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2015 – Confirmation: Discovering God for yourself

Various  |  17 September 2018

Confirmation is our chance to make our own choice to follow God. It’s where we receive the gifts of the Holy Spirit and become fully part of the Catholic community. We asked some of our young writers to look back on their confirmation, and what it meant for them. 

Are you there, God? It’s me!

I remember my confirmation Mass in snapshots. Putting on the new green dress I resented having to wear. Reading the responsorial psalm. My sister holding the hand that was shaking. Why was it shaking, you ask? I was nervous because my sponsors were running late in traffic. Question after question was running through my mind: ‘Was I going to have to go up alone? Was that even allowed?’

I had put on a lot of pressure on this moment. If you compare Catholic rituals to birthdays, confirmation is like your 21st, the one where you’re a ‘real’ grown up. I saw this as my no-take-backsies of Catholic faith. 

If I was going to pledge myself to this religion, I wanted to be sure. So, like any Generation Millennial, my 12-year-old self went to the internet to provide the answers. Being a Sunday regular at my local parish, I figured knew most of what I needed to know about being Catholic. So it was time to explore some other religions. I read through the basics of Islam, Judaism, Buddhism, trying to find out if there was a better fit for me that I hadn’t yet discovered. I even took a dip into less-mainstream faiths. 

While I had fun learning about all these different belief systems, none of them called out to me. But I still wasn’t sure if I wanted in on the Catholic life. Everyone seemed to be so certain of God’s existence, and here I was, guiltily Google-cheating on my religion. 

Flash forward to the Mass, where I stood there, thinking about whether I really wanted to be a Catholic, whether I really believed in God, whether my aunt and uncle were ever going to show up? Even now, I still ask myself those big questions. But that, I think, is the nature of faith. Most people aren’t saints, we don’t get God coming down to talk to us, or any revelation of religion. That’s why it’s called faith – we believe because we choose to. Some may call us naive, but it’s a hard thing, to put your trust in God, in other people, and in yourself. 

Though in the end, some faith can reward you – my sponsors arrived just in the nick of time. 

By Neve Mahoney, a Year 12 student at Star of the Sea College in Melbourne. 

 

Peace and reassurance

I remember my confirmation vividly as it occurred only a few years back. I remember how thoroughly my teachers prepared me for the sacrament and the time I spent learning about the Holy Spirit and its fruits and gifts. At the time, being confirmed meant completing the process of the sacraments of initiation and choosing a sponsor and a saint who would be a role model. The saint I chose was St Clare of Assisi, a strong leader who created an order of nuns to do God’s work. 

The day I was confirmed, I was extremely nervous but excited. The church was filled with a buzz of excited families and anxious candidates. Archbishop Denis Hart, the current Archbishop of Melbourne, was the main celebrant of the Mass and my brother was my sponsor on the day. I remember the moment of nervousness I felt before I knelt before His Grace and the moment he touched my cheek to confirm me. I felt proud to be able to be an initiated member of my Church and be filled with the Holy Spirit. 

After being confirmed I felt a type of peace and I knew that God’s presence was truly in my heart. It was this feeling of being ‘light’. I’ve heard some people say that having an encounter with Jesus in your life will give you this feeling as if you’re ‘floating on clouds’, and although I knew God was real I’d never experienced that feeling in my life until my confirmation. It was a peace, a reassurance that everything would be alright, and that I was truly a loved child of God. 

Looking back on the experience, I understand being confirmed isn’t just about receiving a certificate or being ‘initiated’, it’s about taking the responsibility as an adult to continue strengthening my relationship with God. Being confirmed means that I am responsible for my actions in the eyes of the church and God, not my parents. 

By Geraldine Vytilingam, a Year 10 student at CRC North Keilor in Melbourne.

 

A decision we make each day

I remember the bishop walking towards me – armed with oil and with the kindest eyes. ‘Catherine’, he called me, tracing a cross on my forehead, ‘be sealed with the Holy Spirit.’ Afterwards in Mass, forgetting the oil was there, I got it all over my hands. Whoops. Rookie mistake.

To be perfectly honest, from the handful of memories I have of making my confirmation, not many were of remarkable depth or understanding. Questions like ‘Can I choose what we have for lunch?’ and ‘When is the part where I pick a new middle name?’ were no doubt higher on my list than ‘How can I more fully realise my baptismal graces?’ Quietly amid the presents from family and friends I also received the gifts and presence of the Holy Spirit. I’m sure at the time I didn’t know what ‘fortitude’ was, but I was glad to receive it. ‘Cool, thanks God!’ 

Since that day, my understanding of the world has grown and changed. My faith, following suit, has been questioned, challenged and deepened. There is the faith that we are taught, and the faith we must learn. One begins in the classroom of planned lessons and the other in personal experience and encountering things we are not prepared for. 

There are also times when hard questions surface and doubts arise. One saint said, ‘Faith seeks understanding.’ This an encouragement to grow and mature in an understanding of God and his purpose and plan for us. I feel I have only scratched the surface of his infinity. As I reflect on this sacrament of confirmation, I am convinced that choosing God isn’t a statement we make one day, for the rest of our lives. It is a decision we make each and every day for the rest of our lives. 

By Jemimah McMurray, a first year student at the University of Western Sydney.

View the reflection questions and activities for 'Confirmation: Discovering God for yourself' here

 

Topic tags: prayer+liturgyandthesacraments, people'sstoriesoffaith

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