Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

This past week, both Ms. Dore’, our Director of Religious Education and myself met with the current 7th grade students and parents in our school and RE program. We do this each Spring as a way to orient everyone to the journey towards Confirmation. This year has helped me to consider the role of Confirmation and other Sacraments in our lives, most especially as way to deepen our relationship and experience of God.

In terms of both the Sacraments and living a life of Catholic faith, we believe that it all starts with Baptism. Without being baptized, a person cannot receive any other Sacrament. But in Baptism, the individual has both Original Sin taken away and is brought into a life of grace. That last idea is an interesting one, particularly when we consider how much or how many of the Sacraments we need to reach heaven. In essence, Baptism is sufficient; you have all the access to grace you need to reach eternal life simply by being baptized. Why then are there six additional Sacraments in the life of the Church? What’s the purpose of them?

Confirmation is actually a beautiful example of what the Church teaches about the grace of the Sacraments. You don’t absolutely need anything other than Baptism to see God in heaven. But life is tough. There are many challenges and difficulties along the way which make it hard to love God and neighbor in the way we’re supposed to. And so, Christ gives to the Church other means of grace, other ways of to experience the divine, to build upon and strengthen what has been given to us in Baptism. For those that are married, the Sacrament of Matrimony strengthens and enriches the grace initially given in Baptism. For those ordained, Holy Orders does much the same. We nourish ourselves weekly (and sometimes daily) with the Eucharist and the life- sustaining grace found with it. And in Confirmation, the outpouring of the Holy Spirit is meant to shield the fire of our faith from the disturbances of life and to help it grow stronger and stronger.

In our meeting with the 7th graders, we list the expectations for them in the year ahead. Attending classes, doing service projects, picking a saint’s name and researching their life, going to weekend Mass, etc. It comes across at times like a series of rules or tasks; of goals to be checked off and completed. But it’s not really meant to be that at all, but rather a reminder of the way we are to live. Learn the tenets of our faith, be of service to others, discover friendships with the saints, participate in the worship of God with the community of faith; all are critical to living out our Baptism. I hope our 7th graders heard that message this week as they move towards Confirmation and I hope you can hear that message too!

Peace and Goodness,
Fr. Dan