Sermon Notes – May 15, 2022 – The Sacrament of Confirmation

Sermon Notes

 “The Sacrament of Confirmation”

Father Peter Fitzgibbons

 May 14 – 15, 2022

Gospel:  John 13:31-33, 34-35

This is one of those days when we have First Communion which is wonderful.  All this hard work is coming to fruition.  It is works of love coming to fruition in the Sacraments.  Your parents’ love they took in their wedding vows and baptism like their parents before them who brought their marriage vows to fulfillment and brought them to receive divine life in the Faith and the Sacraments.  So, I want to thank the parents and teachers for their hard work especially during COVID.  I also want to thank the kids.  It was rather difficult.  Things are always changing.  If distance learning is the worst thing that ever happens to you, your life is going to be great.  You have to be flexible in life because everything changes.  This is a wonderful day.  You all look so nice.  Now you can come to church every Sunday like that.  That would be great.  I would love that!

Confirmation is an interesting sacrament.  It is one of the three Sacraments you cannot repeat. You cannot repeat Baptism.  You cannot repeat any of the three stages of Holy Orders.  Confirmation also cannot be repeated.  If Last Rites are given to someone and they recover, they can be given Last Rites again later.  On this day these young people receive the Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity of our Lord, Jesus Christ in Holy Communion.  This is not the first time they will have received Jesus.  If you are thinking, “They are receiving Jesus for the first time.”  No, they aren’t.  That’s blasphemy.  It denies the Sacrament of Baptism and Penance.  When you receive the Sacrament, you receive the whole Body, and not just pieces of Him.  When you receive the Holy Spirit at Confirmation, you receive Him in all the Sacraments.  You receive the whole Body. But each Sacrament is different at each stage of life.  There is the Sacrament of vocations such as marriage and Holy Orders.  There is the Sacrament of Last Rites and of a new birth and baptism.  Confirmation strengthens us so that we can carry our crosses and become like martyrs of the faithful in this world.  This is a great Sacrament to strengthen the soul for the crosses people inflict upon us.  All the names they call us – misogynists, homophobic, and blah, blah, blah.  Really, is that the best you’ve got?   I’ve got a sister who scares rugby players.  I had a First Sergeant.  You are not going to scare me by calling me names.

Today you receive Holy Communion and, like you did before when you received the Sacrament of Penance, you will receive the most precious Body and Blood of our Lord so that you will be strengthened.  The gift of Holy Communion is not like belonging to a particular club where you get prizes.  It is a Sacrament of longing – not belonging.  Saint Pope John Paul II said, “understanding Holy Communion, a living Sacrament, brings you to the Sacrament of Penance.”  Properly prepare for the Sacrament of Holy Communion.  This too drives us on to greater love and to seek a greater union with Almighty God.  This is why the law of the Church changed.  Before, you were only allowed to receive Holy Communion at one Mass per day.  But now the law has changed, and you can receive it at every Mass you attend up to three times per day.  You want faith strengthened so that you don’t grow tired on this journey.  Strength is found in the most Precious Body and Blood of our Lord Jesus Christ. 

In Holy Communion the actual grace sustains our strength as we carry our cross every day as our Savior.  If you sin, that can be fixed through the Sacrament of Penance which takes away and heals the wounds in our soul inflicted by sin.  Christ offers you this grace within your soul.  Now, you have to use the grace.  Grace doesn’t come with its own powers…we have to cooperate.  We have to take the necessary actions.  For example, if you say, “Oh, I have a headache! God, please cure it.”  God says, “Love to.  Get up.  Walk 10 feet to the bathroom. Take a couple of aspirin.  You’ll be fine.”   So, we need to cooperate.  The same is true for God’s graces.  If we cooperate, we can make those graces manifest.  Will we always feel it?  No.  Will we always see results?  No.  But that doesn’t mean it’s not there. 

