By ELLA BUTTERWORTH
“The Holy Spirit, the Spirit of love, fills us with love, makes us feel loved, and teaches us how to love. He is the ‘motor’ of our spiritual lives.” (Pope Francis, 2022)
The Holy Spirit, one of three that makes up the Holy Trinity, has played an important role in the Church from the very beginning. From supporting the early people of the Church, to filling the disciples with love during Pentecost, and aiding Jesus’s mission even after his Resurrection and ascension into heaven; the Holy Spirit’s place in the Church is vital. But perhaps the Holy Spirit’s most important role to play is during Baptism, and then the renewal of these vows in Confirmation.
This year, on the third of July, I was fortunate enough to be confirmed into the Parish of New Plymouth, alongside my friends and family. What began in term two as sessions every Tuesday night at St Joseph’s Hall (led by Rain, the youth minister, supported by Father Vui and groups of youth leaders), where we would do fun, faith-filled exercises surrounding whatever topic we were to cover that night, such as “The purpose of Confirmation” or “Why does God give us gifts?” these sessions ended up being a truly wonderful experience and marked a pillar in my faith journey.
Prior to becoming a senior student at Sacred Heart Girl’s College, New Plymouth, while I had heard of Confirmation, I did not give it much thought. It wasn’t until several close friends and family members showed me the advert encouraging youth in New Plymouth to sign up, did I begin to think differently.
One of the questions that was mentioned a lot during the Confirmation process was “Why are you doing Confirmation?” To be perfectly honest, I was unsure. I had heard so many inspiring stories about people feeling called by God to get confirmed or go down a certain path in life, that I began to doubt whether Confirmation was the right decision for me.
However, it wasn’t until the Confirmation Camp weekend, that I received my answer. This camp, filled with a bonfire, worship sessions, fun activities, a dance party and then a closing Mass, was a highlight of my year and provided such a supportive, loving environment for everyone. One thing in particular that really stood out to me during Confirmation Camp was Adoration. This was a special few hours for everyone, when we gathered in the hall, turned off the lights, and simply prayed to God and the Holy Spirit. There was live worship music, and stations where we could go and sit with the adult leaders to pray or just to talk through what we were feeling.
Adoration for me was a really personal experience. For the first time, I really allowed myself to fully open up to God and the Holy Spirit about the things I was still processing from the past and my worries about the future, without having the weight of my feelings dragging me down. And in turn, he gave me comfort, closure, and the gift of the Holy Spirit to move forward in Christ, not so weighed down anymore by the past.
Coming out of Adoration, honestly I felt like I had a jug of cold water poured over my head – much like during Baptism! – and it made me realise what it truly means to be a Catholic. While it means that we go to Mass, and take the Eucharist and live as Jesus would, to me, being a Catholic really shines through in how you allow yourself to be vulnerable to God, and to hand over the load you have been carrying, knowing that he will help you and gift you the power of the Holy Spirit, the guiding light in our world that enables us as Catholics to carry on, and to help others do the same.
Reflecting on Confirmation now, my relationship with God has certainly changed, and I see the Holy Spirit present in my faith journey now more than ever before. As mentioned in the Youth Catechism of the Catholic Church, “. . . The gift of the Holy Spirit is the strength from above, in which this individual puts the grace of his Baptism into practice through his life, and acts as a “witness” for Christ.” (1302-1305, 1317) And I truly believe that Confirmation has done this for me. It has reminded me of my Baptism, my initial calling to the Catholic Church and, through renewing these vows, it has given me the strength and passion to embrace my faith at a new level, and hopefully urge others to do the same.
So, for those of you who may be questioning whether Confirmation is for you, take a leap of faith. Even if you go in there with a head full of doubt, trust me, you will emerge with closer friends and, hopefully, a new appreciation of what it means to be a Catholic, guided by the loving hand of the Holy Spirit. For you will never be alone. The Holy Spirit is the flame within our hearts, it is always there, burning quietly and, through Confirmation, I hope your flame, as did mine, will continue to grow in love, faith and kindness.
- Ella Butterworth is a year 12 student at Sacred Heart Girls’ College in New Plymouth