On February 11th, 2019, Bishop James S. Wall announced that the Roman Catholic Diocese of Gallup will be restoring the Sacraments of Initiation to their proper order: Baptism, Confirmation, Holy Communion. The Gallup Diocese is only the latest in a slow, but steady, movement.
I am often recruited to speak at Confirmation events around the Midwest and, in the past, I would offer a “test” to check the candidates’ understanding of Confirmation. Unfortunately, nearly every student provided an incorrect definition. What is worse, sometimes priests and catechists could not provide a correct definition either. What is the sacrament of Confirmation?
Like the shepherds, we encounter Christ in a very personal way at every Mass–especially in the Eucharist. Yet it is not enough to simply and passively receive this great gift with joy. Joy naturally is received and shared. The full meaning of Christmas and its encounter with the Christ-child moves us to become evangelists, that such an immense joy might be shared with all.
With the advent of the New Evangelization, there is a renewed interest in introducing others to the life of Christian discipleship. The laity are called to engage in this role. In order to do so fruitfully, they should be reacquainted with the sacraments of initiation.
What does it mean to evangelize and how does the preaching of the gospel or “kerygma” of the Church fit in? Pope St. John Paul II noted that any kerygma focused program would be incomplete if it omitted an invitation to ongoing catechesis and full communion with the Church for non-Catholics, and, on the other hand, a return to full communion with the Church for Catholics who have drifted away.