On a Mission
For this reason I remind you to rekindle the gift of God that is within you through the laying on of my hands; for God did not give us a spirit of cowardice, but rather a spirit of power and of love and of self-discipline.
2 Timothy 1:6-7
Participating in the seven sacraments is something we all share together as Catholics. This session we are going to focus on one of the three sacraments of initiation: Confirmation. The Sacraments of Initiation lay the foundation for Christian life. If you remember back to our previous sessions where we began our discussion about the sacraments of initiation we are going to dive deeper with Confirmation. With baptism we are welcomed in to the Church and with Confirmation we are solidified as members of the Church. What does Confirmation do? It Strengthens our Baptismal grace, Prepares us to be witnesses to Truth, Is a participation in Pentecost, Unites us more fully to Christ, and Binds us to the Church.
As the process of sacraments go in our parish Confirmation in the 8th grade can seem so far off in the distance for younger children that they are not really thinking much about it at all. For most of the students in our group Penance and Communion are very much on their minds as these are the sacraments they will be receiving in the very near future. At Confirmation we receive an outpouring of the gifts of the Holy Spirit. We are anointed with the oil of Chrism and consecrated to Christ- we belong to Him. We are sealed with an indelible mark on our souls and therefore we will be judged accordingly as not only children of God, but witnesses of Truth to the rest of the world. ALL of this is given so that we can fulfill our mission: to spread the Gospel in this world.
What we want to keep in mind about Confirmation is:
- Confirmation is like our “personal Pentecost.”
- Transformed with a new sense of purpose (change our name)
- Seal with Holy Spirit (anointing with oil)
- Fire is the perfect symbol of Confirmation.
- Fire is light and heat.
- Light represents truth.
- Heat represents love.
There are 4 parts of the Confirmation Rite
1. Baptismal promises renewed
2. Bishop calls down the Holy Spirit
3. Anointed with oil of Chrism as the Bishop says, “ NAME, Be sealed with the gifts of the Holy Spirit.”
4. “Peace be with you” – these gifts are to be used to build peace, love, and unity with other people
What does an Ambry has to do with Confirmation? This is the case where the Holy Oils are kept within the Church. When we were meeting in person this was often one of our class field trips to go see the Ambry and discuss the oils on display. We are fortunate to have a Church that has a visible Ambry where you can see these Holy Oils. Interesting trivia for the kids is to mention how these oils are made. While this is a minor digression it is infinitely fascinating to them to learn the connection to the Chrism Mass.
The main thought about Virtues should be this: Virtues are to be practiced not perfected. When we try to perfectly live a virtue we may imperfectly live others. Often it is that we will focus too strictly with one virtue and neglect the others in our pursuit of being perfectly virtuous. This is not how virtues are meant to be lived. One way to understand this is to tell the children a little story about the Monk who didn’t want a birthday. There was a Monk so focused on his Temperance that he never wanted to have his birthday celebrated. Each year he made a point to remind his Brothers in Christ to NOT celebrate his birthday. As it went year after year his birthday came and passed with very little fuss or attention. This made the Monk very happy to remain a humble servant of God. Then as it happens time passed on and his 60th birthday came around. The Monastery wanted to throw the Monk a birthday celebration inviting all the important and loved people from his past, such as family, friends, etc. When the day of the party arrived the Monk was deeply upset for he didn’t want all this fuss about his birthday being made, he wanted to stay humble and treat the day just like any other, celebrating his birthday would be an excess. After explaining to the guests that he didn’t want anything to do with the celebration he went to his chamber where he sat and reflected. It finally occurred to him that in his hyper focus on Temperance he failed to experience the other virtues. More importantly he prevent all the people at his party from living a virtue too. He finally saw that the point of the birthday celebration was for all the people in his life. They were showing their Charity (love) for him by celebrating his birthday. It was then that he learned that he had been misguided in his effort to be perfectly virtuous.
There are two Biblical stories to connect the session’s lesson on the virtues. The first story is the parable of Wise Man and the Foolish Man builders. The second is the story of the Prophet Elijah. When our kids were little they loved listening to that song as with many others. (Matthew 7:24, Luke 6:46) They have an audio song Days of Elijah. There is a short video about God’s Story: Elijah that sums up that God’s power can move us to bless others with faith and works. The name Elijah translates to “The Lord is my God” and he was a willing servant who also became weary from doing God’s work. It is a good lesson to see that perseverance and faith in God will be fruitful when we put God’s glory first.
Vocabulary words to discuss with your child: Virtue: A holy habit to help us become a good person. Faith – the power to believe. Hope – the power to trust. Charity – the power to love.
Prayer of the Week: Glory Be and Act of Hope
Homework First Year Sacramental Prep: Read The New St. Joseph First Communion Catechism Lesson 8 page 38. Practice the Angel of God prayer and the Glory Be, Hail Mary, and Our Father.
Homework Second Year Sacramental Prep: Complete Spirit of Truth pp. 96-97 plus 101-104. These pages will be handed in at the end of the month. Use the First Penance Prep At Home Retreat to prepare your child to receive the sacrament of Confession. Practice the Sign of the Cross, the Angel of God prayer, the Glory Be, the Hail Mary, the 10 Commandments and an Act of Contrition.
Homework Years 3-6th Grades: Read from The New St. Joseph Baltimore Catechism: Lesson 25, pages 157-160. The following prayers should be memorized: Guardian Angel. Hail Mary, Glory Be, and Our Father. Continue memorizing Act of Contrition and Apostles Creed. Start memorizing Acts of Faith, Hope, Love.
Watch: Watch this short video about the Good Samaritan with your child and ask your child which virtue was present in the Good Samaritan. Here’s a sweet video about the importance of being thankful. Here is a sweet video on the Virtue of Faith, one on the Virtue of Hope, and another on the Virtue of Love.
Activity Ideas: This Fire of the Holy Spirit crayon and water color paints flames is a really neat idea for teaching the lesson on Confirmation.
Make a Holy Spirit Dove out of a paper plate. (This craft is included in your Family Activity Pack)
A Holy Spirit Scripture Wheel is another great idea.
Audio Recommendations: We mentioned that we listen to a few podcasts and there were some offered as suggestions for listening to during Lent. We are listing them below:
Catholic Stuff You Should Know with Fr. Nathan, Fr. Michael, Fr. John, and Fr. Mike
Pints with Aquinas with Matt Fradd
The Bible in a Year with Fr. Mike Schmitz
With Lent underway it is time to take the family to Confession. You can model receiving the sacrament by going into the confessional first. For our First Year Sacramental prep friends talking to them about Confession is a great way to involve them in this sacrament. While they are not able to go Confession now is a great time to tell them all about this sacrament and teach them how to prepare to make their first penance.
You are in the BEST position to help your child examine their conscience. Here are some tips for you and your child on how to make a Good Examination of Conscience. Here is an Examination of Conscience for your middle school child. Please bring an Act of Contrition for your child to use as a “cheat sheet.” Not all of the confessionals have the prayer posted anymore. The two documents below are for helping out with confession. The first is meant for adults and the second “what you say in confession” is the script Holy Trinity has used since 2007 with the second grade sacrament children. That script is good for all kids to use while in confession. The additional one, “child confessional guide”, is the same script but I edited to make room for the child to write in any notes to help them while in confession. I have used this version to pass out to the students as they prepare for their First Penance ceremony. Perhaps it will be helpful for your children.