Bonds of faith witnessed at confirmations - Catholic Courier
Matthew H. Clark Matthew H. Clark

Bonds of faith witnessed at confirmations

When my grandniece, Julie Neff, invited me to her confirmation ceremony in Batavia, I was delighted. Julie, who turned 16 on St. Valentine’s Day, is the first of the eight children born to my five nieces. It always means a great deal to me when any of those young people invite me to participate in events that are important in their lives.

Batavia is in the Diocese of Buffalo. My friend, Edward Grosz, Auxiliary Bishop of Buffalo, presided at the celebration and graciously invited me to confirm with him — even assigning me to the side of the church where Julie sat.

It was a graced moment for me when Julie came forward to be confirmed. She is a gentle and gracious, soft-spoken young woman with a quiet manner and an easy smile. As you might imagine, to be with her in those circumstances evoked memories of her birth and baptism and all of the years since.

Adding to the pleasure of the celebration were two other familial/spiritual connections: 1) I am Julie’s godfather; and 2) my niece and goddaughter, Margaret McMahan, who was Julie’s sponsor at confirmation, is both my goddaughter and Julie’s godmother.

If you followed that, you are really good. But I did not share the experience with you to confuse you or to test your attentiveness. I did so to exemplify what I enjoy experiencing all through the confirmation season, viz., how our sacramental celebrations so beautifully make us especially aware not only of our relationship with the Lord but of our relationship with our sisters and brothers.

I am most aware of it when candidates come forward with their sponsors. Before a word is spoken I have a sense that there is a bond between the two, that they really are important to one another. Whether the candidate invites a sibling, other relative, teacher or friend to be sponsor there is always a personal and special reason for the choice. "I admire him." "She is always generous." "Grandpa always helps people." "I want to be just like him." "I love the way she treats people."

The comments that sponsors make about their candidates are similar. I often ask them, "What can you tell me about John or Susie?" The responses are always heartfelt, and often quite moving: "In our preparation time Jeannie has inspired me with her spirit of prayer." "I am impressed by Peter’s care for others." "Lucy has taught me a great deal." Whether the response comes from a relative, teacher, coach or friend I can hear in their voices and see on their faces clear evidence that they really and truly mean what they say. This is true of all sponsors, but in my experience I would say that is especially true of grandparents who are sponsors. What beautiful bonds join grandparents and grandchildren.

On the drive home after Julie’s confirmation I thought about the experience of confirming hundreds of candidates during these weeks of the Easter season, and about the bonds of faith and love they share with those close to them. The joy of witnessing those bonds being so beautifully expressed in the context of the sacrament reminded me that we’d all be happier if we more frequently told others how much they mean to us and how grateful we are for what they have done for us.

Peace to all.

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