I received the Sacrament of Confirmation when I was thirteen years old.
Yes, I was from the old school, and the bishop slapped my cheek as a gesture to remind me that I was now a soldier for Christ. Other than a good feeling, I can’t recall anything changing in me as a result of my confirmation.
Fast-forward five years to May 1971, when I attended my first charismatic prayer meeting. It was there, sitting in the back of the parish hall along with seventy-five other people, that I received a powerful grace from God. For me, that night was my Pentecost. I experienced the presence of God in a way I had never known before. I felt the Holy Spirit at work in me, telling me that I was a beloved child of God. I saw Jesus as a real person who suffered and died for my sins, and it compelled me to give my life to him. The joy I experienced that night was incomparable. To this day, it remains the best day of my life and the best experience of my life. I treasure it even more than my wedding day and the days that my children were born.
But where was my mind for those five years between my confirmation and this experience? Why was my faith grounded in a fear of hell, doing the right thing, and obedience to my parents. Why wasn’t it grounded in a relationship with Jesus and an understanding of my heavenly Father’s profound love for me?
Power Released. Like other sacraments, the Sacrament of Confirmation can remain “bound.” In other words, we may have received the sacrament, but somehow we are not experiencing its intended effects in our lives. A sacrament can be bound because of serious, unrepented sin; because of a lack of understanding on our part; or because of low expectations. But the good news is that it can be unbound and we can enjoy its grace at any time. We just need humility, perseverance, prayer, and faith.
Jesus wants all of us to be filled with his Holy Spirit. He wants us to learn how to yield to the grace of our confirmation so that we can experience the Holy Spirit working in us as powerfully as he did in the apostles on the day of Pentecost (Acts 2:1-4). He has given us the Holy Spirit as a gift; why would he not want us to enjoy it? I hope you enjoy this issue on the Sacrament of Confirmation. I hope the articles help you to join with all the popes since John XXIII, who have continued to pray for a “new Pentecost” to come upon the church. May God bless you. May his Holy Spirit fill you with God’s encouragement,
guidance, and love.