This afternoon, the sacrament of Confirmation will be conferred upon several of the young people of our parish and on 13 adults who have been preparing for this sacrament through the sacramental preparation course I have been teaching on Monday evenings.
I remember well my own confirmation on Sunday, September 22, 1957. I remember it mainly, however, as one of those nice things that one did as part of growing up a Catholic in that era. The Catechism we used in those days included 13 questions-and-answers in the section on Confirmation. Presumably, I memorized all of them, although the one that I remembered best that day and was ready to recite if called upon was Question 334: “What is holy chrism?” (Answer: “Holy Chrism is a mixture of olive oil and balm, blessed by the bishop on Holy Thursday.”) The anointing with chrism is in fact the essential rite of confirmation. In practice, however, I think that for most of us the highpoints of the ceremony were hearing one’s new confirmation name pronounced by the bishop (in Latin, in what I would later learn was the vocative case) and getting that famous ”slight blow on the cheek,” a reminder to “be ready to suffer everything even death for the sake of Christ.”
Today, there will be no Latin vocative and no “slight blow on the check.” Even so, I trust that those being confirmed will find the experience a memorable moment in their spiritual journey. In a particular way, I hope that those adults who have gone through their sacramental preparation with me these past few months may experience in this moment of grace that enriched sense of communion with Christ and being bonded with the Church which the sacrament celebrates.