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Sealed, marked with the Holy Spirit

The Sacrament of Confirmation was conferred upon 23 candidates on Saturday, June 8 at the Sacred Heart Parish, La Brea by Bishop Emeritus Malcolm Galt.

To share her reflections on the journey at the end of Holy Mass, the candidate chosen for the task, Kernique Marshall, commenced with this joke: three clerics, a Lutheran, a Presbyterian and a Catholic were discussing a situation they faced with pigeons in their church roofs and the difficulty in getting rid of them. The Catholic priest shared he had no problems. He was able to get rid of them. When asked what he did, he replied, “I confirmed them!”.

After the laughter subsided, she informed the congregation that even though it is the general consensus that candidates treat the receiving of this Sacrament of Confirmation as a graduation, she and her peers have vowed to prove this sentiment incorrect. For them she stated, it was a beginning, to take up the responsibility of owning their faith by their involvement in the work in the vineyard.

What was remarkable, was that the Bishop’s message during the celebration of Mass dealt with the responsibility they now had as believers sealed with the gifts of the Holy Spirit.

He used very practical examples to explain to them what being “sealed with the Holy Spirit” meant, and so impressed upon them that they were now marked for life as children belonging to God since the seal of the Holy Spirit could not be erased!

I looked at the candidates, a beautiful picture of girls in white dresses, white flower sprays in their hair, the boys with their red ties and red pocket squares on their white shirts, sashes with their saint names printed on, as they processed into the church building to begin the celebration of Mass.

They participated well, singing, responding and attentively listening as the Bishop spoke and explained to them their role as Catholic Christians.

Speaking with catechists from many parishes, the complaint is the same about the challenges experienced during and after the Confirmation journey, and the falling away of the candidates from “things Church” afterwards. Many are the reasons given; lessons, the pursuit of tertiary education and other secular interests. The list goes on.

While some parents, when asked about the absence of their children at Mass or the lack of involvement in Church activities, complain about the difficulties faced—disobedience, lack of interest, the questioning of traditions and teachings of the church, etc., there are those who express the opinion that involvement after Confirmation is up to the children themselves.

We need to be reminded that as parents, we have been entrusted with the responsibility of our children’s spiritual well-being, and it is just as important as their educational and social welfare.

Jesus Himself warned us in the Gospel of St Matthew 18:5–7, that dire will be our lot if we prove to be obstacles in the way of the children entrusted to us, growing close to Him. The image of a millstone around the necks of people as they are thrown into the sea scares the living daylights out of me!

At the singing of the meditation hymn, ‘Hear I am, Lord’, three of the candidates, cousins Cameron, Nirvana and Mikah, further bonded by the issue of hearing impairment in the family (they themselves are not), signed while the rest of the class and the choir sang.

The declaration of the lyrics, “I will go Lord, where You lead me…”, I believe augers positively for their future as children, chosen by God and sealed with the gifts of the Holy Spirit!—Juliana Valdez


Newly confirmed with catechists and Bishop Galt.