Just a few days ago, a large number of youngsters in the parish mainly aged 10 an 11 were confirmed here in the Church by Bishop Toal, our diocesan bishop.
The Sacrament of Conformation is intrinsically linked with the sacrament of Baptism. In the early Church they were given at the same time and even today in the Orthodox Churches and in Eastern Catholic Churches today they are given at the same time.
It does what it says it does. It confirms your baptismal faith. It gives you the grace need to be a follower of Christ. It confirms, strengthens, underlines, re-enforces everything that is given in baptism.
Looking at the youngsters on that day of their confirmation, they are given all they needed for a solid foundation, something that they can build on.
Especially when you come across youngsters at that stage in life, you wonder what will become of them. What will they turn out to be? What will they end up doing with their life? How will they negotiate the pitfalls? Will they do well? Will that early promise be realised? Will those early downsides of life that young people have to struggle with be overcome?
It’s a great thing later on when you see them at a different stage in life – they have very often not just done well, but they have done very well. They have passed milestones of progress, they have been to places, had experiences, achieved impossible things. They turn out to be the best of people.
You cannot help feeling that the grace of God is in their life. Bright, shining out, something that cannot be extinguished.
That grace of baptism and confirmation shines out of them and cannot and will not be extinguished.
Looking at the young children being conformed a few days ago I had the sense of them leaving us. Not in the physical sense of leaving home, leaving school or going away somewhere. But in the sense that, even so young, they are setting out on a journey. Like the apostles in the Gospel of today’s mass they go on a journey, to travel by sea, to fish for themselves. Like the apostles on this journey they are promised not a fruitless search, or empty baskets, or something useless but they are promised something great in their life, a catch beyond measure, happiness beyond happiness, things beyond their imagining.
They are leaving, they have got all the things they need. They are strong enough for the baptismal journey. The wind may blow, the waves may rise up, but through their baptism and confirmation they are given all they need to travel through life and reach their destination.
It would be great to know what would become of these youngsters, how life will go. But no one can know that. But what you give them now is all important for what they become later on.
They know who God is. They know what faith is. They are given these great sacraments. They are given great spiritual riches to travel through life. They are given the map, the compass, they are given inner gifts necessary
Any father and mother would want to give their child the things needed to do well in life.
On that day of their confirmation, I sense that we were giving them things that were so good, not even we could realise how good they are.