With one more Confirmation Mass to go this season, I’d like to share the common message I’ve shared with all those Confirmed this season. The readings for the Easter Season, as well as those of the Rite of Confirmation are powerful, and have much to teach us about what God is up to in our life as Catholic Christians.
The first chapter of Paul’s letter to the Ephesians tells us so much of God’s perfect and eternal plan. God, the Father “has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavens, and chose us in him, before the foundation of the world, to be holy and without blemish before him.” (Ephesians 1: 3-4)
St. Paul goes on to say: “he destined us for adoption to himself through Jesus Christ…for the praise and glory of grace”. (Ephesians 1:5-6) All of this work of God, through Jesus Christ is “sealed with the promise of the holy Spirit”. (Ephesians 1:13) In such a breif, yet dense passage, St. Paul lays out for the Christian the basic, perfect, eternal, plan of God, that we be made holy, by adoption as children of God in the person of Jesus Christ, by the power of the Holy Spirit, destined for the inheritance of eternal life in the presence of God.
Obviously, this gift (seal) of the Holy Spirit is what the sacrament of Confirmation is all about. So, I ask each class to do three things.
1. Open your hearts to God! Jesus tells us in John’s Gospel that this Spirit of Truth “remains with you, and will be in you.” (John 14: 17) God always takes the initiative! The life of the Christian is to be a living response to this loving initiative of God. Our hearts can become constricted at times, and the Spirit dwelling in us seeks to expand our souls and hearts to ever greater love, a love that is expressed in practical and fruitful ways for the building up of God’s kingdom.
2. Make an act of faith that God, through the power of the Holy Spirit, and the person of Jesus Christ is at work in you! So often, we do not “sense” or “feel” this presence of God in our life, but the Christian life is a constant “act of faith” in this mysterious and powerful presence of Christ. I know I make this act of faith several times a day, as I long to know and sense where God is leading me, what God is asking of me. This “act of faith” is important if Christ is going to accomplish the many good works in and through us which are a part of the Father’s plan for our age. “he [Jesus] did not work many mighty deeds there because of their lack of faith.” (Matthew 13:58)
3. Make a promise to cooperate with the Holy Spirit living and dwelling in you! As St. Paul so clearly tells us in the letter to the Ephesians, God clearly is up to something good in each of us, but it does require our individual cooperation. What more could we long for than to know God’s plan for our life, and then to desire this with all our heart, soul, strength, and mind? “the Spirit that the Father will send in my name – he will teach you everything and remind you of all that I told you.” (John 14:26)
The Holy Spirit will teach us (double edged sword of knowledge) to know our self, and to know God. Both of these components of knowledge are essential for holiness, and the fulfillment of God’s will in each of our lives. Once we have grown in this knowledge of the Spirit, we are then well prepared to cooperate with wherever the Spirit leads. The Spirit will give us the grace, love, and courage to accomplish the plan of God for our life.
Come Holy Spirit and renew your Church, and inspire each of us to build the Kingdom of God.