Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

Please bear with me in my letter this week. I promise that it is getting somewhere, it just might take me a bit to get there.

Writing things down was not the first impulse of the Early Church. We know this from the Gospels in particular, which were only written down with the passing away of the earliest disciples of Christ. This was done as a means of preserving the story of Christ for those who would come after the first witnesses of such things for many generations thereafter.

However, oral tradition and the lack of writing extended out in the Early Church to the celebration of the Sacraments as well, most notably the Mass. Whereas today, every priest has a Missal in front of him with all the prayers and instructions needed, for the first two centuries or so, the Mass was celebrated without a written text. Scholars believe that there were general formulas followed and by various historical records we know there was a general content and structure to Mass. But the Eucharistic Prayer also contained some improvisation, in the words used and particular formulation of things. As time wore on, the earliest written Eucharistic Prayers were put together to help Bishops that struggled to improvise on their own.

This liturgical practice of having a prepared text continues today. For certain celebrations, not only are the prayers and the ritual written down to be followed, but there are prepared homilies even. Confirmation, which Bishop O’Connell is celebrating here on Monday, has such a homily within it. While Bishop O’Connell is an excellent homilist and needs no help in that regard, the prepared version is quite beautiful itself. It talks about the need of the Holy Spirit in the lives of the faithful, what Confirmation does for the individual Christian, and what is expected of those confirmed. But rather than read my summary, I offer this excerpt for your reflection.

Therefore, you who are already baptized will now receive the power of his Spirit and be signed with his Cross on your foreheads. And so, you must always bear witness to his Passion and Resurrection before the world, so that your manner of life, as the Apostle says, may be in every place the pleasing fragrance of Christ. His Mystical Body, which is the Church, the People of God, receives from him diverse graces, which the same Holy Spirit distributes to individuals for the building up of that Body in unity and love.

Friends, let us keep in prayer our young people who are about to receive the outpouring of the Holy Spirit in Confirmation. May they strive to be and truly become what God has made them for. And for those of us who are already Temples of the Holy Spirit by virtue of our Confirmation, may we continue to live out the life of grace that God extends to each one of us.

Peace and Goodness,
Fr. Dan