In helping the teens of our parish program prepare for the awesome sacrament of Confirmation, I am reminded of my own confirmation experience. In fact, I will never forget it. It was life changing for me. Truly the power of the Holy Spirit bringing to me all I needed to really overcome some hurdles.
It was 1974, we had already moved around southern California three times, to Arizona once, and back to California, and finally to Salt Lake City Utah. In 1973, I was in the local Catholic parochial grade school affiliated with our parish of St. Ambrose.
Because of all the moving (entering a new school district over and over), and attempting to “fit in”, “make friends” and become stable….I was very shy, very awkward and very much wanting to “bond” with people….but by now, I just couldn’t bring myself to do it….thinking we would once again uproot and move elsewhere, why bother? This was not all bad, because I had very much bonded with my Lord and God as the stability in my life.
Sixth grade was the grade for Confirmation in my Catholic school. The Daughters of Charity of St. Elizabeth Ann Seton were our teachers, mixed with some lay instructors. This was the BEST school fit for me so far. Although I was nearly two years behind in math (the California school system was that far behind), and needed to be tutored every morning before classes, by Sr. Veronica, this year was looking up. I was beginning to trust and thrive.
Can you spot me? That’s me in the back row, third from the left.
Okay, in walks awkwardness and it wasn’t going away…I went through four shoe sizes, grew two inches and my skin began to break out. Still, I was beginning to feel good about being where we were. I felt my spiritual life suddenly deepen and awaken in a way I hadn’t yet experienced….and I wasn’t even Confirmed yet. God had a plan, and I needed to trust it although I could not see the road map.
I’m not sure what was happening, but I knew it was all good. As the good Sisters prepared us for Confirmation and we delved deeper into the scriptures with Sr. Paule who was an authority on the letters of Saint Paul, my heart and soul and mind were truly awakened to Christ. Everything about the spiritual life was coming to fruition in me. At home my devotion to the Infant of Prague continued to keep me focused.
I recognized I needed the gifts of the Holy Spirit in a big way. If I was ever going to come out of my shell, forget my awkwardness, focus on other more important things outside of myself….and even play guitar….I needed an outpouring of the gifts of the Holy Spirit for sure. I was thrilled and ever so ready to receive the Sacrament.
I chose St. Joan of Arc as my Confirmation name. I think it’s obvious why that would be! I needed a model of young courage and unselfishness, someone with great leadership skills! St. Joan was definitely that; on fire with the love of God, and ready to die for her faith. Yes. St. Joan it was.
I asked a neighbor to be my sponsor as her family was close to us, and we car pooled to the Catholic schools together and attended the same parish. Linda was a wonderful sponsor. Although we don’t live anywhere near each other now, we still stay in touch and are friends on Facebook today.
And so it happened….this wonderful conferring of this glorious sacrament with it’s outpouring of the gifts of the Holy Spirit and completion of baptism. I was in all the way. I was HIS all the way.
I was never the same.
I can honestly trace back to the day of my Confirmation as the day that changed my life forever…..for the better. Soon, I began to come out of that shyness, the shell…I began to play guitar publically at mass, in the classroom, for functions with others. I sang. I tried out for cheerleading…and I got it…and the second year, I also got it and was the leader of the squad. I ran for student office, and also was in that leadership role. I sang and played guitar at the mass at our local parish….every Saturday evening…for the next 8 years. The gift of the Holy Spirit saw me through those tough high school years….where I blossomed more in my courage and being outgoing, and sharing my gifts with others. My voice, my guitar, my leadership abilities.
So yes, Confirmation made a huge difference in my ability to share, give and outreach to others….that has continued to this day, 39 years later….
So, to say I’m thrilled about our young people receiving this sacrament is an understatement…..I am absolutely ESTATIC for them!
If I could tell the candidates anything…..it would be: be open to the power of the Holy Spirit. Let it pour forth and awaken in you all you need to fulfill your mission in this life….because God does have a plan for you, a unique plan. It involves your talents and gifts…so don’t be selfish with them, don’t gawk at using them to serve others.
Be open. Be receptive. Be changed.
+Be sealed with the gift of the Holy Spirit.