“Baptism, the Eucharist, and the Sacrament of Confirmation together constitute the ‘Sacraments of Christian initiation,’ whose unity must be safeguarded… The reception of the Sacrament of Confirmation is necessary for the completion of baptismal grace. For ‘by the Sacrament of Confirmation, [the baptized] are more perfectly bound to the Church and are enriched with a special strength of the Holy Spirit. Hence they are, as true witnesses of Christ, more strictly obliged to spread and defend the faith by word and deed.” (CCC #1285, emphasis added).
In past weeks, I’ve spoken about the importance, need, and necessity of us Catholics to do more than sitting in the pews. We need to go forth to spread the Word, to invite others to Christ and the Church, to selflessly serve of neighbor and the building up of the Kingdom of God. In a word, to be on Mission! I know it can seem daunting, overwhelming, and scary. We can feel at a loss of where to start or when to begin. How about, right now and wherever you find yourself. The need is great in our ever more secular world to spread the Gospel. But the need is pressing to witness to the Good News, not just to those who’ve never heard of Jesus, but to more fervently and intentionally hand on the faith to those in our own families and among our own closest connections of work and friendships. The so-called New Evangelization is in particular directed at helping those ‘raised Catholic’ to actually ‘live Catholic’ in thought, word, and deed.
Some have suggested to me that it can’t be done. That it’s a nice idea, but we Catholics just don’t have what it takes to do this… That is of course a lie of the evil one perhaps embraced and repeated naively as the path of least resistance. It is clearly not the Path of the Cross. It is not the Way of Jesus. It is not the Gentle Yoke of our Lord. It will require effort and hardship. It will entail failures and hurts. It will disrupt our complacent mannerisms. But it will also be the way to sanctification and salvation. Living the Gospel in word and deed is not an option. It is the way of the Catholic Christian Disciple. If you don’t seem to be living it, then you are probably not a disciple. Christianity is not a spectator sport. There is no room for sideliners, bench riders or freeloaders, for occasional fans or disinterested observers. I’m often accused of being too black or white, but I take my cue from Christ: “I know your works; I know that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either cold or hot. So, because you are lukewarm, neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth” (Revelations 3:15-16). To be lukewarm, to be neither fully for Jesus nor even fully against Him will lead to rejection by Him.
For those of you who have received the Sacrament of Confirmation and have been fully initiated into the Church and the Triune Life of God, you are “obliged to spread and defend the faith by word and deed.” You’ve been granted the very gifts of the Holy Spirit to enable you to do so. You are not without the skills or talents, even while you might be without the practice and experience. And practice and experience can only be gained by the hard work of engagement, of trying, of doing. It won’t always be pretty or perfect. Yet, that is not what Christ asks, rather He asks for our best. He asks for our Love. He asks for our Trust. He asks for our dependence upon Him in the doing. Live the Holy Spirit you received in Confirmation – Live & Labor for the Lord!
Next Saturday, 16 Oct, Twenty-five Holy Family teens will receive the Sacrament of Confirmation from Archbishop Thompson along with other teens from other New Albany Deanery parishes at St Mary, NA. Over the past year, these teens learned about Jesus Christ, the Catholic Faith, the Scriptures, the Sacraments, and the Church. They participated in Confirmation retreats hosted by Catalyst or CYO Camp Rancho Framasa, performed Christian service, and even wrote letters to the Archbishop explaining why they wanted to be Confirmed. Please pray for them. Please pray that they are filled with the Spirit to ‘spread and defend the faith in word and deed’ with the whole of their lives.
Holy Family, animated by the Holy Spirit, Pray for us.
~ Fr Jeremy M. Gries