At the administration of Confirmation at the Basilica of St. Eugene, Rome (June 11, 2000)
My dear brothers and sisters, and dear young people who are about to receive the sacrament of Confirmation.
“When the Counselor comes, whom I shall send to you from the Father, even the Spirit of truth, who proceeds from the Father, he will bear witness to me; and you also are witnesses, because you have been with me from the beginning.” These words addressed by Jesus to the Apostles during the Last Supper could be perfectly applied to each of those about to be confirmed in this celebration. Each of you, my dear young people, will receive, from the Father and the Son, the Spirit of Truth, “of comforters the best, the soul’s most welcome guest,” as this solemnity’s liturgy describes him. The Holy Spirit will enable you to give witness to the truth and to defend the Christian faith and spread it around you. From now on, you will be stronger and will acquire the Christian maturity that will give you the energy needed for the fight against sin and the courage necessary to be, without complexes, witnesses of Christ in the families that you are in touch with, among your friends, in your classrooms or places of work. You will become “good soldiers of Christ Jesus,” as the tradition of the Church assures us and as Blessed Josemaria liked to repeat.
Let us turn our thoughts to the events at Pentecost. While the Apostles were gathered in the Cenacle, “suddenly a sound came from heaven like the rush of a mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting. And there appeared to them tongues as of fire, distributed and resting on each one of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance.” Today as well, two thousand years later, the Spirit will descend on each of you and fill you with the fire of his divine love, so that you can announce to the world, as the apostles did, the marvelous works of God.
My dear young people, during the past years you have been preparing to receive this great sacrament, with the help of your families, and the catechists and priests of this parish, who have been solicitously accompanying you on your path. You have grasped more deeply the fundamentals of our faith. You have learned to participate more conscientiously in the liturgical celebrations of the Church, to express your faith in deeds and lead a Christian life consistent with the Gospel. I want to propose for your reflection a few words of Blessed Josemaria, which can provide a reliable point of reference for your whole life:
“God is my Father! If you meditate on it, you will never let go of this consoling thought.
“Jesus is my dear Friend (another thrilling discovery) who loves me with all the divine madness of his Heart.
“The Holy Spirit is my Consoler, who guides my every step along the road.
“Consider this often: you are God’s—and God is yours.”
The sacrament of Confirmation will perfect in you the work begun in Baptism: you will receive “the full outpouring of the Holy Spirit as once granted to the apostles on the day of Pentecost.” In a few moments, when I place my hands on your head, I will ask Almighty God, Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, to grant to each of you the Holy Spirit: the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of right judgment and courage, the spirit of knowledge and reverence, the spirit of holy fear of God.
The Holy Spirit, who comes to the soul in an invisible but real way, infuses into it God’s charity. He is the one who makes of us a single body, in the unity of the Christian vocation and in the multiplicity of our personal situations. He is the one who sanctifies and unites the Church.
The Holy Spirit will perfect in you your resemblance to Christ and unite you more strongly, as living members, to his Mystical Body, the Church. Having been justified in Baptism, you will now receive “the power of the Holy Spirit” and be marked with the sign of the cross on your forehead. You will thus bring to the world the good witness of Christ crucified and resurrected. As St. Paul reminds us in his letter to the Galatians, you will be able to walk in conformity with the Spirit and you will be strengthened for the battle against the deeds of the flesh. These deeds, as St. Paul tells us, are well known: fornication, impurity, licentiousness, etc. In contrast, the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Your life, enriched by these fruits of the Spirit, will give forth, as St. Paul says, the fragrance of Christ, for the spiritual growth of the whole Church.
We are in the year of the great Jubilee, in which we celebrate the two thousandth anniversary of the mystery of the Incarnation. As the Pope reminds us in his letter to Young People for the Fifteenth World Youth Day, the Jubilee is a marvelous occasion for a great spiritual renewal and for an extraordinary celebration of God’s love for humanity.
The Pope writes: God “calls us to be his children, living members of Christ’s Mystical Body, luminous temples of the Spirit of Love. He calls us to be his. He wants us all to be holy. Dear young people, may you truly aspire to be holy, as He is holy... . Don’t be afraid to be the saints of the new millennium!”
May Pope John Paul II’s ardent words find a generous acceptance today in each of your hearts. Strengthened by the Holy Spirit, have the courage to always say Yes to the demands of Christ’s love, conscious of the marvelous responsibility that God has entrusted to you. Strive to transmit to your friends a credible witness of your faith, by your life of generous and loyal service to all of your brothers and sisters, and, in a special way, to those who are in difficult circumstances or who are suffering physically or spiritually. God’s children, sustained by the strength of the Spirit, should not be afraid to say no to anything that would separate us from God’s friendship, even though others may do those things. I assure you, although it might appear otherwise, that a life lived apart from God is a very sad life. All of us present here will pray with all our heart that the Paraclete will truly make of you the apostles of the new millennium, so that all mankind may know the message of love and truth of our Lord Jesus Christ.
You will fulfill this desire if you follow the advice of Blessed Josemaria: “Love the Third Person of the most Blessed Trinity. Listen in the intimacy of your being to the divine motions of encouragement or reproach you receive from him. Walk through the earth in the light that is poured out in your soul. And the God of hope will fill us with all peace, so that this hope may grow in us each day, by the power of the Holy Spirit (cf. Rom 15:13).”
Let us turn our eyes to Mary, Mother of the Redeemer and Mother of each of us. We entrust our resolutions today to her, Spouse of God the Holy Spirit, so that through her maternal solicitude they will become a joyful reality in our life. Amen.