Dear Sacred Heart and St. Mary on the Lake,
Many thanks to Jen Loar who has helped our confirmation candidates prepare to receive this great sacrament. Bishop Boyea will be coming to celebrate the Mass at Sacred Heart this Tuesday, the 25th, at 6:30pm. Please pray for them this week.
The Rite of Confirmation includes a part where the Bishop gently slaps the confirmand’s cheek. It is an image tied to the military—by it the Bishop is saying: boot camp and training is over. Now it is time to go out on mission, a mission for souls—your own and those of the people around you. Formed, trained, armed, and strengthened by the outpouring of the Holy Spirit, it is time to go to battle. In a world that has forgotten God, there will be battles we will need to fight as we follow Jesus.
How does the Holy Spirit arm us for these battles? St. Paul has this passage in his second letter to the Corinthians that says it so well. 2 Corinthians 6:3-7: “We put no obstacle in anyone's way, so that no fault may be found with our ministry, but as servants of God we commend ourselves in every way: through great endurance, in afflictions, hardships, calamities, beatings, imprisonments, tumults, labors, watching, hunger; by purity, knowledge, forbearance, kindness, the Holy Spirit, genuine love, truthful speech, and the power of God; with the weapons of righteousness for the right hand and for the left.”
St. Paul describes both the sacrifices he endures and the virtues that shape his life. They become the weapons of righteousness in his right and left hand. By living those sacrifices, living those virtues, those who see him find an easy road to walk to God. Such are our lives supposed to be—a road that someone else can walk that will lead to the Father.
How true are his words. I think of those I know who endured great sufferings with great grace—from them I learn that God does not abandon us in times of trial or darkness. I think of those who have been faithful in watching—and under their watchful eye I was kept safe from enemies I didn’t even see at the time. Under their careful eye I was able to grow and learn. I think of those who worked for me—my family, all the many people in Seminary that were a part of my formation both as a disciple of Christ and then as a priest. Powerful weapons indeed wielded on my behalf.
I think of those who lived those virtues in a world that is happy to throw them off. Those who are examples of purity and fidelity so I could know what that commitment looks like, what it can be like. Those who spoke truth to me, especially those times when they loved me enough to say even the hard thing I needed to hear. Those who did the hard work of immersing themselves into particular fields of study so that I could be trained by them. Those who loved me with a genuineness that could never be faked and which I can only try to imitate.
Such is the Christian! Strengthened by the Holy Spirit, with weapons to the right and the left they face this world with freedom and confidence. Let us thank God for those who have fought for us. Let us fight for those whom God gives to our care.