April 28, 2012 – Confirmation Memories

Well I’ve returned after an unplanned one week hiatus.  The masses have been clamoring for the blog to return (actually, one person asked me about not writing last week – you have to pump yourself up once in a while).  I was fighting computer problems all last weekend, beginning with problems updating the website, and then having problems with my DSL internet service.  Technology has a way of bringing out the very best and very worst of me.  When everything is working as it should, I’m as happy as a lark.  However, when I am having problems with my electronics and am unable to pinpoint the trouble, well, let’s just say the sharp and blunt objects need to be kept at a distance.  And this was on top of the Cardinals losing 2 in a row to the hapless Cubs.  Thankfully, things are working again, the Cardinals won the last game of the series against the Cubs, they won 13-1 last night, and all is right with the world again.

Since I wrote last our Confirmation Class was recognized by our parish at the 9:00AM Mass on April 15.  This essentially brought to an end the process of preparation and reception of the Sacrament.  Though I am biased, I think no one can disagree that our class did a magnificent job in doing the many, many things that were asked of them, and it made for a meaningful experience for them.  In going through the process with them I thought back to my own Confirmation experience when I was in 7th grade.  My teacher was Sr. Anastasia Rubenacker, who just recently passed away.  Sr. Anastasia was a serious person – there was not a lot of joking around in her classes, but she was a person of deep faith.  There was a phrase she repeated many times during our religion classes that year.  She said that “the Spirit can do good things for you, if you let it.”  As a 12 year old I really didn’t know what she meant at the time, but now I think I know what she was trying to tell us – that Confirmation, like the other Sacraments, is not “magic”.  And only if we continue to be faithful disciples of God and are witnesses for our Catholic faith will we receive the full benefits of the Gifts of the Holy Spirit.

Admittedly, the preparation process was not as intense for me as it is now.  We were required to do volunteer service hours as they are now, however when we chose our saint name we didn’t really put any effort or research into it.  I chose Mark as my Confirmation name basically because my Mom wanted to name me Mark, but she was overruled by the rest of the family, so I gave her sort of a “consolation” prize.  Over the years I have come to admire Mark the Evangelist more and more.  He traveled with Peter to Rome and served as his interpreter.  He founded the church of Africa and became Bishop of Alexandria.  He is the patron saint of notaries, so we have something in common (OK, it’s a stretch, work with me here).  If I had done some research on Mark prior to my Confirmation, I think it would have been more to me than just a name; he would have been a true role model.  So even though we require the kids to do more in terms of preparation, I think it makes for a more meaningful experience for them, their sponsors and their families.

I also remember my Confirmation Mass.  Bishop Wurm was the celebrant.  He was a very kind and gentle man who unfortunately contracted cancer and passed away shortly thereafter.  During the Mass one of the main fuses in church blew, leaving us with only part of the lights and no organ.  It actually was kind of nice with the candlelight taking over the church and the choir having to sing A cappella.  Though I remember the Mass, I cannot tell you the exact date it occurred or other details.  In retrospect I wish I would have done more to mark this important event in my life.  Sacraments are more than just “steps” or events that automatically occur at a certain age.  They are true milestones.  They are important stops on our journey of faith.  They are worthy of the preparation we are asked to do for them.  Currently we are studying the sacraments in our “Fanning the Flame” discussion group.  Even if you have never been to a session, you are still more than welcome to join us.

Speaking of milestones, did you realize that the next school year marks the 150th year of the existence of a school in our parish?  The school board has already begun to discuss some ideas as to how to mark this important anniversary in the history of our parish.  They are looking for some more ideas and for folks who are willing to serve on a committee to plan these events.  Anyone is welcome – parents, grandparents, alumni, parishioners, etc.  Call the school office or Fr. Gene if you are interested.

Finally, I wanted to share with you an article that popped up on my Facebook page this morning.  Kind of going back to the confirmation theme, I think most of us are more familiar with the saints that lived during biblical times and many centuries ago.  But there are many, many saints who have been canonized in our recent times.  Bishop Braxton reminds us of this when the Confirmandi go to choose their saints.  One of the more recently canonized saints celebrates her feast day today – St. Gianna Beretta Molla.  She was born in Italy in 1922 and sacrificed her own life for the life of her child.  she was canonized in 2004.  You can read her biography by clicking this link:

www.marriageuniqueforareason.org/2012/04/28/married-saint-st-gianna-beretta-molla/

Well between the football draft and the Cardinal game this afternoon, plus the Blues game this evening, my easy chair will be working overtime.  Enjoy whatever you will be doing this weekend and have a great week ahead.  Peace.

 

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