Testimonies / Pastor’s page
RCIA man / smiling
Testimonies / Pastor’s page
RCIA man / smiling
“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 email@example.com.
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,
Have you been confirmed? Made your first Holy Communion? Do you or someone you know need to be baptized?
A pastor at a nearby Catholic parish asked his people these questions in the past year. He was asking more to double-check that everyone in his parish had received all three of the Sacraments of Initiation (Baptism, Confirmation, and Holy Eucharist). He didn’t expect many of his parishioners who have been filling the pews of his parish for decades to let him know that they still needed to be confirmed. Some even needed to be baptized! He was surprised – pleasantly, I guess – that twenty or thirty people came to the classes at the parish in order to be confirmed, etc. He seemed quite happy to be able to have the conversation with these courageous folks not just about the sacraments, but about faith and life in general. He was a proud spiritual papa!
So, of course, I will ask you all the same questions. (Well, I already did in the first few lines here). If you need to be confirmed or baptized or make your first Holy Communion, then please attend our RCIA classes starting in January. The “classes” are more like discussion groups that I will lead after 10 am Mass on Sundays from January through April. We’ll use a book that will be a very good resource for you and will help facilitate our discussions on Catholic teachings and practices. As you might have noticed, I don’t like to waste anyone’s time, so our talks will be informative and substantial, but not boring. There won’t be any tests; we just need your commitment to attend the meetings.
Even if you don’t need to receive any of these sacraments, it would be good to attend the discussions and learn more about your Catholic faith. RCIA is normally for adults who are preparing to become Catholic. But even non-Catholics have said that every Catholic should attend RCIA classes!
To see what one of these classes would look like, here are some of the notes from the discussion on Baptism (in today’s Gospel, St. John the Baptist offers his “class” on Baptism to the Pharisees and Sadducees):
Can someone get to Heaven without being baptized?
“Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved; whoever does not believe will be condemned” – Mark 16:16
Does baptism in the Spirit only occur through water?
1) By desire – the good thief on the cross, e.g.
“Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom”
“in truth I tell you, today you will be with me in paradise” – Lk 23:42-43
2) By blood – sharing in Jesus’ baptism by blood
“The cup that I shall drink you shall drink, and with the baptism with
which I shall be baptized, you shall be baptized” – Mk 10:39
What do we receive at Baptism?
● Life in Christ
● Indwelling of the Holy Trinity
“I baptize you in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit”
Real (vs Protestants who say Baptism is merely symbolic)
“For all of you are children of God, through faith, in Christ Jesus, since every one of you that has been baptized has been clothed in Christ” – Gal 3:26-27
● Forgiveness of sins
“by Baptism all sins are forgiven, original sin and all personal sins, as well as all punishment for sin”
● Gifts of the Holy Spirit
Wisdom, knowledge, understanding, reverence, fear of the Lord, right judgement, courage
● Incorporation into the Church, the Body of Christ
“For by one Spirit, we were all baptized into one body” – 1 Cor 12:13
● An indelible spiritual mark
“Baptism seals the Christian with the indelible spiritual mark (character) of his belonging to Christ. Given once for all, Baptism cannot be repeated.”
(Catechism, # 1272)
May you know the peace of Christ,
Fr. Greg Shaffer
3401 Martin Luther King Jr. AVE, SE
Washington, DC 20032
Fr. Greg Cell: 240-463-9960
Outreach Center: 202-561-5941
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