Saturday, April 18, 2009

Enduring Gifts

Welcome new and returning visitors to Gotta Sing Gotta Pray. Some friends and colleagues have asked me the reasons why I chose this title for my blog. Several months ago, when the economic climate began to dim, a colleague asked how the Catholic liturgy and music publishing world was weathering the storm. I simply replied, "Well, even in the midst of an economic downturn, people gotta sing and people gotta pray." Hence the title of the blog.
We at World Library Publications are committed to providing music, liturgy, and prayer resources to all who are seeking a deeper relationship with the Lord, perhaps especially when times are difficult. As we listen to news reports about the rise in the unemployment rate, as we suffer through job losses and the challenge of finding new jobs, we know in our hearts that the Lord is the source of our strength and courage.
During this week, this blog has focused on the Easter Octave. We have been exploring the mystagogical homilies of St. Cyril of Jerusalem. Feel free to read the earlier posts to delve into the inspiring words of St. Cyril. Today I'd like us all to focus on the continuing potential and power of the sacrament of confirmation. I take a fairly simple approach to this sacrament. I was confirmed on May 13, 1972. Today, nearly thirty-seven years later, I am still drawing on the power of this sacrament in my own life. One of the central aspects of the celebration of that sacrament is the prayer that the celebrant prays over all who are to be confirmed:

All powerful God, Father of our Lord Jesus Christ,
by water and the Holy Spirit
you freed your sons and daughters from sin
and gave them new life.
Send your Holy Spirit upon them
to be their helper and guide.
Give them the spirit of wisdom and understanding,
the spirit of right judgment and courage,
the spirit of knowledge and reverence.
Fill them with the spirit of wonder and awe 
in your presence.
We ask this through Christ our Lord.  Amen.

Following this prayer, those to be confirmed are anointed with Chrism with these words: "Be sealed with the gifts of the Holy Spirit." All who have been confirmed have been sealed with the seven gifts proclaimed in the confirmation prayer. I made my way through my life following confirmation thinking that the sacrament was a one-time-only event, another "notch" on my Catholic journey. It's only been in recent years, when faced with new challenges, that I have realized the perpetual power of this sacrament. I came to the realization that these seven gifts were enduring. I don't know about you, but there are definitely times in my own life when I need to draw on the gifts of right judgment and knowledge. At other times the other gifts of the Holy Spirit have been sorely needed. Earlier this year I was privileged to present a parish mission in Kona, on the Big Island of Hawaii. Each day I would drive to a remote location, settle myself on a lava field, and wait and wait. Eventually, gazing out on the Pacific, I would notice water spouts. I had discovered some new friends: migrating whales. Each day, I sat there in awe watching my new "friends", drawing on the final gift received at confirmation: wonder and awe in God's presence. Walking through life with the expectation that God has all kinds of things in store for us; things that will engender wonder and awe, is not really a bad way to live, is it?
On this eve of the Second Sunday of Easter, I hope that you reflect on the enduring power of your confirmation. I hope you continue to cry out to God: Veni Creator Spiritus. Let's all join our hearts and voices together and pray for a continuing outpouring of the gifts of the Holy Spirit. John Angotti, one of WLP's wonderful composers, has written a setting of Veni Creator Spiritus. You can listen to a snippet of that piece here. Feel free to visit WLP's web site often to find music, worship, and prayer resources to nurture your life in the Holy Spirit.
Remember, gotta sing, gotta pray!

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