive the life of the Holy Spirit in a deeper way. It gives us the graces to mature in the faith in our adult lives and the strength to be faithful to the Church and its teachings and to defend it. We receive the gifts of the Holy Spirit which we must develop and draw from when needed. We must cooperate with these gifts and graces and the Holy Spirit will guide us in our lives.
Confirmation not only helps us to keep the faith, but to spread it as witnesses of Christ who reflect His goodness and love, His light of truth, and His life of sanctifying grace. In Confirmation the Holy Spirit gives us a certain power and helps us to be good soldiers of Christ in carrying out our missions in the battle between good and evil. The Holy Spirit fills our hearts with the love of God. We become more firmly established as members of the Church which is the Body of Christ. By Confirmation we share more completely in the mission of Christ. We are called to be Christ’s instruments under the guidance of the Holy Spirit to give our lives in the service of God and His people.
Confirmation increases sanctifying grace, gives special sacramental grace to help us utilize the gifts of the Holy Spirit, and imprints a lasting mark on your soul to identify you as a soldier in the army of Christ. The sacramental grace of Confirmation helps us to be loyal to our faith and to profess it courageously. We are strengthened against temptation and the dangers to salvation. We are confirmed in our faith with the Holy Spirit.
Confirmation is really the Baptism of the Holy Spirit. That term is often used in the Catholic Charismatic Renewal. The Prayer Group prays over a person to receive the Baptism of the Holy Spirit. That is simply a reinforcement or deepening of Confirmation and people are often transformed with inner healing or physical healing or a gift of the Holy Spirit. I’ve seen Charismatic Catholics with the gift of tongues and the gift of prophecy. It’s so eloquent that you would think that the Lord himself is speaking…….For example, “My people, come to me and receive my love and my mercy”. How authentic? I don’t know. I’ve seen a healing and a prophecy in tongues translated by someone with the gift of interpretation. They take first Corinthians 12:8 literally. The Charismatics pray with mind, body and soul as raising their arms.
What is the outward sign of Confirmation? The holy chrism. When did Christ institute it? He sent His Holy Spirit on the first Pentecost. What can you expect in the ritual? I t will probably go like this:
1. After the Gospel, our pastor will present each candidate and you will move toward the altar before the Bishop with your sponsor, the same as when you receive Holy Communion.
2. The Bishop gives a homily.
3. Then you will be asked to renew the Baptismal Promises that parents and your godparents made for you at your Baptism as an adorable little baby. It’s really a creed. Now you’ll make the promises for yourself.
4. The Bishop and our pastor will lay hands on all of you by extending their hands over you. Laying hands dates back to St. Paul and the early Christians. It symbolizes invoking the Holy Spirit. The priest lays hands during the consecration at Mass and during all the sacraments. During the Anointing of the Sick and Holy orders, it’s actual contact.
At the same time the Bishop sings or says the following prayer:
All Powerful God, Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, by water and the Holy Spirit you freed your sons and daughters from sin and gave them new life (i.e., in Baptism). Send your Holy Spirit upon them to be their Helper and Guide. Give them the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of right judgment and courage, the spirit of knowledge and reverence. Fill them with the spirit of wonder and awe in your presence. We ask this through Christ our Lord. And you answer AMEN which means? So be it; YES!
These are really the gifts of the Holy Spirit…….wisdom (the ability to recognize and follow God’s will); understanding (where the other person is coming from); counsel (right judgment to make good choices); fortitude (courage); knowledge (ability to learn more about God); piety (reverence); and fear of the Lord (wonder and awe). We need these gifts to be effective soldiers of Christ. They perfect the other virtues.
Those who consecrate themselves to God and resign themselves completely to the will of God with complete trust in Him will reap the fruits of the Holy Spirit to at least some degree… They are a consequence of the gifts of the Holy Spirit. There’s 12……charity, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, generosity, gentleness, faithfulness, modesty (in dress so as not to tempt people), self-control, and chastity (purity – sex only within marriage). Except for joy and peace, these are basic virtues that we all have to work on. As defined by St. Thomas Aquinas, “a virtue is an operative habit essentially good that guides our conduct”.
