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Father Muench Says...

Transformed by the Holy Spirit

April 24, 2024

By Father William Muench
NCC columnist

Today, I would like to take a moment to remember my friend, Father Dan Keefe. Father Dan died recently. When I think of Father Dan, I remember his many years as pastor of the John XXIII Newman Center on the campus of SUNY Plattsburgh. I know he made a real difference in the lives of many college students, as well as many faculty, during his years at the college. So, please join me in remembering Father Dan in our prayers.

Now, we are continuing to celebrate the Easter Season. In many parishes it is traditional for the celebration of Confirmation during this time. The bishop of the diocese is invited to the parish to confer this important Sacrament of Confirmation on the young people of the parish. This Sacrament of Confirmation calls down the Holy Spirit to come with wisdom and courage to challenge those prepared to live in the way of the Savio, to make a difference by living well and witnessing to God’s love and peace for all. Those confirmed are called and encouraged to truly transform their part of the world.

The Church hopes to transform those confirmed just as the original disciples were transformed on that first Pentecost. I hope you remember the story of descent of the Holy Spirit on the Apostles at the Pentecost as described in the Acts of the Apostles. The apostles knew what Jesus had promised: the coming of a new advocate, the coming of the Holy Spirit with all the gifts of the Spirit. The apostles did not understand what this was going to mean.

The apostles had experienced the vision of the resurrected Jesus. Jesus had challenged them with the mission to teach and baptize all in the name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit. However, before the Holy Spirit came, they were still very timid, afraid to be seen, just waiting for something to happen. Then on that Pentecost Day, the Holy Spirit comes in wind and fire. They were truly transformed. The Holy Spirit changes all. They were no longer afraid; they were ready to go into the streets and preach the message of Jesus to all. They found the courage to walk in the way of the Lord no matter what this would mean for them. They preached, they baptized, they discovered the wisdom and the courage of the Holy Spirit to unite the people into a community.

Now, each year, the question comes up: what will the Sacrament of Confirmation accomplish with this year’s class? Will they truly influence others in any way? Will this sacramental life in the Holy Spirit lead others closer to God? Will they find the courage and wisdom like those first apostles? The Church hopes that the Holy Spirit will lead them to live lives dedicated to being good Christians, dedicated disciples of the Lord Jesus. May they live with a new respect for others – for their friends and even for those they do not know at all.

Each time I attend a confirmation, I pray that someone in this class will be the one to truly accomplish something spectacular. I know that occasionally, over the years, I have recognized it. The Holy Spirit leading someone – possibly more than one person – finding them ready to become a terrific Christian, a marvelous leader.

Each Pentecost is a time for each of us to celebrate the anniversary of our confirmation. How have I been doing? Have I been the one who truly have made a difference as a disciple of the Lord Jesus in the power of the Holy Spirit? Have I made the world a better place?

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