10 Oct 2010
“On this solemn day of my life …” (The Declaration of the Confirmed) In the name …
I thought it was a pretty auspicious omen for this Confirmation class that today’s date is 10-10-10, and that this will be Bp. Gnat’s tenth and final Confirmation Service here at Holy Name of Jesus. I guess in Asian countries and communities there is supposed to be a surge of weddings today because 10-10-10 is associated with good fortune. I don’t put much credence in that kind of numerology theory, but it sure makes today’s date easy to remember. And you should remember today. This afternoon you change in the eyes of the church. I hope each of you appreciates that teaching of our faith. And you will be changed in the eyes of God. Let me help you with a question that I imagine Bp. Gnat will ask you prior to this afternoon’s Service. When you are Confirmed, you will receive in a special way the seven gifts of the Holy Spirit. If you don’t know what they are now, you better by 3:00 this afternoon. The gifts are wisdom and understanding, knowledge and counsel, fortitude and piety, and the fear of the Lord, reverence in other words.
These are gifts that are meant to be used. You spent two years with me in catechism. You’ve gone through about ten years of Sunday School. And you’ve been to an untold number of Sunday Masses. Today is also the Feast of the Christian Family. Think about how many arguments you may have had at home when you said, “I don’t wanna go on vacation, I don’t wanna sleep in, I want to go to church! I don’t wanna go to practice, to rehearsal, I don’t wanna watch reruns of Seventh Heaven, I want to go to catechism!” Don’t let all of those fireworks be for nothing. You’ve invested a lot of your time, you’ve endured a lot of me. Don’t let it be for nothing. You’ve done a lot to prepare for Confirmation. Don’t let all of that go to waste by not using what Confirmation will share with you this afternoon. Imagine going to school to become a doctor. It takes about ten years of college to do that. Imagine also that you’ve just received your diploma and your stethoscope, you’re all set to head out and heal people, and then instead you decide to go sit at home and watch soap operas every day instead of practicing medicine. What a tragic waste of time and talent that would be. Try to think of your investment of time and effort in your faith in much the same way.
This morning you’re at the threshold of Confirmation. The church is getting ready to look at you as Christian adults. God is getting ready to share Himself with you through the presence and the gifts of the Holy Spirit. This didn’t happen overnight. This didn’t happen just in our two years of catechism. Here’s another thing to remember when you meet with the bishop this afternoon. Confirmation is the completion of Baptism. What’s going to happen to you this afternoon began the day you became a Christian, the day your head was held over the baptismal fount and you entered into the church. Don’t throw all of that away by not believing that you will be changed. Don’t throw all of that away by not using the gifts of the Holy Spirit. Don’t make all that you and your families have given to make this day possible a tragic waste of time and potential, not to mention a waste of the gifts of God. Believe in what Confirmation promises. Believe that you will be changed. And act on it.
This afternoon you will kneel before the altar and before the bishop. The Holy Chrism that some of us saw consecrated this past Holy Tuesday at our parish in Northampton will be placed upon the brow of your heads in the form of a cross. Then the bishop will give you a slight slap on the cheek. Remember this again for when you meet with Bp. Gnat. The slap symbolizes that with Confirmation you must be willing to even suffer for the faith. You are no longer children in the eyes of God and church. You are now adults. You are even, and remember this again for Bp. Gnat, soldiers of Christ. You will be empowered by the Holy Spirit to defend the faith. Take all of that, and then sit at home after Confirmation, forget about church, forget about completing Baptism, forget about ten years of Sunday School, and realize what a tragic waste all of that would be. Don’t let that happen. Be different. Be teenagers who actively believe in God. Be teenagers who set an example for the children who are younger than you are. Be teenagers who understand the sacred importance of Confirmation.
And then when the bishop is done with his part of Confirmation, then it’s your turn. Then you as a class will stand in the main aisle of this church, before the tabernacle that holds the Eucharist, and before the local clergy that will be in the Sanctuary, and surrounded by your own family and friends, and you will take an oath to remain faithful. You will give your solemn word to remain faithful. I hold that promise as important and as sacred as everything else that will happen to you this afternoon. I told you from day one of catechism the importance of that oath. They’re not only words. They’re your promise. They testify to your character. Say those words loudly and with conviction. Be proud of what you are going to say. This may be one of the first times in your young lives where you will stand-up and speak-out for something you believe in. This is why I think Confirmation should be offered only to older teenagers because I don’t think anyone younger can really appreciate the gravity of this oath.
I started by mentioning 10-10-10. Let me finish by saying that the word ten is derived from an older word (teneo in Latin) that means to hold on to something. Think of your ten fingers coming together and holding on. Confirmation is God holding on to you and you to God. Wherever you go as adults, Confirmation means that God is with you. And Confirmation also means that you have confirmed your faith, the faith that you were brought into in someone else’s arms and with someone else’s words. Soon as adults in the church you will confirm what was said for you at baptism, and thus the completion of the sacrament. In other words, you will be holding on to God. It’s His hand reaching out to you and your hand reaching up to His, and coming together in a firm grasp. Believe in that message, trust in it, and by all means, do something with it. And for this we pray as we come together on the Feast of the Christian Family, praying for you on the day of your Confirmation, and as always, in Jesus’ name. Amen. (+)
Fr. Randolph Calvo