Next week I’ll be on vacation, but you can go to Mass at Saint Luke’s and receive Holy Communion.  Will it be different?  Probably.  You won’t have all the usual people around you.  Will it be a little less sad?  No.  It will be different.  Different is not always bad.  Different can be good because you grow in love.  Now kids, ask your parents, “Mom and dad, is your love greater today than when you first got married?”  The answer should be yes.  If not, come see me…we need to talk.  But it is different.  The love has deepened, and it has grown by the acts of God’s grace and through the prayers and sufferings of self-denial.  The love of those who are 67 is different than when they were 21.  It is deeper, and they have grown closer together.  It is far better if they have done it right.  The same is true for you with Holy Communion.  Will you always receive spiritual thrills?  No.  Does that mean it doesn’t work?  No.  It always works.  Each day I have to take a bunch of pills because I’m old.  Do I feel each of those pills working?  No.  Do I know they work?  Yes.  How do I know they work?  By using a blood pressure cuff.  If I don’t take the pills…oops!  Bad move.  I know they work even though I don’t feel it.  Just because you don’t feel something, doesn’t mean it’s not working.  Let me ask you, “Do you feel or see your guardian angel?”   I have once.  His name is Bruce.  God really has a sense of humor.  You don’t feel it, but it’s always there.  He/she/it…spirits have no gender.  When you are away at school, do you feel your parents’ love?  You see it.  I saw it in a brown bag lunch and a peanut butter and jelly sandwich.  I like peanut butter and jelly.  I could always tell who made my sandwich by how much jelly was on the sandwich.  Mom always put more than Dad.  I always knew.  So just because you don’t feel it, doesn’t mean it’s not working.  Don’t ever say, “I’m doing something wrong. It’s not working.”  That’s not true…it always works.  Be confident and don’t let anything keep you away from the Sacrament.  Come as often as you can, even during the week for extra credit.  John Paul II said, “Penance prepares you for the Sacrament.  And you will be happy. 

Students, may I ask for a favor?  Today, before you go home, thank your teachers and your parents for bringing you to this day because you don’t drive do you?  Tell me you don’t drive.  We have cops in the congregation…so please tell me you don’t drive.  You can’t really get here on your own.  And no matter how adorable you all think you are, there are times when you are less than adorable and have caused your parents and teachers great anguish.  Thank them for their acts of love and sacrifice that they made to get you here today.  The most important prayer you can ever say is the prayer of thank you.

How will you apply this message to your life? 

You can read all of Father Fitzgibbons’ sermons by going to http://annunciationcatholicalbemarle.com/ and clicking on “Blog” then “Categories” and then “Sermon Notes.”   Sermon notes can also be found on the church Facebook page by searching for “Facebook Our Lady of the Annunciation Albemarle”


Get To Know The Shepherd 

THIS WEEK’S GOSPEL IS JOHN 10:27-30

How do you live the kind of life that overflows with joy and purpose? What will lead you to the only peace that lasts? How can you face extraordinary trials with unconquerable hope?

The deepest questions and greatest desires of your heart all have one answer. Just one.

Allen’s unforgettable story today holds that answer.


60 Second Wisdom – 13 Things Money Can’t Buy

“Is your life focused on the things you can buy with money or the things you can’t buy with money? Here are 13 things that money can’t buy that are worth more than all the things that money can buy.

1. Meaningful work.

2. Character.

3. Wisdom.

4. Self-esteem.

5. Friendship.

6. Inner-peace.

7. Health.

8. Love.

9. Respect.

10. A clear conscience.

11. Loyalty.

12. Happiness.

13. Another chance at a lost opportunity.

Whether you are earning money, spending money, saving money, investing money, or giving generously with money, it helps to remember, that while we need money to survive in this world, the things that make us thrive cannot be bought with money.”


Life is Messy – When the Problems of the World Overwhelm You

“The world is a mess… again. The news each day brings news of war and famine, destruction and dehumanization, people behaving like animals and people being treated like animals. All of this can lead us to experience stress, anxiety, depression, and a general feeling of being overwhelmed.

The problems of the world are a summons to reassess the way we are living our lives and an invitation to participate in the much-needed situations.

Feeling overwhelmed makes us feel helpless, but we are not helpless. None of us. Ever. There is always something we can do to improve our situation and the situation of others. It may seem small, but even small efforts radically alter our psychological, emotional, and spiritual health.

When the problems of the world overwhelm you do something besides worry.”


Life is Messy – The #1 Reason You Are Unhappy

“There are four aspects to the human person: physical, emotional, intellectual, and spiritual.

Physically, when you exercise regularly, sleep regularly, eat the right sorts of foods, and balance your diet, how do you feel? You feel fantastic. You feel more fully alive. You’re healthier, happier, and you have a richer, more abundant experience of life.

