This week, my niece, who is 12, will be confirmed. With her parents’ permission (and hers too), I’m making public the letter I’m writing to her, as her uncle and as a priest, as she looks forward to the Sacrament of Confirmation. As I write this, I’m painfully aware of how inadequate my words are.
Five years ago, I wrote to you before your First Holy Communion (see HERE); now it’s time to help you prepare for the Sacrament of Confirmation. Mom and Dad have always taught you that discipline is the path to freedom—you need to be free from the bad stuff so that you can be free for the good stuff. The “bad stuff” is selfishness and sin in all forms. The “good stuff” is loving God with your whole being, and loving your neighbor as yourself. Confirmation will help to “supercharge” your soul to avoid evil, do good, and to help you become fully what God created you to be.
Mom and Dad have helped you to get ready for big adventures like camping and hunting. You know that they can be fun and rewarding when you do it right and can be dangerous and disastrous when you do it wrong. Being a disciple of Christ is like that too—you can do it right or you can do it wrong. The power of the Holy Spirit is given to you so that you can do it (discipleship) right—and no one can do it right without the Holy Spirit.
You know if you’re doing something important, it should be done safely and well, and for that you need the right attitude, skills, and plans. That’s true for hunting, hiking, athletics, etc. It’s also true for discipleship. The right attitude for a disciple is to be teachable (“Teach me your ways, O Lord!” Psalm 86:10-12). The disciple needs skills to know, love, tell and do what is true, good, and beautiful. Those skills of mind, heart, and hands are called virtues—the habits of doing the right thing, the right way, for the right reason. You need plans to achieve all that you’re capable of, and you can find these plans by study, prayer, and living life well.
You also need power—divine power—because God is asking you do to great things that can’t be done without His help. The fuel of your soul for great deeds and noble living come from the Gifts of the Holy Spirit: wisdom, understanding, counsel, fortitude, knowledge, piety, and fear of the Lord. (You can learn more about them HERE.) Your parents will tell you that it’s pointless to be a poser, to be all talk and no action. The actions that flow from the power of the Holy Spirt are the “fruits of the Holy Spirit”, that is, love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. (Galatians 5:22-23) The presence of the fruits of the Holy Spirit is the sign that you’re living discipleship right; their absence indicates that you’re living it wrong.
Mom and Dad have taught you to be prepared. You and your sister know the value of having a first aid kit, a flashlight, etc. These make up a set of E.D.C., “Everyday Carry.” A disciple of Christ needs an E.D.C. Please always wear your crucifix, scapular, and Miraculous Medal. Carry and use your Rosary daily. Jesus said, “My sheep know my voice and follow me.” (John 10:27-28) You can hear his voice in Scripture, the teaching of the Church and in prayer. Keep your Bible and catechism with you; read and pray over them daily. And good spiritual hygiene is a must—an honest disciple of Christ goes to confession regularly. We all fall down; confession helps us to get up and get back into the fight.
I’m so pleased that St. Joan of Arc will be the patroness of your Confirmation! She trusted and loved and worked—she gave everything, and did not compromise her discipleship. What a role model for you! Pray daily for her intercession and protection.
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Teigan, you have so much to look forward to. God is offering you everything you need to live a life worth living. Along the way, He wants the love that only you can give Him. And I know that we can’t live and love the way that God wants for us without the help of the Holy Spirit. That’s why I’m so happy that you will receive the Sacrament of Confirmation soon. You are getting ready for a great adventure!
I hope that we can talk about this letter soon. Meanwhile, please be sure that I have asked the Sisters to pray for you, and I will offer Mass for you on your special day.
With much love,
When I write next, I will offer some thoughts on preparing for Lent. Until then, let’s keep each other in prayer.
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