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‘The Gifts of God’s Holy Spirit must guide’

By Bishop Terry R. LaValley

June 15, 2022

It’s always such a joy for me to make pastoral visits to our parishes. I’m especially privileged to meet the young women and men who seek to be fully initiated into our faith through the Sacrament of Confirmation. Words of gratitude go out to their pastors, catechists, grandparents and parents whose accompaniment continues to be crucial to their ongoing formation in the faith.

As I near the completion of Confirmations in our parishes this year, I share with you a message that I shared with the Confirmation candidates on Pentecost Sunday at St. Mary’s Cathedral.

Creativity is a marvelous gift. Our world has benefited in countless ways because of creative minds thinking outside the box. Discoveries in science, the fruit of creative minds, continue to enrich our lives.

With the gift, however, comes responsibilities, even hazards that we must always keep in mind. Because we know how to create certain technologies, should we? With great knowledge comes the temptation to think I can create whatever I want, design whatever I please. In other words, I can play God. The human person can design smartphones, smart weapons, smartboards. We think we can even design smart humans without flaws. If, from the moment of conception in the mother’s womb, the unborn child gives evidence of weakness or defect, we can terminate the human person’s life. We can design the perfect person or so we think.

We can design the homes we want to live in, we can design the clothes we wear. We design vehicles, aircraft, even spacecraft that reflect great human ingenuity and knowledge. Now, some of us think we can even design ourselves, never mind how our God designed us. We think –I know myself better than any god. I am free to do what I please, no matter my age or my design plans. I should be able to define, design marriage the way I please, never mind God’s design.

I should be able to pick and choose what I want to do with those things they call commandments. Never mind they are commandments from our Divine Designer. Truth be told, I want to design God according to my specifications. I should be free to make God in the image I think God should be. Some call it “progress.” If you disagree with me, you are intolerant, a bigot, old-fashioned, out of touch with the real world.

My sisters and brothers in Christ, without a connection to God, we become like satellites that have left their orbit and then hurtle randomly into the void and not only destroy ourselves but also threaten others. The Gifts of God’s Holy Spirit must guide how I use any of my gifts of human creativity or design plans that I may have concocted. These gifts of the Holy Spirit are permanent dispositions which enable you and me to follow the inspiration of God’s Spirit. Wisdom: helps us judge what is important, meaningful; Understanding: to know something is different from truly understanding it. I can know a lot of facts about someone, but that is different from truly understanding that person; Counsel: helps us differentiate between right and wrong (and there is right and wrong); Fortitude: courage and endurance to do the right thing, never mind what everybody else does or thinks; Knowledge: helps us to know God; Piety: proper reverence for God, helps us obey God out of love and give respect to every human person, made in God’s very image and likeness; and Fear of the Lord: proper rejection of sin and awe and gratitude for God’s goodness and unconditional love.

With the sacrament of Confirmation, comes a special outpouring of these gifts. Every one of them is a vital aid to living an authentic Catholic life. Candidates, allow the graces of this empowering sacrament stretch your minds and hearts to embrace God and the wonders of His creation. Remember, too, that no one is strong enough to travel the entire path of salvation without assistance. Share your faith, talk about God with your friends. Know that they are fellow companions who can challenge and support you on this journey of faith.

Candidates, this afternoon, you will be empowered by the seven gifs of God’s Holy Spirit to meet the challenges of your tomorrows with a whole lot of hope and confidence. Don’t stifle your creativity, it’s God’s gift to you. But be sure to always allow the graces of this empowering sacrament to stretch your minds and hearts to embrace God and the wonders of His beautiful creation. Through all that we do: May God be praised…forever may God be praised!

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