Emotionally, when you give focus and priority to your relationships, what happens? You switch the focus off yourself and onto others. As you do, your ability to love increases… and as your ability to love increases, your ability to be loved increases. You become more aware of yourself, develop a more balanced view of life, and experience a deeper sense of fulfillment. You’re healthier and you’re happier.

Intellectually, when you take ten or fifteen minutes a day to read a good book, what happens? Your vision of yourself expands; your vision of the world expands. You become more focused, more alert, and more vibrant. Clarity replaces confusion. You feel more fully alive, and you are happier.

Finally, spiritually, when you take a few moments each day to step into the classroom of silence and reconnect with yourself and with your God, what happens? The gentle voice within grows stronger, and you develop a deeper sense of peace, purpose, and direction. You’re healthier, you’re happier, and you have a richer experience of life.

Physically, emotionally, intellectually, and spiritually, we know the things that infuse our lives with passion and enthusiasm. We know the things that make us happy. We just don’t do them.

It doesn’t make sense, does it?

On the one hand, we all want to be happy. On the other hand, we all know the things that make us happy. But we don’t do those things. Why? Simple. We are too busy. Too busy doing what? Too busy trying to be happy. This is the paradox of happiness that has bewitched our age.

Perhaps it is time to slow down. Maybe a better future involves less rather than more.”


Life is Messy – How to Change Your Situation

“Life is choices. This is a great truth and a hard lesson. It is a great truth because it reminds us of our power. Not power over others, but the often untapped power to be ourselves and to live the life we have imagined.

It is a hard lesson, because it causes us to realize that we have chosen the life we are living right now. It is perhaps frightening for us to think that we have chosen to live our life as it is today. Frightening because we may not like what we find when we look at our lives today. But it is also liberating, because we can now begin to choose what we will find when we look at our life in the tomorrows that lie unlived before us.

What will you see when you look at your life ten years from now? What will you choose? Life is choices.

You have chosen to live this day. You have chosen to watch this video. You have chosen to live in a certain city. You have chosen to believe certain ideas. You have chosen the people you call friends.

You choose the food you eat, the clothes you wear, and the thoughts you think. You choose to be calm or restless, you choose to feel appreciative or ungrateful. Love is a choice. Anger is a choice. Fear is a choice. Courage is a choice. You choose.

Sometimes we choose the-best-version-of-ourselves, and some- times we choose a-second-rate-version-of-ourselves. Learn to master the moment of decision and you will live a life uncommon.

Life is choices. Most people never fully accept this truth. They spend their lives arguing for their weaknesses, complaining about their lot in life, or blaming other people.

We choose, and in doing so, we design our lives.”


Life is Messy: 5 Ways To ELEVATE Your Life This Summer – Matthew Kelly

“Spring is here and summer is right around the corner, and I love summer. So, I have been thinking about how I would like to improve my life this summer. I have come up with five things. I am not suggesting these be your five, but I want to encourage you to come up with your own five. Here are five ways I am going to strive to improve this summer:

1. Eat Healthier. More fruits and vegetables.

2. Move. Get up and get out and move around… walk swim, run, jump, dance.

3. Get to Bed Earlier. We all know how important sleep is to our physical, emotional, and spiritual health… but we are quick to neglect it.

4. Check email less. One distraction upon another is preventing me from giving my best energy to the things that matter most.

5. Connect with old friends. It’s been too long. I am going to seek out a couple of old friends this summer.

What 5 things will you do to improve your life this summer. Not sure what to focus on? Remember, our lives only really improve when we improve as human beings. So, once you make your list ask yourself: Will each of these help me become a-better-version-of-myself?”


Life is Messy – Are You Your Own Worst Enemy?

“We can all be our own worst enemies from time to time. We all find unique ways to sabotage our own happiness and success. Let’s take a look at six ways you may be sabotaging yourself and what you an do about them.

#1. You Have Stopped Dreaming. Your dreams are yours for a reason. When we stop dreaming, we become disengaged from every aspect of life, we lose our enthusiasm, and we start dying a little bit each day.

#2. Negative Self-Talk. How you talk to yourself has more impact on your life than how anyone else talks to you. But you may have picked up negative self-talk from the way your parents, siblings, or friends talked to you when you were young. So you might have been carrying around a bunch of HeadTrash or many years. It’s time to take out the trash and learn how to speak to yourself in a healthy way.

#3. The Victim Mentality. Blaming others and our circumstances are excuses we all call on from time to time. Learning how to make the most of a negative situation is critical life-skill.

