A couple of days ago I witnessed the Confirmation of 78 children, my two grandsons among them, in the lovely Holy Trinity Church in Spruce Grove. It was a memorable evening and the green fields around the church and the flowers growing around it were a perfect setting for the youth and a symbol for growth.
Although this was a weekday evening and many people must have had a long working day behind them, the church was packed with families and friends of the confirmed. The atmosphere was so joyous, even my own old heart was dancing.
We all were receiving one of the gifts of the Holy Spirit — joy — even before he descended upon the youth. All our daily troubles and worries were lifted as we were singing Veni, Sancte Spiritus and as Archbishop Richard Smith anointed the foreheads of the girls and boys. The older of us in the audience wept, but these were sweet tears, filled with quiet joy and peace.
I watched the young faces, serious and eager, and tried to guess which particular gift, the special personal gift, each was receiving? We are showered with them all, of course. But one, a special one, is just for us — a charism to work with and to develop into holiness. This is our particular gift to eventually share with the Church and the world.
We all are like little plots of land and, as any gardener knows, each soil is suited to different plants. The Holy Spirit is the sower who knows for what we are suited. The gifts are seeds, not the finished product — on this we must work ourselves.
As I looked at the confirmed, I thought: Was it the gift of prophecy that this boy was receiving? Prophecy so that we may have a prophet among us, someone who will interpret God's will by the power of that gift?
Or, was it the gift of knowledge — so that all may have someone with the deeper understanding of God's words and plans?
How many of the kids will develop the mysterious gift of languages? Or the ever-needed gifts of patience and gentleness? Or the gift of discernment — so vital in the world that becomes blind to the difference between right and wrong?
The incredible bounty of God was shared with us on that evening in the church in Spruce Grove. The outpouring of the Spirit that descended upon the youth was strong.
Now we need to do our part. How many of us, those confirmed recently and those confirmed years ago, have received the gift-seed and allowed it to take root in the field of our souls? How many water it with prayer, keep the field free of weeds by Confession, nourish it by the Body and Blood of Christ?
The Holy Spirit is God, and nothing is impossible for God. The gifts, once given, do not die out of neglect. Even after years, they can sprout joyously - if we ask again, humbly, with hearts open — Veni, Sancte Spiritus — Come Holy Spirit.