Q: For Confirmation, who picked what the gifts of the Holy Spirit were and why did they choose those ones?
A: That is a very good question, as we wish to find the source of much of what we receive or do. To put it bluntly, God himself chose the gifts of his Holy Spirit we receive in the Sacrament of Confirmation. We receive the seven gifts of the Holy Spirit, as they sustain your moral life and mine as Christians. These permanent dispositions enable us to be receptive or docile in following the invitations or promptings of the Holy Spirit.
The seven gifts of the Holy Spirit are: Wisdom, Understanding, Counsel, Fortitude, Knowledge, Piety and Fear of the Lord. These seven gifts belong in their fullness in Jesus Christ. These gifts prepare us to receive God’s infinite gifts.
Q: What will happen to all our wonderful churches if no one joins the priesthood?
A: This is a very insightful question for we do hear from time to time about the declining numbers in Church vocations, especially in certain areas of the world. We recognize in the past decades the decline in ordinations to the priesthood in our country. At the same time, we recognize how the very existence of our Catholic Church depends on the presence of our priests. In our own diocese there is a pastoral plan in which a number of parishes share pastors or happen to be mission vocations, whereas decades ago each one of those parishes had its own pastor and one or two associate pastors. While the Lord gives us what we need, it seems to me that we must be vigilant and persistent in promoting Church vocations, especially, as you mention in your question, the priestly vocation.
That being said, trust that we will always have men joining the priesthood, for Our Lord has established his Church to endure forever even in the midst of trying times. You see, the very existence of the Church depends on the existence of the Holy Eucharist and the existence of the Holy Eucharist depends on the priest who confects the Eucharist at the altar.
And so, please pray with me that more men will exercise the courage and perseverance to consider a priestly vocation. We are presently blessed, in the Diocese of Steubenville, with nine seminarians preparing for the priesthood and, of course, blessed with so many priests in our diocese, diocesan and religious alike, who have offered their lives to share Jesus with each and every one of us. God bless our priests!
Q: Why do we dip our hands in holy water before we enter and leave the church?
A: There are three reasons, in particular, why we dip our hands in the holy water font and then make the sign of the cross with the holy water that is on our fingers. While water has Old Testament roots, as Christians we sign ourselves first as a reminder of our own baptism.
Another reason why we sign ourselves with the holy water is repentance of sin. In other words, asking God for forgiveness as we prepare to enter into our sacred celebration or as we leave the sacred space of the church and go out into the world.
A third reason why we sign ourselves is for protection from evil. We ask God to keep us safe, especially, if bad things may come upon us.
When we sign, we trace the sign of the cross with holy water, we identify ourselves as Christians who have great faith that Jesus is with us and will assist us to be more like him. How fortunate we are to celebrate our relationship with God who loves us so dearly.
May Almighty God bless you and your family as we venture these early days of 2016.
To “Ask the Bishop,” direct questions to, Diocese of Steubenville Office of Christian Formation and Schools – P.O. Box 969, Steubenville, OH 43952; (740) 282-3631.