Confirmed in Fire

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Our daughter, Maria, her singing partner, Ashley, and a number of their friends were Confirmed Thursday night. Sealed by the fullness of the Holy Spirit, their Baptism is now finally complete and they are fully empowered for mission in the world. What a joyous night it was for our family, including my mom and Patti’s mom. Bishop Fernand Cheri, the singing bishop, was the celebrant and he rocked it with a stupendous heart-piercing homily about the need to own faith in a radically personal and life-shaping way. He began his homily by leading us in singing again and again a refrain, “Holy Spirit you are welcome…bless my soul…” It was wonderful.

I wrote a poem for the girls the next morning about their Confirmation, which I will share below. I have mentioned this group of our daughters’ friends before here, especially in the post about the Twenty One Pilots concert, but I have to say again that these girls are just remarkable. Normal teen girls with unusual depth, character, faith and love for each other. And they put up with a dad like me who sends them theological poetry. If beauty will save the world, these young women will help bring salvation to pass. We refer to them collectively as the Sacramental Shuttle because for nearly two years they have joined us in our mini-van trek to monthly Confession and weekly Mass. One of them asked my wife to be her Confirmation Sponsor, which was so moving for me because I want my daughters and those young ladies to emulate Patti’s faith, commitment to excellence and rock-solid character.

Confirmation, known as Chrismation in the East, is the Sacrament of vocation-mission that binds us more closely to the redemptive work of Christ Crucified, and marks us with a permanent “ontological change” that completes our baptismal configuration to the risen Christ as priests, prophets and kings/queens. This Sacrament also completes the outpouring of the seven Gifts of the Spirit. These Gifts illumine our intellect (wisdom, knowledge, understanding, counsel) and strengthen our will (piety, fortitude, fear of the Lord), empowering us to discern, accept and carry out our personal vocation to renew the face of the earth we inhabit by detonating Jesus everywhere we go. It’s our personal Pentecost, as the invisible Fires embolden us to witness to Jesus, without fear, to people of every race, nation and way of life.

The Spirit, whose mission is to reveal to us, form in us and unite us to Jesus, is the Treasury of all blessings who abides in us as in a temple. It’s an awesome thought. Often, when I pray in the morning, I ask the Spirit to make me aware of His presence, His dwelling in me, and ask Him to not let me grieve Him during the upcoming day. Because He Himself is the Love of the Father and Son, there is something stunningly tender and intimate about Him that, in terms of experience, has a different “feel” from the Persons of Father and Son. He is sent as their total Self-Gift to us. In Him abides the whole outpouring of Father and Son to each other, as the Spirit is their selfless self-giving. In a singular way within the Holy Trinity, the Spirit is Love. No accident that, in John’s Gospel, Jesus “handed over the Spirit” as His last, dying breath on the cross, given in the moment of God’s supreme self-emptying. I’ve always thought this is why sinning against the Spirit is supremely blasphemous, for to reject Him is to reject absolutely everything (Matt. 12:31).

Every day in your prayer, when you invoke the Spirit to “come,” you renew Pentecost again in yourself. Confirmation has empowered you to do in the world what Holy Orders empowers the priest to do: call down the Spirit at will and He will infallibly come. This is called the epiclesis, the “calling out to” the Spirit to come down:

Make holy, therefore, these gifts, we pray,
by sending down your Spirit upon them like the dewfall,
so that they may become for us
the Body + and Blood of our Lord, Jesus Christ.

The lay faithful, thus empowered, go all about the world calling down the Spirit to make Jesus present everywhere, especially in those places that are farthest from God. The silent revolution. Prayer, prayer, prayer calls heaven’s Fire down, is what conquers evil by making present the One who descended into hell to harrow it by rising from death.

Okay, I’ll end with a prayer and my poem.

Night of fire
unquenchable desire;
God’s, that is.
For you, He
the Lover of our race
outpoured lavishly
on each, every you
His supremely supernal
ineffably eternal
I could see it
Light shining, brilliant
in your face
no mere passing glory:
beauty’s gentle trace.
I saw Spirit etch a cross
into your mind and heart:
a stunning sketch
of Love’s script and score:
But above all
in your face
I saw a smile
a mystic kind, tender gleam
impossibly lovely
as in a waking dream
from which, I pray
you never awake
nor ruthless time steal or take.
Stir alive, ladies
His latent gifts
and thrive
by expending them
giving your all
and listen in silence
to hear Him call:
“Love, my daughters
abandon measure
and trust Me, never fear
for love, unfading, undying
is life’s truest treasure.
Pour, expend and give
then you, I and all
will ever and forever live.”

All but one of the members of the Shuttle after Confirmation

7 comments on “Confirmed in Fire

  1. Joanna Brady says:

    Your posts are on fire ,Tom…..truly manna from heaven…..they confirm me in my life’s call and I sincerely thank God for you,your family and your witness to Gods love and reality here with us…..Dearest Lord Jesus….let the fire fall and your kingdom come , with kind regards ….

  2. Sherri Paris says:

    Oh, so beautiful! And the photo is gorgeous!! God bless you all! God is so good.

  3. Nos says:

    Unlike the wildfires burning here in florida.which eventually will be brought under control… the wildfire started on this glorious occasion will never be …with that six seated shuttle bringing manna to and fro to the troops on the front lines,who instead of fighting the “fire” are feeding it with fresh tinder …go forth oh beautiful shuttle and worry not if you sustain a dent here and a dent there your insurance will cover it its been paid in full. AHHH the memories… good job Patti. Oh ok ok you too Thomas..P.B.W.Y.A.A.

  4. Jennifer says:

    Set the world on fire, girls! Congratulations and God bless you, Maria!

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