I have been invited to share some thoughts, based on the St Edmund’s Confirmation Course that I have recently attended and on some additional research I have made on the internet.
Confirmation means accepting responsibility for your faith and destiny. When I was young I was told what to do, and most of the time I did as I was told. I enjoyed being praised, I reacted positively to reward and found it hard when I was punished. Being a young adult, means that I must do what’s right on my own, not for recognition or reward but merely because it’s the right thing to do. The focus is on the Holy Spirit, who confirmed the apostles on Pentecost (Acts 2:1–4) and gave them courage to practice their faith. Catholics believe that the same Holy Spirit confirms Catholics during the Sacrament of Confirmation and gives them the same gifts and fruits.
I am to be confirmed in St Edmund’s on Thursday. I have known for some time that I would be confirmed when I was in year 8 at Secondary School. My brothers and sisters had been confirmed when they were thirteen so why would it be different for me. Until I read and signed an understanding on the back of my application form it hadn’t occurred to me that I was actually agreeing to make a commitment – I needed to give it a bit more thought than perhaps I had to the decision I, or maybe my dad, made for me when I joined the football club. This time it really hit me that if I wanted to accept the invitation – was it from Deacon Seán? No, I don’t think so – somehow I was answering an invitation from God, that I wanted to be confirmed in the Catholic Church; people were prepared to put themselves out to help me. It was my faith that I was taking responsibility for. Mum and Dad were very sure I would be confirmed but made it very clear to me that it was my decision.
The importance of the step I was taking was emphasised by Bishop Pat coming to celebrate the sacrament of Confirmation at Mass. For me and the other candidates, it would be a special experience. I quickly realised that it probably wasn’t central to what I was undertaking but I needed to think about what I was going to wear. I remember my Grandma telling me that it showed respect to dress appropriately.
So, feeling a little unsure about what was involved I went to the first session. It was good to have friends with me but as time went on I also made good friends with a boy from another school. After a few sessions we both admitted that perhaps we did need people both young friends and adults if we were to achieve all our dreams. We could also help others. It was cool to help others. We hadn’t been told what to think but our catechist has explored ideas with us and let us make up our own minds.
At each session we explored a different idea and when I expressed what I thought, my thinking was taken seriously. I wasn’t always right but then I wasn’t wrong either. My thoughts might now be on the right track but was I prepared to speak out and stand up for what I believe? I’m still not sure. Some of the other boys at school aren’t really interested in religion and don’t see how the way we behave has anything to do with religion. I’m not even sure they know that I go to church on Sunday.
If I ever had to answer the question in class ‘Do you believe in God? I know I would say ‘yes’.