5. Anointing. Our pastor will bring the Holy Chrism to the Bishop. He will present each one of you by the Confirmation name. The Bishop will dip his right thumb into the chrism and make the sign of the cross on your forehead. He will say: Confirmation Name, be sealed with the Gift of the Holy Spirit. And you say? AMEN. Then the Bishop will say: Peace be with you. And you answer? And also with you. Why in the form of a cross? It indicates that the confirmed must be ready to profess his/her faith openly and to practice it fearlessly. It also symbolizes that the recipient receives strength to bear crosses for the love of God. We must take up our cross and follow Him even if we must die for our faith.
6. How is the congregation involved in all of this? They also renew their baptismal promises; they pray for you; and give witness to their faith to give you a boost.
When I received the Sacrament of Confirmation, the Bishop gave us a slap on the face to demonstrate that we may have to suffer and even die for the faith someday. We were scared as to how hard we would get slapped. Actually it was only a tap. We used the name, Holy Ghost, but that was changed to Holy Spirit which is more precise for the Third Person of the Holy Trinity..
The Outward Sign of Confirmation – the Holy Chrism
Why does the Church use anointing? There are three oils that the Bishop blesses on Tuesday of Holy Week at the Basilica of St. Mary of the Assumption in Marietta. I’ve been all over the world and I think that the Basilica in Marietta is one of the most beautiful……..the invaluable stained glass windows, the paintings imported from Italy, the murals. The Chrism Mass is beautiful and a delegation from our parish goes every year.
Over the centuries oil was used to heal, to comfort, and to give life. In ancient times athletes used to anoint their bodies with oil to limber up their muscles. Thus the oil used in the sacraments symbolizes strength of soul and the diffusion of the light of grace into our souls. There are three kinds of oils.
1. The Oil of the Infirm (Oleum Infirmorum = OI) is used for the anointing of the sick. It’s simply olive oil.
2. The Oil of the Catechumens (Oleum Sanctum = OS), also olive oil, is used for a blessing in preparation for Baptism for strength against any evil in them and courage to profess the faith. It also symbolizes the need for God’s help. In the photo below it apparently is also used for anointing the sick.
3. The Holy Chrism (Sanctum Chrisma = SC) is olive oil mixed with Balsam Oil to give an aromatic perfume like flavor. The balsam in the chrism symbolizes that our lives should give off the aroma of Christ. It also expresses freedom from corruption and the sweet odor of virtue. The Holy Chrism signifies the gift of the Holy Spirit. It is used for Baptism after the pouring of the water, in Confirmation, and in Holy Orders as a sign of consecration to God.
Anointing with these oils has its origin in the Old Testament which is the promise of the Messiah or Redeemer in salvation history. The New Testament is fulfillment. They used oil to anoint 1) priests who offer sacrifice; 2) prophets who proclaimed the word and were spokesmen for God as His instruments. Often in the First Reading on Sunday you will hear “Thus says the Lord”. 3) kings who are placed by God to rule the people. Their authority comes from God. Samuel actually dumped a bottle of oil on young David’s head upon anointing him king.
Christ Himself was anointed as priest, prophet, and king by the Holy Spirit when he was baptized by St. John the Baptist. As priest, He offered Himself to the Father at Calvary. As prophet, He taught and spoke for the Father according to His will. He is Christ the King. Viva Cristo Rey. That was the rallying cry of Blessed Miguel Pro and Blessed José Sanchez in the Cristero War in the fight for religious freedom during the intense persecution by the Mexican government. For more detail on them go to my Blogs #42 & 132.
