“There is no need to worry about the safety of your sister,” Dashnel reassured. “It is not her welfare for which we must be concerned but for the welfare of the pagans with whom she is residing. They would be in less danger if they were trying to tame half a dozen honey badgers and an equal number of wolverines.”
“Huh,” stammered Daniel. “What do you mean? Tarene is as tough as any farm girl but I don’t see how she could be any danger to those nasty looking raiders who took her.”
“I thought you understood what your father told you,” Daneel replied. “Their physical well-being is not in danger from Tarene. It is their souls. Your sister has special spiritual gifts. She was reaching the point of being ready to be trained when she was taken. Without training she could draw on the power of her spiritual gifts without understanding she needs to surrender to the will of the Only-One-Who-Is-To-Be-Worshipped and not her own will and ideas.”
“I thought you would understand,” Dashnel lamented. “Did they teach you nothing as they prepared you for Confirmation? It is the very basis of the Sacrament.”
Daniel countered, “Whatever they taught me doesn’t matter.” He raised his arms in exasperation. “What in the world does my Confirmation have to do with rescuing my sister?”
Dashnel shook his head in disgust and stared at the floor. His voice became tired and almost forlorn. “At least your father understands,” he said, paused for a moment and continued. “I wish he would soon join us. Maybe he can make it clear to you.”
Daniel felt bad for causing Dashnel such consternation. “I’m sorry. Please, explain it to me again and I’ll do my best to latch on to what your saying.”
“Thank you for trying to be teachable.” Dashnel brightened slightly. “I’ll try and not jump ahead but don’t chastise me for insulting your intelligence. It’s hard to tell
what you understand and what you do not.”
Daniel sat down, leaned against the wall of the cave, and shifted his gaze from the fire to Dashnel. He appeared ready to listen rather than run off into the night after his sister.
Dashnel faced Daniel squarely and began. “The sacrament of Confirmation is the opportunity we have to turn to the Holy Spirit and open ourselves to be strengthened, empowered, and turned loose by the Holy Spirit to be more closely identified with the mission of the Church. The physical aspects of the rite are not just symbols but actually, by the power of the Only-One-In-Three-To-Be-Worshipped, produce what they represent.”
“What do they represent?” Daniel interrupted.
“Oh,” said Dashnel with a grin of satisfaction on his face. “You have revealed to me you were not paying attention as they prepared you for the sacrament. This is at the heart of the sacrament. I would never believe your instructors did not attempt to teach you this.”
Dashnel continued the explanation. “The various actions of anointing with oil and such are actually preparing you for spiritual battle. Soldiers are often covered with oil before they go into battle to,” he paused and chuckled a bit, “make them slippery so they cannot be grabbed by the enemy. Your confirmation was preparing you be a soldier for the Triune-One. And not only that but the sacrament has the effect of, if you are properly disposed, of truly releasing for serious use the spiritual gifts of the Holy Spirit given to you at baptism.” Dashnel paused to give Daniel a chance to acknowledge how much of this was sinking in.
Daniel admitted, “I vaguely remember something about seven gifts connected with Confirmation, but I thought they were given at Confirmation. What’s baptism got to do with it?”
Dashnel admitted, “Yes, that is a common misconception. No, the gifts are given at baptism but, more or less, activated by Confirmation. You see, early on, most people being baptized were adults and the bishop was present to confirm their baptism, so back then there was not such a disconnect between baptism and confirmation.”
“Why the change?” asked Daniel.
“Almost everyone is baptized as a baby now,” replied Dashnel. “Although the gifts are bestowed some of them are not going to be needed by the very young. We don’t send infants or toddlers up against the enemy. When we get close to adulthood both the Trinity and the Church need us as warriors. It is best to anoint the soldiers with oil just before they go into battle and activate the gifts to make us effective in the fight.”
Daniel expressed confusion. “I sorta remember the gifts of the Holy Spirit and it doesn’t seem to me they had anything to do with battle. They were all about knowledge and discernment and that kinda stuff.”
“You really don’t get the connection between what your father told you about what we are up against and being strengthened by the Holy Spirit, do you? Don’t you know there if far more going on with the taking of your sister than a mere kidnapping? Don’t you realize there is a spiritual battle over many souls involved here?”
Finally a light seemed to turn on behind Daniel’s eyes and it wasn’t just reflection from the fire as Dashnel set another chunk of wood on the flames. “Is that why my father said my prayers would be more needed than any sword.”
“You do remember!” exclaimed the Elder. “There is hope!”
“But how does my sister being dragged away by some barbarians become a concern of the Church?” asked Daniel, still terribly confused in many ways.
“Because,” stated Dashnel slowly, with emphasis, “the Church’s concern is to further the Kingdom of the Trinity and the taking of your sister is just one more example of the advance of the forces of evil. Our Divine-One-Who-Ransomed said the fortress ramparts of the places of the dead would not prevail against the Church, but in the meantime the battle rages. We soldiers must be diligent to keep from getting tangled in the snares which would keep us from taking back spiritual territory.”