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]
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.