Joyful Gifts — The Reception of Lane Severson into Full Communion

6th Sunday of Easter—Year A

Today we have special cause for joy. This Sunday, Lane Severson formally joins the Catholic Church and will receive the Sacraments of Confirmation and First Holy Communion. His story bears a likeness to today’s first reading from the Book of Acts, in which the people of Samaria heard the preaching of the Gospel:

“Philip went down to the city of Samaria and proclaimed the Christ to them. … Once they began to believe Philip as he preached the good news about the kingdom of God and the name of Jesus Christ, men and women alike were baptized.”

Lane became a Christian thirteen years ago when, professing faith in our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, he was baptized in a Washington State pond. This was God’s greatest gift to him since the day of his birth. Today, he comes to Jesus Christ’s Church because, as it was for the people of Samaria, God has additional great gifts he delights to give him and calls him to receive.

“[W]hen the apostles in Jerusalem heard that Samaria had accepted the word of God, they sent them Peter and John, who went down and prayed for them, that they might receive the Holy Spirit, for it had not yet fallen upon any of them; they had only been baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. Then they laid hands on them and they received the Holy Spirit.”

Those Samaritans had each been baptized, but there was still more for them to receive, still more for each to experience. God does not merely seek to cleanse us of former sins and fill us with new grace — as wonderful as that is — the Most Holy Trinity desires personal and profound relationship with each of us, desires that we would become intimately united to each Divine Person. God calls us to be more deeply united to the Spirit through Confirmation, to be more deeply united to the Son through the Eucharist, and to be led to the Father and the eternal life of Heaven beginning in his Church here on earth.

The Sacrament of Confirmation is a special outpouring of the Holy Spirit as once granted to the apostles on the day of Pentecost. It increases the gifts and fruits of the Holy Spirit within us. It roots us more deeply as prayerful children of God, moving us to cry out, “Abba! Father!” And it provides the Spirit’s strength to spread and defend the faith by word and deed as true witnesses of Christ; to confess the name of Christ boldly, unashamed of the Cross; to “always be ready,” as St. Peter says in our second reading, “to give an explanation to anyone who asks you for a reason for your hope.

The Holy Eucharist is also an incredible gift of God. This sacrament is a partaking in the same holy meal and offering Jesus gave his apostles at the Last Supper. It increases and deepens our union with Christ. As Jesus says, “Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me and I in him. Just as the living Father sent me and I have life because of the Father, so also the one who feeds on me will have life because of me.” The Holy Eucharist separates us from sin, wiping away venial sins when we receive the Lord worthily and strengthening us against future temptation. And it unites us as one with each other in the Mystical Body of Christ, his Church. As St. Paul writes, “The cup of blessing which we bless, is it not a participation in the blood of Christ? The bread which we break, is it not a participation in the body of Christ? Because there is one bread, we who are many are one body, for we all partake of the one bread.

We are all excited for Lane joining the Catholic Church and receiving her great God-given gifts this day. And we Catholics who have already received these precious sacraments will profit to remember their powerful effects which, in the state of grace, endure within each of us. In Samaria, at the preaching of the Gospel and the mighty signs of God, “There was great joy in that city.” We, like they, have cause for joy today. So in the words of today’s psalm:

“Shout joyfully to God, all the earth,
sing praise to the glory of his name;
proclaim his glorious praise.
Say to God, ‘How tremendous are your deeds!’”


New Catholic Lane Severson & Carol Kaszubowski, his Confirmation Sponsor, on May 17, 2020.

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