What if confirmation was the experience of being affirmed, recognized, and accepted in our very existential facticity, our simply being-here with what-is-here?
Resurrection is Now
Dom Aelred Watkin
Preparation for Death: Confirmation
The life given to us at Baptism is strengthened and made more active by Confirmation. Or, to put it another way, as Baptism initiates new and growing life, Confirmation gives that life fresh strength and force. The Holy Spirit given in this Sacrament is the Personification of love, love existing not as a quality in God but an actual divine Person. The Holy Spirit first came to Our Lady and the apostles under the appearance of tongues of flame and accompanied by the roar of wind. Fire and wind express the work of the Spirit in man.
Fire gives light and heat. Without the sun the world would be a frozen waste lying in endless night and without our man-made fires we should be at the mercy of darkness and winter’s cold. Fire not only is the source of what is warm and what illuminates, but it has also the mysterious quality of multiplying itself: no matter how many fires we light from the source of flame that source is in no way lessened. It is easy to see why fire was chosen to symbolise the Holy Spirit: the Spirit gives light in the form of truth, but the light it gives is not the cold glare of some abstract proposition but a truth that is warm and related to living experience. It is the nature of what is hot to communicate its heat to whatever comes close to it and the truth given by the Holy Spirit leads on to that warm love from whence it came. Through it we warm others and are warmed by them; yet, like fire, what we give we do not lose; what we receive we do not take away.
Confirmation is especially the Sacrament of that love ‘which is stronger than death’. This love, coming from its divine source, cannot be destroyed by death, for it reaches out beyond time. Our own physical death cannot end it, nor can the death of others. We grieve for the death of others and feel separated from them, but we have within us a hidden flame which can lighten the darkness of the grave and warm the coldness of the tomb, while we, ourselves, lighted and warmed by those now incandescent with God’s love, join our flame with theirs to illuminate the night. We have no need to repeat our Confirmation, for it ignites a living flame, forever burning and warming, always a source of light as it glows through the darkness that separates time from eternity.
Wind is another symbol for the coming of the Holy Spirit. Both the Greek and Latin languages often use the same word to mean ‘wind’ and ‘spirit’ and, indeed, one is a very apt symbol for the other. We do not see or hear the wind, we know it by its effects alone. We imagine that we can hear it, but in fact we do not hear it, for it makes no sound in itself; what we hear is the sound of that which it meets in its passage. The wind makes all things vocal; each, however, speaks with a different voice: the sound of the wind in one kind of tree differs markedly from that made in another, the sigh of the wind in the grass differs much from the roar of the gale round a building. The wind speaks through a thousand tongues making all of them audible, but [of] itself it is silent.
Again, the wind is invisible and we can see it by its effects alone. We can watch water move with its gusts, see the very pattern of its blowing in the long grass of the field, but we cannot see it. ‘The wind bloweth where it listeth, no man knows whence it cometh nor whither it goeth, so are they that are born of the Spirit’: these words of Our Lord express the working of the Holy Spirit in us. Coming from the spacious skies of eternity to us, we neither see nor hear it in itself, but it surrounds us invisibly; we breathe it, it blows away what is stale, sterile and stagnant and makes all fresh and new, it gives movement and sound to what was still and silent, it makes itself heard differently in each and makes each to speak in a unique tongue, it brings to us the very essence of God just as scent is borne invisibly on the breeze.
This wind of the Spirit that blows through and about the reborn is that which gives life. ‘My words are spirit and life’, Our Lord assured us, and it was the prophet Ezekiel who saw in his vision the Spirit coming from the four winds and making the dead live again.
Christ further told us, ‘it is the Spirit that gives life, the flesh profits nothing’: the Holy Spirit we receive in Confirmation bestows that life which overcomes unprofitable death. The flesh as we know it will go, the Spirit is even now at work re-creating and re-inspiring that flesh so that it will be transformed into the ‘spiritual body’ which will endure in eternity. ‘Can these dry bones live?’ we ask with the prophet: not only will they live, but they are living now. (—universalis.com)
We long to live.
It need not be forever.
Now is a good timeless duration, an atemporal realization of presence.
Let’s live now!