Practicing Catholics Who Fall Between the Cracks
Sep 11, 2017
During this month, a number of the youth of both parishes will continue to prepare in depth to receive the Sacrament of Confirmation. Bishop Thomas is to confer this Sacrament on our Candidates on Thurs., April 12th, 2018 at St. Mary Parish. Over the years, I’ve come across situations in which practicing Catholics have not received the Sacrament of Confirmation. Two factors contribute to this situation. We live in a highly mobile society. On a regular basis, persons/families move in and out of our parishes. In many cases, people move to where the jobs are. The other contributing factor is that in different dioceses, children are prepared for Confirmation at different ages. The Canon Law of the Church allows for latitude in regard to when the Sacrament of Confirmation is to be conferred. A family lives in a diocese in which youth are normally confirmed when they are sophomores of juniors in high school. This family moves to a diocese in which it is the practice to confirm youth when they are in the 7th or 8th grade. Thus, it is possible for youth in this situation who are in the 9th or 10th grade to have missed out receiving this Sacrament.
Let’s look at why the Church urges all of its members to be confirmed. According to Church teaching, the Gift of the Holy Spirit comes to persons in the Sacrament of Confirmation in a unique and distinctive manner. The celebration of the Sacrament of Confirmation corresponds to the occasion of Pentecost. To appreciate the significance of Confirmation, it is good to reflect upon how the coming of the Holy Spirit upon the Apostles at Pentecost changed their lives. On the one hand, the Holy Spirit came upon persons who already believed in the Lord Jesus and in the reality of His Resurrection. And yet, before the coming of the Holy Spirit on Pentecost, the Apostles’ understanding of Jesus’ mission was imperfect and incomplete. Just before our Lord’s Ascension into heaven, they asked Him: “Lord, will you at this time give the Kingdom back to Israel?” Before the coming of the Holy Spirit, the Apostles had not grasped that the Mission of Christ embraced the whole world, and that they were to have a key role in the Lord’s on-going work. As we receive the Gift of the Holy Spirit when we are confirmed, we are empowered to extend the Mission of our Lord to reconcile the whole world unto the Father in Himself.
Also, before Pentecost, the Apostles were defensive in regard to their faith in the Risen Lord. They used to meet behind locked doors out of fear of being arrested. The Coming of the Holy Spirit transformed them in regard to the manner in which they related to their faith in the Lord. They went forth and proactively witnessed to their Faith in the Risen Lord and its implications for all people. The Holy Spirit clarified for them that Jesus is the Son of God and the Son of Man, and that in His Life, Death and Resurrection, the forgiveness of sins and reconciliation are offered to all persons. The reconciliation offered to all persons in Jesus is to transform the entire lives of persons who receive the outpouring of the Holy Spirit, first on Pentecost and ever since in the experience that we now refer to as the Sacrament of Confirmation.
I pray that those of us who have already received Confirmation will take to heart and will want to grow into the Gift that we have received. I also pray that those who have thus far missed out on receiving the Sacrament of Confirmation will want to prepare to receive this most empowering source of spiritual strength for living out and witnessing to our Faith in the Risen Lord in the world.
Sincerely yours in Christ,
Fr. Nelson Beaver – Pastor