Dear graduates of Chaminade, Kellenberg Memorial, and St. Martin de Porres,
This month we celebrate the feast of Pentecost. The event of the Holy Spirit descending upon the Apostles and empowering them for their work of evangelization is one of the most important moments in the history of the Church. This great gift of God’s grace is given again to each of us in the sacrament of Confirmation. How frequently, though, do we properly reflect on the magnitude of this gift? Do we recognize in our daily lives how the Holy Spirit is working in and through us?
It is not always easy to live up to the standard set by the Apostles and the early Church. Following their example of steadfast faith through adversity is definitely not the easy road to take in life. We may not come up against the violent persecution and martyrdom faced by most of the Apostles and many other disciples throughout the early days of the Church, but our culture today is at odds with many of our Church’s teachings and values. There is a great temptation and societal pressure to brush off these differences as merely old-fashioned remnants of a morality long-since rendered irrelevant by our modern and enlightened sensibilities. And while our approach is certainly allowed to evolve to encounter the world as it changes around the stalwart foundations laid by our forebears, this does not mean that our convictions should waver. Reflect on the strength the Spirit offers through your Confirmation – the very same strength given to the Apostles – which allowed them to forge the way for our Church, which has survived for two millennia.
The sacrament of Confirmation strengthens us spiritually to grow deeper in our relationship with Jesus Christ and to spread our faith as messengers to the world. Through the anointing, we are able to participate in a share of what the Apostles were blessed with at Pentecost. On that day, about two thousand years ago, they were together. In your minds, place yourself in their midst. The first community of Christian faith was all together, but the Lord had ascended into Heaven. The Apostles knew what they were called to do, but how to go about it? How could a group made up largely of fishermen – common men who did not hold respected theological positions – convince others of the Truth they had received? God did not leave them to find this strength and ability on their own. We read in Acts of the Apostles, “And suddenly there came from the sky a noise like a strong driving wind, and it filled the entire house in which they were. Then there appeared to them tongues as of fire, which parted and came to rest on each one of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in different tongues, as the Spirit enabled them to proclaim.” (Acts 2:2-4)
While we may not be miraculously gifted with the ability to speak in different tongues at Confirmation, we aregiven gifts that will help us with our ministry. The Apostles needed the strength and ability to found the Church, and weneed the strength and ability to keep the faith alive for ourselves and others. We are all called to go out into the world and live the Gospels in all aspects of our lives. Let Christ enter into your lives as much as possible. He is the Way that will lead you to a blessed and joyful life.
I challenge each of you to reflect this summer on what it means to share in this blessing. We, like the Apostles, are sent out on a mission to bring Christ to the world. How do we live our lives? Do those around us see the Light of Christ shining through us in our words and actions? A good way to start living this way is to reflect on our own Baptism and Confirmation. I will leave you with one bit of prayerful advice: Look up the dates of your Baptism and Confirmation and treat these as important days for you. Let them serve as spiritual birthdays, and take the opportunity to renew and reflect on these Sacraments and the strength God offers through them.
God bless each and every one of you, and have a blessed and peaceful summer!
Yours faithfully in Christ through His Blessed Mother,
Bro. Andrew Santoriello, S.M.