What is Confirmation?

Dear Fr. Joe: What is Confirmation?

Greetings! In this edition of FAITH, we are addressing the youth. So, I have to start off by saying a huge “Howdy” and “I love you” to my nephews and nieces: Elizabeth, Michael, Brian, Emily, Steven, Christopher, Benjamin, Della, Jesse, Teresa, Regina, Joshua (tell your friend ‘I told you so’), Jeremiah, Stephie, Anna, Elizabeth, Rachel, Toby, Phillip, Martha and Luke.

Good Lord! And not all my brothers and sisters are married!

The other day, my family was all gathered together for prayer. As usual, my father started with the words, “Let’s take some time to call to mind our sins.” Before two seconds had passed, one of the kids spoke up, “I’m done!” 

Talk about optimism!

I am 15. This is the year that I am supposed to be confirmed. Why should I be? What does it mean to be an “active member of the Church"? In order for you to be an active member of the Church, you have to be taught by example. This is where your parents come in: by word and example, does your mom and/or dad show that their faith is the most important thing? Do they understand that Confirmation is not some sort of “Catholic rite of passage,” but an empowerment with the Spirit that raised Jesus from the dead?

What this means is that you are coming into a time when your faith is no longer your parents’ faith, but your own. This means that you take responsibility for getting yourself to church at least once a week and confession at least twice a year. This means that you allow the Holy Spirit to get inside you and work wonders in your life and the lives of those around you. 

An active member of the Church is someone who has surrendered to the gift of the Spirit and allowed Jesus into his or her heart. They show this by giving of their time and talents to the Church. That is a basic idea of what it means to be an active member of the Church.

Remember, our faith is not private. As Catholics, we embrace our faith in a community of believers. We can’t blow off church with the excuse that “I follow God in my own way.”  That is a cop out.

Think of this: when we go to church, we find ourselves surrounded by saints and sinners, all of whom we are called to love. It is too easy to say that we love God and never have to challenge ourselves to love God’s people. When we do it alone, we run the risk of never having our ability to love challenged. We avoid contemplating God’s divine presence in the people we don’t like or are even afraid of.

To you and your parents, it is my firm opinion that if you don’t wish to be confirmed, you shouldn’t be. This is NOT something you “get done” or “get out of the way.”  The Spirit is too great of a gift to be used like that.

Enjoy another day in God’s presence!