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How Do I?

Fr. Tom’s Letters

 

Each week Fr. Tom writes a letter to parishioners in our bulletin.  Every letter is comprehensive, including current information about the Parish, an explanation of Scripture for that Sunday, and an invitation to become more engaged in the life of the parish.

 

 

 

 

April 14,  2024

Dear Parishioners,

This coming Monday, April 15, the eighth graders in our parish school and Faith Formation program will receive the Sacrament of Confirmation.  This particular date also has other meanings as well, which I share in the following column that I have already shared with our eighth graders:

Dear Confirmation Candidates,

Congratulations to you as you receive the Sacrament of Confirmation on Monday, April 15. April 15 is always a significant day. Your parents are well aware of this day as it is the final day to file taxes in the United States. April 15 is Jackie Robinson Day that remembers the achievement of the baseball hall of famer who was the first African American to play in the major leagues. April 15 this year is also the day of the Boston Marathon, the world’s oldest annual marathon. Tax day calls us to responsibility. Jackie Robinson encourages perseverance, courage, and justice. The Boston Marathon is a test of commitment and endurance.

In your young lives your Confirmation Day, April 15, 2024, is one that has an impact on the remainder of your entire life. At Confirmation, Bishop Andrzej will seal you with the gift of the Holy Spirit. This seal with holy chrism is permanent. It remains with you forever. You are only confirmed once; it is never repeated. As well as a permanent seal, the anointing with holy chrism gives you a clear identity. Confirmation is the third of the Sacraments of Initiation, along with Baptism and the Holy Eucharist. You are a Catholic for life. This sacrament in the Church is the first sign to you that in the church you have the full privileges and responsibilities as a fully initiated Catholic. In some ways, the Church is first at recognizing you as an adult.

As a person to be confirmed, you have already made some important choices. You have chosen your sponsor who accompanies you today along with your parents. Those asked to be sponsors feel that you have honored them. My nephew asked that I be his sponsor. I still remember that day 20 years later. As they feel honored by you, you want to honor them. Think about why you have chosen your sponsor. Maybe because they have supported you in different ways; maybe they have given you good example; maybe you admire their faith and prayerfulness. There are many reasons to choose a sponsor. As you are confirmed, make yourself a promise to learn from your sponsor, share faith with your sponsor, remain close to your sponsor.

Another important decision you made as you approached April 15, 2024 is the choice of patron saint and the saint’s name. You have learned something about the saint. Choose one quality of that saint’s life and develop that quality in your life. Maybe your Confirmation name is an important family name. Again, if you are taking a family name, choose a quality of that person’s life and pray to the Holy Spirit to live that virtue in your own life.

Ahh, the Holy Spirit! The Holy Spirit is the primary focus of the Sacrament of Confirmation. We know many images of the Holy Spirit. The favorite of many is the dove, suggesting the Holy Spirit as a source of peace. Others cite fire as the image of the Holy Spirit. Fire suggests power and the Holy Spirit brings the power of living in God’s love. Others have suggested wind as an image of the Holy Spirit, suggesting the unseen but moving power of God. My favorite image of the Holy Spirit is not spoken by many, but is the image that comes from last Sunday’s gospel. My favorite image of the Holy Spirit is the very life breath of God. The Risen Lord appears to the disciples in the upper room. The scripture reads: “He breathed on them and said, ‘Receive the Holy Spirit.’” I understand the Holy Spirit as the very life breath of God who shares God’s life with us.

We are often directed to pray to the Holy Spirit. We pray for guidance, direction, assistance, courage, health, and all sorts of other gifts given to us by God. Confirmation candidates, make room for the Holy Spirit in your life. Ask the Holy Spirit to help you in your family relationships. Ask the Holy Spirit to help you get to Sunday Mass so you can hear God’s Word and receive Holy Communion. Ask the Holy Spirit to help you with a troubling behavior. Make room for the life breath of God in your life, the Holy Spirit.

I trust all will get their tax forms done by Monday, April 15. The baseball world will honor Jackie Robinson on Monday and all major leaguers will wear his uniform number 42 to honor his courage and achievement. Marathoners in Boston will persevere and run 26.2 miles and celebrate their achievement. Most importantly for us, 180 of our faith formation and parish school eighth graders will advance with their sponsor, identify their saint’s name, and be sealed with the gift of the Holy Spirit. Always make room for the Holy Spirit in your life.

Peace be with you.

Fr. Tom