REFLECTION: Christian maturity PDF Print E-mail
Tuesday, 19 August 2014 11:38



I AM now in the process of talking with parents of the students who will receive the sacrament of confirmation in October. The idea is to explain and remind them of the nature and purpose of the sacrament, and the many implications, both theoretical and practical, that it brings about.

By some twist of circumstances, this sacrament happens to be one of the less known and appreciated sacraments. Even in my case, I received it when I was already about 20 because it was not felt to be that necessary in the province where I grew up and had my early education.

But it’s actually a very important sacrament, for it gives us the gift of spiritual strength and perfection that go into what we may call our Christian maturity or the fullness of Christian life.

Let’s remember what St. Paul once said about Christ providing us with apostles, prophets, evangelists, and obviously many other gifts too so that we can be “a perfect man, unto the measure of the age of the fullness of Christ, that henceforth we be no more children tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine…” (Eph 4,13-14)

God is never sparing in sharing what he has with us who are his image and likeness and his adopted children. The sacrament of confirmation is a gift that together with the other sacraments perfects us and brings us to the possibility of living the fullness of Christian life while still here on earth.

It gives us nothing less than the Holy Spirit, the very love of God. The Holy Spirit is now our sanctifier, who nourishes our faith, hope and charity. He gives us his 7-fold gifts of wisdom, understanding, counsel, fortitude, knowledge, piety and fear of the Lord.

Besides, the Holy Spirit gives us his perfections or the fruits of charity, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, generosity, gentleness, faithfulness, modesty, self-control and chastity.

With these, the Holy Spirit who is given to us in confirmation just like in Pentecost, roots us more deeply in divine sonship, and binds us more firmly to Christ and to the Church. He gives us strength to witness to the Christian faith, (cfr Catechism 268) It imprints an indelible character that resembles us more closely to Christ.

We need to be aware that this sacrament is a supernatural gift. As such we need to receive it with profound gratitude and to try to make use of it as best as we could. That is why we need to know more and more about it and to live by its law and purpose.

Just like the many sophisticated gadgets that may be gifted to us, whose manual and instructions we need to study to make them useful, we also need to study well the nature and purpose of the sacrament of confirmation to make it effective in our lives.

As a supernatural gift, it transcends without rejecting our human conditions. Usually administered when we reach the age of discretion or at 12 years of age, it can be given to us even when we have not yet achieved our full human maturity in terms of our emotional or intellectual development.

The grace of God and our correspondence to it through faith and piety can somehow make the effects of the sacrament manifested in our life. One psalm beautifully expresses this truth when it says, “I have had understanding above the aged, because I have sought your commandments.” (Ps 119,100)

It is simply by following the commandments of God that would lead us to love God and others, that we can attain our Christian maturity. Christian maturity does not depend so much on our temporal age or on earthly erudition. It’s a matter of grace which God actually gives us in abundance.

We need to see to it therefore that we are trying our best to live by the grace of God. In practical terms this means we need to study and assimilate his teaching and commandments, develop the virtues, have recourse to the sacraments, learn to pray and offer sacrifices.

We need to learn to think in terms of our faith, and not just in terms of our sheer reasoning, feelings and other means of human estimations of things. Our attitude and outlook should be supernatural, based on our faith and love of God.

This is how the greatness of God himself can sit well in the midst of our human limitations and errors. Given our increasingly challenging times, we need to spread more widely the good news about the sacrament of confirmation.