THE LOST SACRAMENT
The past several days I have had what is for me a somewhat unusual experience. On Sunday I enjoyed a parish visitation to Corpus Christi parish in Temple Terrace and then last night I confirmed approximately 80 young people. By the way, I was not the only visitor to Corpus Christi this week-end as the actor Kevin James came for the Saturday Vigil Mass, remained quietly in the back for the Mass, received the Eucharist and left only after the conclusion of the final hymn. A diversion, sorry!
Parish visitations allow me an opportunity to witness how a parish community celebrates the Lord’s Day. I celebrate and preach at two of the Sunday Masses and use some time also to meet with representatives of the parish council and finance council. Sunday was a great experience and I enjoyed my time at the parish.
But last night’s confirmation was really enjoyable. The young people, many in the eighth grade (about a third from the parish elementary school and two thirds from CCD or religious education) were extremely well trained. After confirming more than 50,000 young people in thirteen full years, I can tell those who have some understanding of the moment and the sacrament from those who are there because Mom and Dad forced them and they can’t wait for it to end. Not so last night. I congratulate all at Corpus Christi who had a hand in preparing these young men and women for the last of the sacraments of initiation.
We know that about fifty per cent of those who make their first communion receive the sacrament of confirmation. The remaining fifty per cent are lost to us and to this grace-filled moment. To attempt to see that this does not happen, some dioceses and some parishes administer the sacrament of confirmation at the same time as first communion. This has always made sense to me. The orthodox and some eastern rite Catholics receive baptism, eucharist and confirmation at the moment of infant baptism and that is an acceptable practice to the Roman Catholic Church.
Cynically it is sometimes said that “confirmation is a sacrament seeking a theology” and while I understand a part of that thought-process, I am not sure I agree with it. When one has an experience like last night, perhaps foolishly and maybe even mistakenly, I think the moment is full of grace and something wonderful can and does happen.