The following reflection by the director of religious education at St. Mary of the Angels parish in Wien is from Pentecost Sunday, when his godson received the Sacrament of Confirmation.
Today, five of our youth celebrated the Sacrament of Confirmation, which is a very fitting day on the Solemnity of Pentecost, the birthday of the Church.
In the First Reading from the Book of Acts, we hear how there was a noise like a strong driving wind coming from the sky, and tongues of fire came and rested on each of those who were staying in the Upper Room.
They were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in different languages.
We hear how people came out and formed large crowds and were amazed that each person could understand even though they spoke different languages.
Many were baptized with the Holy Spirit that day.
We might ask, why tongues of fire?
Fire gives us light, warmth, and energy and so does the Holy Spirit.
When the Holy Spirit came upon Peter and the others, it gave them light to see things they never saw before, as well as wisdom to understand things they had seen but never understood.
Just as fire gives us energy to change raw food into cooked food for consumption, the Holy Spirit gave them energy to change their languages so that all who were gathered could understand them and hear the message they were proclaiming.
Upon hearing this joyous message, the people wanted to be baptized, to receive the Holy Spirit, so that they could see and understand these things too.
In the Gospel from John, Jesus stood in the midst of the apostles and showed them His wounds, which reminds us of our sins.
But instead of making them feel bad about it, He says, “Peace be with you” — meaning He had forgiven them their sins.
He again said, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent Me, so I send you.”
And when He had said this, He breathed on them and said to them, ‘Receive the Holy Spirit. Whose sins you forgive are forgiven them, and whose sins you retain are retained.”
This is where Jesus instituted the great healing Sacrament of Reconciliation.
The apostles He gave this power to were the first bishops, and they passed that power down through the line of bishops to this moment, given this power also to their priests at the time of their ordination.
Preparing for this day, my mind has been working overtime.
I have been thinking back to when I had many of these confirmandi in second grade, helping them prepare for their First Reconciliation and First Holy Communion.
I have many memories of each of them, and I enjoy watching them grow on their own faith journey.
Today was extra special to me since my godson, who is autistic and nonverbal, was confirmed.
It made me stop and think how God puts certain people in our lives at just the perfect time to help us and be Christ for us.
During my reflecting, I thought of how Father Mike Murphy is one of those people for my family.
My godson was baptized by the late Father Phil Moriarty, and they had a special connection.
When Fr. Phil would walk down the side aisle before Mass, Hank would always make some kind of happy sound, and Father always answered him.
When Fr. Phil was in the nursing home, Hank knew something was wrong and would get upset when a different priest would come out.
Fr. Phil died 11 years ago.
Hank wasn’t happy at Mass, and it was hard for him to go until God sent us Fr. Mike.
He now has a special connection with Hank. The first year he was here, we started sacrament preparation, and Hank was using an app on an iPad to communicate.
His mom set up a folder for Reconciliation, and Fr. Mike was very pleased with it.
Hank enjoys going to Reconciliation, and Father has made the comment about how Hank gets the true meaning of it.
Then, after much practice, we were able to help Hank work through the sensory issues of the texture of the host. That spring, he made his First Holy Communion with his sister.
Hank loves going to church and enjoys listening to Fr. Mike.
This year, we started Confirmation preparation, and in the back of our minds, we wondered how it would work.
There were 50 candidates from St. Mary of the Angels parish in Wien and St. Joseph parish in Salisbury.
We were hoping to have the Confirmation in Wien, which would have been one less change for Hank, but then it was moved to Salisbury.
This spring, everything was upended, and Bishop W. Shawn McKnight gave Fr. Mike permission to confirm our candidates a few at each Mass, due to social-distancing concerns.
God doesn’t always give us what we want or how we want it, but He is always working for good. Sometimes, we need to relax a little more and allow His purposes to work out.
God took away any worries we had. Because Hank was able to be confirmed by Fr. Mike, whom he knows, and there were only five other candidates.
And as it turns out, two of the other candidates, Ramzee and Jace, were in Hank’s class, and they started together in preschool and went all through PSR together.
I know Hank would not have wanted to celebrate with anyone else.
So remember that if God doesn’t answer your prayers the way you ask, it means He has better things planned for you, because He loves us more than we know how to love ourselves!