So much happens day to day in the Parish which goes unnoticed and not mentioned. Countless numbers of people offer their services for us to proclaim the life and energy of the Gospel here in Ipswich. On Thursday night, I stood alongside the Bishop for the celebration of Confirmation for our young people. Over 10 received anointing and over 100 times I heard the Bishop say to each person, “Be sealed with the gift of the Holy Spirit”. As each person approached the Bishop I could see their apprehension and anxiety, their nervousness and excitement – I prayed for them and by the end of the night those words “Be sealed with the gift of Holy Spirit” were playing over in mind. What will those words mean for that young person as they grow up? I hope that they will realise the great gift of life they possess, the enormous potential for growth that lies before them, and the gift it is to be a Catholic today!

‘Be sealed with the gift of the Holy Spirit’ in your whole life. The Holy Spirit is with us in all that we say and do, and in every aspect of our lives. The ceremony left me with a good feeling and there was a beautiful atmosphere in the Church for the night. I know that lots go on behind the celebration, so special thanks to Bernadette, Maree and the Team of Helpers, and to the Parents who helped prepare the children – thank-you! So I moved into Friday and all that I was doing and you guessed correctly – those words “be sealed with the gift of the holy Spirit’ were still active in my mind. So what do they mean for us here in our Parish—.what do those words mean for you as you live your faith today? How am I sealed with the Holy Spirit in my life as a Franciscan Friar?

‘Be sealed with the gift of the Holy Spirit’ – what do those words mean for you as a person of faith? Take some time this week to reflect on how the Holy Spirit enlivens your faith? We need the Holy Spirit to stir us and reawaken us to be people of credibility and integrity; we need the Spirit to motivate us to be people of active living our faith; we need the Spirit to inspire us to reach out to those with needs in and beyond our community; we need the Spirit to empower us as individuals and as a community to get off the couch of complacency and be enthusiastic proclaimers of Jesus message of peace and love. We need to realise that our Community is alive with love and compassion and that the Holy Spirit is with us and seals us each day to live the message of Jesus.

The westerly winds of August will soon go and the gentle breeze of spring will enable new life and fresh colours will emerge. The winds have their effect as they are felt or seen – we receive the gifts of the Holy Spirit: wisdom, right judgement, courage, knowledge, reverence and wonder and awe in God’s presence. They too are only known when we feel their effects. Which gifts do you most notice in your life? Which gifts do you feel need to be strengthened? You might want to consider asking God to strengthen you in these areas.

May you, and our Parish be sealed with the gifts of the Holy Spirit!

Fr. Stephen Bliss (OFM)