In a sense we are also priests, prophets and kings. In fact at Baptism you were anointed with chrism as a member of the Mystical Body of Christ who is Priest, Prophet and King. How are we priests? Together with the priest, who is another Christ (persona Christi), we offer Christ, the great sacrifice to God the Father. Today the father of the family is a priest as in the Old Testament until God took away that role when the Jews adored idols in the desert. Only the Levites remained faithful and retain that privilege. It’s the father’s job to be the spiritual leader in the family, to lead family prayer, to make sure every kid is raised in the faith and every member of the family makes it to Sunday Mass and other devotions. The ordained priest shares in Christ’s role of teaching, sanctifying, leading the people, and of course being another Christ in the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass and in the administration of the sacraments.
How are we prophets? We must proclaim the word. We must defend the truth with courage. We must be witnesses for the faith.
How are we kings? We are a royal people. We belong to Christ the King. The kingdom is our inheritance as adopted sons of God through Christ.
The first Confirmation on Pentecost set the apostles on fire for the Lord. They received the gifts of the Holy Spirit and their consequent fruits. They suddenly had a tremendous zeal to fearlessly spread the faith all over the world and die for Christ if necessary.
How will you be feeling upon being confirmed? Tongues of fire won’t appear over your heads. Every person is different. You may not feel anything out of the ordinary. If you are well prepared for Confirmation you might feel a great peace, perhaps a greater zeal for the Lord. You might feel God’s love in a special way or feel a great love for Him. I don’t know. But I do know that you will have received the gifts of the Holy Spirit to be developed and used when you need them if you remain faithful to God and cooperate with the graces of Confirmation. You will be stronger in the faith if you remain close to Jesus Christ through prayer, going to confession monthly, never missing Mass on Sunday, etc.
In summary, Confirmation confirms one in the faith by binding one more closely to Christ and His Church. It confirms, deepens, and energizes Baptism. It equips us for that special mission that God gave to each one of us. It is your personal Pentecost. Always be a faithful soldier of Christ, not a deserter. Strive to become holy, learn more about the faith, do good works, and pray always……..all for the greater glory of God.
More on Preparation (taken from a class I gave in 2007)
Parents and Sponsors. Are you going to be faithful after Confirmation? Are you always going to be faithful soldiers of Christ? Parents and sponsors, you have a huge responsibility to guide the person you are entrusted with for the rest of their lives. You should know whether he or she is still faithful. Keep in contact at least once or twice a year. I don’t care where he or she is or where you are. International calls are now quite cheap today, especially be Skype. Parents and Sponsors, pray for them at every Mass you attend, especially if they start to drift. Sponsor, if you consider being a sponsor as simply an honor and nothing more…..it would be better not to accept this big responsibility.
Sunday Mass is a grave obligation and according to the Catechism, “those who deliberately fail in this obligation commit a grave sin” (#2181). The only excuse I can see “you’re sick as a dog and might spread the flu bug or it’s physically impossible”. I can remember only twice in my life. Why is Sunday Mass so important? It’s a bare minimum. You find time to nourish your body three times a day with food even if it’s the drive through at McDonald’s. Can’t you nourish your soul once a week on Sunday? We receive the word of God in the readings and the Gospel. Over a three year period, we cover the essentials of the entire Bible. The sermon explains the word of God and we have the faith that the priest is inspired by God. Most important of all is receiving the Eucharist…..the body and blood, soul and divinity of Christ…..Communion with the infinite.
Once you really understand and appreciate the Mass, it will not be boring, but fascinating. Remember that the book states that by Baptism we are priests, prophets to spread the word of God, and kings in our dominion over creation. The Jews in the Old Testament offered a lamb to God and then consumed it. We as priests together with the ordained priest offer the unblemished Lamb of God…..Jesus Christ Himself to the Father in atonement for our sins and that of the whole world. Then we consume the Eucharist in the Communion with the infinite. In reality, the sacrifice of Calvary is brought to us in an unbloody way that transcends time. For God time does not exist. He is not limited by time. It is only the perfect sacrifice of Christ Himself that could make reparation for the sins of Adam and Eve and all the sins that followed in order to open the gates of heaven for us. Of course, we are free to accept or reject God and union with Him for eternity. Father Bill says that in the Mass, the reality of the Last Supper, the sacrifice of Calvary, and the Resurrection comes to us.
