A Message To A Niece On Her Confirmation

You have no doubt focused on the seven gifts of the Holy Spirit in preparing for your reception of the Sacrament of Confirmation: wisdom, understanding, counsel, fortitude, knowledge, piety, and fear of God… the emphasis being on the word “gifts.” They are free to you. But they are not cheap giveaways. You may have heard the saying: “To her who is given much, much is expected.”

True wisdom, understanding, and knowledge are like really great music, great literature, and great art…, but on steroids to the millionth degree! If you stay open to the workings of the Holy Spirit, you will have a special insight into the beauty of all of God’s creation – of humanity and of nature – and have the motivation to change lives for the better, both your own and others.

Fortitude is that stubborn courage in the face of criticism to not do what you know is wrong or to not go along with the crowd when the crowd is wrong. Instead, you need to stay the course, do what is good and right; not what will hurt you or others. Counsel is the gift of knowing what is good and right.

Piety is like a pilot light on a water heater. The little flame is always there burning (even if you might forget about it). As Pope Benedict said, it is that flame that is a constant reminder of the fundamentals in your life. It is a reminder that God exists and that God knows you and expects your response to His project: to bring all of us to Him.

Fear of the Lord gives us a perspective. We see an omnipotent God who created everything. Us. The earth. The entire cosmos! We stand in wonder and awe. At the same time we, as baptized Christians, know that God is love, and that we are actually the adopted children of this same all powerful God. That is, as they say, awesome!

The prayer quoted on the card which I am sending to you along with this message communicates my desire for you on the occasion of your Confirmation: “Just so, your light must shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your heavenly Father. Mt 5:16” Which is to say, shine before them with a good and virtuous life! A life with good deeds that praise the Creator and are examples to others of your faith, reminders to them of the love of God for each man, woman, and child ever created, no matter how good or bad they may be.

The “instructions” for living a good and virtuous life are those seven gifts from the Holy Spirit. Warning: This journey has a learning curve! Hard, but possible. You are a musician, so think of it like learning difficult music. It is difficult and frustrating but, when done, you are changed for the better, and the ones who hear you play, are also changed for the better. The best part is that by living your life with and by these seven divine gifts, it will lead you to real and genuine happiness. You will affect the lives of others in many good ways, not least of which is to peaceful, directed lives.

One final thought. Like all gifts, these gifts from the Holy Spirit must be personally accepted. In fact, that is what will happen at the moment you are anointed by the bishop, who will only be an instrument of the Divine. In reality, you will be offered these seven gifts from the Holy Spirit Himself. If you accept the gifts, it will be Him who anoints you, and seals you with His seven gifts. Say “Yes.” Receive the Holy Spirit.

Robert J. Gieb has practiced probate law in Ft. Worth, Texas for forty years. He is local counsel for Catholics United For Life of North Texas.