Friday, May 18, 2012

Pentecost Novena (how timely!)

On this first day of the Pentecost novena, amid the chanting of anti-NATO protesters just below my window, I began started updating a Confirmation program I helped write some years ago. Gratifyingly, it does not need much updating, beyond the liturgical prayers, the addition of some YOUCAT references, and more up-to-date resources. 

Here's a little reflection for the catechist from the second of the six sessions that make up the program (which is not a full-scale Confirmation prep, but more the immediate preparation for the actual sacramental rite). It certainly seems fitting as we begin imploring a new outpouring of the Spirit on the Church!

A study of Confirmation provides the opportunity to deepen and reaffirm our faith in the central doctrine of Christianity, a reality so profound that it could only be known by God’s self-revelation to us.

From all eternity, with no beginning and no interruption, the Son gives himself over in love and gratitude to the Father. And his receiving and giving and the Father’s giving and receiving are total and complete and divine: the Person-Love, Person-Gift we have learned to call “Holy Spirit,” the “Spirit of the Father and the Son.”

The three equal sharers in the one divine nature are always gift to each other. And there is nothing (not even in heaven!) which is more blissful than love.

Creation was God’s utterly free and original invention of a way to share the happiness of living in love. The Father spoke and the original Word was echoed in a totally new way. The Spirit hovered over the chaos and gently ordered it according to the Image, maintaining both similarity and distinction between God and not-God. And in a gift of tender generosity, the Trinity created beings capable of communion, able to freely assume the life of self-gift. Multitudes of angels imaged the Trinitarian Lord’s wisdom and beauty and were invited to accept God’s love as their life. And then came an even deeper condescension, as the Father spoke a new word, a little clay word. The call to communion was written into this nature: they would only exist as a “unity of the two.” The Spirit breathed into it to complete the creature of clay who would be invited to live of God’s own life.

Even after sin, the call to communion among themselves and with God remained—although so great an obstacle had been raised against it that only God could bring about the possibility of a response. The Father made bold promises; the Spirit raised up prophets; the Word was Way and Truth and Life in the Law, until the people were readied and the Virgin was born who would “hear the word of God and keep it.”

In her, by the power of the Holy Spirit, the Son, who had received his Sonship from the Father as an eternal, free and welcome gift in the Spirit, received a created nature. Christ did not “clothe” himself in the clay as if it were a costume: he became clay, without losing his identity as only-Begotten. The eternal, true and equal Image was now expressed in human flesh. God’s self-revelation was offered not through detached concepts, but in person. And in the Father’s plan, this Jesus was “the source of the Spirit for all mankind” (CCC 536).

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