March 23, 2007

Seeking the Face of the Lord

Confirmation letters encourage the faith of all of us

I received a packet of letters from candidates for the sacrament of confirmation from St. Mary Parish in Navilleton.

As we are approaching Holy Week and Easter, their thoughts can stimulate the faith of all of us as we prepare to renew our baptismal profession of faith on Easter Sunday.

Dear Archbishop Daniel, when I was told I had to write a letter about why I wanted to be confirmed, I didn’t really know why. I thought about it awhile and I came up with two very important reasons why. First of all, I want to be confirmed to help me be able to go to heaven. My final reason is so that I can become a better Catholic-Christian.

The young woman went right to a basic motivation. She intuits the fact that in order “to go to heaven” we can’t do it on our own.

We need the help of God and that help comes to us through the gifts of the Holy Spirit as well as through the other sacraments of the Church. She also recognized that through the same Holy Spirit a person can become holier.

Dear Bishop, At the Mount St. Francis retreat, they said we have a gift that God gave us, and I haven’t found mine yet. Also, there was a question they asked. That was, who am I? Three small words with a big meaning, and I don’t even know the answer. I guess what my reason is for wanting to get confirmed is to find out who I am and finding my gift through the Catholic faith and God. I hope that’s a good reason, and I hope I actually find the answers to those questions.

With such disarming honesty, as this young person approaches the gifts of the Holy Spirit, there will be answers to her questions.

Implicitly, she expresses a deep faith and an encouraging openness to her Catholic faith and God. With the Spirit’s help, she can come to a self-knowledge that is deep, not determined by the common notions of our secular society.

Dear Archbishop, I choose to be confirmed because it professes my faith. It shows that I accept and believe in God. And once I am confirmed everyone will know that about me. That is something I have been waiting for.

There is a subtle awareness in this letter that in the sacrament of confirmation we receive, we accept something.

In other words, in receiving the sacrament it is not so much what we do, rather the true import is that the Holy Spirit is acting upon us.

This young man also recognizes that as active Catholics we witness our belief in God to others. And there is a sense of pride in doing so. It is “something that he has been waiting for.” That is truly an important insight.

Bishop, confirming my baptism means a lot to me. … In Confirmation, we are filled with the Holy Spirit. I think this empowers us to have the strength to reflect Christ in our lives. … I want to continue participating in the Eucharist, the central sacrament of the Church. It is the most unique gift we as Catholics have in that we believe in the presence of Jesus. Jesus is truly living in us. I want to be confirmed because I want to become a true member of the Catholic Church.

This candidate provides a fine reflection of the meaning of the role of the Holy Spirit as one who empowers us with the strength to believe and to live as Christ. The connection to the sacrament of the Eucharist, the uniqueness and centrality of that sacrament, hits the mark.

The young woman knows the connection of the sacrament of baptism, confirmation and the Eucharist in being a true member of the Catholic Church.

Dear Archbishop, I wish to confirm my baptism because as a teen the Catholic values give me sturdy ground to stand on. They guide me through the tough issues. I wish to be a member of the Catholic Church so I can help younger members to see what their religion is. … The sacrament of the Eucharist will have a polished meaning to me as each time I receive it I will be confirming my faith.

This young man also senses the role of being a witness of the faith to others. He also makes the connection to the importance of the Eucharist.

Dear Bishop, It feels good to go to church and worship God, and I know he will always be there when I need him. This is why becoming confirmed is so important. I believe that when my journey ends I will be able to see God in person.


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