My dear brothers and sisters in the Lord,
As Pentecost is upon us, perhaps it is worth speaking about the gift of the Holy Spirit. During the Confirmation seasons, I have many opportunities to speak to the young people of our diocese who are ready to receive the sacrament of Confirmation and the gift of the Holy Spirit. In fact, the imposition of Chrism is done with the words, “Receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.” The Spirit is the gift from Jesus, Himself, to us. He promised that He would not leave us orphans, but that he would send the Holy Spirit to be with us in the world until the end of time. It is that Spirit with which each one of us is marked out as a follower of Jesus Christ.
In order to bring to the attention of our young people the sealing of the Holy Spirit, I use an example that is very popular in our culture today and that is the tattoo. For those who studied the Baltimore Catechism, we remember that there are certain sacraments that left an indelible mark on our souls, one of which is Confirmation. The tattoo is an indelible mark on the body, much prized in our society today. Research has been done into the motivation of people seeking tattoos. Beyond the fashion statement that it can be, deep down there seems to be a search for permanency. There is nothing so permanent as a tattoo. Many times people regret getting a tattoo and try to erase them with laser treatments, but with little avail. A tattoo is a permanent sealing of a person’s body with every imaginable image possible.
And so it is with the sacrament of Confirmation. We are sealed permanently with the presence of the Holy Spirit. Perhaps we need to recall that the grace of our Confirmation, which sets us apart to belong to God in a special way and to have the Holy Spirit in our life personally, even though we may forget that God is with us. It is our Confirmation that allows us to follow Christ as His adopted sons and daughters, because Jesus as our brother has sent to us the Holy Spirit.
The Holy Spirit is the love of God. Love is the first gift from God which contains all others. It is the God of love who sends the spirit of love, the Holy Spirit, into the world. One of the first gifts of the Holy Spirit is the gift of forgiveness. The Holy Spirit is the presence of God in each one of the sacraments. For example, in the sacrament of reconciliation it is through the power of the Holy Spirit that our sins are forgiven. Reconciliation gives us the opportunity to access the Spirit of the living God as we obtain the forgiveness of our sins. It is the Spirit who makes Jesus present in the sacramental encounters that we have in our lives. How important it is to recognize the presence of the Spirit in our lives and in the Church.
The mission of Christ in the world, and, therefore, the mission of the Church, is brought about through the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit gives the gift of communion to the Church, whereby our fellowship results in the dynamic unity of God’s people in the Church which allows us to be present to one another.
As we celebrate the Feast of Pentecost, perhaps we can reaffirm our belief in the Holy Spirit. Sometimes this third person of the Blessed Trinity does not receive the attention that the Spirit deserves. As we try to understand the nature of the Blessed Trinity, the unity of three persons in one, a communion of beings beyond our comprehension, we do put out into the deep. The gift of Pentecost is the gift of understanding, wisdom and knowledge, which are the gifts that we all receive from our Confirmation. We call upon those gifts as we celebrate Pentecost so that we can truly be a people inspired by the Spirit of the living God.
As we celebrate this Memorial Day, we call upon the Spirit of the living God to confront us in the loss of our loved ones, especially those who gave their lives in the service of their country. May they rest in peace in the power of the Holy Spirit.