Gifts of Holy Spirit in uncomfirmed people

I was reading about the sacrament of Confirmation, and it iccured to me that one could find examples of people who have not been confirmed demonstrating the gifts and fruits of the Holy Spirit. It is not clear to me that after Confirmation I had a greater degree of wisdome, understanding, counsel, fortitude, knowledge, piety of fear of the Lord than before. Granted, I was pretty thickheaded and thick-hearted.

Still, how do we account for people who have not been confirmed sometimes acting in ways that seem to demonstrate these gifts, or Confirmed people who show no sign of them?

Are you continuing to grow in Faith? Are you open to the Holy Spirit’s action in your life? The image that is coming to my mind at the moment is that of a flower being watered. It is watered at the roots, and opens to the sun.
The scripture passage that is coming to mind is that in which Jesus talks about how the farmer plants seeds that fall on fertile ground as well as rocky ground. Some take root early to grow and some are late bloomers. It does not mean that the Sacrament is any less efficacious. For whatever reason, one person is more receptive than another to receiving what God has to offer, and the gifts available through the Sacraments of Baptism and Confirmation.

A reminder of something that has been said many times in these forums: The sacraments are for us, to convey graces to us. However, God is not limited by the sacraments. For two examples, read the scriptural accounts of the “good thief” and Cornelius’ household.

Saints who died as children.

The Eastern churches, Orthodox and Catholic, confirm infants and children when they are baptized. The Orthodox and most Eastern Catholics also give infants and children communion. As mentioned above, God is not limited by the sacraments.

Thank you for the replies. Perhaps a better way to put my question is, do we have any evidence that people who have received Confirmation generally demonstrate the gifts of the Holy Spirit to a greater degree than those who do not? If so, what evidence might that be? If not, how do we persuade others that this Sacrament is truly sacramental and not merely symbolic?

Thank you.

The assertion, true in itself, that God is not limited by the Sacraments, has been much abused. We cannot use that statement to contradict Catholic teaching on salvation or grace.

We know from Catholic teaching that baptism can be given in the formal Sacrament, and in non-formal baptisms of desire or blood. We also know that forgiveness from grave sin can be obtained by perfect contrition, with at least implicit desire for Confession. A marriage of non-Christians can be merely natural, but it is not the Sacrament.

And there is no support in Catholic teaching for other Sacraments being granted apart from the conditions needed for a valid Sacrament: marriage, confirmation, holy orders, anointing of the sick, consecration of the Eucharist. So we cannot propose that some persons receive Confirmation without a priest or bishop and the other elements for a valid sacrament. Nor can we propose that God grants Sacraments apart from the conditions given in Church teaching.

The Holy Spirit dwells in all baptized persons, including baptisms of water, blood, desire, as long as they avoid actual mortal sin, and again as soon as they are forgiven for actual mortal sin. The gifts given at Confirmation are a strengthening of the gifts of the Spirit given at Baptism. Due to sin, some persons who have received Confirmation might seem less holy than others who have not been Confirmed. But only God can judge the soul.

With respect to some confirmed persons showing no signs of the gifts of the Holy Spirit…

In his discussion on Baptism in his part 3, question 69, articles 9 and 10,Summa Theologica, St Thomas Aquinas said that the effects of that sacrament are hindered by insincerity and they take effect when the insincerity ceases. Perhaps this is also the case for Confirmation.

Back in my Evangelical days, when we practiced adult baptism of believers after conversion, it would be said that the act of baptizing someone claimed to be “saved,” but in fact wasn’t, accomplished nothing more than getting a sinner wet.

It seems to me that there is a parallel here in the sacrament of Confirmation. Yes, the person has baptized, with everything that entails, but along the line there has been no conversion. They take the training, and walk the ceremonies, but the real “they” is a million miles away and can’t wait for the whole thing to be over so they can get on with their “real lives.”

I have read the story of such a confirmation, written decades ago, by the sponsor. The confirmand was one Adolf Hitler.

Can one be a confirmed Catholic without demonstrating the gifts of the Holy Spirit? Absolutely. It happens every day.

Can an unconfirmed (in Catholic eyes) Christian demonstrate the gifts of the Holy Spirit? Absolutely. It happens every day.

“Man looketh on the outward appearance, but the Lord looketh on the heart.” – 1 Samuel 16:7

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