Dear Sacred Heart and St. Mary’s on the Lake,
It was a real blessing to be able to celebrate the Confirmation Mass last week. Like any gift we receive, we need to keep on striving to put it into practice. Preparing for that Mass was a great help for me to think about how I am (or am not!) living in the grace of my Confirmation. In the Acts of the Apostles we see that first great infilling of the Spirit at Pentecost, and then we see it repeated time and again as the Apostles run into obstacles and come back to the Lord to be filled with more. For them and for us, we have this reminder to make sure we have this threefold pattern in our lives: to ask, receive, and act, and all with boldness.
We need to ask with boldness. God is not small, so we need to train ourselves to not ask for small things. No, we need to ask with boldness for that which we need. Elisha the prophet, when he was being commissioned to take over for Elijah, asked for a “double-portion” of his Spirit. That is a bold prayer, and it is a prayer that God answered. Jesus reminds us in the Gospel that those who ask receive, those who seek find, and to those who knock, the door is opened. When we come before the Lord with our needs—perhaps confronting obstacles that seem insurmountable—may we always ask boldly!
The second step after having asked boldly is to receive boldly. This means being open to the way that God responds. Too often we approach prayer with a preconceived notion of how God needs to answer, and if the answer doesn’t fit that mold then we tend to dismiss it. Part of receiving boldly, then, is to be open enough to accept something that we might be tempted to dismiss in other situations. Be open to the way God speaks—be it a sense of His presence, an image that comes to mind that brings peace and/or direction, a person who comes into our life at just the right time. St. Paul, before his conversion, was persecuting Christians. When he was blinded after encountering Jesus, he was sent to Damascus. He was met there by a Christian named Ananias. Ananias received a message from the Lord in prayer to meet this great persecutor of the Church. He received it boldly, and because of him we have St. Paul.
The last step is to act boldly after we have asked and received. This might be the hardest step—acting boldly and taking a step of faith. I think of the Apostles, who dropped their nets and followed Jesus, leaving behind everything to follow Him. Boldness! I think of Mary, who said yes to the Angel Gabriel’s message and made haste to go and be with her cousin Elizabeth, who was also with child. Boldness! I think of Mother Teresa, who went into Calcutta. Boldness! I think of the parishioners who built St. Mary’s on the Lake and Sacred Heart for themselves and future generations. Boldness!
May all of us learn to continually ask, receive, and act. And may we do all of them with the great boldness that flows from the confidence we have in Jesus and His promise to send us the Holy Spirit.