#4. Lack of a Plan. Napoleon observed, “Those who fail to plan can plan to fail.” Without a plan we cannot reasonably expect our lives to improve.

#5. Impulse Control. Our addiction to instant gratification has eroded our impulse control and this is essential to succeed in any area of life: relationships, career, personal finances, health and wellness, spirituality, parenting…

#6. Focusing on the Past. You are more than what has happened to you. You are more than the worst thing you have ever done. Do not let your past determine your future. It is time to chart a new path.

These are six ways we all sabotage ourselves from time to time. The number one reason we don’t get beyond self-sabotage is because we don’t have the encouragement and accountability that are critical.

Today I want to invite you to invest in yourself by collaborating with one of our amazing life coaches.

Your coach will help you to put together a plan for your bigger, better future. Your coach will help you defeat these self-sabotaging behaviors. And your coach will help you to start achieving your dreams again!

Your dreams are your dreams for a reason… click here to learn more about our life-changing coaching experiences. And remember, don’t just be yourself, be the-best-version-of-yourself!”


Life is Messy – Impulse Control

“In 1972, researchers at Stanford university conducted a study that has become famously known as the Marshmallow Test. Children were offered a reward, a treat of the child’s choosing, which was placed on the desk in front of them. But they were also offered the option of receiving two rewards if they waited to consume the treat until the researchers retuned 15 minutes later.

Since that time, hundreds of similar studies have been conducted, some over long periods of time, and have determined that impulse control has an enormous impact on the quality of a person’s life.

People with the ability to control their impulses are more independent, have more friends, make better choices, perform better in school, exercise more regularly, have more success professionally, are significantly less likely to participate in dangerous and self-destructive risky behavior, develop broader vocabularies, have happier and longer primary relationships, feel more confident and have higher levels of self-esteem.

What exactly is impulse control? The ability to control the desire for immediate gratification.

So, how would you rate your own impulse control? Are you an impulsive person? Are you becoming more impulsive? Is impulsivity a problem for you?

There are very few people in our society who are not experiencing increasing levels of impulsivity and all the soul-destroying consequences that flow from it. What is impulsivity? Impulsivity is rapid, unplanned, reactions to internal or external stimuli, with diminished regard for the negative consequences for yourself or others.

What is causing this rise of impulsivity in our culture? The culprit is in your pocket or purse. The smartphones that are making us dumb are driving impulsivity through the roof.

Impulse control and the ability to delay gratification are essential ingredients if we want to flourish and live life to the fullest. Your phone is robbing you of your impulse control. If you think that’s not true, try to ignore it when it rings, beeps, vibrates, sends a notification, or any of the many other things it does to distract you from what you are actually doing.

Ignore your phone at least once a day. This habit alone will increase your impulse control, and everything improves as our impulse control grows.”


Life is Messy – Guilt is Good?

“Guilt is good. I am not saying we should go looking for it or try to increase the amount of guilt in our lives, but the natural emergence of guilt within us has a purpose… and is good for us.

When you do something that you know is morally or ethically wrong, guilt is a good thing. It is the-best-version-of-yourself encouraging you to return to the right path. If you didn’t feel guilty in these situations it would be a sign of moral bankruptcy or sociopathic behavior.

No surprise that moral bankruptcy and sociopathic behavior are on the rise in a culture that encourages people to do whatever they want to do and celebrates moral relativism and situational ethics at every turn.

It is also interesting to note that more and more people describe themselves as feeling stuck in our culture. When we are not in touch with appropriate guilt, we do not receive the corrective direction we need to set life back on the right track. Without this corrective direction we remain stuck.

Sadly, when we remove something that has a very specific purpose from our lives it is usually replaced by a destructive imitation of that good and purposeful thing. In the case of guilt, we have replaced it with shame.

Shame is a useless emotion, because it feeds off itself and relishes itself. One thing above all else will prevent you from getting unstuck: shame. Beware shame. Enduring shame is like falling in love with being stuck.

Stuck is often the result of shame when what we should be processing is a little bit of healthy course-correcting guilt.

It is good to feel guilt when we do something wrong, because that guilt is simply trying to get us back on the life-giving right path. Guilt is good for us. Not endlessly or all the time, but guilt serves a purpose in our journey and it is a mistake to try and avoid it at all costs… because those costs ultimately lead to loss of self.”