I’m envious of teens today who are preparing to receive the sacrament of confirmation. When I was confirmed back on May 6, 1943, in the middle of World War II, there was little in the way of preparation beyond classroom sessions. We were more passive recipients of the sacrament, and it didn’t feel much like a celebration.
Today, of course, those to be confirmed are actively involved in their own preparation. There are retreats. There are service programs. Attention is given to the whisperings and movements of the Holy Spirit. The active preparations dispose us to share the gifts of the Holy Spirit with those around us. We receive the grace of the sacrament in order to be sent forth: “For God did not send his Son into the world, to condemn the world, but that the world might be saved through him.” (Jn 3:17)
Confirmation links us to Pentecost, and all that the Holy Spirit did for the apostles. We stand in their shoes, and are sent out into the world to share the presence of Jesus with those around us. We cannot do this by ourselves. Like the apostles, we need the empowerment of the Holy Spirit in order to effectively accomplish our mission. This is something to celebrate, and to actively enter into, rather than passively receive.
Although my preparation for the sacrament of confirmation was less rigorous all those years ago, the Holy Spirit's mysterious presence became evident when, at the age of 27, I entered Sacred Heart Seminary in Detroit to become a priest.
What a life it has been for me, thanks to the gifts of the Holy Spirit that I received those many years ago when I was 10 years old. What an adventure! Mysterious are the ways of God working on us through his Holy Spirit.
And now, my friends, after you celebrate your reception of this great sacrament, may you always be open to the Holy Spirit’s gentle movements and whisperings deep within your heart and soul. Then, empowered by God’s Holy Spirit, go out like the apostles and share the goodness of God in our fractured and broken world.