Tonight, our youngest child will be confirmed – our last Mohican. This is the last “big” sacrament we’ll celebrate as Fenelon Clan. Of course, receiving the holy Eucharist is a major celebration every single time we receive Him, and receiving the sacrament of Penance should simply delight us each time we’re reconciled, but I think you get my drift. This is the last sacramental milestone for the original four Fenelon Clan kids. The sacrament of Matrimony will be a milestone, but it’ll be the milestone that marks the beginning of our children’s life with their spouse, and no longer their life with Mark and me. Then they won’t be “our” kids; they’ll be someone’s husband or wife and eventually their father or mother. Perhaps the next milestone will be Holy Orders, and in that case, it’s much the same. Our child will be espousing Christ and His Church, and will no longer be “our” child. That’s God’s plan, it is indeed beautiful, and I give thanks for it.
But, tonight we’re celebrating the sacrament of Confirmation, and it’s got me in somewhat of a knot. If I think too hard about it, I start to get sniffy and melancholic, so I’m trying to keep myself busy so I don’t cave. Tonight, our son, John, will complete the sacrament of Baptism, this time of his own accord, not through his parents and godparents. From now on, he’ll be taking responsibility for his own faith, and committing himself to Christ as a Christian adult. The Catechism of the Catholic Church puts it perfectly:
“Baptism, the Eucharist, and the sacrament of Confirmation together constitute the ‘sacraments of Christian initiation,’ whose unity must be safeguarded. It must be explained to the faithful that the reception of the sacrament of Confirmation is necessary for the completion of baptismal grace. For ‘by the sacrament of Confirmation, [the baptized] are more perfectly bound to the Church and are enriched with a special strength of the Holy Spirit. Hence they are, as true witnesses of Christ, more strictly obliged to spread and defend the faith by word and deed.” (CCC 1285)
As true witnesses of Christ, the confirmed are more strictly obliged to spread and defend the faith by word and deed. In a society that kills its own children, euthanizes it’s disabled and elderly, contorts the sanctity of marriage, persecutes Catholics (and other Christians), and even denies the very existence of God, that can be a daunting responsibility. Thanks be to God (literally), those confirmed are “enriched with a special strength of the Spirit.” With the present state of affairs, it seems to me that Catholics will need all the strength they can get, especially those currently preparing for, and receiving, the sacrament of Confirmation. This generation will have a lot on its shoulders.
So, when the bishop anoints John during the ceremony, he’ll be receiving a permanent spiritual seal that is meant to carry him through to eternity. I’ll be spiritually standing beside him, not as the soppy mom of the last Mohican, but as a fellow adult Catholic Christian prepared to fight for Christ. As the chrism graces the foreheads of all the confimandi, I’ll be renewing my own Confirmation, and praying that all the others present do, too. We’ll all need that special strength of the Spirit for the time to come.
The awesomeness of the sacrament does somewhat loosen the knot for me, since I, like any other Catholic parent, want to see my children grow to maturity in their Catholic faith. Still, I suspect I’ll maybe get a tiny bit weepy as I watch John being confirmed. Okay, I lied. I’ve already stuffed my purse with those little tissue packets because I’ll probably be sobbing. Religious and sacramental milestones get to me, even when I don’t even know the person(s) receiving them. Yet, in between the blubbering and nose blowing, I’ll be rejoicing. This is a monumental and grace-filled event for Fenelon Clan, for John, and for the entire Church.
Our last Mohican is being confirmed!