Confirmation: Grace to Find & Fulfill Our Particular Vocations

640px-Philippe_de_Champaigne_-_Annunciation_-_WGA04705Every person was uniquely created to participate in the Kingdom of God; we know this because God said to Jeremiah: “Before you were in the womb, I knew you.”  (Jeremiah 1:5) This indicates Divine Providence, a plan for each of God’s creatures.  However, unlike robots, He did not “program” us to respond to His plans in an autonomous way.  This is because God wants us to freely choose to love Him.

“God, infinitely perfect and blessed in Himself, in a plan of sheer goodness freely created man to make him a share in His own blessed life.”  (CCC 1)

The ability to choose to love or reject Him also means that we are responsible for the consequences—good and bad— of all we do.  For instance, if we choose to overindulge in sweets, God isn’t going to step in and “magically” undo the effects.  He is like a good parent who allows His children to discover and explore; He wants us to learn how to recognize and act for not just the perceived good (instant gratification of taste), but the actual good (health and longevity of life).  Also, like a good parent, He doesn’t leave us “unguided”.  Thus, while He allows us to make our own choices, He never turns a blind eye to us, but gives us the tools and gifts we need to make informed decisions.

Many of these gifts (also known as grace) come from the sacrament of Confirmation.  Confirmation, like Baptism, is an “anointing” and leaves an indelible character on the soul.  This means that through Confirmation, we are rooted “more deeply in the divine filiation, incorporating us more firmly into Christ.” (CCC 1316) This anointing is an outpouring of the Holy Spirit. In other words, it is attuning the soul’s ear to hear the voice of God.  In fact, Confirmation grants the capability to retain and make use of these gifts, so that we will recognize what we are meant to do with our lives.  This is what vocation is: mindfully acting towards our personal completion— the reason we were brought into unique existences.  Knowing what our vocations are is important because the actual living out of our vocations will be what actually will fulfill us.  For this is where we meet God.  As St. Augustine noted in his Confessions: “Our hearts are restless until they rest in you.”  (Lib 1,1-2,2.5,5: CSEL 33, 1-5)

In Confirmation, the Holy Spirit specifically offers seven gifts and twelve fruits as an aid for this attuning.  The more we participate in these gifts and fruits, the easier it is for us to recognize and freely want to respond to our vocation.  The gifts complete the natural virtues. They are: wisdom, counsel, fortitude, knowledge, piety, and fear of the Lord.  The fruits are perfections of glory to come: charity, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, generosity, gentleness, faithfulness, modesty, self-control and chastity. Confirmation is the next step to saying yes to God; no matter when Confirmation took place in our lives, the opportunity to explore and ask for increases in these gifts, is always available to us.

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