Two thousand years ago when the hearts of the apostles were in turmoil because the Master was leaving, He told them to wait for the coming of the Holy Spirit. In the company of the Mother of Jesus they waited in anticipation and spent their time in prayer. On the day of Pentecost, the Holy Spirit came down upon them in the form of fiery tongues. Instantaneously they were transformed. Those uneducated, fearful men threw open the windows and doors of the house as they boldly proclaimed the salvation wrought by Jesus Christ. They became courageous witnesses to the resurrection of Jesus and preached the Good News.
This weekend Pentecost is becoming real for more than 250 of our young parishioners. They have been preparing themselves over the last couple of years. In December all of us priests spent the day with them as they made their confirmation retreat. At the end of that day they went to confession. Over the last couple of weeks, they were interviewed by priests, deacons and catechists. We know that they are ready to embrace their Catholic faith even more fully. I lift all these candidates in prayer and I invite you to do the same. Let us pray that the Good Lord will watch over them as they will commence high school next year. Let us pray that they too will boldly proclaim the Good News of Jesus Christ by their lives even more than by their words.
I want to offer my sincere thanks to Ms. Anna Mae Parkhill, our Director of Religious Education, for her leadership, her untiring dedication, and her love for the faith. I want to thank our principal, Mrs. Lorelei Bobroff, all our catechists, and St Paul of the Cross School teachers who shared their faith with our young men and women. Most of all I want to thank the parents of our candidates because without their commitment to their children’s faith formation our ministry will bear no fruit. I thank you, dear parents, for giving us the privilege to nurture the faith life of your children.
Finally, I want to thank our young men and women for making us all proud. I would like to address them directly: “I encourage you, newly-confirmed, to continue to practice your faith. Remember that confirmation is not the point of arrival, but the point of departure. You are called upon to embrace your faith more fully and you are challenged to bear witness to the Risen Lord. Make Sunday Mass an integral part of your weekly schedule. Once you graduate, you are warmly welcomed into our youth group. The parish is always here for you and we want you to be engaged with your faith and with your parish family.”
Some years ago, a young woman from our parish wrote to the bishop on the eve of her sacrament: “I want to be confirmed because I want to be a part of the Catholic Church for the rest of my life. I want to keep learning about my faith, and keep trying to be a good Christian. I want to always praise and thank God, and I want to be as kind as Jesus is! That’s why I am ready to seal my Baptismal promises this Saturday.” The occasion of the confirmation of our young people provides an opportunity for all of us to reflect on our gift of faith. We need to ask ourselves whether we take this gift for granted. Do we appreciate this gift enough and do all we can to protect it, nurture it and make it flourish? Do we practice it not occasionally but on a regular basis? Has the Holy Spirit been active in our lives? Inspired by the example of our young people who are being confirmed this weekend, let us pray St Augustine’s beautiful prayer to the Holy Spirit:
Breathe in me, O Holy Spirit, that my thoughts may all be holy.
Act in me, O Holy Spirit, that my work too may be holy.
Draw my heart, O Holy Spirit, that I love nothing but what is holy.
Strengthen me, O Holy Spirit, to defend all that is holy.
Guard me, then, O Holy Spirit, that I always may be holy.
May our confirmed continue to walk in the light! May we as a faith community embrace our faith with enthusiasm!
Born in India to deeply-committed Catholic parents, Fr Britto is one of seven children. He joined the Salesians of Don Bosco as a young man and was ordained a priest in 1981.
After he completed his priestly formation and his early education in India, he came to the US for his graduate degree in Journalism at...Read more...