It’s been over a week now since my oldest child was confirmed. Our retired archbishop came up from Cincinnati to celebrate the rite. For the last several years, ever since the last auxiliary bishop fell ill, our parish’s sophomores have been confirmed by the local dean, which makes it a bit awkward for those catechists who have taught that the ordinary minister is a bishop.
It just so happens that the maiden name of the archbishop’s mother was the same as my surname. However, in one of those ironies that is all too common in this neck of the woods, he is more closely related (through his mother) to my wife than to me. Before my wife and I could be married, I had to trace back the family tree to establish that I was fifth cousins with my future mother-in-law.
Although alternate readings that emphasize the effects of the sacrament are approved for use during the Confirmation liturgy, the readings for the Second Sunday of Advent were used. The gospel was not entirely inappropriate for the occasion, including as it did this line from Matthew 3:11: “I baptize you with water for repentance. But after me will come one who is more powerful than I, whose sandals I am not fit to carry. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire.”
The archbishop delivered one of his canned Confirmation homilies, in which he examines the candidates by asking questions, but provides the answers himself in a catechetical style. The archbishop has a subdued delivery. It’s not a monotone, but five minutes after he’s spoken, you have a hard time recalling what it was that he said. I would be surprised if any of the confirmandi was inspired by his words to take up sword and shield (metaphorically speaking) as a soldier of Christ.
I suspect that, for my sixteen year old son, the memory of the day has already begun to fade, just as my memory of my own Confirmation is foggy at best. Nevertheless, he is sealed with the gift of the Holy Spirit. He has been claimed, and he allowed himself to be. That is something that I have no intention of letting him forget.