Gifted with the Spirit: Confirmation
Senior High, Lesson #1 “Your Journey of Faith”
Dear Parents, Guardians, and Sponsors:
The Christian religion was known to its original followers as The Way. We hope your sons and daughters will recognize it as The Way too: the way to a good life, the way of peace and justice, the way of mercy and compassion, the way to happiness, the way to Heaven.
The name The Way helps us to recognize that we are on a journey through life to eternal life with God in the very heart of the Trinity. As Christians, the journey is nothing less than following Jesus, who taught, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me” (John 14:6). Baptism is the sacrament that sets us on this journey of faith, freeing us from sin and making us one with Christ and His Church by the power of the Holy Spirit dwelling in us. So important is Baptism that Jesus gave this commission to the Apostles after His resurrection: “All power in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, until the end of the age” (Matt. 28:18-20). He had already explained to Nicodemus the necessity of Baptism and reception of the Holy Spirit into our lives: “Amen, amen, I say to you, no one can enter the kingdom of God without being born of water and Spirit” (John 3:5). Baptism and following Jesus, in other words, are necessary for our salvation.
On this journey begun in Baptism, we need sustenance and companionship. Around the world and throughout history, Christians have risked everything to fulfill Jesus’ command at the Last Supper, “Do this in memory of Me” (Luke 22:19). They have risked arrest, kidnapping, torture, and have even given their lives to be faithful to Christ. To this day, Christians are being shot dead or having their throats slit just for practicing their faith. What is it that compels them? It is nothing less than belief that Jesus Christ is really present in the Eucharist. When we receive Communion, we receive the body, blood, soul, and divinity of Christ. Christ brings our human nature into the heart of God, promising eternal life with God:
“Amen, amen, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you do not have life within you. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him on the last day. For my flesh is true food, and my blood is true drink. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me and I in him. Just as the living Father sent me and I have life because of the Father, so also the one who feeds on me will have life because of me. This is the bread that came down from heaven. Unlike your ancestors who ate and still died, whoever eats this bread will live forever” (John 6:53-58).
At every Mass, we have all the companionship and sustenance we need for the journey. And yet, don’t we take it for granted in our relatively peaceful country? We put nothing at risk by going to Mass here, except maybe missing a soccer practice or an hour of sleep. The martyrs in the Middle East and elsewhere might just be a good reminder to us of how valuable this sacrament is, and how fortunate we are to continue the 2,000-year old history of disciples carrying out the most obeyed command in human history: “Do this in memory of Me” (Luke 22:19). Will we be the first generation to drop the ball? Are we the generation Jesus spoke about when he asked, “When the Son of Man comes, will He find faith on earth?” (Luke 18:8).
Your decision to hand on the faith to your sons and daughters gives the Church great hope that the message and ministry of Christ will continue. To empower them in this challenging mission, the Church has, in every age, celebrated the sacrament of Confirmation. Together with Baptism and the Eucharist, Confirmation is a sacrament of initiation. It brings us into full membership in the Church. In this sacrament, we recognize the presence of the Holy Spirit, strengthening us to be like the martyrs of old and of our age—strong enough to be witnesses to Christ and His Gospel message in a world that desperately needs it. Whether in the Middle East against enemies of the faith, or in an American classroom where students are bullied and belittled, the world needs us to be the presence of Christ. The world needs people who are open to the Spirit, who allow the Spirit to do works of healing and mercy, showing God’s unconditional love and acceptance through them.
Thank you for inviting your children into this great work!
 The official teaching of the Church, following the teaching of the saints going right back to the early Church, speaks of a Baptism of desire by which non-Christians may also be saved when, through no fault of their own, they do not get baptized. For those who, following their consciences, attempt to live a live pleasing to God, the assumption is that would get baptized if they knew it was, in fact, God’s will for everyone to follow Christ. (See Catechism of the Catholic Church #438 and Lumen Gentium #16.)
Kevin Dowd is a doctoral candidate in theology and education at Boston College, where he also received his M.Ed. A graduate of Harvard University, Kevin has taught in Catholic schools and public schools in both Massachusetts and New York. Currently he teaches theology at Anna Maria College in Paxton, MA and writes a weekly blog connecting the Sunday readings to life. You can read the blog at http://www.bayardinc.com/the-word-is-life/