By James Ramos
KINGWOOD, Texas (CNS) – Nearly 500 Catholics from 59 parishes in the Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston were confirmed in early January at four bilingual Masses, marking the culmination of months of catechesis and effort.
They were accompanied by their sponsors who helped guide them through the process, in their parishes and in their lives.
Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo and Auxiliary Bishop Italo Dell’Oro anointed the foreheads of candidates for confirmation with holy chrism during an intimate tete-a-tete between a Catholic and his bishop.
“Be sealed with the gift of the Holy Spirit,” Cardinal DiNardo said, leaning forward to greet a bespectacled man in a long-sleeved green shirt while anointing him.
Moments later, he repeated this in Spanish: “Recibe por esta señal el Don del Espíritu Santo,” raising his thumb to anoint a smiling woman dressed in white.
Each of the candidates had a godfather standing behind him, his right hand on the candidate’s shoulder, as a sign of presence and prayer.
Cardinal DiNardo and Bishop Dell’Oro celebrated four separate Masses on Jan. 9, the Feast of the Baptism of the Lord, at Houston Co-Cathedral of the Sacred Heart, St. Ignatius of Loyola Catholic Church in the spring, St. Angèle Merici Catholic Church in Missouri City and St. Martha’s Catholic Church in Kingwood.
During Mass, the bishop recites a prayer that invokes God the Father for an “outpouring of the Holy Spirit,” according to the American Catholic Catechism for Adults published by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops.
The bishop extends his two hands over all those who are to be confirmed, a sign of the continuity of the New Testament custom of laying on of hands on those who would receive the gift of the Spirit.
The seven gifts traditionally associated with the Spirit are inspired by Isaiah 11:1-3 and include: wisdom, understanding, knowledge, counsel, fortitude, godliness or reverence, and fear of the Lord, also known as wonder and awe.
Archdiocesan Masses also included a renewal of baptismal promises, showing the connection between confirmation and baptism. Confirmation, like baptism, is given only once because it too “imprints an indelible spiritual mark on the soul”.
During a general audience in May 2018, Pope Francis continued his series of catechetical messages on the sacrament of confirmation.
“Just as Jesus received the outpouring of the Spirit at his baptism to fulfill his messianic mission, the Church prays that we too may receive the gifts and fruits of the Spirit that enable us to help the body of Christ to grow in unity and missionary zeal,” he said. “The gift of the Spirit is communicated by the laying on of hands and the anointing of sacred chrism.”
The pope prayed for those who receive the sacrament of confirmation and said, “Sealed with the Holy Spirit, we are configured more closely to Christ and strengthened to witness to him in our world. May each of us grow in gratitude for the gift received at Confirmation and open our hearts ever more fully to the creativity of the Spirit who makes all things new.
Ramos is an editor and designer for the Texas Catholic Herald, newspaper of the Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston.