Grace to you!
We continue our reflections on grace by looking at the favor of God we receive at the Sacrament of Confirmation. Here we call it the grace of confirmation.
Confirmation is one of those sacraments many Catholics seem not to pay serious attention to, except that they usually received it when they were about 13 or 14 years. Many see it as a social event, part of the ritual of being a high school Catholic kid; a sort of sorority endorsement. Yet, this is a great sacrament through which we receive, in the most unique way, a person, the third person of the Blessed Trinity, the Holy Spirit.
Imagine the Holy Spirit paying you a visit, not a casual visit—he has come to stay—and you didn’t realize it? It seems ironical, does it not? For those who understand what grace they receive at Confirmation, they are afire for God, strengthened, renewed and rejuvenated by the anointing of the Holy Spirit they’ve received. Joy, fullness of joy is their dominant mode.
Christian life is life in Christ through the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is the soul of the apostolate; and without the Holy Spirit, no one can say Jesus is Lord (I Corinthians 12:3). When people complain that they don’t seem to have a dynamic, inspiring and intentional relationship with Jesus; nor do they connect with the richness of the graces in the Sacraments and the Word of God, often it’s due to the lack of a relationship with the Holy Spirit.
For the Church to be truly “missionary disciples” (an expression used by Pope Francis to describe active involvement in the ministry of evangelisation), believers must be revitalized by the power of the Holy Spirit.
Guess what? The Lord Jesus provides the full grace of his Spirit, the Holy Spirit, on believers during the Sacrament of Confirmation. If you have been confirmed, would you for a while reflect on the memories of the day of your confirmation? When the hands of the Bishop or his delegate, were laid upon you with this signature biblical declaration made, “Receive the Holy Spirit.” Then, you did receive the Holy Spirit.
Many times, I hear people who have been confirmed ask if they could receive the Holy Spirit. My first response is: have you been confirmed? If you have been confirmed, you have been filled with the Holy Spirit, granted to you through the apostolic grace of the Church under the bishop.
That you didn’t feel it is simply because this grace isn’t about feeling. It’s about what happens in your inner nature, your core, and your soul. It’s that indelible mark impacted upon you. When we pray, “Come Holy spirit,” we are asking for the Holy Spirit’s renewal, revitalization grace. We ask that what we have received may be fanned into flame, as Saint Paul admonished Timothy, his son in the Lord (2 Timothy 1:6). Hence, fanning it into flame by openness to the Spirits promptings, regular prayer life, and living the life of grace.
Confirmation deepens what we receive at Baptism. Its grace is always tied to Baptism. The grace we receive at Baptism is deepened and revitalized by the grace of Confirmation.
Baptism, Confirmation and the Holy Eucharist, as you may know, are the three sacraments of Christian initiation. Baptism welcomes us into the body of Christ; Confirmation strengthens, empowers and renews us as believers; and the Holy Eucharist feeds us with the Body of Christ, as well as assures our full incorporation into Christ.
On this Day 25 of Advent, may we pray that the Holy Spirit will fill our hearts with his love and zeal for the things of God as we await the coming of the Lord. Amen.
God love you. God bless you.
Fr. Maurice Emelu
Fr. Maurice Emelu, Ph.D.
Father Maurice provides a daily blog of reflections based on the bible readings of the day from the Catholic liturgical calendar. You will find these reflections helpful for your spiritual growth, inspiration and developing your own thoughts. It may also be helpful for ministers in preparing their sermons for liturgical celebrations.