‘Be sealed’: January sees 758 confirmed in faith

January 23, 2024

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. 7 Feast of the Epiphany of the Lord. Cardinal DiNardo, with Auxiliary Bishop Italo Dell’Oro, CRS, confirmed 758 Catholics across six Masses around the Archdiocese in January. (Photo by James Ramos/Herald)

HOUSTON — Augustine... Joan of Arc... Judas Tadeo... Mateo...

One by one, bearing the name of a confirmation saint, more than 750 adults stepped forward in faith and presented themselves to God as they reverently bowed slightly before Daniel Cardinal DiNardo and Auxiliary Bishop Italo Dell’Oro, CRS, and received the blessing of the Holy Spirit and the holy chrism in the Sacrament of Confirmation.

Just a step behind them in presence and prayer, their sponsor witnessed the moment as they placed their hand on the shoulder of the candidate they had walked with on their faith journey. Then, as they walked past the filled pews, the head-turning scent of chrism slowly filled the air.

In total, 758 Catholics from at least 72 parishes across the Archdiocese received the Sacrament of Confirmation at six separate Masses celebrated by Cardinal DiNardo and Bishop Dell’Oro.

PHOTOS: Adult confirmations in pictures

They celebrated a bilingual Mass on Jan. 7 at four parishes, including St. Ignatius of Loyola in Spring, Christ the Redeemer in Houston, St. Angela Merici in Missouri City and the Co-Cathedral of the Sacred Heart in downtown Houston. They also celebrated two more Masses at the Catholic Charismatic Center on Jan. 21, which brought the final total of adults confirmed to 758, a count that was 201 more than last year in 2023, which saw 557 confirmed.

Standing at the front of the altar, Cardinal DiNardo implored the newly confirmed to remain strong in their faith and encouraged the sponsors to remain close in faith to their confirmation candidate. That day signaled the culmination of months of catechesis and effort at their parishes and lives.

'Send Your Holy Spirit'

A solemn moment in the Liturgy fills the entire sanctuary with silence before Cardinal DiNardo and Bishop Dell’Oro recited 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.

“All-powerful God, Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, by water and the Holy Spirit, you freed your sons and daughters from sin and gave them new life,” both Cardinal DiNardo and Bishop Dell’Oro said in prayer. “Send your Holy Spirit upon them to be their helper and guide. Give them the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of right judgment and courage, the spirit of knowledge and reverence. Fill them with the spirit of wonder and awe in your presence.”

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.”

After anointing the forehead of each candidate with chrism, a fragrant oil mixture consecrated every year during Holy Week at the annual Chrism Mass, Cardinal DiNardo greeted each sponsor, thanking them for their guidance and presence.

Likewise, Bishop Dell’Oro beamed as he welcomed the hundreds of candidates, also anointing them with chrism, each representing a unique story of the Catholic faith and a testament of their community.

Following the customary greeting of “Peace be with you” and a momentary pause, they each responded with “And with your spirit.”

During a general audience in 2014, Pope Francis meditated on the Sacrament of Confirmation and said: “When we welcome the Holy Spirit into our hearts and allow Him to act, Christ makes Himself present in us and takes shape in our lives; through us, it will be He — Christ Himself — Who prays, forgives, gives hope and consolation, serves the brethren, draws close to the needy and to the least, creates community and sows peace. Think how important this is: By means of the Holy Spirit, Christ Himself comes to do all this among us and for us.”