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CONFIRMATION and BEYOND: LIFE in and with the HOLY SPIRIT

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CONFIRMATION and BEYOND:

LIFE in and with the HOLY SPIRIT


…Coming more fully into the presence and power of the Holy Spirit.


Many liturgical churches—including the Catholic Church—celebrate the third Person of the Trinity in the sacrament of Confirmation, which is celebrated during many months of the year. It is an occasion to focus on the Holy Spirit: His presence, His power, His goodness, His gifts and His fruit.


CONFIRMATION

The sacrament of confirmation gives us a new opportunity to consciously choose to take an active role in our walk with God.

Confirmation comes at a time in life when an opportunity is offered to take an active role in choosing a more conscious walk with God. Our parents and godparents made that choice for us when we were baptized. In natural life and growth, we human beings grow and mature. We take more and more steps to do what our parents used to do for us—from feeding us, to carrying us, to making choices for us when we couldn’t talk or have the wisdom or power to decide for ourselves. The same is true in our spiritual life—hopefully, we develop and progress and mature as Christians, rather than lapse and decline.

With confirmation, as we progress beyond baptism, we can exercise our personal spiritual freedom to make a new level of commitment to the God who made us. We can get a better grip on our relationship with God, and we can begin to relate to Him in new ways.

Whether we were baptized as a child, or whether we are a pre-teen, teen, or adult now, we can choose to have a new and personal connection with our Almighty power Source—the Holy Spirit. We can establish an enriched rapport with God, Himself. What a concept! What a privilege!

With the reception of Confirmation, we receive “special strength of the Holy Spirit… to confess the name of Christ boldly, and never to be afraid of the Cross”. Along with this “spiritual seal”, comes “the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of judgment and courage” [counsel and fortitude], “the spirit of knowledge and reverence” [piety], “and the spirit of holy fear in God’s presence” [fear of the Lord]. (Catechism of the Catholic Church, 1303). Confirmation “roots us more deeply… and makes us cry, ‘Abba! Father!’… It unites us more firmly to Christ... It increases the gifts of the Holy Spirit in us…" (Ibid).


THE HOLY SPIRIT

In the YOUCAT catechism on page 120 (Ignatius Press, forward by Pope Benedict XVI), it says, “As the Holy Spirit descended upon the disciples who were gathered on Pentecost, so the Holy Spirit comes to every baptized person for whom the Church requests the gift of the Holy Spirit. It secures and strengthens him to be a living witness to Christ.”

The Holy Spirit, then, comes—as we ask, receive and believe. Just like “being baptized means that my personal life story is submerged in the stream of God’s love” (Ibid, p.119) so confirmation can be like being immersed in the stream of the Holy Spirit’s power.

The last thing that Jesus said to his apostles (after the resurrection) before he was ascended into heaven was in regard to the Holy Spirit. “You will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you, and you will be my witnesses… to the ends of the earth…” (Acts 1:8)

Jesus told us of God the Father’s plan to send the Spirit to be with us after Jesus returned to heaven, and he spoke of the Holy Spirit to his disciples several times before He died.

“ …The Advocate, the Holy Spirit that the Father will send in my name—He will teach you everything and remind you of all I have told you.” (John 14:26) “When the Advocate comes…the Spirit of truth…He will testify to me… (Jn. 15:26 ) …He will guide you to all truth…and will declare to you the things that are coming.” (Jn 16:13)

God the Father had arranged for the Spirit to come (after Jesus had left) to give us power to live life as Jesus’ disciple, and to share the “good news” and truth of that new life that Jesus desires for all. Jesus literally “counted the cost” and released us from the chains of sin and death. Jesus was willing to die a horrible death for us, to pay the price for salvation (and every grace and blessing that comes from that).

But that wasn’t enough help for God to give his beloved children! In continued, great mercy and generosity, He and the Father had planned to send the Holy Spirit to remain with us. “…Now I am going to the one who sent me… But because I told you this, grief has filled your hearts. But I tell the truth, it is better for you that I go. For if I do not go, the Advocate will not come to you. But if I go, I will send him to you.” (Jn.16:5-7)

The Holy Spirit comes to enliven and bring to life the words and the heart, the spirit and the person of Jesus, Himself. He told us that the Spirit would be a “Comforter” in the midst of the tribulations that Jesus said we would surely face; the Holy Spirit could enable us to manifest Jesus’ overcoming power and the peace that Jesus spoke of in regard to the troubles of this world. (Jn. 16:33) 

The Holy Spirit was sent to empower us to know and understand the truth; to pray with and through us when we did not know how to pray; the power to win every battle against the enemy; and more… (First Corinthians chapter 12 speaks very explicitly about the spiritual gifts.)

