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Bishop's Column

Bishop Barbarito Column

The Spirit is Alive!

The past several months brought with them many celebrations of the Sacrament of Confirmation. With the arrival of the month of June and the quick approach of summer, most of these celebrations are completed. Some will resume again in the fall, but the majority take place in the winter and during the Easter season.

The celebration of the Sacrament of Confirmation is a great joy. It offers the opportunity to visit our parishes and to meet our young people with their families. It also affords the opportunity to meet the many people in our parishes who work so hard and lovingly in preparing the young people over the years for the sacrament.

St. Paul tells us that, “There are different gifts but the same Spirit; there are different ministries but the same Lord; there are different works but the same God who accomplishes all of them in everyone. In each person the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good” (1 Cor. 12:4-7). The different manifestations of the Spirit are so obvious among our parishes in the Diocese of Palm Beach. Celebrating the Sacrament of Confirmation in our Diocese is a unique opportunity to experience these manifestations.

The Holy Spirit is manifest in our families present with the young candidates who are to be confirmed. Each family is different and bears unique gifts of the Holy Spirit. However, the gift of the Spirit’s love in family life is especially evident during the happy occasion of Confirmation. The Holy Spirit is at work in each family, drawing every member closer together through His promptings. The Holy Spirit is the bond of love between the Father and the Son in the life of the Trinity. The family is the very image of the Trinity, and thus the Holy Spirit is the bond of love between the members of a family. The love that family members hold for one another becomes visible in the support given to its young members at Confirmation. It is an inspiration to read in the letters the candidates sometimes send of the love that exists within their families.

The individual families present at a Confirmation celebration form a larger family, which is that of the Church. The Church is a family made up of individuals, and the Holy Spirit works through these individuals using their talents and abilities to build up the Body of Christ. All of us have different roles within the Church, but they all cooperate for one purpose under the guidance of the Holy Spirit. Again, St. Paul reminds us of this reality in his words, “The body is one and has many members, but all the members, many though they are, are one body. … All of us have been given to drink of the one Spirit” (1 Cor. 12:12-13). Different members of a parish, using their unique gifts and working together to form one body, are the vitality of our parishes. The experience of being with those working together in our parishes emphasizes the vitality of the Church.

One clear manifestation of the working of the Holy Spirit in the individual members of a parish is through the catechists and those who work with the young candidates to be confirmed. Many years, weeks and days of attention to young people are given by our catechists because they love their faith and they love our young people. They are anxious to share that which means so much to them in their lives. What a delight it is to see the devotion that these women and men give to our young people. Their care and concern for them are real and are truly a result of the working of the Holy Spirit. They hand on our Catholic faith in a manner that makes it evident that the Holy Spirit is quite alive in our Diocese. 

Our young people are another manifestation of the Holy Spirit here in our Diocese. The young people at Confirmation in our parishes are sincere and open, looking for meaning and purpose in their lives. Their desire to continue to live as followers of Christ in His family, the Church, is a great sign of hope for all of us. Our young people are very much searching and looking for role models and examples. They need much support since our society is not eager to follow the Christian way of life and the values it embraces. The work of the Holy Spirit is manifest in the young people’s work and preparation for Confirmation. This preparation includes many works of service to the Church and other expressions of Christian life. Our young people are extremely grateful to those who assist them in their preparation for Confirmation, and this gratitude is another manifestation of the Holy Spirit. The gift of the Holy Spirit, which they receive at Confirmation, will continue to guide and direct them. Our young people give us good reason to know that the Holy Spirit is active among us. 

While the celebrations of Confirmation will soon be over for a period, the Holy Spirit’s presence among us is with us at all times. May we all come to know His presence in our midst through its many manifestations among us in our wonderful Diocese. I know I can truly say I see Him at work among all of you!

Most Reverend Gerald M. Barbarito