550-plus confirmed on the Feast of the Epiphany of the Lord

January 24, 2023

Daniel Cardinal DiNardo anoints the head of a confirmation candidate during a celebration of the Sacrament of Confirmation at a Mass at the Co-Cathedral of the Sacred Heart on the Jan. 8 Feast of the Epiphany of the Lord. Cardinal DiNardo, with Auxiliary Bishop Italo Dell’Oro, CRS, confirmed 557 Catholics on Jan. 9 at four Masses around the Archdiocese. (Photo by James Ramos/Herald)

HOUSTON — In an offering of themselves to God and invoking the blessing of the Holy Spirit, 557 Catholics from parishes across the Archdiocese received the Sacrament of Confirmation at four separate Masses celebrated by Daniel Cardinal DiNardo and Auxiliary Bishop Italo Dell’Oro, CRS, on Jan. 8.

“Be sealed with the gift of the Holy Spirit,” Cardinal DiNardo said, leaning forward to greet a woman in a flowing white dress while anointing her with chrism on her forehead.

A few moments later, he repeated but in Spanish: “Recibe por esta señal el Don del Espíritu Santo,” again lifting his thumb to anoint a young man in a black suit. Since it was the Feast of the Epiphany of the Lord, the parish nativity scene now sparkled with the presence of the Three Wise Men in the sanctuary of Co-Cathedral of the Sacred Heart.

The bilingual Masses were held at the Co-Cathedral of the Sacred Heart in Houston, St. Ignatius of Loyola Catholic Church in Spring, St. Angela Merici in Missouri City and St. Martha Catholic Church in Kingwood.

These four Masses, where Cardinal DiNardo and Bishop Dell’Oro anointed the foreheads of the candidates with holy chrism in an intimate one-on-one moment with a Catholic and his or her bishop, signaled the culmination of months of catechesis and effort, alongside their sponsors who helped guide them in the process, at their parishes and lives.

Each of the candidates confirmed had a sponsor standing behind them, with their right hand on the candidate’s shoulder, in support of presence and prayer.

At the Mass, the bishop recites a prayer that invokes God the Father for an “outpouring of the Holy Spirit,” according to the U.S. Catholic Catechism for Adults by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.

The bishop extends his two hands over all those to be confirmed, a sign of continuity of the New Testament custom of laying hands on those who would receive the gift of the Spirit.

The seven gifts traditionally associated with the Spirit are inspired by Isaiah 11:1-3, and include: wisdom, understanding, knowledge, counsel, fortitude, piety or reverence and fear of the Lord, also known as wonder and awe.

The Mass also included a renewal of baptismal promises, showing the connection between Confirmation and Baptism. Confirmation, like Baptism, is only given once since it also “imprints on the soul an indelible spiritual mark.”

In a May 2018 general audience, Pope Francis continued his series of catechetical messages on the Sacrament of Confirmation.

“Just as Jesus received the outpouring of the Spirit at His Baptism in order to carry out His messianic mission, the Church prays that we too may receive the gifts and fruits of the Spirit that enable us to help the Body of Christ grow in unity and missionary zeal,” he said. “The gift of the Spirit is communicated through the laying on of hands and anointing with sacred chrism.”

He prayed for those who received the Sacrament of Confirmation and said that “sealed with the Holy Spirit, we are configured more closely to Christ and strengthened to bear witness to Him in our world. May each of us grow in gratitude for the gift received at our Confirmation and open our hearts ever more fully to the creativity of the Spirit who makes all things new.”