A Catholic Convert in Ottawa

Posts Tagged ‘gifts of the Spirit

Confirmation day

My son after his Confirmation

This past weekend, we had the joy of attending our son’s Confirmation. As he stood to get in line to receive the sacrament, he looked at me and grinned. And I wondered who this young man was wearing dress shoes and a tie—he looked too old to be my son.

Where does the time go? I’ve never felt the childhood years went by quickly; now I can hardly believe he’ll be 14 in a matter of weeks.

It doesn’t seem like that long ago that he wanted shoes that lit up or dressed as a superhero for Halloween or asked for toys as birthday gifts. But on Sunday my son was confirmed in the Church, and tomorrow he’ll register for high school.

As parents, we know our job—perhaps even more in the teen years—is to teach our children the life skills they’ll need to live on their own: how to cook, how to clean and do laundry, how to manage money. Even more importantly, these years are a time for continuing to share our values and faith.

Sports, hobbies, friends—our children may drop some and pick up others at this age. And their faith may be no different, regardless of whether our children have been confirmed and attend a Catholic school.

So how do we encourage our youth in the faith after Confirmation?

  • Give them the tools they need: A copy of the Bible and the Catechism or YOUCAT, a rosary, prayer books, and so on. And encourage them to use them by example. We have a small bookcase with books on the faith in our home office where anyone can use them.
  • Pray for their growth in the gifts of the Spirit (see s. 1831 of the Catechism): Who couldn’t use more wisdom, understanding and fortitude, for example? Especially when it comes to selecting courses, standing firm in our beliefs, and choosing the friends we spend time with. This will be in my prayers for my son as he changes schools (and school boards) in the fall.
  • Encourage their involvement in the Church: The child who was confirmed one year could assist with Confirmation classes the next. Or help organize youth group activities. Or become a lector or sacristan at the parish church. Or serve as someone else’s Confirmation sponsor one day. At my son’s Confirmation, I noticed one sponsor was about 16 years old, and a young woman that age in our parish regularly serves as a sacristan.
  • Keep the faith as a family. We can regularly attend Mass, Eucharistic Adoration and Confession together. Pray for one another’s needs. Have reminders of the faith around the home, such a crucifix in the bedroom, photos from Baptism and Confirmation on the walls, and pictures of our patron saints. On my son’s bedroom wall hangs a banner from his Baptism, and he just received a frame to hold a photo from his Confirmation service.

I pray that we find ways to encourage both our own children and the other children in our lives to continue growing in their faith.

 

I’m a server by nature.

I’m one of those people who volunteer to chaperone school trips and bake treats for school and church functions. And I also join committees, even though I really don’t like meetings.

Yesterday I offered to help a parish committee because I didn’t want to see its hard work go to waste. But I’m already on two other church committees, and I have other parish and family activities and responsibilities. I think a newspaper article I read the other day got it right: When did “Busy,” become the right answer to the question, “How are you?”

As people of faith, we want to be involved in our parish and wider community and make a difference. But there comes a point where we need to ask ourselves whether we’re doing too much and why.

Are we helping because it’s “the right thing to do,” or do we have talents that would serve a group well? Do we really feel called to work in children’s liturgy, pastoral care or sacramental preparation, for example?

Are we involved because we feel pressured to participate or because the Spirit led us to help?

And are we really taking into consideration everything else in our lives when we agree to help? Do we think about our workload, our activities and those of our children, and our parish or community commitments?

When we consider taking on a new responsibility—a committee role, a volunteer position, or another family activity—we can ask God to guide our decision making through the Holy Spirit.

Section 1303 of the Catechism tells us that Confirmation “increases the gifts of the Holy Spirit in us,” but we don’t need to be Confirmation candidates to want or need these gifts:

The seven gifts of the Holy Spirit are wisdom, understanding, counsel, fortitude, knowledge, piety and fear of the Lord. . . . They complete and perfect the virtues of those who receive them. They make the faithful docile in readily obeying divine inspirations. (s. 1831)

I pray that, before taking on new commitments, we would ask God to increase the gifts of the Spirit in us to guide us in making the right decision.


Food for Thought

(Y)ou do not know about tomorrow. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes. Instead you ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we shall live and we shall do this or that.” ~ James 4:14-15

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