By Bishop Joseph Kopacz
Over the past month-and-a-half I have celebrated the Sacrament of Confirmation on 20 occasions, representing approximately 35 parishes in the Diocese of Jackson. An essential function of the office of Bishop is to strengthen his diocese through pastoral visits, and Confirmation is one of the essential opportunities to do so. In their desire for Confirmation the young members of our families and parishes are witnessing to their growing faith in God through their words and actions.
In this column I want to share with you their inspired sentiments, wisdom, struggles, and dreams as the Holy Spirit stirs in their hearts and minds. The following quotes are a representative cluster from the letters they write to me requesting the Sacrament of Confirmation.
Early on, one Candidate asked: Confirmation, what’s that? I just saw it as another chance to get dressed up for Church and do something that felt important. But throughout the process of preparation many were transformed, including the one who asked the question.
God has put me on this journey for a reason and I couldn’t be happier about it.
This process has been fun and special and the memories we have made will stay with me the rest of my life.
- I made new friends and met knew people
- I became more open to others, and I realize that I was missing my Lord.
- We all need someone to encourage us. We all think that we know the answers to everything, but in reality we don’t which leads us into problems.
- I am thankful for all the things and people he has put into my life to help me.
- The retreat was a great experience because I had the chance to see other Catholics and meet them. It made me feel that it was like a big family celebration.
- I have learned that God really does love us and that is why he died on the Cross for us.
- My favorite part of the Confirmation process and becoming closer to Christ is finding true joy in Him.
- I have had a lot of fun learning about my faith, and I am ready to be an adult in faith.
- Time has flown and I am happy that I have taken this step and made new friends.
- I can say that I have felt the Holy Spirit, and I have seen God do His works in my life, and have learned to thank Him everyday.
- I now believe that everyone deserves my love and respect, even if they are different from me.
- Because of my faith in God, I never feel alone, and I know no matter what, I am always loved by someone.
- I have myself been ashamed of my faith. Through knowledge and understanding I gained a new confidence and was able to answer others who questioned my faith, and prove wrong false accusations with facts and evidence of my faith.
- His love for me goes beyond what I have endured or what I will endure.
- His forgiveness allows me to live out his word and share with others his light in my life.
- I have seen the goodness, love and grace of God in my life, and that’s not something that I can just turn away from and forget.
A developing relationship with the Church, locally and universally, is apparent.
- The Church does so much work for social justice and issues. It makes me proud to be Catholic
- The Catholic traditions are the best and I am very passionate about being able to spread the Word with joy.
- The Church has a long history and a lot of culture, and I find that fascinating.
- I love being Catholic. It may take a bit of work, but it’s all worth it in my opinion.
- With Confirmation I will have more courage to share my faith and more knowledge about it.
- I am very proud to be Catholic, but It can be difficult to be Catholic because it can be very rare down here.
The gift of family life, the domestic church at work
- I am reminded on a daily basis of God’s grace and love surrounded by family members that help me to recognize all the many blessings God has give me.
- By example from my parents I have learned to value reaching out to others outside of my family.
The gift you have received; give as a gift.
- As the Catholic faith has been passed on to me, so I have taught younger children and in so doing I have learned much more about my faith.
- I want to be a prime example to younger kids in the Church, and especially after I am confirmed.
- I want to encourage my younger siblings to commit their lives to Jesus.
- I want to live a full life glorifying the Lord and raising my children to do the same.
- I know in my heart that Jesus loves the little children.
The blessings from the reception of Confirmation.
- The grace of God is imparted upon our very being, and that is an amazing gift.
- The Gift of the Holy Spirit would be greater than any material gift I could receive.
- I am looking forward to fully accepting the Holy Spirit into my life to continue to do the works of Jesus in the world, and to perform the works of love in the name of God.
- I will continue serving, not only God, but others, and not putting myself first.
- The spiritual awakening that will give me many gifts from the Holy Spirit.
- Getting out of my comfort zone.
- I have other dreams in life, but serving God will be the most wonderful thing.
- Letting the Holy Spirit work through me so that I can discern God’s call in my life.
- Spending one hour with the Lord at Mass on Sunday is something that I want to do faithfully in the years ahead.
- The spiritual seal to consecrate a connection with God through the Sacraments of the Catholic Church.
- As you can see I have chosen to let Christ guide me through my journey in life.
- As a young adult entering college, I will face temptations and adversity. I will confront those things with a Christ like attitude.
- I know that God had a reason to put me on this earth and I want to discover that reason.
- My spiritual life is a race. I still have questions and hope to continue learning along the way, but feel that this step in my race will further my faith.
- To stand on my own two feet without my Mom or my Dad telling me what to do.
- I want to understand my faith and be able to have a conversation about it which is a good thing if I want to represent my faith.
We fall regularly in life, but it is necessary to just take a leap of faith and continue toward the light who, of course, is Jesus.
May the Lord bless our Confirmandi and those still awaiting the Sacrament of Confirmation this year. May the Holy Spirit transform each of us as we heard in the words of Saint Paul during last week’s celebration of Trinity Sunday.
“And hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit that has been given to us.” (Romans 5,5)