A Pastoral Message to the Confirmandi of St Edward’s Parish, Kettering

OIl of Chrism

Tuesday, 19th July, 2022

My dear friends in Christ, today you are receiving the Sacrament of Confirmation on the hottest day recorded in the history of our country! This is one of the signs of our times, the reality of climate change. I know that young people are so concerned about his and many other issues in our world today. As a disciple of Jesus, filled with the gifts of the Holy Spirit, you will be equipped to bear witness to the Gospel in what you say and do, especially in the ways you seek to build a just and peaceful world, where everyone can live in harmony with each other and with their need for food and stability in place. Of course, as well as the challenging signs of the times, there are also hopeful signs. We have a relationship with the Lord which enables us to be filled with confident trust in Him.

Before we ask the Holy Spirit to come down upon you, you will renew your baptismal promises. Many of us cannot remember when we were baptised. We were very little people. And yet this was a most important moment in our lives. It was the day our pilgrim journey of faith begins. Baptism means in immersion. We are being immersed in the sacramental sign of water, a sign that we are truly being immersed into the reality of Jesus’ life, dying and rising. What does this mean? When Jesus was nailed to the cross, he nailed our sins to the wood. He destroyed the power of sin and death in his own dying. We no longer have to fear what happens to us at the end of our lives! When He rose again on Easter Sunday morning, He threw open the gates of heaven. This is our home; heaven is our destiny.

So, what more do we need than that? You and I both know that it is difficult to be a disciple of Jesus in our world today. When you are at home or at school, it is easy for us to be caught up in relationships and material things, wanting to be liked and accepted by others. It is difficult for us to say the right things, to stand against the crowd, to show the world that we truly believe what we hear in the Gospel. This is why we need the Holy Spirit and the gifts of the Spirit to help us to become more perfect disciples. We cannot live a holy life by our own effort. And in God’s love and compassion for us, He has shared with us his own holiness. The Holy Spirit will help us to make the right decisions in our lives, whether we are destined to be married, to remain single, to be consecrated. The Spirit will help us to choose our stage of life. Whether we are called to be a teacher, a nurse, a social worker, or to work in retailing, the Spirit will help us with the challenges we face. If you think about what I have just said here, the Holy Spirit is not just for the very warm evening of your Confirmation. The Holy Spirit is a friend for life!

Finally, then, I want you to encourage you to be faithful to the gifts that you will receive today. We cannot live a life of discipleship on our own. This is why Jesus calls us to be part of a community, a family which is there to help us to achieve our destiny in Christ. You will have chosen a saint as a role model. All of us are called to live a life of holiness. All of us struggle to do this and we cannot achieve this by our own effort. Every saint gave the Holy Spirit free reign to work in their own life, and to make them the person they were created to be. Be assured that we are all here to support and encourage you to love and to pray for you, so that you can become the saint that God intends you to be.

 Yours devotedly in Christ,
Rt. Revd Dr David J Oakley,
Bishop of Northampton

Crest of Bishop David, Northampton RC Diocese