Pentecost and Confirmation: Outward and Visible Signs of Inward and Spiritual Graces
“Strengthen, O Lord, your servants with your Holy Spirit; empower them for your service; and sustain them all the days of their lives. Amen” (BCP, p. 418).
According to the rubrics of the prayer book, “In the course of their Christian development, those baptized at an early age are expected, when they are ready and have been duly prepared, to make a mature public affirmation of their faith and commitment to the responsibilities of their Baptism” (BCP, p. 412). Therefore, on the Day of Pentecost (this year on Sunday, June 4), we witness the presentation of adults and youth who have been duly prepared and will confirm their commitment to their baptismal covenant. This Pentecost, Bishop Howard will be with us at our 11 a.m. service to confirm our confirmands. At the same time, we celebrate the Feast of Pentecost, remembering the coming of the Holy Spirit to the disciples, their being filled with the Holy Spirit and their abilities to understand one another even though they spoke in other languages.
The sacrament of Confirmation is appropriately administered on Pentecost because, just as the disciples and followers of Jesus were strengthened and confirmed by the Holy Spirit, so the confirmands are strengthened and equipped by the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. Every confirmation is in a way a celebration of Pentecost. Thomas Aquinas said, “In Confirmation, the Holy Ghost is given to the baptized for strength just as he was given to the disciples on the day of Pentecost.” Thus, the sacrament of Confirmation perpetuates the grace of Pentecost in the Church.
This holy day encourages us to remember the third person of the Trinity, the Holy Spirit, the Holy Ghost, the Sustainer, God moving among us. We are also encouraged on this day to be present to support our confirmands who stand publicly to “affirm their confession of Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord” (BCP, p. 860). We hope you will join us in celebrating the coming of the Holy Spirit, both to the apostles, and through the centuries down to us!
Owene Courtney, Cathedral Lay Minister
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