Reading. Let’s get back to my original question. What preparation should we have? Is coming here once a month for a couple of hours enough? What else should we do? Faithfully reading your two textbooks, studying for the monthly quizzes, and doing the little assignments are a bare minimum. Your two textbooks are excellent and easy reading. The red book gives a very good summary of the essentials of the faith and beautifully explains them. I got some wonderful insights reading your assignments for today. I would suggest that you keep these two texts as part of your personal lifetime library. Refer to them and review them from time to time.
What two books are musts in any personal family library of a faithful Catholic? The Bible and the Catechism of the Catholic Church. It explains all of the teachings of the Church in detail with references to the biblical texts. The red handbook of yours makes constant references to the official Catechism. We have about 10 copies of the official Catechism which you can borrow from the CCD Office next door. The Apostolate of Family Consecration out of Bloomingdale, Ohio (www.familyland.org 1-800-FOR-MARY) publishes a detailed two volume edition of the Catechism with more explanation and illustrations for families. They have excellent family retreats of fun and prayer…..pray and play. The Catholic Almanac is also excellent for a personal and family library. It is a mini-encyclopedia full of facts, history, and other data. You can obtain the almanac and the official catechism from Our Sunday Visitor at www.osv.org or 1-800-348-2440.
This may be your last chance to take a course which deepens your faith. The average Catholic in the pew knows very little about the faith. Keep learning about the faith or you’ll lose it. Let this course be a good start for a life of learning about the faith through discussion, reading Catholic newspapers, magazines, books, sermons, EWTN Catholic Television via satellite, etc.
Prayer. What else can you do to get the most out of this wonderful sacrament of Confirmation? Pray, pray, and pray some more as the apostles did for 10 days. Prayer is simply communication with God. We converse with Him and we listen to Him through His word in the Bible and through inspiration. St. Paul in one of his epistles, exhorts us to pray always. How is that possible? That includes reading the Bible for 10 – 15 minutes each day.
You can say a little morning offering when you get out of bed in the morning: Lord, I offer this day to you. Help me to make this day worthy of you. Good enough. I like to add; “Dear Holy Spirit, tell me what to do, what to say, and what to write today. Don’t let me do, say, or write anything stupid.” You can say a short prayer while walking down the street or between classes. Literally walk with the Lord. “Lord, help me in this exam coming up; help me to deal with this person in a Christian way.” “Lord, I lost my patience again. That was a mean thing for me to say. I messed that one up. I’m sorry about that. Help me to do better”. “I’m really upset; help me to get through this. Give me peace.” Thank you, Lord, for helping me to do well on the exam. Glory to you, O Lord.”
You know, our parish has something very special one Sunday a month that many parishes don’t have. That’s Eucharistic Adoration. We have to thank Bruce Davison and Father Bill for that. What was his role? He had to guarantee that there would always be someone with the Blessed Sacrament. Once or twice a year we have all night adoration. He has the stamina and endurance to pray their all night long. Isn’t that boring? Does he fall asleep sometimes? What does he do all night? You really should spend at least a half hour to an hour in adoration. I think that you’ll find it very satisfying…..just peacefully talking to God about your problems, dreams, goals, examining your life, thanking Him, glorifying Him, etc. The knights of old would spend a whole night in front of the Blessed Sacrament on the night before being knighted.
With this kind of preparation, we get the more graces and more out of this wonderful sacrament. After the apostles were baptized in the Holy Spirit, they were on fire to spread the good news. With a good preparation you’ll be on fire for the Lord…..if not now, then later when the graces of Confirmation take hold. That’s our goal…..that the Holy Spirit set you on fire to do your part so that His kingdom will come and His will be done on earth as it is in heaven or does that scare you? Then when you die, the world will be just a little bit better because of you and you and you.
What is Confirmation All About?
Why is this sacrament so important that it demands such an intense preparation?