“There are different kinds of spiritual gifts, but the same Spirit; there are different forms of service, but the same Lord; there are different workings but the same God who produces all of them in everyone. To each individual, the manifestation is given for some benefit …wisdom …knowledge …faith …healing …mighty deeds …prophesy …discernment of spirits …tongues …interpretation … administration… assistance… [teaching]…

…But one and the same Spirit produces all of these [above mentioned gifts], distributing them individually to each person as he wishes.” (1Cor.12:4-11; 28). “Strive earnestly for the greatest spiritual gifts. But I shall show you a still more excellent way…” (1Cor.12:31b)


THE SPIRIT OF LOVE

Following these words we find the well-known 1 Corinthians 13 chapter on love. “Love is patient, love is kind…” We have an eminently good description of love—the foundation, the point of origin, and the surrounding atmosphere of every other “good” fruit.

The “fruit” of the Holy Spirit is planted, germinated, grown, tended, blossomed and “fruited” by, with and through the loving action of the Holy Spirit, as we co-operate and seek His help and grace. Again, God continues to reach-and-keep-on-reaching to care for and empower those who turn and come to Him—choosing to walk with Him as Father, Redeemer-Lord, Comforter-Advocate (and the many other character-revealing names that God has in the Bible).

God makes it clear that it is His work in and through us that makes us both willing and able to do what pleases Him. “For God is the one who, for his good purpose, works in you both to desire and to” [actually do the] “work”/ service. (Phil.2:13; see also Phil. 1:6; 1Cor.12:6; 15:10; 2Cor.3:5) God shows that He desires to give the grace and enabling for the character-fruit of the Holy Spirit (“love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control” Gal.5:22). We can turn to the Holy Spirit and continually seek and ask Him to grace, gift and form good fruit in us.

God is endlessly giving. He cannot help it. He is Love, Itself… Himself. He is so generous, creative and higher in thoughts and ways than we are (Isa. 55:9) that the Holy Spirit cannot be contained, predicted, confined… This is sometimes difficult for organizational, self-directed human beings to grasp, receive and understand... or co-operate with.

But it is because of WHO He is that we can go with Him beyond our own expectations, limits, and natural abilities. In fact, many saints found that the openness to the radical calls, behaviors (often appearing strange to status-quo life around them), and empowerments the Spirit of God has to give is precisely what made some of them so different from the world around them (and later caused them to be called “great”.)

So much can be said about the Holy Spirit and the role that the Spirit seeks to play in our daily lives. There are dozens of scriptures that shed light on His power, His comfort, His help and His presence, which is so available to those who ask (Luke 11:13). In John 16: 12-15, Jesus explained that the Holy Spirit would “guide” us into “all truth”… truth that comes from the Father and the Son. Those of us who seek to receive His power to live the Christ-life can find guidance as we need it, and experience Him as Comforter—the name Jesus used for Him in John chapters 14, 15 and 16.


GLADLY WELCOMING THE HOLY SPIRIT

The Holy Spirit brings many gifts with Him into our lives, but how do we respond to these gifts? Do we sometimes just let them sit “on a shelf”, untouched… ?

An illustration comes to mind regarding individuals who receive clothes as gifts, and later find them in their closet with the tags still on them… never worn. Some receive gifts, at times, that are never opened. The gifts lie in wait…

What are we doing with the gifts of the Holy Spirit? We can—even right now— ask the Holy Spirit to renew and enable us to receive every gift that He intended (and intends currently) for us to receive when we were confirmed... when we look to God and simply ask.

If a friend had a birthday party for us, and we discovered that we left some of the gifts at our friend's house, we would not hesitate to contact him and ask for them, so that we could begin to us what we received, but neglected to bring home and utilize.

The days ahead are challenging on many levels. There never has been a better time to take courage and go beyond our everyday presumptions and assumptions… For those getting confirmed—and for the long-been-confirmed—every day presents an opportunity to receive new power from the Holy Spirit.

We can continue (humbly and expectantly as a child before the Father) to ask, and seek, and receive all the help our generous God desires to give. Our lives and the lives of those around us can only be the richer for it.


LOOK FOR MORE on the HOLY SPIRIT in our 4-PART SERIES on PENTECOST AND THE HOLY SPIRIT, leading up to the feast of Pentecost late in spring.


Scripture quotes are primarily taken from The New American Bible, 2010 edition.

The article, itself, is largely a reprint from our blog, Posted by Kathy Boh on May 24, 2016, "LIFE in and with the HOLY SPIRIT and CONFIRMATION". and our blog in February of 2017, entitled, "CONFIRMATION and BEYOND: LIFE IN AND WITH THE HOLY SPIRIT".


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