A Fire I Won’t Put Out
“The wood is on fire! The wood is on fire!” I ran up the basement stairs to see why my sisters were yelling. My heart was pounding. I could feel the fear inside me. I was experiencing that feeling of dread when I imagine the worst is yet to come. In my mind’s eye, I could see our whole wood engulfed in flame, the fire slowly destroying everything I love. Heart pounding, I reached the top of the stairs and looked out the window to the scene below. Catching sight of the fire, I breathed a sigh of relief. The whole wood wasn’t on fire as I had imagined, just the dry leaves around our fire pit. However, the wind was blowing and causing the fire to spread.
As I ran down to help my dad put the fire out, I saw him grab a pitchfork and try to rake the leaves into the pit. “Go get a rake!” he exclaimed. By the time I returned with a couple of rakes, the fire had spread from around our fire pit to the edge of the trees. While two of my sisters ran to get a bucket of water, my dad sent me scurrying to rake the leaves that were in the path of the wind. His plan was to separate the leaves that weren’t on fire from the leaves that were. I raked and raked for what felt like an hour. Fear gripped me. What if we couldn’t put out this fire? What if a tree went up in flame? I could smell the smoke from the fire, filling my lungs and making me cough. My arms were hurting from raking so hard and I could feel the heat from the fire closing in on me. My dad sent my youngest sister inside to get his phone, thinking he might have to call the fire department. Rake, rake, rake. The wind blew, pushing the fire on. Rake, rake, rake. My sisters came back with the water. “Pour it over here!” They poured the water where my father directed. The water doused most of the fire and we managed to get the other leaves away from the ones that were aflame. As we watched the fire die, I glanced around. The path that the fire had traveled was bare. I saw that the fire had consumed everything in its path. We learned two things that day. Rake the dry leaves away before starting a fire and be careful with fire. On that day we experienced the fear of seeing the full force of fire. It has a power that can’t always be contained.
So why was I, only six months later, asking for fire to consume me?
Confirmation is an important sacrament in the Catholic Church. It is both when a person becomes an adult member of the Church and when that person receives the Holy Spirit. When it was my turn to receive this wonderful sacrament, I was overjoyed. I started preparing to receive the sacrament in September 2015, nine months before I was to be confirmed. I learned about the meaning of Confirmation and about the Holy Spirit in particular I learned that one of His symbols is fire. I learned about the seven gifts and the twelve fruits of the Holy Spirit. I memorized countless prayers and went on two retreats. When May eighteenth finally arrived, I was thrilled. My family and I arrived at the church and I went straight to my seat to wait for the Confirmation Mass to begin. I was nervous. “Calm down”, I told myself, “You know exactly what to expect. You went over this in rehearsal.”
Half an hour before the Mass was to start, the bishop came out and talked to all those who were to be confirmed. During that half hour he said a lot, but one thing he said will stay in my memory forever. He said, “This has to be your choice. You have to decide to go on from here. If you are here to receive this sacrament because of a check that might be in a grandparent’s purse or because your parents are forcing you to be here, then leave. But if you are here because you want to receive the fire of the Holy Spirit, then stay. I will never forget those words for as long as I live.
In the middle of the Mass, my classmates and I were confirmed. I watched as each of my friends went up to the altar to receive the sacrament. I watched as the bishop placed his hands on them and proclaimed the words “Be sealed with the Holy Spirit. When it was my turn I stepped up to the front of the altar. Since my confirmation sponsor, who was also my older sister Madeleine, had torn her ACL earlier in the year and had just had surgery, the bishop came down from the altar to me. Standing there in front of him, I felt my sister’s right hand on my right shoulder. She gave the bishop the name I would be taking, my confirmation name. I looked him in the eyes as he said, “Therese, be sealed with the Holy Spirit.”
“Amen” I replied.
“The Lord be with you.”
“And with your spirit.”
With that I was confirmed. The fire of the Holy Spirit was now a part of me. As I went back to my seat, I could smell the Chrism oil the bishop had placed on my forehead when he had said “be sealed with the Holy Spirit.” The rest of the Mass passed by in a flash. That night I experienced something I never will again. One of the things I experienced was peace. The moment I was confirmed I felt as light as a cloud. I felt that no matter what happened in the future, everything would be fine. I felt completely and utterly peaceful. I also had the fire of the Holy Spirit in my heart. He had set my soul on fire with a love for Him and a desire to bring other souls to Jesus. I was and still am on fire with love of God and I hope that I will be for the rest of my life.
Fire has a power that can’t always be contained. That fire in the woods was dangerous and scary. I wanted nothing to do with it except to put it out. But the fire I experienced at my Confirmation was live-giving it did not frighten me rather, it made feel more complete. It made me want to live for God and God alone. Unlike the fire in the wood, I don’t ever want to extinguish the fire that I received at Confirmation.