Dear brothers and sisters in Christ:
Confirmation season is in full swing. I enjoy traveling throughout the diocese to confirm our young people and pray for the outpouring of the Holy Spirit. As we celebrate Pentecost, it’s a good time to reflect on the role of the Holy Spirit in our lives.
While the sacrament of confirmation is conferred only once, the power of the sacrament – which is the power of the Holy Spirit – should be a deeper part of our life from that time forward. All of us who have been confirmed are not only given more of the Holy Spirit, but we are also entrusted with a life-long mission. The Holy Spirit gives us the gifts to be disciples and missionaries.
Here is how the Catechism describes the effects of the sacrament of confirmation:
"By the sacrament of confirmation, [the baptized] are more perfectly bound to the Church and are enriched with a special strength of the Holy Spirit. Hence they are, as true witnesses of Christ, more strictly obliged to spread and defend the faith by word and deed." (Catechism of the Catholic Church, par. 1285)
This means that with the fuller outpouring of the Holy Spirit in confirmation, we are strengthened to share the Good News of Jesus. We are his witnesses by what we say and what we do.
In the account of Pentecost in the Acts of the Apostles, we read of a distinct before and after. Before the outpouring of the Holy Spirit, the disciples were timid and somewhat confused. After Pentecost, they were given the power of the Holy Spirit to give them the full confidence to be missionaries.
In our lives, we should call upon the Holy Spirit daily to guide and strengthen us so that we can be true witnesses. Saint Ambrose has a beautiful passage in which he encourages us to not forget the Holy Spirit which we have received:
“Recall then that you have received the spiritual seal, the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of right judgment and courage, the spirit of knowledge and reverence, the spirit of holy fear in God's presence. Guard what you have received. God the Father has marked you with his sign; Christ the Lord has confirmed you and has placed his pledge, the Spirit, in your hearts.” (St. Ambrose, Catechism of the Catholic Church, par. 1303)
Please join me in praying for all those who have been and will be confirmed during this season. Pray, also, that all of us who have been confirmed will call upon the Holy Spirit daily to be true witnesses of Jesus by word and deed.
Most Reverend Robert J. McClory
Diocese of Gary