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Father Muench Says...

Ready to receive gifts of the Holy Spirit

May 8, 2013

By Father William Muench
NCC columnist

It will soon be time for Bishop LaValley to come to our parish to confer the Sacrament of Confirmation on our young people.

In preparation for the sacrament, I have been asked to interview each candidate.  For me, this is a unique opportunity – I get to know each person better – and also get a glimpse into the life of a teenager in the present time.

Talking with these young people individually reveals a great deal more about them that is not evident in a classroom setting.  In a room full of other students, the pressure is very different.

The purpose of these interviews is not some sort of evaluation, to determine worthiness to receive the sacrament.  However, sometimes it is very evident which ones understand what the Sacrament of Confirmation is all about – they are ready to make a decision to follow Christ and the teachings of the Church.

I am often so impressed with some of them – they truly have it all together.  They are ready to live in the spirit of a good Christian.

I have often begun the interview by asking, “Who are you?”  It always seemed to me to be a good way to start, asking how they see themselves at this time in their lives. 

Recently, I was rather surprised when an eighth grade girl responded, “Isn’t it rather pretentious for someone my age to think they know who they are?”

She had a point!

Confirmation is about what young people can become, what the hopes of the Church and parish are for them as a young confirmed Catholic as they live out their sacrament.  Yet, I do think it is interesting to know what they think about themselves right now.

The standards that we hold up for them are the teachings of Jesus, the standards that Jesus proposes.  I like to search with them the qualities of a good Catholic. 

The question that I then bring up is whether it is possible – for a high schooler, for a teenager - to live like a good Christian – here and now – in their school, in their town.  Can they make that decision as they stand up to be confirmed?

I sometimes bring these questions up by asking if they know a good Christian.  The answers vary; sometimes they choose a person who goes to Church. However, it is a start.

Then I can ask “do they reflect their Church-going by the way they live their lives?”
I noticed that Pope Francis conferred the Sacrament of Confirmation on a group of people, mostly young people, from many different countries throughout the world. 

My attention was caught by an expression that Pope Francis used in his homily that day.  He challenged these candidates to “swim against the tide; it’s good for the heart – but it takes courage.” 

Isn’t that great – I intend to use that idea one of these days myself. 

Our young people are living each day in a world that is filled with many distractions – obstacles to being a good Christian. 

To live a truly good life and bring the Spirit of Our Savior into their world will take sacrifice to meet the challenge.  This is a challenge like swimming against the tide.
Pope Francis mentions that it is good for the heart – a way to bring God’s love into their lives.
Our Holy Father adds this: “Let’s not be discouraged – we have the strength of the Holy Spirit to conquer any tribulations.” 

May these young people recognize the gifts of the Holy Spirit.  May they realize that the Lord is prepared to guide them, that they may truly make their world a better place. 

Our prayer is that this sacrament will make them enthusiastic to live well – and accept the challenges to be transformed into those who know how to live in the Spirit of the Savior.
I remember this story from the past – I don’t remember where I was.  I do know that it was the day after a Confirmation ceremony.  It must have been a Saturday because kids were out playing everywhere.  I was walking past a baseball field. Just then I noticed – a ground ball was hit right down to the third baseman, who made a perfect grab and an excellent throw to the first baseman.

I then heard him say, “the Spirit has descended.”

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