COLUMBIA—Too often, people refer to receiving the sacrament of Confirmation as “getting confirmed.”
This allusion to the sacrament as a material thing ignores the importance of its role as initiation into a Catholic adult life of service and sacrifice.
At a recent event for directors of religious education held at St. Peter Church in Columbia, guest speaker John Rabbitt of Bluffton urged those who lead religious education at the parish level to help young people and adults approach confirmation with a sense of gratitude and desire to serve others.
Rabbitt, a member of St. Gregory the Great Church in Bluffton, has been involved in religious education for many years in his home state of New York and South Carolina. He is the author of “More Like Christ” (www.outskirspress.com/johnrabbitt), a book focused on helping people learn how to live a life of active service even in a busy, often superficial world where the ringing of a smart phone draws more attention than Scripture.
“We proclaim the Gospel by the way we live our lives,” Rabbitt said. “It is not what we say that matters but what we do … we cannot ignore our neighbors, but must reach out and do for others.”
He cited James 2:14: “What good is it, my brothers, if someone says he has faith but not works?” People should examine their lives and consider whether they have elevated material things, financial or personal success to the point where they become idols, at the expense of true worship of God.
“We should ask is there a higher calling, a way of living that challenges, fulfills, and rewards us?” Rabbitt said. “Compassion and generosity are the measure of success in God’s eyes … and in sacrificing self, we actually save and preserve ourselves.”
The sacramental grace offered through confirmation provides a person with the strength and spirit to imitate Christ in daily life, he said.
“Jesus Christ temporarily gives up his place in heaven and lowers himself to our world,” he said. “This demonstrates how a humble, holy life of service to others should be lived. He gave up his life so that others could enter Heaven.”
Our daily lives revolve around the choices we make and the motivation for those choices, the speaker said.
People of faith gain true happiness and fulfillment when they make an active choice to imitate Christ, motivated by the desire to grow closer to God and the eternal life promised by Christ’s resurrection.
Rabbitt said the secular world makes it too easy to become a passive follower of the Gospel.
“Some elements of our minds and hearts must change if we want a better spiritual future,” he said.
Through regular prayer, Mass attendance and Scripture reading, people can learn more about Christ’s message and how to carry it out in daily life.
Often, Rabbitt said, young people are especially excited about opportunities to serve others, and are open to exploring the richness of Christian service.
“God gives us opportunities to be loving, forgiving, generous and compassionate, and opportunities to do the right thing,” Rabbitt said. “Jesus is challenging us to give pieces of our lives to others while we are living.”