I was very humbled (and thrilled) to be asked to sponsor one of the wonderful young women in our Catholic homeschoolers group for her Confirmation, which Mass is this evening in a beautiful Church about an hour from here. I’ve been thinking over the past couple of weeks about the Sacrament, and how saddened I have been to hear some confirmandi speak of it as a sort of graduation ceremony – you know, no more CCD and all that. It’s almost as if they think that in the decade-plus they have attended CCD they have learned all there is to know about their Faith and that of their Church, and now they can be turned loose upon the parish and the world.
It’s a commencement. To commence something means to begin. Certainly the Sacrament of Confirmation is the last of those of Initiation (Illumination to us Easterners), but by no means does that mean one is finished with formation as a mature Catholic Christian. Au contraire!
In the Confraternity of Penitents, we go through four years of formation before permission may be granted by our respective spiritual directors for us to pledge to live our Rule and Constitutions either for one year or for life. And after our pledging, we are committed to continue our study of the Faith as guided by the same spiritual director for the rest of our lives on earth. We read the Church Fathers, Council documents, Papal Encyclicals; we study Scripture; we pray, adore the Lord in the Blessed Sacrament, meditate; we continue to “work out our salvation”.
Confirmation is truly the ‘commencement’ of that working out of salvation. Not that we can ever earn it, but confirmandi ought to be taught that following their reception of the Sacrament, they must be sure to have a plan by which they will try to continue to grow in Faith, Hope and Charity as fully Illumined members of the Body of Christ, the Church Militant.
I have every confidence that the young woman who honored me by asking me to sponsor her for Confirmation will do exactly that.
And I have been praying (and will continue to pray) that God makes me worthy to be what a sponsor ought to be, now and unto the ages of ages.