Jackie Angel shares resources to help parents reinforce the concept of Confirmation as a new beginning in faith.
It’s a big deal when your teen (or godchild, niece, or nephew) receives the sacrament of Confirmation. I mean, the Holy Spirit is unleashed within their hearts! The Third Person of the Trinity rests and abides in their hearts! (1 Corinthians 3:16, 6:19).
But how often does the rite of Confirmation feel like some kind of “graduation ceremony” that signals an “end” when rather is should be seen as a great “beginning!” Instead of the finale of the faith journey, Confirmation should be treated as a brand new chapter. It’s the metaphorical bottle being broken on the side of a ship that’s about to voyage into an adventure on uncharted waters.
And it is the Holy Spirit (ruah in Hebrew, the very “breath” of God) that provides the wind in our sails and direction for our hearts (I’m done with the nautical imagery, I promise). God doesn’t say, “Good luck, you’re on your own now.” He desires for us to live in and be sustained by the Holy Spirit, the oft-forgotten member of the Trinity. Christianity without the Holy Spirit isn’t Christianity at all, and we must abide in the Spirit ourselves as we accompany our teen on the path of discipleship.
“But how? Where’s the instruction manual? What do I say in this or that situation?” Here’s where our God is a gentle Father who delights in us using our creativity. He doesn’t spell out every single step, but He DOES give us his own internal combustion engine, the Holy Spirit, to inspire, purify, and inflame, and purify our hearts. We can look at, though, the example of Jesus’ first followers to examine their lives and witness.
The Apostles and early disciples had to adapt on the fly to their dynamic situations. Some stayed close to Palestine, some traveled as far as Spain or India; all experienced persecution. Most were even killed for preaching the message that this risen Jesus was the true God and true King. In the face of discomfort and trial, the first Christians learned to lean on the Holy Spirit and the outpouring of God’s spiritual gifts: wisdom, understanding, knowledge, counsel, fortitude, piety, and fear of the Lord (see Isaiah 11).
When it comes to sharing the unpopular message of the Gospel, consider it oddly comforting that nothing has changed! Your beloved teen also faces a world, just as the first apostles did, of intense confusion, heartache, and animosity towards the Christian faith. We need the Holy Spirit for our own sanctification (so that we can be saints) and to build up the body of Christ in the world.
To each Christian is given at least one of the spiritual gifts. In 1 Corinthians chapters 12-14, St. Paul lists the gifts (charisms) of the Holy Spirit. We need to pray with (not just simply read) these chapters and ask God to reveal to us what gifts and charisms we’ve been given and where we are being called to grow.
In understanding not just our natural gifts, but also our supernatural gifts, we can activate what might be lying dormant. As we do this, our hearts won’t be able to contain the goodness God is doing and we will be an even greater instrument of change.
When it comes to evangelizing, even sharing the faith with our teen, remember Christ’s words:
“Do not worry about what to say or how to say it. At that time you will be given what to say, for it will not be you speaking, but the Spirit of your Father speaking through you.” (Matthew 10:19)
It’s more important that we start the imperfect conversation rather than never talk about it at all. Be honest with your teen and say that, “I’m learning and trying to go deeper, so we can learn together!” Your teen will respect your honesty (and see through any attempt at feigning omnipotence on a topic).
“Come, Holy Spirit,” can be as complicated as your prayer needs to be. “Lord, teach me how to pray in your Spirit” “Help me to know my gifts.” “Lead me where I need to go.” The Holy Spirit is the “advocate” (parakletos in Greek), one who is “at our side.” Imagine the Spirit as a soldier near you, or an attorney who has your back.
- Read and discuss 1 Corinthians 12 – 14 with your teen; ask if they know where they might be gifted through the Spirit
- Ask your teen to accompany you the next time you’re going to Confession + get dinner or coffee afterwards
- Consider some of these guiding questions based on Ascension Press’ Chosen sponsor’s guide book for a conversation over coffee:
- Have you created a routine of prayer? What kinds of prayer do you like?
- How do you feel God calling you to serve those around you?
- How do you think Christ wants you to witness his love at your school?
“The wind blows where it wills, and you hear the sound of it, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes; so it is with every one who is born of the Spirit.” (John 3:8)
Be sure to tell your teen that the “results” we desire may not be what we receive or ever see, especially when it comes to the slow, quiet growth that God desires. Not everyone who encountered Jesus was ready to receive healing, and many of the saints found their own earthly plans frustrated and seemingly thwarted. We’re on God’s timeline, not ours. The Holy Spirit is “not a tame lion,” as CS Lewis would say of Narnia’s Aslan, and we can’t control the how and when of what God is up to.
But to abide in Christ means to allow the Holy Spirit to make us new creations, filled with his love and operating in the gifts we’ve been given. Living this out joyfully will work wonders as we accompany our teens in their journey of faith.
Copyright 2022 Jackie Angel
Images courtesy of Ascension Press, all rights reserved.
About the author:
Jackie Angel is a traveling speaker, singer/songwriter, and worship leader from Orange County, CA. In 2006, she became an artist with Oregon Catholic Press, with whom she has released two albums. Jackie and her husband Bobby have spoken and written on Catholic marriage, discernment, and Theology of the Body. They are regular contributors on Ascension Presents. Jackie is one of the presenters of Chosen: Your Journey Toward Confirmation. They live in Dallas with their four children.
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