Wednesday, May 4, 2011
Be Sealed with the Gift of the Holy Spirit
Be sealed with the gift of the Holy Spirit! These words are still ringing in my ears, engraved in my heart; a trace of the chrism is still on my forehead, in my hair and hands. What a wonderful spring break it was, to be able to celebrate the Triduum in a special way by cantoring to thank and praise God, and then be confirmed the next week!
This past Saturday was my Confirmation. My sponsor, Father Matthew Widder, and I were both fired up and excited. This was the day we had both eagerly awaited for 8 months. All candidates and their sponsors began the celebration of Confirmation in the back of church so that we could process in. Auxilary Bishop Richard J. Sklba, the presiding bishop at our Confirmation, tapped me on the shoulder and pointed to Father Matthew, "Is this your sponsor? You couldn't find anyone better?" he joked as he put his arm around me and shook Father's hand saying, "Good to see you Matthew." Father Matthew had just been ordained one year ago.
For me the coolest experience I ever had was being anointed with the sacred chrism. It smelled so wonderful! I chose to keep the name John Paul, my baptismal name, for my confirmation name. I wanted to keep my real name because my birthday was on the same date that Pope John Paul II was elected to the papacy, October 16th. It is for this reason that I was named after him. What made it even more special was that Pope John Paul II's beatification was on the following day. Father Matthew presented me proudly, "Bishop Sklba, I present John Paul!" Bishop Sklba then turned to me with sacred chrism in his hands and lifting them up to my forehead said, "John Paul, be sealed with the gift of the Holy Spirit!" Then he proceeded by taking more chrism and rubbed it in my hair, on my hands, and on Father Matthew's hands. It was such a beautiful sight. He then took my hands into his and said, "Peace be with you." After I responded with, "And also with you," Bishop Sklba looked into my eyes and said quietly, "And best wishes for continued discernment." At this my eyes began to fill up with tears of joy. I thanked the Bishop and then walked back to my pew with Father Matthew and we were both beaming and grinning. It was the happiest time in my life.
After the Mass, my family, Father Matthew, and I all went down into the church basement for a reception and a chance for a picture with Bishop Sklba. When it was my turn for a picture with Bishop, my sponsor and mom and dad joined me. Bishop Sklba put his arm around me again as we smiled for the camera and said, "John Paul, I really enjoyed your letter that you wrote." ( In the Confirmation sessions, one of the assignments we had was to write letters to the presiding bishop). "The priesthood is a wonderful life," he continued. "It is life-giving, fulfilling, and energizing. It is never dull or boring. It is a beautiful life. I'll be pulling for you during your discernment. Know of my prayers." When we were done taking pictures I shook his hand and thanked him for everything he had said. That was definitely a memory that I will never forget. What an honor it is to be told personally by the bishop that he would be praying for me!
The next day my family held a party for me at my house and had invited over 50 guests. I had not seen some of the guests in years, so the fact that my being confirmed had brought family members back was awesome and definitely moving. One of the highlights of that day was the fact that we had invited six priests to my Confirmation and all of them came either to the Mass or to the house for the party. It was cool to be able to sit down and eat lunch and talk with each priest. Each of them have impacted my faith and my views on priesthood and are very special to me.
The whole weekend was the most amazing experience I have ever had and I will never forget it as long as I live. I would like to thank everyone who was holding me close to their heart in prayer as I made my way up to my Confirmation and was sealed with the gift of the Holy Spirit. It really means a lot to me how much everyone cares for me and is keeping me in their daily prayers. I really appreciate that. Thank you for all that you do and have a Blessed Easter Season!
Also on the top of the page is my Confirmation picture with my parents, my Sponsor Father Matthew, and Bishop Sklba. It is kind of blurry but I still love it!:) -John