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Rediscovering the Sacrament of Confirmation

In the latest in our sacraments series, Bishop Brian McGee looks at the completion of Baptismal grace

I well remember, at 10 years of age, putting on my new brown suit and walking to St Joseph’s Church, Greenock for my Confirmation. With me were my mum, dad, sister and my uncle from Belfast who was my sponsor.

St Joseph’s wasn’t a small church but it was packed that day. I recall sitting about a third of the way down the Church, listening to Bishop Stephen McGill’s sermon as he energetically ran up and down the aisle engaging with rows and rows of children.


Growing up

As literally thousands can testify, the sermon each year was the same, ‘Grow up,’ but his manner of encouraging us to accept the gifts of the Holy Spirit deeply impressed me.

On the day of our Baptism we became disciples and we were called to live the new life of Jesus.

At Baptism we receive many graces but we are weak. Ongoing conversion is challenging. We struggle to live as we should. Although the new life of Jesus is good for us, embracing it is difficult.


Jesus’ promise

However, this is not a new problem. Jesus promised to pour out the Spirit on his disciples. Jesus kept this promise and the Spirit is still poured out afresh upon disciples today.

The Sacrament of Confirmation completes Baptismal grace. When the bishop’s hands were laid upon us and we were anointed with the Oil of Chrism, we were fully claimed for Christ.

We are now to bring the sweet fragrance of Christ’s presence into the world!

Caught up as we are in our daily struggles, we can too easily forget that the purpose of human life is union with God.


Close with God

God created us to be with Him forever in Heaven. Since this is our destiny, it is natural to be close to God while on earth.

St Paul taught that the Christian’s life should be led by the Holy Spirit (i.e. the values of God) rather than allowing oneself to be ruled by what is unspiritual (i.e. values which are contrary to God).

In other words, all of our decisions and actions should be guided by God’s ways.


Strengthening God’s Values

The gifts of the Holy Spirit—wisdom, understanding, counsel, fortitude, knowledge, piety and fear of the Lord—reveal this truth, teach us God’s values and strengthen us to keep them.

How do I become close to God? Often we think holiness means the amount of time spent in prayer.

Yes, true holiness needs prayer but also living in conformity with God’s will! I have to learn to surrender my selfish will and accept God’s will in every circumstance.


God’s qualities

I have to learn to ‘grow up’ by loving, sharing, being merciful, forgiving, and being generous like God.

So through Baptism we become children of God. Our entire life is to be spent maturing as disciples so that we mirror more and more the Lord. As Bishop McGill so enthusiastically announced: let us ‘grow up’ in the Lord!

We have received the gifts of the Holy Spirit in Confirmation, so let us use them.

Bishop Brian McGee is the Bishop of Argyll and the Isles Diocese.

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