On April 18th, 22 of our high school age parishioners received the sacrament of Confirmation at the Cathedral presided over by Msgr. Fran Cilia, our Vicar General. These young people spent the better part of this past year working with our Pastoral Associate Joann Maier and our Communion Coordinator, Jean Rummelhoff to prepare for reception of the sacrament of Confirmation using materials prepared by Matthew Kelly, the author of the book: “Rediscover Catholicism.” Preparing for the sacrament of Confirmation is really a discernment process, first reflecting on the meaning of their baptism, reflecting on the words of the Creed, reflecting on what it means to be a Catholic Christian, and finally to be open to the gifts and actions of the Holy Spirit in their lives.
Msgr. Cilia began his homily with the story of the two free climbers who set out to scale El Capitan a few months ago. A very difficult climb under the best of circumstances, but to climb with only your hands and feet, no pitons, and just a safety rope in case of falling. One climber, fingers badly cut, had a very difficult time with one pitch, climbing it over 14 times until he was able to make it. The other climber could have gone all the way to the top, but he would not abandon his comrade. He said, “We are going to both make it to the top, even though we climb individually, I will wait for him.”
Similarly, we believe that Christ loves each one of us, individually and collectively and like that climber, Christ will never abandon us. The Holy Spirit will always be with us, even when we don’t recognize, or accept or are even aware of the Spirit’s actions in our lives. At one point Msgr. Cilia asked the students if they had any gifts, no one raised their hands. Msgr. Fran asked again, and at least some of the adults admitted that God gave them gifts. All of us through our Baptism are given gifts, but do we know what they are? Do we accept that we have gifts? Can we develop those gifts and then, in turn, share hem with others.
That is how the church grew after the Resurrection, people experienced the power and breath of the pirit in their lives, so much so, they were literally on fire with their new found faith. They were willing to announce the Good News of Christ to all they met, fearlessly, with confidence and trust because Christ does not punish, does not manipulate, does not coerce us, but freely gives us the gifts that we need, reverence, courage, fear of the Lord, fortitude and more.
Let us pray for the confirmati, the newly confirmed as the are now known, that they will truly discover their gifts and talents and use them wisely to build up the church, build up the community where they live and go to school and not be afraid to give witness to their faith. May they discover the reason we have found to celebrate Eucharist regularly, that Christ loves us without stint, is ever merciful and as Matthew Kelly says, “we can become the version of ourselves.” May the Holy spirit enkindle in them the fire of Christ’s love.