"Intellectual distinction is a necessary but not a sufficient condition for election to a Rhodes Scholarship. Selection committees are charged to seek excellence in qualities of mind and in qualities of person which, in combination, offer the promise of effective service to the world in the decades ahead. The Rhodes Scholarships, in short, are investments in individuals rather than in project proposals..."

Monday, April 29, 2013

Gifts of the Holy Spirit

St. Lawrence
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My eldest son was confirmed this month. I am so proud of him. I am especially proud of his persistence in the face of difficulty and choice of confirmation sponsors.

One of this kid's strengths is Individualization. Here's a description from the Clifton Strenghtfinders 34 Signature Themes:

Your Individualization theme leads you to be intrigued by the unique qualities of each person. You are impatient with generalizations or “types” because you don’t want to obscure what is special and distinct about each person. Instead, you focus on the differences between individuals. You instinctively observe each person’s style, each person’s motivation, how each thinks, and how each builds relationships. You hear the one-of-akind stories in each person’s life. This theme explains why you pick your friends just the right birthday gift, why you know that one person prefers praise in public and another detests it, and why you tailor your teaching style to accommodate one person’s need to be shown and another’s desire to “figure it out as I go.” Because you are such a keen observer of other people’s strengths, you can draw out the best in each person. This Individualization theme also helps you build productive teams. While some search around for the perfect team “structure” or “process,” you know instinctively that the secret to great teams is casting by individual strengths so that everyone can do a lot of what they do well.

So, I made lots of suggestions about who would make a good sponsor.  He decided last year.  I suggested others.  He stuck to his guns.  He was right.  The man, the great man he chose is and was the Religious Emblem Chair of my son's BSA troop.  My son is the chaplain's aid.  Last year, my son and one other boy worked under the direction of this man on the Ad Altare Dei Catholic Religious award.  Consider the award confirmation preparation.  They met weekly for months going through the program.  The other boy often did not attend due to conflicts, so during meetings when working on this award, my son got to know this man well, and vice versa.  They found out they both had a mutual LOVE of history and the Catholic faith.

This humble man was honored when my son asked him to be his sponsor.  He attended the Sending Forth Mass and Dinner with our family, attended the Confirmation Mass (all two hours of it) and came to my son's party two weeks later.  He wasn't missing anything. 

Now, I know this man is wonderful for many reasons, but here's what brought me to tears.  He wrote a long letter to my son and gave him a gift that was so very personal and beautiful.  He had to know my son to truly understand how powerful his gift was.  My son granted me permission to reprint part of the letter here:
What's an appropriate, fitting confirmation present?  What might continue to mean something as the years roll by?  I'm sure it's been a question relatives and family friends have pondered for generations long passed.  I thought of these old Roman coins for you, one from the time of St. Lawrence and one from just a little later.  What would someone have received back during St. Lawrence's time or when his recent martyrdom was so actively bringing people to the church?  There were, of course, no Bibles back then, and most people were illiterate anyway.  In those times of persecution, you couldn't go buy a cross or an icon of your patron saint.  Plus, nearly all these new converts would have been considered very poor by our modern standards.  So their family and friends couldn't have given them much more than love and prayers - no gold, no valuable religious texts, no fine new clothes - but they might have given them a few small coins.  Maybe even these...
 The rest is all very personal to my son, but I was touched at how thoughtful this gift was and wanted to share it with you.  So, if you didn't catch it from the description, his gift to my son was two Roman coins: one minted around 222 AD and another minted around 313 AD. 

So, besides receiving the gifts of the Holy Spirit, my son received a gift of a life long friend to lean on in his walk as a Catholic.  He is so very blessed.

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