Wednesday, February 08, 2006
The Holy Spirit
It is kind of funny. A few years ago my wife's sister was given the sacrament of Confirmation. For Roman Catholics this is when we affirm our baptism and are anointed with holy oil. It is the adult acceptance of being part of the community and your duties as a Catholic. Most of all, it is where we receive the Holy Spirit.
We believe that at confirmation the Holy Spirit gives us the strength to live Christian lives. In the Eastern Churches I believe that this is done right after baptism.
When I was younger it was done around the age of 9. Now it is done at about 13-15. I am happy I was confirmed at age 9, since my mother died when I was 10 and it meant so much to her to be there.
But as my wife's sister was being confirmed, I found myself wishing that I understood my faith then as I do now. At least better than I did at nine years old, maybe confirmation at 14 or 15 would have been better. I wished that I could be confirmed again now so I could appreciate it better.
Yesterday I was looking at a catalogue I got in the mail. It had some confirmation gifts and first communion gifts. I put it in my book bag (working at a college, I carry a book bag to work), since one of my co-workers has a son who will be receiving first Holy Communion in May.
I though again about the confirmation from a few years ago and I realized (yes, sometimes it takes me years to realize things) that I could be confirmed every day. I just had to say to myself and mean it, "Come Holy Spirit fill my heart, give me strength." I had to work toward living the gifts of the Holy Spirit:
Fear of the Lord (This gift has nothing to do with servility or fear of punishment. The gift of fear of the Lord confirms in those who have it the virtue of hope and infuses profound respect for God’s glory and selfless love for God. It protects from sin through dread of offending God. Much like how we fear hurting or offending those we love)
It wouldn't be fully sacramental since I can not perform a sacrament on myself, but it would be the grace of God renewing the sacrament within me. That and the renewal of spiritual strength we get from the Eucharist will keep, and has kept, my confirmation alive in me for a long time.
This works for me, since I prefer to live my faith rather than beat people over the head with it.
Again St. Francis, "Preach the Gospel every day of your life, when necessary use words."