May 6, 2018
It is by the Sacraments of Initiation (Baptism, Confirmation and Eucharist) that we come to share the relationship that exists amongst the members of the Holy Trinity. These three sacraments work, each in its own way to bring this to pass. We have been studying Baptism in the light of Paul’s statement that you who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death.
But, as we know, Jesus’ death was a death to sin and from sin so that we might live a new life. Now, the member of the Trinity who is responsible for life, especially human life, is the Holy Spirit. When God blew ‘spirit’ into the mouth of clayey Adam, it was the Holy Spirit; when Ezekiel has the vision of dry bones coming to life again, it was the Spirit of God who came into them; when prophets were transformed from timorous kids into bold men, it was the Spirit of God who accomplished the transformation; when Mary could not imagine maternity without a man, the angel promised her that the Holy Spirit would accomplish the job and give her a son was also the Son of God; When Jesus was baptized and proclaimed as Son of God, it was he descending Holy Spirit whose presence verified the words. Finally, Saint Paul speaks of the Spirit who raised Jesus from the dead and has been given to us so that we, too, might live a new life. These are but a few passages that governed the Church’s understanding of Confirmation and its practice of it for nearly all of the first nineteen=hundred years of its existence.
Being dead to sin with Jesus and no longer capable of sin or further death is one thing. But this death merely cements Jesus’ incarnational oneness with us (that is why we make such heavy lifting in the Creeds that Jesus was crucified, died and was buried). Only the power of the Holy Spirit can transform what is dead to life, the dead Jesus to the Risen Son, the baptized sharer into Jesus death into a sharer into his risen life with the Father.
At its most fundamental level, this is what Confirmation is all about; by it, we cease to be mortals united with the Son who became mortal with us and we become alive, as he was, with the life that characterizes our adoption as children of God. We acquire a real hope of Resurrection for ourselves.
We will talk more about the Holy Spirit’s role in the life of that other Body of Christ that is the Church and that ‘third’ Body that is the Eucharist. But it should be getting clearer and clearer that certain of the Church’s requirements for those seeking to baptized children or become sponsors for baptizands and confirmands include an indefinite commitment to a future way of life and a record of Baptism for themselves.
Really and truly and ‘spirit-ually’ yours,