Grace to you!
On this Day 3 of our Novena to the Holy Spirit, I reflect on the blessings we receive when we are confirmed.
If you’ve been confirmed, remember that time the bishop or his delegate anointed you with the oil of Chrism. He also laid hands on you and pronounced the words—"I sign thee with the sign of the cross and confirm thee with the chrism of salvation, in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost.”
You may not be quite clear of what happened at that moment. Perhaps, you were a high school kid. Maybe you saw it as a mere rite of passage. Actually, it is a big deal that leaves in your soul and spirit an indelible imprint of the Holy Spirit. You’ve been endowed with the indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit.
You were confirmed in the faith which you received through Baptism. You were blessed to become a dynamic, courageous and intentional disciple of the Lord. The Holy Spirit grants you the gifts to live the Gospel and be a witness of the good things you’ve received in the Lord. By so doing, you join the league of numerous other soldiers of Christ who are equipped to lead the gospel.
Let me walk you back to the Scripture. You will see a couple of examples in the early Church and how the first believers witnessed this power of the Spirit. Take for instance Acts 8:14-17. After hearing that some people in Samaria had received the Gospel and had been baptized, Peter and John paid them a visit. They laid hands on them and the people received the Holy Spirit. By so doing, Samarian believers were confirmed in the faith they received through Baptism.
Another instance was with St. Paul at Ephesus (Acts 19:1-8). Paul baptized the people in the name of the Lord Jesus and then laid hands on them so they would receive the Holy Spirit and they did. They spoke in tongues and prophesied. Recall that on the day of Pentecost, when the Holy Spirit came upon the disciples, Scripture says they “spoke in tongues as the Holy Spirit gave them utterance” (Acts 2:4).
There are numerous other examples in the early Church. Many fathers of the Church, such as Theophilus of Antioch,Tertullian,Cyprian,Cyril of Jerusalem, Jerome, Ambrose,
Gregory of Nyssa,Augustine and Cyril of Alexandria, emphasize the distinction between Baptism and Confirmation in the Holy Spirit. Many of them correlate it to the practice in the early Church. So, this is a great treasure and blessings we enjoy in the Lord being confirmed in the Spirit.
I know, some may wonder, why then didn’t I speak in tongues and prophesy when I was confirmed?
Fair question to ask. The immediate burst into tongues and prophesy is a sign expressing the power of the Holy Spirit within. All need not speak in tongues to confirm they have received the Spirit. The speaking in tongues and prophesying are two of the numerous manifestations of the Gift of the Holy Spirit.
You may want to read Saint Paul’s treatment of this matter in 1 Cor 12;27-31; 14:1-25. I will discuss more about these and make further clarifications in tomorrow’s reflection.
In the meantime, here are my thoughts for today’s prayerful experience. Pray that the Lord would grant you the grace to fan into flame the blessings and gifts you received when you were Confirmed. Or better still, pray to discover what you received that you didn’t know was already in there and needed to bloom. Pray that the Holy Spirit will come afresh in you and revive your drooping spirit.
Pray with me: Come Holy Spirit, renew in me the blessings of your presence. Amen. Continue praying the Novena Come Holy Spirit.
God love you. God bless you.
Fr. Maurice Emelu
[Monday Easter Week 7: Acts 19:1-8; Jn 16:29-33]
Grace to you!
Before I share today’s reflection, may you please join me in prayers for a private intention. It has to do with a friend and a brother priest who is passing through a terrible experience right now. I would prefer not to mention the name. I trust your prayers will go a long way for him, his family and the great number of people he inspires.
In today’s reflection, I share how a personal experience of the Lord’s healing grace strengthens the power of bearing witness to the faith. I use it as a source of inspiration to you in your daily commitments as a believer in the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
Over the years, I’ve known many people who have encountered the Lord in a personal way. I’ve met and interacted with people to whom the Lord has shown the favor of a miracle. It could be a healing miracle. A miracle of providence. A miracle of conversion. Name it.
In my life and ministry too, I’ve seen the Lord Jesus Christ do wonders. He heals the sick. He dispels the darkness of evil. He upturns the satanic strongholds. He heals and renews broken relationships. He strengthens the weary. The Lord goes on doing incredible things. To whom the Lord has touched in personal ways, there is the joy and boldness of singing the hallelujah of his greatness.
One notices that to whom the Lord has touched deeply and personally, their faith is stronger. They get more passionate. They aren’t apologetic for believing in the Savior Jesus Christ. They aren’t shy of their faith either. Good, bad and ugly experiences do not make them waver. They’ve seen. They’ve witnessed the good things. They’ve sipped the Water of Life. Their testimony is strong, profoundly personal as well. They know in good times and in bad times, the Lord of hosts is their strength and their refuge.
Yes, miracles are signs. Yet they are needed signs when faith is growing cold. They are needed signs when one is passing through a dark night experience capable of tearing one’s heart apart. In such moments, we look up to the Lord, from whom comes our help (Ps 124:8).
Be assured of this: The Lord hears. The Lord does the miracle. The Lord intervenes. Those divine interventions strengthen the power of bearing witness to the faith.
When one witnesses the Lord’s miracle, one is bold enough to tell it forth. We learn from basic catechesis that one has to witness the transforming grace of the Lord in order to be a witness of it to others.
The beautiful and bold testimony of Saint Peter as recorded in Acts 4:1-12 is a proof. The Lord has used him to heal the cripple at the Beautiful gate (see Acts 3). The once timid Peter wasn’t afraid anymore to tell forth what he had seen. He has seen the healing power of God in a personal way. He can’t but declare what he had seen. Not doing so would’ve been doing harm to one’s core and moral sense.
Peter declares, without mincing words, it is “by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified, whom God raised from the dead, by him this man is standing before you well. This is the stone which was rejected by you builders, but which has become the head of the corner. And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved” (Acts 4:10-12).
Praying for the grace of boldness of faith in declaring Jesus as Lord and Savior. Amen.
God love you. God bless you.
Fr. Maurice Emelu
[Friday Easter Octave: Acts 4:1-12; Jn 21:1-14]
Father Maurice Emelu PhD., 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.