Weekly Bulletin Column

From Fr. Michael Reding

February 10, 2019

Be sealed with the gift of the Holy Spirit

This Sunday, at 2:00 p.m., more than twenty young people from our parish will celebrate the sacrament of confirmation at the Cathedral of Saint Paul. It’s a grand celebration; our cathedral is one of the most beautiful church buildings in the country, and for many of our youth, this will be their first visit to that grand church. For many of them, it will also be their first encounter with Archbishop Hebda, who will celebrate the sacrament, and whose humility, warmth, and self-effacing humor are welcome qualities.

The praenotanda of the rite of confirmation says this about its place among the sacraments of initiation:

In baptism, the newly baptized receive forgiveness of sins, adoption as children of God, and the character of Christ by which they are made members of the Church and for the first time become sharers in the priesthood of their Savior. Through the sacrament of confirmation those who have been born anew in baptism receive the inexpressible Gift, the Holy Spirit, by whom “they are endowed… with special strength.” Moreover, having been signed with the character of this sacrament, they are “more closely bound to the Church” and “they are more strictly obliged to spread and defend the faith, both by word and deed, as true witnesses of Christ.” Finally, confirmation is so closely linked with the holy eucharist that the faithful, after being signed by baptism and confirmation, are incorporated fully into the Body of Christ by participation in the eucharist.

Our celebration of confirmation has taken different forms in different times and places. In the Eastern Rite Catholic Churches, infants are typically confirmed when they are baptized. In the Latin (or Western) Rite Catholic Church, confirmation happens later, and is usually celebrated by the bishop. In some dioceses, this is done when children are eight years old and they are celebrating first reconciliation and first eucharist. In some dioceses, it’s celebrated when children are ten or twelve years old. In some places, it’s celebrated when children are fourteen.

Here at Saint Thomas, most of our youth celebrate the sacrament when they are sixteen years old. This practice presents some challenges. Young people at this age are incredibly busy; I’m in awe of all the commitments they’re juggling. On the other hand, young people at this age demonstrate a remarkable maturity that allows us to help them engage their faith on a much deeper level. Having witnessed the sacrament celebrated at all those other ages, I’m grateful that our young people are choosing to engage the sacrament at this age. I have no doubt that their faith in the future will benefit as a result.

Please join me in congratulating all those young confirmandi pictured on the cover of this week’s bulletin. And please join me in thanking our confirmation coordinator, Martina Hernandez, and her team who have worked faithfully with these youth for the last year.

BTW: Since we celebrate confirmation at the Cathedral of Saint Paul, parishioners sometimes get the idea that they are not welcome. That’s not true! All are welcome to the celebration! You’ll find that there are plenty of seats available.