Salutations! How are you doing? I hope that you are well. On this Saturday our parish will be sending ten of our young people to the Cathedral of St. Paul to be confirmed in their Catholic Christian faith. I thought that this eNewsletter would be a perfect opportunity to reflect upon this somewhat hidden gem of the Seven Sacraments.
That is to say, there is a lot of emphasis placed on Baptism, and rightly so, since it is the first of the Sacraments of Christian Initiation. And our faith finds its source and summit in the Eucharist, since it is the Sacrament par excellence in which we encounter the Real Presence of Christ in His Body and Blood for the nourishment of our souls. And throughout the course of a faith-filled believer’s life he or she might experience the Sacrament of Confession/Reconciliation/Penance hundreds upon hundreds of times. The Sacrament of the Anointing of the Sick is so significant for those who are ill or dying or preparing for surgery or simply nearing the end of their earthly journey. And much has been written about the Sacraments of Service to the Church and the World in Holy Matrimony and Holy Orders. Our focus will shift to the great gift that we have been given in the Sacrament of Confirmation.
Taken from the Latin word “Confirmatio” it could also be translated into English as “to strengthen” or “to make firm” or “to establish.” The Sacrament itself follows Baptism and indeed it strengthens the Graces that were established within the soul of the recipient. Faith, hope, and love are strengthened. The seven-fold gifts of wisdom, understanding, counsel, fortitude, knowledge, piety, and fear of the Lord are made firm within the life of the Christian who is confirmed by the outpouring of the Holy Spirit. These gifts are given to the faith-filled believer for the purpose of mission and proclaiming the Good News of the Kingdom. While those are the theological underpinnings for the Sacrament of Confirmation and its Graces and effects within the lives of believers a question could arise like, “Well, if that’s true about Confirmation, why do so many kids drift away from their faith after receiving the Sacrament?” That’s a great question!
As always there are many nuances and complications and details to life so I will speak with a broad proverbial brush to respond. While the Grace of God is always at work through the Seven Sacraments the recipients are not always disposed/open/ready to receive and/or activate that Grace. The young person might not be completely aware of what a tremendous gift and opportunity and responsibility is placed before him or her through this Sacrament. It is the goal of catechesis through conversation with the candidates preparing to help them open wide their hearts to Christ and the power of the Holy Spirit. St. Catherine of Siena wrote in the 1300s, "Be who you were created to be, and you will set the world on fire." We pray for those ten young men and women who will be confirmed on Saturday that they would live as God created them to be and inflame His Divine Love within the world.