This week, we were blessed to have our Bishop, David O’Connell visit us to confirm our 8th graders. Confirmation is a great Sacrament and we should be glad so many are receiving it in our parish. Confirmation is the Sacrament in which baptismal grace is perfected. In Baptism, we become forgiven of all sin, become temples of the Holy Spirit and are open to a whole new life of grace. In Confirmation, we are more firmly united to Christ and the mission of the Church: to “bear witness to the Christian faith in words accompanied by deeds.” (CCC 1316) In Confirmation, we fully accept the gift that it is to be a Christian. That is why we require people to receive this Sacrament before they can be sponsors and/or godparents in the faith. They must be fully initiated in order to bring others into the Christian faith.
Unfortunately, this Sacrament is often the most misunderstood and overlooked one. It is not explicitly listed in scripture which causes other denominations to discount it. (Though we see many examples of the apostles laying hands on people so that they can receive the Holy Spirit in the Acts of the Apostles and other vague references.) Also, when people receive it, instead of being a sacrament that welcomes them completely into the faith, it becomes an exit point for people who maybe don’t practice their Catholic faith in the first place. We tell them that Confirmation is not a graduation from the faith. But, people treat it like it is when they refuse to practice the bear minimum of what it takes to be a practicing Catholic (see CCC 2041-43) which includes coming to Mass every Sunday and Holy Days of Obligation. I think that part of the problem is that people often see the Sacraments as hoops they have to jump through or things they have to get over-with instead of seeing them as an invitation into a deeper relationship with Christ.
So, I challenge everyone who is reading this to do two things. First, live your Catholic life to the fullest. Everyone is welcome to church no matter what state of life they are in. But, we all ought to be doing our best to understand the faith, live the faith and to love God. We can all do better on all of these things and we should not be embarrassed to practice our faith. Second, pray for those receiving Confirmation. Young people today are tempted like never before. But, remember that the grace of God can still turn hearts. Please pray for them to have a genuine response to the Holy Spirit who wants to make them more and more like Christ and fulfill what is promised in their Confirmation.