Have you been Confirmed?

“Confirmation …brings a deepening of baptismal grace. It strengthens our relationship to God the Father as adopted children, draws us nearer to Jesus, and increases the gifts of the Holy Spirit within us. Confirmation intensifies our bond with the Church to help us spread and defend the faith”.  – Fr. Oscar Lukefahr, “We Believe”, p. 96.

Have you been confirmed? If so, are you living it out? Are you spreading and defending the faith with the help of the Holy Spirit?

The quote above is from the book we use for RCIA and adult formation. The sacrament of Confirmation is all about what we do. It is about doing God’s Will. It is about going out on mission for Christ and the Church. It is about living virtue with the help of the gifts of the Holy Spirit (e.g., courage, wisdom, fear of the Lord). It is about bearing the fruits of the Spirit (e.g., love, joy, peace).

If you have not been confirmed, we will have a six-week summer series that you can attend in order to receive the sacrament. The series will run from May 31 – July 5, and be held at the rectory on Wednesday nights from 7-8 p.m. Please register by May 29 by calling me at the rectory (202-561-4178) or emailing me at frgreg@nullassumptiondc.org.

Confirmation is referenced in the readings for today. In the first reading (Acts 8), the Apostles “laid hands on (people who only had been baptized) and they received the Holy Spirit”. This is the sacred action in the sacrament of Confirmation. The current Apostles – the bishops – lay hands on people who are being confirmed, and then they bless them with oil saying, “be sealed with the gift of the Holy Spirit”. That bestows the sacrament on them. This is what Acts 8 is referring to when it says that the Holy Spirit “had not yet fallen upon them”. They had the Spirit within them through Baptism, but had not had the Spirit come over them fully. It’s like with the Apostles: the Spirit came upon them as “tongues of fire” at Pentecost which was their Confirmation. And, what did that do for them? It sent them out. They had been baptized and received the Eucharist, but it wasn’t until they were confirmed that they went out and spread the Good News.

The Lord Jesus refers to Confirmation also in the Gospel (John 14). “I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Advocate to be with you always, the Spirit of truth”. When He says immediately after this that “you know him, because he remains with you, and will be in you”, he seems to be indicating the same thing as the first reading – that this is for people who already have the Spirit in them from Baptism. And, it was not long after the Lord said this in John14 that the Spirit was sent upon the Apostles at Pentecost. So, again, He is promising to send the Spirit upon those who had been baptized in a new and fuller way. We now call this the sacrament of Confirmation.

If you still need the sacrament, please know that it is a good thing if you do the series and get confirmed. Our parish family will celebrate your Confirmation! It will take humility and courage because it will not be an easy thing to admit as an older adult that you have not been confirmed. But, through today’s readings and hopefully this column, the Lord is speaking to you about being confirmed. It is never too late to be confirmed! We are never retired from spreading the Gospel! And, of course, there will be additional graces and gifts that the Lord will give you in the process that we can’t imagine right now. If you take this bold step, I promise you that He will bless you abundantly. God is never outdone in generosity!

One final reminder: a pastor at a nearby parish made the same offer to his parishioners with a brief series for Confirmation, and 20-30 older adults signed up and were confirmed. Do not be afraid!

May you know the peace of the risen Christ,

Fr Greg