At the end of this Lenten season we will welcome new members into the Church; those catechumens who will be receiving the Sacraments of Initiation during the Easter Vigil. Watching the elect transition to fully initiated Christians is quite moving. The ritual is an excellent time to reflect upon our own initiation.
The Sacraments of Initiation are Baptism, Eucharist, and Confirmation. I want to reflect upon Confirmation and what we receive from it. Confirmation “seals” our Baptism which itself “marks” us as belonging to Christ. We receive the Holy Spirit and His power and graces in our Confirmation. Like Baptism, there is only one Confirmation; but it is like a gift that never stops giving because we have received the Gifts of the Holy Spirit.
We know of these Gifts from Isaiah 11:1-3. They are wisdom, understanding, counsel, fortitude, knowledge, piety, and fear of the Lord. Think of these Gifts as seeds that are planted within you. They are internal and personal. They make you who you are. The outward reflections of these Gifts hopefully will yield the Fruits of the Holy Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23). My focus however will be the Gifts of the Holy Spirit. Let’s examine each.
Do you try to see Jesus in everyone? Do you ponder God’s beauty and presence and try to see things as He would want you to? That is the gift of Wisdom. It has nothing to do with being “smart” or “wise” but having the awareness of God and His presence among us.
These are those “ah-ha” moments that the Holy Spirit gives us. Perhaps it is a Scripture passage that you have heard numerous times but glossed over. Then one day it hits you like a ton of bricks. You realize what God is saying to you; you understand. Think of the disciples on the way to Emmaus who did not recognize Jesus until He broke the bread. That was their “ah-ha” moment of understanding.
We’ve all seen the cartoon of the devil on one shoulder and an angel on another giving advice to a person. They’re providing counsel. When we are faced with decisions, especially moral ones, we feel in the depths of our being counsel as well. “Which way should I go?” “What Would Jesus Do?” We know deep down what is right and wrong and which direction we should go. That voice is the Holy Spirit giving us His counsel. He nudges us always to do the right thing. It’s up to us to use the Gift wisely.
At our Baptism we take on the offices of priest, prophet, and king. Fortitude is the prophet side of us; to stand-up for the things that are right. The Spirit gives us this Gift to be able to be strong in our faith.
The Gift of Knowledge gives us a deeper understanding about God. This differs from the Gift of Understanding where something becomes clear. Knowledge is deeper than that. We come to “understand” God a little better. It’s almost like realizing at an older age that the advice our parents were trying to impart to us when we were younger now “makes sense.” We have a deeper understanding of our parents. So too with God when we ponder and pray Scripture.
This Gift is respect for God.
Fear of the Lord
Fear in this sense does not equate to being afraid. It is a follow-up to Piety where we realize the eminence and awesomeness of God. It is reverence at its very purest.
This Easter Vigil, as you witness the reception into the Church of our new Christians through their Sacraments of Initiation, take to the time reflect upon your own reception into the Church. We will be renewing our baptismal promises. The church will once again receive Jesus in the Eucharist after a night in the tomb, when we will once again receive Him. With the renewal of our baptismal promises we also, in a way, renew our Sacrament of Confirmation which sealed us to Christ. With that sealing, the Holy Spirit gives us special Gifts to help us know God better and to use them to bear Fruit to the world.
Ponder your Gifts, produce your Fruit, and have a Blessed Easter.
Copyright 2019 Michael T. Carrillo