This is the second in a series on sacraments by Sarah Heidelberger.
When the day of Pentecost had come, they were all together in one place. And suddenly from heaven there came a sound like the rush of a violent wind, and it filled the entire house where they were sitting. Divided tongues, as of fire, appeared among them, and a tongue rested on each of them. All of them where filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other languages, as the Spirit gave them ability. —Acts 2: 1-4
There’s something about being a parent and home educator that teaches you a lot. Sometimes it teaches you that you know more than you think. Other times it reminds you that the journey of life is one of constant learning and growth, even if you are an adult. Walking alongside our sixteen-year-old, Lily, as she prepared for the Sacrament of Confirmation was a time to experience and reawaken my own faith with a new spark. Suddenly all of those beautiful traditions and Church teachings I knew and loved were solidified, but also brought to light with new meaning. Growing and asking questions, even in a known area like my Catholic faith that has been a part of me my whole life, there is still room to dive deeper. Even better, sharing and revealing those parts of faith that go beyond “just knowing” and taking the time to generate vulnerable and deep conversations with Lily were an important part of the preparation process.
It’s hard to unpack a mystery like the Holy Spirit, when the seemingly silent member of the Trinity is often shown as a dove or flame of fire. Learning alongside her about the rich tradition and scriptures that lend themselves to the work and teachings of the faith helped to unfold the mystery. Discussing the fruits and gifts of the Holy Spirit, helped to reveal the ignited flame that stirs our souls and intensifies our faith.
On a brutally cold Sunday in March, as we made the drive from our home to Morris, the fierce wind that blew us there was reminiscent of that rush of wind that startled the apostles. I asked my daughter if she was nervous or excited, but she said she wasn’t sure how to feel. Maybe unknowingly expectant?
We talked about a video we had watched earlier in the week that walked through the Rite of Confirmation and what would happen during the rite. In it, the speaker took a lit baptismal candle and spoke about how the flame of faith was ignited when we were baptized. He then took a can of WD-40 and explained that it was like the bishop. He sprayed the WD-40 toward the flame causing a fireball. (Kids, don’t try this at home!) He shared that this is what happens at Confirmation, our faith receives an extra burst and is further inflamed.
That simple scene had been embedded in my daughter’s mind and we had joked that maybe she should bring her own baptismal candle and WD-40 to share the demonstration with the bishop. (We didn’t.) I’m pretty sure as we waited for the 52 confirmands and their sponsors to walk in with the bishop, that visual demonstration still lingered in my mind.
As we moved through Mass, my heart swelled with excitement for those students and I prayed for the strengthening of their faith and a rush of wind from the Holy Spirit.
In his homily, Bishop Kettler gave the students three main tasks to continue living their Catholic faith after Confirmation:
These things may not be easy, but the Holy Spirit will enable and help you.
When we moved into the Rite of Confirmation and each student was sealed with chrism oil in abundance, I prayed and watched the mix of emotions (or lack of, in some cases) on the faces of the confirmands. As my daughter’s turn came and she walked up, I couldn’t help but feel overwhelmed that it was my child up there taking the name of Lucy and stepping into a fuller life in the Church (she’s my firstborn, can you tell?). The rush of the grace of these sacraments is such a treasured blessing!
The day truly was memorable and I think it lived up to my hype of it being “a really big day” for Lily and our family.
Later that night, Lily made a declaration saying, “All those videos we watched with people saying you may not feel anything or different as you are confirmed, weren’t completely true. When I went back to my pew after being confirmed, I felt a sense of peace and joy. Later on I realized that I did feel something, the Holy Spirit, even when I thought I wouldn’t.”
I smiled. The Holy Spirit had indeed shown up.