Bishop Glen John Provost
Bishop of Lake Charles
Diocese of Lake Charles
“When I was a child, I used to talk as a child, think as a child, reason as a child; when I became a man, I put aside childish things.” I Corinthians 13:11
In the eighth grade that quotation hung on a banner over the door of our classroom. The teacher introduced us to the quotation from St. Paul on the first day of class. He drew our attention to it and told us it would serve as our “motto” throughout the coming year. When we acted up and, yes, childishly, he would remind us of what was written above the door. I never forgot it.
And today you are being confirmed. We speak of Confirmation as a sacrament of initiation. But what is this initiation? Initiations move us from one stage of life to another. To better understand Confirmation and why that sacrament can help us “put aside childish things” and live as adult Catholic Christians, we need to look at what happened on the first Pentecost.
The Acts of the Apostles tells us that when the Holy Spirit descended on the Church for the first time, the disciples and Mary were gathered “in one place together” (Acts 2:1). There came a noise from heaven that sounded like “a strong driving wind” (Acts 2:2), you know, as we experience during a hurricane. Then, “tongues as of fire” came down and rested “on each one of them” (Acts 2:3). They were filled with the Holy Spirit and were able to proclaim the Kingdom of God in such a way that people from every land could understand them (Acts 2:4ff.). The age of the Tower of Babel was over. Now the common language was faith. The Church was born to bring faith in Jesus Christ to all the world. Confirmation means that you are part of that mission.
With Pentecost the Holy Spirit came to abide with Christ’s Church. That same Holy Spirit will be given to you this evening. Let us make a comparison. You are “raw recruits.” You are being given your uniform. You have gone through a basic training of sorts, and now you are preparing for combat. In the old rite of Confirmation the bishop gave each confirmed a gentle slap on the cheek. This slap symbolized the movement from “child” to “adult.” This was to symbolize the encounter with the world that, for the true Christian, is not always a pleasant or welcome experience. When you live chastity, the world urges impurity. When you want to live honestly, the world tempts you with power and deception. The fact is that if you live the commandments faithfully, there will always be in the world someone or some circumstance to make that fidelity to God’s will very difficult for you.
This evening you are being called to “put aside childish things.” Do not forget your baptismal promises or your renunciation of sin. Allow the grace of the Holy Spirit to work in your lives. Do not obstruct the movement towards virtue with your own selfish and childish decisions. When confronted with a problem or crisis in your life, take time to ask this question, “What would God want me to do at this moment?” If you are open as an adult, willing to learn from your mistakes and embrace the truth, then the Holy Spirit will guide you to the right answer. Live courageously. Live an adult Christian life.
Bishop Glen John Provost