We’ve been on a faith journey. When you were baptized, you were baptized with water and the Holy Spirit as a Christian who would live that faith according to the Roman Catholic Church. Thus, since your baptism, you have been learning from your parents and Faith Formation teachers the prayers and teachings of the Church and been, I presume, practicing those prayers and teachings. You have worshipped with the community and you have been fed by Christ in the Eucharist and the parish family by their example and support. In receiving the Eucharist, you also became a deeper member of the Church. And when you have hurt your relationship God and with the community of faith, you have had the opportunity of receiving forgiveness through the Sacrament of Reconciliation.
Now you have come to final step of initiation. That last word is very important: INITIATION. Even though you are wearing robes, this isn’t a graduation. You haven’t learned all there is to know about faith and its practice. I’ve been a priest for 45 years, and I’m still learning by reading Scripture, books and articles by various spiritual writers, praying, talking with others and gaining insights. Just last week I read something that gave a whole new understanding about the Passion of Jesus in John’s Gospel. There is always more!
The very 1st definition of “spirit” in The American Heritage Dictionary is this: “The vital principal or animating force within living things”. The Holy Spirit is the animating force of the Body of Christ, the Church. The Church didn’t exist until Jesus’ promise of the Holy Spirit came down on the Apostles and other disciples at the 1st Pentecost and caused them to leave the locked room and boldly proclaim to all that Jesus is the Christ who brings the forgiveness of sins, salvation and eternal life.
Those first followers of Jesus learned that to be Church meant to discover a faith strong enough within oneself to overcome fear, a hope strong enough to replace discouragement, and a love deep enough to replace hatred and prejudice. It meant to pray together, learn together, work together, and stick with one another despite differences of culture, race, background, previous religious practices, status, gender or politics. Being church meant belonging to a life-sharing community in which no one suffered for lack of food, clothing or shelter because all shared what they had in common. It meant thinking no longer simply in terms of “me” and “mine” but of “us” and “ours”. To be Church meant there was no place for greed, no place for selfishness, no place for jealousy and envy, no place for pettiness. It meant living and caring and sharing in such a way that others were attracted to the community and wanted to join the Church.
You are confirming that you want to be a full member of the Catholic Church and that you as a mature Catholic Christian are ready to give life to others by helping and advocating for the poor, the sick, the lonely, to live as Jesus did and be involved with seeking justice, peace, and the welfare of all people. You are confirming that you will now take personal responsibility for living your faith and for making it grow and deepen. You are confirming that you are willing to profess your faith, to live it, even if those around you do not. That is your vocation, your calling, no matter where your life takes you. This may very serious; and IT IS! But you do not have to do it alone.
Tonight (Today) you are given a box full of gifts from the Holy Spirit: Wisdom, Understanding, Knowledge, Right Judgment, Courage, Reverence, and Wonder and Awe in God’s Presence. Open them. Use them. Don’t put them away in storage or hide them or hide from them. They will lead you to results like JOY (not happiness but something deeper that doesn’t rely on circumstances), PEACE, PATIENCE, KINDNESS, GOODNESS, FAITHFULNESS, GENTLENESS, SELF-CONTROL, AND THE GREATEST GIFT OF ALL, LOVE, which means being concerned for the welfare of all.
In addition, you have at your disposal all kinds of people to help you: your parents, your sponsor, the parishioners and staff of St. John Fisher now and wherever you may be in the future. I strongly encourage you to be a part of the Youth Ministry program here at SJF, to stay connected and keep strengthening your faith as well as having a lot of fun.
God bless you!