“Peace be with you.
As the Father has sent me, so I send you.”
And when he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them,
“Receive the Holy Spirit.
Whose sins you forgive are forgiven them,
and whose sins you retain are retained.”
This happened in time of the Apostle…but it also happens now in our time. We had the celebration of Confirmation at St. Anthony’s a month back and Bishop Swain blessed and confirmed the faith of our young adults in making a great choice in being fully initiated into the Catholic Faith. The outpouring of the Holy Spirit engulfed our young people. And, like a subtle breeze, we feel His presence is our visible world today.
We all receive the Holy Spirit at Baptism, but at Confirmation we are sealed with the Holy Spirit. The gifts given us are strengthened and the Lord is completely with us. I truly felt a sense of pride watching those 30+ young folks walk up and receive those gifts… truly, authentically, perfectly – inspired. Bishop Swain, given this Gift at his ordination as Bishop in the Sioux Falls Diocese…I cannot thank him enough for all the good he brings us as he travels over the whole diocese to bring the Gifts of the Church; I truly feel blessed to have been a part of it.
This Pentecost perhaps, we can all reflect on our own Confirmation. If we have received that sacrament, think about the Gifts given and received: wisdom, understanding, counsel, fortitude, knowledge, piety, and fear of the Lord. Each one is different but they work in concert and when we allow the Gifts of the Spirit to be fostered by our way of life—by who God made us to be—we are truly cooperating with Him. Our love for Him will shine forth not just for us for our neighbor but (in this Year of Mercy especially) if you will to cooperate with God’s Gifts. Loving our neighbor is one of the hallmarks of Christianity, even those who might cause disharmony. We show we are Christian by our caritas. Saint Thomas Aquinas teaches that “the habit of charity extends not only to the love of God, but also to the love of our neighbor.” The Christian notion of Charity really is love of God and love of neighbor. The Christian life is the constant struggle to love as God would have us love and the more we are involved with many graced moments…it helps us to do love (charity)…it guides us and strengthens us. A true Christian seeks to unite with his or her fellow Christian, not divide, and in that unity the struggle for perfection continues on. It necessarily builds the Kingdom of God on earth as it is in heaven.