Dear Confirmation Candidates,
Well, this is happening.
Not often in our lives can we say we are living through history. These strange and startling times will be written about; your children and grandchildren will mention your generation as that generation. What shall we do with the time given? How will this be remembered? I don’t know, but I know I wanted to reach out to each of you.
I first want to let you know that you can count on our prayers, all of our prayers, from Fr. Mark, our pastor, Fr. Anthony, Sr. Regina, the staff of Our Lady of Mount Carmel, Gabrielle and Justin, we hope you are safe and healthy.
Healthy, in every sense of that word.
I hope you’re learning, moving your minds in e-learning classes and bodies, enjoying with fresh appreciation the time on the driveway basketball hoop or jogging the empty block. I hope you’re enjoying your friends through streaming, but resting your seemingly endless energy as well.
I also want to offer my condolences. It’s not selfish of you to be disappointed, and even angry, that family trips, birthday parties, school concerts, athletic seasons and theater productions have been postponed or cancelled. I am truly disappointed that we are not able to be together this Sunday for our celebration of Confirmation, a celebration that promised, when it happens, to confirm Christ’s love for you and celebrate your hard work.
It was our hope to offer you all one more opportunity for fun lessons in our Confirmation classes. We had fast food eating competitions, a Kahoot! review and even a piñata waiting for you all. We also had the sacrament of Reconciliation, the liturgy and prayers for you, too. But now you have a new and final homework assignment before we will one-day meet to rehearse and yes, get confirmed.
Your homework is the final assignment my mentor gave me: Be kind to one another. St. Augustine tells us that everything in the Bible, that big, strange, beautiful, old book, everything in it comes down to two meanings: Love God and love your neighbor. That’s it. Any other interpretation is either over complicated or just plain wrong. That’s the funny thing about this faith, for all its rules and history that you’ve spent these months learning it comes down to a simple rule. Love. Kindness. Be kind to one another and to yourselves. I’ve been reading that book lately more than I should’ve been.
My favorite Bible quote comes from last week’s Gospel.
So a second time they called the man who had been blind and said to him, “Give God the praise! We know that this man is a sinner.” He replied, “If he is a sinner, I do not know. One thing I do know is that I was blind and now I see.” John 9:24-25
This is simply my favorite Bible passage.
During this health crisis I return to it. I realize that the passage and the story of the blind man who encountered our Lord isn’t just a story about a singular seminal event in the history of a man’s life, but it should be read as a daily reflection for us, a daily challenge.
In the story, the unnamed blind man and his family are questioned again and again on the miracle of his sight from blindness and in his exasperated tone he says to the Pharisees, “If he is a sinner, I do not know. One thing I do know is that I was blind and now I see.”
In the drudge of all this, remember that at the very least, though we are frustrated at our parents and siblings, angered by our boredom, miss our boyfriends, girlfriends and best friends, we know at least this: YOU ARE NOT THE PERSON YOU ONCE WERE.
You are no longer blind. You know the way; we taught it to you, your parents have showed you. I asked you on our retreat, “Do you want to be good or great?”
It’s time to be great. To be kind to all.
Be kind. When you seemingly can’t or simply don’t want to, be kind. Clean the house when not asked. Watch Frozen II for the millionth time with your younger sibling. Thank your teacher. Check in with that classmate you know who sticks to themselves. Serve your human family.
That’s another funny thing about our faith.
In Confirmation I am no longer just your teacher, but your Christian brother in this Church family. Should you need anything, if you want to email me, or talk or FaceTime, you’ll find me eager.
We’re almost there.
We got this.
I’ll be seeing you,