Monday, June 9, 2014

Webster's Entry for Confirmation: BECOMING A SOLDIER FOR CHRIST

Since I was a very young boy, a soldier was one of the things I always wanted to be.  A soldier is a member of an army, who devotes his life selflessly and fights for something.  As a Catholic at my present age (12 years), I am going to become a soldier - for Christ.  On Pentecost Sunday, I am going to receive Confirmation.

Confirmation is the sacrament where the Holy Spirit comes to us in a special way, transforming us into His holy soldiers, enabling us to become strong witnesses to our faith.  In our Catholic Catechism we learn that when we are baptized, we are "born again" of water and the Holy Spirit.  When we are confirmed, the Holy Spirit gives us strength and power to grow from "infancy to adulthood" in the life of grace.  We are given the strength of a soldier to fight for the Church.  This is what happened to the Apostles at Pentecost.  The Holy Spirit gave them power to love God as soldiers, and made them brave witnesses to spread Christianity.  We Catholics are confirmed to be strengthened against the dangers threatening our soul.  The Holy Spirit prepares us to defend our Catholic Faith.

During the Rite of Confirmation, the bishop, who is the usual minister of Confirmation, says special prayers over the candidates, asking the Holy Spirit to come down upon them, anointing them with "Chrism" on the forehead in the form of a cross.  Chrism is a scented oil that is blessed on Holy Thursday and used for anointing Catholics receiving the Sacraments.  The cross on the forehead signifies that the Catholic who is confirmed should always be ready to declare his faith openly and practice it fearlessly.  The Holy Spirit also gives us the strength to bear our crosses for the love of God, and even to die for Him, if given the chance.

On Confirmation, the Holy Spirit gives us 7 gifts:  wisdom, knowledge, counsel, piety, understanding, fortitude and fear of the Lord.  He also gives us 12 fruits:  charity, joy, peace, patience, benignity, goodness, faithfulness, long-suffering, mildness, modesty, continence and chastity.  To become good members of God's army, the Holy Spirit gives us the Armour of God:  the Sandals of Peace, the Belt of Truth, the Breastplate of Righteousness, the Helmet of Salvation, the Shield of Faith, and the Sword of the Holy Spirit.  With these gifts, we become courageous soldiers, willing to defend the Church of Christ from its enemies.

As confirmed Catholics, we will be able to bear witness to Jesus and the Catholic Church being the One, True Church.  We will be given the power to be able to turn our fellow soldiers, who have joined the enemy, back to Jesus, to the Church and the sacraments.  It is very sad to see many of our brothers and sisters turning against our Lord to join the enemy.  As confirmed Catholics, it is our duty to bring them back. 

As a newly confirmed Catholic, I see myself joining God's army which, to me, is divided into different groups or "legions:"  the clergy, the brothers, the nuns, the cloistered religious and the laity.  Although I will soon become a member of the last-mentioned legion, I could someday be a member of the clergy, if God wants me to become a priest when I grow up.  As God's army, we are all given different gifts and talents to help us fulfill our duties in the Catholic Church. 

As a new soldier, it will be my duty to defend the things I believe in:  our Eucharistic Lord, our Blessed Mother Mary, and our Holy Mother church.  I can defend our Lord in the Eucharist by:  protecting the Eucharist from desecration and disrespect, by being careful not to desecrate our Lord by my own doing, by receiving our Lord worthily in Holy Communion, and by going to Adoration to counter all the sacrileges committed worldwide.  I can defend our Blessed Mother by:  praying the Rosary as often as possible, by teaching others the truth about Our Lady, by offering up little sacrifices to her for others, and by doing acts of piety for all the people around the world who despise her.  Lastly, I can defend the Catholic Church and my Catholic Faith by:  fulfilling my obligations as a Catholic, by helping the priests in our diocese, praying for Catholics all over the world, by offering sacrifices for missionaries in different parts of the world, and by not being ashamed of my Catholic Faith.

For Confirmation, it is recommended that we choose a saint as a role model and someone to look up to when we need Heavenly help, especially in the battle that we are about to fight.  For me, St Michael was an easy choice because at the Great Battle in Heaven, when all the big angels were joining Lucifer in going against God, St Michael was the small angel who stood up and declared his service and loyalty to God, just as I hope to be.  In this battle, I want to be always fighting on God's side.  And because St Michael knows very well how the devil works, I would always be calling on his intercession and asking for his help in my own battles as a soldier for Christ.

(Wearing my confirmation stole, made by Mom, of course, bearing my name on one side and the name of my confirmation saint on the other.)

 As any new soldier would feel, I know the task ahead will be daunting and difficult, but I also find it exciting, especially focusing on the prize.  In my own life, I will have many battles to face every single day, because every minute is a battle and a constant choice between good and evil. One problem for me, for instance, is that I usually find myself in occasions of sin and I end up giving in to temptations such as TV, food, toys, games and other distractions.  Apart from asking for assistance from St Michael, my Confirmation saint, the Holy Spirit, Who is always there to help His soldiers, will give me the graces and "reinforcement" I need to resist the enemy who attacks in the form of temptations, and keep myself safe from occasions of sin.

These days it is very important for the Church to have brave, strong and loyal soldiers, who are unafraid to stand up for what Our Lord had taught us, unashamed of being Catholics, and willing to suffer in order to defend the Church.  Our enemy, the Devil, is always on the lookout for soldiers unwary enough to fall for his traps.  However, we must be courageous, obedient and active soldiers, knowing that Jesus, our Master, is more than a match for the Devil.  The fact is that it is mostly up to us; and one question remains:  Do we want to be victorious in this battle, and win eternal life in Heaven with God?  Or do we want to lose miserably and gain eternity with the Devil in Hell?  Speaking for myself, I definitely want to fight the good fight, and win Heaven in the end.

Therefore, for my Confirmation which is a very important event in my life, and my initiation into Christ's Army, let my prayer be:  Oh come, Holy Spirit.  Vest me in God's mighty armour.  Arm me with Thy gifts and virtues, that I may always be a fearless and brave soldier, willing to fight for Our Lady and defend our Church, and be ever ready to die for Christ in the Eucharist!

This essay was written by Webster in fulfillment of my request that he reflect on his Confirmation and the enormity of the effect that it can have in his life as a Catholic - IF he allows it to.  Up to a week before the Confirmation, I was feeling as if he was not "switched on" and not quite focused.  Hence, in an attempt to satisfy my own "doubts," I gave him the task of researching on the sacrament and reflecting and searching his heart and writing about his sentiments as one who is anticipating Confirmation.  Upon reading his essay (which he finished the night before the event, in front of our Eucharistic Lord in Adoration), I was quite impressed and very inspired.  At the day of the event itself, we were all very proud of our new "Soldier" who was reported to have had a couple of tears whilst being anointed by Bishop Finnigan who administered the Sacrament.  I, myself, was short of sobbing.  My heart was overflowing with joy and gratitude.  What a beautiful and unforgettable PENTECOSTAL event it truly was.