With the Easter Season comes another season of Confirmations. In the Acts of the Apostles (2:42-47) we read that the early community was devoted to the teachings of the Apostles, to communal life, the breaking of the bread and prayer. These same four ‘devotions’ of the early Church are still hallmarks of vibrant faith communities today.
I have enjoyed being on the road again this week, with celebrations of Confirmation in Casper, Worland, St. Stephens, and Glenrock. The Holy Spirit today is very much at work renewing the Church, strengthening individuals to take their full and rightful place within God’s family, as it is expressed in a parish, while at the same time calling each faith community (parish) to actively welcome these newly confirmed members.
This is a healthy two way interaction we are called to recognize and give our full cooperation. The primary response of every baptized member, and certainly of all those confirmed, is to ‘show up.’ By that I mean to stress the importance of regular (weekly) practice of Sunday Eucharist and continual participation in the faith formation process of the Church.
The Holy Spirit brings each of us gifts which are to be placed at the service of the community. At the same time, the community with the discernment of the Holy Spirit is to recognize and call forth the gifts of the individuals for the building up of God’s Kingdom. So, each individual has a responsibility to fully participate in the life of the Church, and the faith community has a responsibility to engage the individual members.
In my own personal faith-journey, I recognize what a powerful role the parish family played in helping me hear God’s call in my life. As a young person, my faith family called forth my gifts, by inviting me to serve the community. My first experience of such service was being an altar server. Also as a youth I joined a choir, and later became a lector, a cantor and even later a catechist. Ultimately, it was the members of my parish who called me to a serious consideration of the seminary and priesthood.
In this Easter Season, I pray that all our youth will stay close to Christ by being active members in their parishes. I also pray that all of our parishes will continue to learn the art of calling forth the gifts of the individual members of the parish for service of the broader community. May our parishes be enriched by our a great and strong presence of our youth. May our young people come to a clear understanding of God’s call, complimented by the grace to say ‘Yes’ to wherever that call may lead them.