Saturday, November 14, 2009

The Sacrament of Confirmation
the Outpouring of the Spirit as Granted to the Faithful at Pentecost

Seventh Grade CCD 2009
Class One

I. Generally (CCC 1302-04)

A. In the Sacrament of Confirmation, we receive the full outpouring of the Holy Spirit, as was promised by God the Father in the Old Testament and by Jesus (God the Son) in the Gospels, and as happened to the faithful at Pentecost.

(1) In the Sacrament, by the visible outward sign of the laying on of hands, anointing, and the words, “be sealed with the gift of the Holy Spirit,” the recipient receives the invisible reality of the grace of the Holy Spirit.

B. Confirmation completes what began at Baptism – making us complete Christians – uniting us more firmly to Christ and binding us more perfectly to the Church.

(1) Whereas in Baptism, we come from the world into the Church, in Confirmation, we go from the Church out into the world to be a witness for Christ.

(2) By Confirmation, we are not merely members of the Church concerned with our own personal salvation, but are joined in the redemptive mission of the Church and, thus, concerned with the salvation of others.

C. Although received only once, far from being a one-time event, the Sacrament of Confirmation is an everyday Sacrament, in that we can use and benefit from the graces received in our everyday lives.

II. Confirmation and Mission

After He suffered, died, and rose again, Jesus appeared to the Apostles and said, “You will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, throughout Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” (Acts 1:8) Jesus then ascended to heaven. Ten days later, at Pentecost, the Holy Spirit descended upon them and the Church was born.

A. “You will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you.”
In Confirmation, we receive power, that is, certain graces from the Holy Spirit, to help us participate in the mission of the Church to be a witness for Jesus. These graces include:

(1) Sacramental and sanctifying graces, which impress a spiritual seal or mark upon us, fundamentally altering our very being.

(2) The Seven “Gifts” of the Holy Spirit (Is. 11:1-2): wisdom, counsel, knowledge, understanding, fortitude, piety, fear of the Lord.
(a) These “gifts” in turn lead to the Twelve “Fruits” of the Holy Spirit (Gal. 5:22-23): charity, generosity, kindness, gentleness, and patience; goodness, faithfulness, chastity, modesty, and self-control; joy and peace.

(3) Actual graces, which assist us in a given situation and instill and strengthen various virtues within us, including:
(a) The Theological Virtues of faith, hope, and love.
(b) The Cardinal Virtues of prudence, temperance, fortitude, and justice.

B. “You will be my witnesses.”
To be a witness for Jesus means to (i) testify to the truth of the faith and (ii) to share the love of Christ with others.

(1) The meaning of life is to love and be loved in truth. Truth and Love are the foundations of the Faith. The entirety of the Faith invariably comes back to truth and love, which is not surprising since God is Truth, and God is Love, not merely in a philosophical sense, but Truth and Love in person.

(2) Truth – Testifying to the truth of the faith means, first, learning the deposit of faith and, secondly, spreading that Good News of Jesus Christ to the world – being a light of truth and love in a dark world and making disciples of all nations. (Mt. 28:19)

(3) Love – The Two Great Commandments, which are the summation of the entirety of the law, are to (i) love God, and (ii) love one another. (Mt. 22:36-40) Loving God and one another includes:
(a) The Corporal Works of Mercy (Mt. 25:31-46): feed the hungry, give drink to the thirsty, clothe the naked, shelter the homeless, visit the sick, visit the imprisoned, and bury the dead.
(b) The Spiritual Works of Mercy: counsel the doubtful, instruct the ignorant, admonish sinners, comfort the afflicted, forgive offenses, bear wrongs patiently, and pray for the living and the dead.
(c) The Beatitudes, which are words of both promise and spiritual direction, indicating the way of conversion and reform of life. They teach us how to love God and one another and thereby how to be a light of truth to the world: Blessed are the poor in spirit, they who mourn, the meek, they who hunger and thirst for righteousness, the merciful, the pure of heart, the peacemakers, those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, and blessed are you when people revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on Jesus’ account. (Mt. 5:3-12)

(4) The “commandments” to love God and love one another are not dictates from a demanding God, but are instead nothing more than commandments to be true to the person that we were made and meant to be – to love and be loved in truth.

“Charity begins today. Today somebody is suffering, today somebody is in the street, today somebody is hungry. Our work is for today, yesterday has gone, tomorrow has not yet come – today, we have only today to make Jesus known, loved, served, fed, clothed, sheltered, etc. Today – do not to wait for tomorrow. Tomorrow might not come. Tomorrow we will not have them, if we do not feed them today.”
– Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta

III. Challenges in Preparation for Confirmation

• Learn the material – the “deposit of the faith” – but more important than simply having intellectual knowledge of Jesus is having Him in your heart.
• Understand that grace, including the grace of Confirmation, is a gift and, like any gift, must be actively accepted and used or else it is as if you never received it.
• In the readings at Mass, in your personal reading, and in everyday life, think about how Confirmation might apply.
• Constantly give thought to what you would say to a non-Christian, non-Catholic, or other person who might ask you about the Faith.

1 comment:

jan said...

I hope by 'steal away' you mean, "sure, go ahead and take whatever you want from anywhere on this site whenever you want to."

This Confirmation stuff is good - I've done my own but yours is more cohesive.

I don't want to just copy and paste - that doesn't seem too honest.

This site is way under-utilized, if you ask me - at least judging by the dearth of comments.