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Official Website of the
Catholic Diocese of Little Rock
Published: March 30, 2017
By Kelli Nugent
St. Edward Church, Texarkana
I received the sacrament of confirmation as a sixth grader. I remember having to memorize answers to a set of questions that the bishop may ask us, the candidates.
Also vivid in my memory was the rumor that flew rampant through the class that if one touched the oil (sacred chrism) that the bishop used to anoint your forehead, it would turn black — sheesh, what unfounded silliness!
At confirmation, the Holy Spirit gives us his gifts of wisdom, understanding, knowledge, counsel, fortitude, piety and fear (awe) of the Lord. Rightly called gifts, they are given freely, gratuitously and without any merit on our part.
At confirmation, the Holy Spirit gives us his gifts of wisdom, understanding, knowledge, counsel, fortitude, piety and fear (awe) of the Lord. Rightly called gifts, they are given freely, gratuitously and without any merit on our part. The Holy Spirit just can’t help himself. He is part of a family of love, it is his nature to love and to share all that he is with us.
We can choose to use the gifts given or leave them in the box. A gift that remains closed, sitting on a shelf, gathering dust honors neither the giver nor is beneficial to the recipient. It took me a long time to understand that I needed to respond to, cooperate with and seek to have these gifts become operative in my life. I finally realized that I needed to “take them out of the box” so that they can form and transform me.
With each of the sacraments we receive, God deluges us with grace. Our reception of his grace is like a faucet that we can choose to turn on to a trickle or to open it fully to wash over us. Similarly are the graces received in the sacrament of marriage to help accomplish that which we are called to do: to lay down our lives every moment of every day for our beloved, and any children that may come from our union.
We can cooperate with the grace and draw from it to be able to live the married state well, or we can give it little thought, even ignore it. God’s grace is given not only on the day of the wedding but throughout the couple’s married life.
It can seem an almost insurmountable task by our own strength with human weaknesses, frailties and selfishness to live fully our vows, but the Scriptures encourage us, “… With God all things are possible.” (Mark 10:27)
God pours out his grace, strengthening and enabling us to live the sacrament of marriage, to mirror the total self-giving and outpouring, one to the other, which is the life of the Blessed Trinity. St. Paul prompts Timothy, “… I am reminding you now to fan into flame the gift that God gave you when I laid my hands on you.” (2 Timothy 1:6)
The gift is the grace of God poured out on Timothy at his ordination and upon each ordained priest that they must “fan into flame” to make it more efficacious in living their vocation.
But God’s gift of grace is not limited to the sacraments. As we live our daily lives, working, relaxing, being with family, caring for others, battling disease, all the things that life entails, God unceasingly inundates his children with his grace, trying to get our attention and collaboration. Again, he woos, invites and finesses but does not demand. How does one cooperate with God’s graces and gifts?
I think the most important thing is to ask. Ask God in prayer to fan into flame his grace in your life and all the gifts he wants to give you. Let him know you desire to cooperate with him in transforming you. Make use of the sacraments. Make a valiant effort to live a holy life.
Allow God our Father, who loves us beyond our wildest imagination and our greatest sin, to help us to become holy. After all, he just wants each of us to be a saint — and he gives us his life and his power, called grace, to do just that.