“Mommy, what is Confirmation?” my 8-year old son, Ryland, asked me on Sunday morning.
“It means being a responsible member of the Church,” I replied.
“Oh,” he said.
As if he understood what I really meant.
Several months of preparation culminated last Sunday when Ryan and the rest of the Level 6 catechism students were confirmed. It has been quite a journey not only for the children but for their parents as well. The parents were involved every step of the way.
– It started with the parents’ meetings (three of them) to help them prepare the children for this Sacrament.
– There was a Welcoming Rite where the candidates for Confirmation were presented before the community during Mass sometime in February. Photos of the confirmands were also put on display at church.
– The candidates did a Christian Service Project by volunteering in an organization of their own choosing. Ryan chose to help at the soup kitchen.
– The candidates visited the house of the Archbishop who gladly welcomed them in his reception room, asked them questions and invited them to reflect where they would be 33 years from now. In turn, the children asked their own questions: “Did you know you would one day be bishop?” “Will women one day be priests?” “Where did you learn Spanish?” He also let them hold his Crozier (staff) and try on his Mitre (two-sided hat).
– The candidates participated in THINKfast to raise social self-awarenes in issues of justice and the right of people to basic food and water. The 11- and 12-year olds went without solid food for 25 hours. They only drank water and fruit juices. The fast ended with a potluck supper when their families joined them the following day.
– Twilight Retreat. We, parents, were secretly asked to write a letter to our children, to pour out our feelings about them and their special gift to us, to speak how God is present in their life and about our hopes and dreams for them. At the end of the retreat, the children sang You Raise Me Up to show their appreciation for the catechists, parents and other leaders of the parish in helping them in this journey.
The celebration of Confirmation in our Parish has been full of symbolism.
It was held on Pentecost, which commemorates the descent of the Holy Spirit upon the Apostles.
The altar was decorated with the lanterns that the students made out of painted glass jars. The lanterns were lit with candles – symbol of the fire that came down on the apostles.
The church was decorated with red banners, which the students decorated during their Retreat. Their names were also on the banners.
The laying of hands – is a gesture that Jesus used to ask for God’s protection. The apostles did likewise when they called upon the Holy Spirit to be present. The archbishop and Br. J. extended their hands over the group of those to be confirmed. When the sponsors walked with the children, they also had their hands on their shoulders.
The baptismal font was placed at the front and center to help us make the connection between Baptism and Confirmation. One by one, the candidates approached the font where the Archbishop poured a bit of chrism (oil perfumed with balsam) on their forehead and traced the sign of the cross, and then he said, “Ryan, be sealed with the gift of the Holy Spirit.” To which Ryan responded, “Amen.” The archbishop then said, “Peace be with you.” Ryan said, “And also with you.” And then Ryan was confirmed.
Halleluiah! No more catechism for him.
Afterwards, we headed to Marigold Restaurant and feasted on delicious Chinese food.