Yesterday, I was distinctly honored to sponsor my brother, Matthew Peter Patrick, in his confirmation! He was confirmed by the Bishop Mark Seitz of Dallas, who we learned is being moved to El Paso next month. Matthew is the first of three of us to be confirmed by the Bishop, so it was very exciting for us! The homily was fantastic, so I wanted to share a little bit with you and reflect on it.
There isn’t a single person who could honestly tell you that they haven’t struggled with doubts, a single person that could tell you they haven’t sinned, and fallen away, and had to come back. No, this is part of the way and Jesus made no bones about it. He made it clear that those who were going to follow Him would have doubts, would have problems, would have struggles, would have a cross to carry, if they wanted to follow Him. It wasn’t hidden in the fine print. It’s part of the Christian life. And that is where I think this sacrament comes in. That is where the feast we are going to be celebrating tomorrow becomes so important. That is where we find that we absolutely must turn, if we want to be a person who lives this Catholic faith of ours, to the Holy Spirit. How foolish we would be, if we tried to do this alone! […] It would be crazy for us to try to live this faith of ours without the promised Spirit that Jesus assures us will come; our Advocate, who will stand by our side, who will be with us; no, not just with us, but within us to assist us along the way. […] Through this sacrament, assures you that He will be there.
Oh, man, I loved this. I went to a bible study for college students at my church on Wednesday, and we talked about the Holy Spirit as well. Somebody mentioned that the Holy Spirit is the most “underappreciated” aspect of the Trinity, which I think is fair. So often we petition the Father and the Son, and mention the Holy Spirit, but the “relationship” isn’t as prominent.
I utter the phrase “Come, Holy Spirit” yet I don’t always recognize that I do… It’s not usually intentional. It just sort of happens, because I subconsciously realize the power of the Holy Spirit, without the active acknowledgement. Yet, the Holy Spirit is necessary to even call Jesus the Lord (1 Corinthians 12:3). We literally cannot worship our Lord without the third, integral part of the Trinity! It’s like the triangles I mentioned last month. All three legs of a triangle are necessary- otherwise you just have an “angle”.
I loved when Bishop Seitz called the Holy Spirit “our Advocate… not just with us, but within us to assist us along the way.” Through our Confirmation, we receive the fire; we are indelibly marked by the Spirit as warriors for the Kingdom. We may turn away, but we can never be lost. The Spirit, though gentle, remains within us. He does not force Himself, but He stays in our hearts, allowing us to utter the very words “Jesus is Lord.”
My favorite verse regarding Confirmation is Acts of the Apostles 1:8, when the Apostles learn that receiving the Holy Spirit is a call to action and to witness. We can no longer be bystanders of our faith. We must live it, pick up our cross, and go to the ends of the earth. We are not told that it will be easy (actually, we are told that it will be super hard- yay!) but we are told of our reward in the eternal Kingdom.
This is our calling, as Catholics and as Christians, as servants to the King. When we receive the Eucharist, we receive the Body and Blood of Jesus and we become a walking monstrance, the physical manifestation of the temple. However, the Spirit dwells in our hearts at all times. The Spirit unifies as a people, as a Church, as the Body of Christ (as seen in Acts of the Apostles 2)
Confirmation and Pentecost really work together. Confirmation is the strengthening of the baptismal promises for each individual member of the Church. Pentecost is the renewal of fire, bringing the entire army together as one.
I lovelovelove Pentecost Sunday. I think it is the feast that draws our hearts back. I know that I feel a literal pull in my heart, a resurgence of what I felt during my own Confirmation (many years ago!).
The Spirit is moving. We cannot ignore the mighty wind or the flames in our hearts. The Church needs the fire of the youth, the passion of those newly confirmed. We need to be witnesses to the ends of the earth.