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The Holy Spirit fuels Christian parents and children

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Confirmation is a gift and a rite of passage for Catholics
by Julie VanSpall

Photo Caption: Confirmation season is here and Julie VanSpall's third child is receiving the sacrament. She writes, "Our hope for our daughter is that she will grow up knowing that she is one small part of a Church which spans the earth and that, while she is just one person, she is an imperative member in the body of Christ." (

At the feast of Pentecost, I think of my confirmation and reflect upon the ways in which the Holy Spirit has worked within my life. In this sacrament, I received the gift of the Holy Spirit. I also made a commitment to the Church, promising to live a Catholic, Christian life.

This promise included asking the Holy Spirit for guidance every day. Receiving the Spirit at confirmation did not constitute a “done deal.” As Bishop Robert Barron says, “The Spirit is the fuel of the Church, the energy and life force of the body of Christ. And we can’t get it through heroic effort. We can only get it by asking for it. That’s why for the past 2,000 years, the Church has begged for the Holy Spirit, this power from on high.”

As my children are confirmed, I ask the Spirit to guide them and to guide me as their parent. On June 17, our third child will receive this sacrament. As part of the preparation program this year, parents were asked to write letters to Archbishop Michael Miller, explaining why we want confirmation for our children and how we have prepared them for this step. I loved the opportunity to truly ponder these questions and articulate my responses, and have included some excerpts below.

It was a joy to reflect on our daughter’s life and the ways in which we have tried to prepare her and her siblings for a Catholic life. Mass has always been a focal point in the weekly life of our family, but our third child was our youngest baby to attend Sunday Mass. She was born on a Friday night at 11:50 p.m. I begged the doctor to let me leave the hospital the next day; however, to be discharged, I had to promise to return for some routine tests, after the baby had passed the 24-hour mark. We slept at home on the Saturday night, attended 8:30 Mass on Sunday morning with an almost-33-hour-old baby, and then made our way back to the hospital. Our daughter has – quite literally – been immersed in the Church since birth!

Our children were witnesses when my husband and I became godparents to the three sons of close friends who converted to Catholicism five years ago. The mother of those boys will be our daughter’s sponsor, which is a genuine gift for our whole family. Our friend understands the significance of this process, and the beauty of choosing to be a member of a Church so rich in liturgy and tradition.

Our hope for our daughter is that she will grow up knowing that she is one small part of a Church which spans the earth and that, while she is just one person, she is an imperative member in the body of Christ. God created her in his image and has chosen her, specifically, to do his will. He wants her to love his Church and to realize that rules do not exist to smother us or deprive us, but to allow us to develop self-control and become the best versions of ourselves.

We know confirmation is more than merely a rite of passage undertaken by Catholic children of a certain age. It is the gift of the Holy Spirit, a bond with the Church and an acceptance of responsibility. As Bishop Barron reminds us, “Jesus told us that the Father would never refuse someone who asked for the Holy Spirit. So ask! And ask again! Realize that every liturgy is a begging for the Holy Spirit.”

Our prayer is that the Holy Spirit will work through our daughter from her confirmation day onwards, as she faces the struggles of growing up, the pressures of peers, and the instant gratification promoted by our society. We pray she will love Christ as we, her parents, do and that she will know the friendship only our Lord can give. We pray she will lead others to God through her actions and words.

We pray our daughter and her peers will uphold their promises to be Catholic adults and that, in times of doubt, they will be sustained by the memory of the words, “Be sealed with the gift of the Holy Spirit” and their own responses of, “Amen.”


Last Updated on Thursday, 08 June 2017 13:04  

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