Celebration of Adult Confirmation
On December 9th, I was honored to confer the Sacrament of Confirmation at St. Mary’s Cathedral to the confirmandi prepared through the Adult Confirmation program of our Diocesan Secretariat for the New Evangelization. The celebration of Confirmation recalls the faith we all received in Baptism when those to be confirmed renew their Baptismal promises. The gifts of the Holy Spirit bestowed in this sacrament strengthen our faith, renew our hope, give us courage, wisdom, and understanding; all necessary gifts to carry on our faith.
At our Baptism, for many of us, our parents and godparents made promises and a profession of faith on our behalf. In the Sacrament of Confirmation, we make these now for ourselves. However, it is essential not to merely speak these words and leave the church without incorporating them into our daily lives. Once confirmed in the faith—our words, behavior, and actions should demonstrate what we have professed to believe.
How do the gifts from the Holy Spirit received in confirmation impact your life? How do you use these newfound strengths to become better followers of Christ? Furthermore, these gifts are not merely for us to keep for ourselves; the Good News is to be shared. As we read in the Scriptures,
“The Spirit of the Lord is upon me,
because he has anointed me
to bring good news to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives
and recovery of sight to the blind,
to let the oppressed go free” (Luke 4:18).
Likewise, we too have the spirit of the Lord upon us; we are anointed and called to use these gifts in service of God’s people, parents, family, and community. We are all to be messengers of joy, hope, and salvation to others in the world.
Marian Medal Ceremony
I wanted to share a few words from my reflection offered during the Marian Medal celebration on December 5th. We chose to use the reading from Evening Prayer for the second Sunday of Advent, which, through a beautiful coincidence, aligned perfectly with acknowledging these worthy recipients. St. Paul’s letter to the Philippians encourages us to rejoice always. Indeed, we had occasion for much joy at recognizing the service, generosity, and goodness of those present to receive the Marian Medal. Paul continues by saying, “Your kindness should be known to all” (Phil 4:5). How appropriate for the cause of our coming together that day was, indeed, to make known the kindness of these generous people.
Another version of St Paul’s words read, “Let everyone see that you are unselfish and considerate in all you do” (Phil 4:5 TLB). I reminded the recipients that we were there to celebrate their response to the Lord’s invitation to share their gifts and talents at the service of the Church, especially their parish, and how unselfishly they have served others. When we remove God from our society, we become more self-centered, but they had shown a different way. Jesus said, “give, and it will be given to you” (Luke 6:38). They encouraged others by their example of faith and goodness. They exemplify love for a neighbor when they open their heart in acts of charity and goodness, with a genuine desire to do good for others. Their service helps provide better lives for others and make our world better. Their work sheds light on the darkness that surrounds us, especially in these difficult times as we have experienced.
St Paul spoke beautifully about the solidarity of generosity in a faith community. ” If one member suffers, all suffer together; if one member is honored, all rejoice together” (1 Cor. 12:26). We do rejoice with all of the Marian Medal recipients, grateful that we could come together to do so with their family and friends. May the example of these exemplary women and men be contagious, sending good deeds around our whole diocese.
“O Antiphons” of Advent
One of my favorite Advent traditions, in essence, a countdown to Christmas is the—”O Antiphons” of Advent— which begin on December 17 and conclude on Christmas Eve. If you would like to pray along with the Church, I have enclosed the prayers below. The prayers will also be posted each day on the Diocese of Fall River Facebook page.
The “O Antiphon” Prayers
O Wisdom, O holy Word of God, you govern all creation with your strong yet tender care. Come and show your people the way to salvation.
O sacred Lord of ancient Israel, who showed yourself to Moses in the burning bush, who gave him the holy law on Sinai Mountain: come, stretch out your mighty hand to set us free.
O Flower of Jesse’s stem, you have been raised up as a sign for all peoples; kings stand silent in your presence; the nations bow down in worship before you. Come, let nothing keep you from coming to our aid.
O Key of David, O royal Power of Israel controlling at your will the gate of Heaven: Come, break down the prison walls of death for those who dwell in darkness and the shadow of death; and lead your captive people into freedom.
O Radiant Dawn, splendor of eternal light, sun of justice: come, shine on those who dwell in darkness and the shadow of death.
O King of all the nations, the only joy of every human heart; O Keystone of the mighty arch of man, come and save the creature you fashioned from the dust.
O Emmanuel, king and lawgiver, desire of the nations, Savior of all people, come and set us free, Lord our God.
—From Catholic Household Blessings & Prayers
An interesting curiosity regarding the “O Antiphons.” If we take the first letter of the invocations in Latin—Sapientia, (Wisdom), Adonai, (Lord of Might), Radix (Root/Rod of Jesse), Clavis, (Key of David) Oriens, (Dawn/Dayspring), Rex Gentium (King of the Nations), Emmanuel, (God with Us) and reverse the order they will form the Latin phase—ERO CRAS. A phrase which means “Tomorrow, I will be,” or “Tomorrow, I will come.” And indeed, on the day after we conclude the “O Antiphons,” we celebrate the coming of our Lord and Savior.
Yours in Christ,
Bishop da Cunha