On Fire. Some people are enthusiastic and on fire about the faith and eager to share it. Confirmation has a part in that. It was James Davison who first organized the beautiful rosary in the park in 2008 while still in high school. It was in commemoration of Mary’s last appearance in Fatima. Her message was to repent and pray the rosary for peace in order to avoid a second world war and even a third one. About 50 people showed up. It took a little courage to ask Father Bill if he could do it. You know such witness and example from a young person often is more effective than the same thing from an old guy me.
Be bold. A few years ago, I shared with Bruce Davison about my getting into trouble in the University of Rio Grande. In a general way at the beginning of each course, I said a prayer so general that even a Muslim or Hindu could accept it. It was simply asking God to help me to serve the students well and help them get the most out of the course. The first semester I had no trouble, but the next semester, somebody reported me. One administrator was horrified. “He prayed in class; that’s against the Constitution”. Actually, I continued to fight and the University lawyer said that a silent prayer was permissible. Anyhow, Mr. Davison told me, ‘Paul, be bold; be bold.” I’ll never forget that for the rest of my life. That’s what Confirmation is all about: “Be bold”; to do what’s right, despite the risk, despite the consequences. .
Put you faith and the teachings of the Church in practice. Pam, you were a nurse at the Holzer Hospital and a very good one. Your boss tells you to administer the morning after pill which is an abortifacient which aborts any human life which may be conceived. You might lose your job? What would you do? Pam, be bold.
Soldiers of Christ. Bruce Davison is as tough as nails and on fire for the Lord. He was a non-commissioned officer in the United States Army in Viet Nam. He was an elite Airborne-Ranger, the best the army has…..trained to jump out of airplanes and survive off the land behind enemy lines. He led combat missions and patrols to find out where the enemy is. After getting out of the army he became a soldier of Christ. He’s a pillar of the parish today. It was he who persuaded Fr. Bill to have a monthly Eucharistic Adoration. He had to guarantee that there would always be a person present. He’s kept his word and has stayed all night for all night adoration.
* Being a soldier of Christ means fighting for what is right even if it means being shot at…..i.e., being smeared, accused of wrongdoing, defamed, lied about, sued, etc.
* Being a soldier of Christ means fighting for the poor, the oppressed, and the unborn.
* Being a soldier of Christ means having the courage to defend the Church when it is being attacked or falsely accused when the easiest thing to do is to keep your mouth shut and stay out of trouble. In order to do that, you must know your faith and that’s why we are here.
Bringing Christ’s love to others. Christ often manifests His love to others through us…..our kindness, generosity, our love in helping others.
Missionaries. On Ascension Thursday, Christ commanded His apostles to teach all nations (Matthew 28:19 and Mark 16:15). Is that only for the apostles? It’s also for us.
Don’t just keep the faith; spread it. We must be alert for opportunities to evangelize…..to help to establish the Lord’s kingdom and to share the good news that Christ suffered and died for our sins in order to make reparation for our sins and open the gates of heaven. All we have to do is follow Him and His teaching.
Briefly how do we do this? By prayer, by example, by word, by deed. Don’t force the gospel down people’s throats nor impose yourself. But don’t be timid and afraid either. Wait for little opportunities and pounce on them.
Being a missionary includes helping others to grow in the faith, love of God, and knowledge of Him and His Church. This includes our relatives, siblings, friends, and classmates. How many of you have fallen away Catholics in your extended family? I bet that we all do.
Every one of us reaches a point where we become physically helpless or incapacitated, old, and sick. Can we still be missionaries? We can unite our crosses with the cross of Christ and offer them to God as a dynamic prayer for our loved ones, the Church, the missions, and a better world. That sick person may be more valuable than the president. That’s the great fallacy of euthanasia. We don’t know how God works in a person to prepare Him for eternity.
** At the very top of the first page is “AMDG”. It is the abbreviation for the Latin “Ad majorem Dei gloriam” which translates to “For the greater glory of God”. St. Ignatius Loyola, the founder of the Society of Jesus, originated this