Confirmation is one of three sacraments of Christian initiation, the others being Baptism and Eucharist. It means the beginning, not the end. The Holy Spirit calls each person, through Confirmation, to go deeper and deeper into their faith so as to grow in their relationship with Christ and His church community. We are called to move further away from a separate-self to a more communal relationship and witness of what it means to live an authentically Christian life. Over the past several months, the Holy Family FLAME students have met in their small Faith groups in the rectory for a one-time session with Fr. Terry and me (Fr. Rich) over pizza. The purpose of this session was to engage in a personal and meaningful conversation about the teen’s faith and future as confirmed Catholics, and to let them know how proud we are of each and every one of them.
Holy Family Community has a history of celebrating Confirmation during the high school years. These extra years of formation are meant to allow our teens to challenge their belief-system in healthy ways, to grow deeper in their spiritual experiences and experience faith-in-action. Holy Family Catholic Community believes that Confirmation is neither a destination nor something we “get” and can then simply check off our list of things done. Instead, our teens are developing a real and personal desire to live out the Confirmation process in faith and service for the rest of their lives.
The high school FLAME program is therefore multifaceted and Confirmation is but one part of their life-long faith journey. During our teen’s high school years, they have had many opportunities to spread their wings and engage in service opportunities within our communities that have deeply impacted their faith lives. The Sacrament of Confirmation does not signify the end of our teen’s religious education or formation in the Catholic faith; rather it is a piece of their life-long journey. Likewise, it is not the end of parental responsibilities either. For parents, Confirmation represents both an important accomplishment in the parenting of a Catholic son or daughter and a new opportunity to grow in faith with them in more concrete ways. Confirmation is not an end; it’s a new beginning for all of us, whenever and wherever we gather in faith.
In Confirmation we are anointed for a special mission, like the priests, prophets and kings of old, as Jesus invites us into a new covenant. We all share in the priesthood of Jesus Christ. We all are called, “to proclaim the word; be persistent whether it is convenient or inconvenient; convince, reprimand, encourage through all patience and teaching.” (2 Timothy 4:2) Confirmation is therefore an important milestone along the journey of our Catholic life. For teens, it represents an opportunity to look at their Catholic faith in a more adult way – exploring, discerning and deciding to make a willful and intentional commitment to learn and live the Catholic faith, beliefs, morals, and practices.
At Confirmation, the Bishop seals and recognizes the Baptism that was celebrated earlier in our life. Though Baptism is something we participated in with the help of our parents and godparents, it now represents a personal commitment to grow in the knowledge, love, and practice of our faith. When we are confirmed, we gain a new identity as a full member of the Church. We celebrate this sacrament and then carry out a personal decision to continue to learn, live and love through our faith. Every Catholic who is prepared to celebrate a sacrament is called to do so. May all of our newly Confirmed teens be assured of the love, support, and prayers of the entire parish community at Holy Family as they undertake this important sacrament. We are proud of our teens and most grateful to their parents and the staff and catechists who assisted in their faith formation.
Congratulations and Blessings to all our Newly Confirmed!
(Fr. Rich Jakubik, Holy Family’s Associate Pastor, is writing this column while Fr. Terry is away.)