On Sunday, Novenmber 24th the Catholic Church celebrated the Solemnity of Christ the King and the closing of the Year of Faith. The Year of Faith had been a wonderful 13 month period where the Church encouraged her children to focus on such tools as Holy Scripture, the Holy Eucharist and the Catechism to help us recalibrate on the journey of faith toward the object of our faith – Christ Our King and Lord. I was privileged to give 11 presentations on St. Therese and the Year of Faith to 9 different parishes and prayer groups during the special year. Pope Francis, Archbishop Chaput of Philadelphia, and bishops and priests around the world concluded the Year of Faith with special masses. My parish of St. Isaac Jogues was no exception.
Bishop Michael Fitzgerald, an Auxiliary Bishop of Philadelphia, conferred the Sacrament of Confirmation on scores of children and teenagers at St. Isaac Jogues on the Solemnity of Christ the King. What a beautiful day to receive that Sacrament of Confirmation that perfects Baptism, unites one more closely to Christ and His Church, and enriches with the gift of the Holy Spirit! As a matter of fact, the Bishop actually conferred Confirmation on each recipient with the words, “Be sealed with the gift of the holy Spirit.” As a successor of the Apostles, the Bishop used his authority to bestow this great gift. “Now when the apostles at Jerusalem heard that Samaria had received the word of God, they sent to them Peter and John, who came down and prayed for them that they might receive the Holy Spirit; for it had not yet fallen on any of them, but they had only been baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. Then they laid their hands on them and they received the Holy Spirit.” (Acts 8: 14-17) It was a beautiful sight to see each child process up before the Bishop with their parent or sponsor behind and receive that great gift. I recall receiving the Sacrament of Confirmation the same day that I received my First Communion when I entered the Church as an adult at the Easter Vigil in 1991.
St. Therese in her Autobiography vividly describes her own Confirmation in 1884. “A short time after my First Communion, I entered upon another retreat for my Confirmaton, I was prepared with great care to receive the visit of the Holy Spirit, and I did not understand why greater attention was not paid to the reception of this sacrament of Love. Ordinarily, there was only one day of retreat made for Confirmation, but the Bishop was unable to come on the appointed day and so I had the consolation of having two days of solitude. Like the Apostles, I awaited the Holy Spirit’s visit with great happiness in my soul. I rejoiced at the thought of soon being a perfect Christian and especially at that of having eternally on my forehead the mysterious cross the Bishop marks when conferring this sacrament. Finally the happy moment arrived, and I did not experience an impetuous wind at the moment of the Holy Spirit’s descent but rather this light breeze which the prophet Elias heard on Mount Horeb.” (Story of A Soul, pp. 80) St. Therese expressed in these words how much she valued this profound and underrated Sacrament and her personal experiences and disposition during that day. I do not know what was running through the minds of those who received Confirmaton at St. Isaac Jogues last Sunday, but the smiles on their faces and those of their loved ones spoke volumes.
Please write in and share any of your experiences from the Year of Faith.