|In this issue of Today’s Catholic, I am writing especially to the young people of the archdiocese. I am truly blessed to have been called to serve as your shepherd. Celebrating confirmations and graduations with so many young people — you are among those blessings which truly fill my heart with joy. While these two landmark moments in your lives are profoundly different, they also have striking similarities that hold promise and present great challenges to you.
In the moment of your confirmation, I cannot resist looking into your eyes; after all they are the windows to your soul. In them I see the joy and anticipation that comes from your heart. In that moment, I feel united with you in a special way and when I say “Peace be with you,” it is a prayer that your lives will be complete in the Holy Spirit, as you begin your personal journey of faith. The catechism teaches us that confirmation is the sacrament that places us in perfect communion with the church, the body of Christ.
Each time I participate in graduation ceremonies, I am reminded of my graduation and my own heart-pounding expectation and sense of eagerness for what tomorrow would bring. As principals and parents embrace you with words of hope that spring from affection, admiration and congratulations, I imagine you cannot help but allow your mind to wander down the paths that are filled with your memories and the roads of your future marked by the twists and turns of undefined tomorrows.
Besides the emotions that fill these turning-points in your life, they represent a beginning not an end. Confirmation is one of the three sacraments of initiation, leading you to a new beginning in Christ. In confirmation you are strengthened to move forward in faith, following the will of God in your life. Its grace increases the gifts of the Holy Spirit in you.
Graduation ceremonies also mark a beginning. They are called “commencement ceremonies,” establishing a starting point for the rest of your life, not completing your journey, but preparing you for what is next. You are given the tools to begin building your future. Your ability to use these tools to their fullest remains unfinished, and each day you must continue to refine your skills to live, to work and to achieve the destiny that is yours to attain.
Both opportunities of confirmation and graduation intersect at your need for the Holy Spirit to lead you through the many tomorrows ahead allowing each of you to be uniquely shaped by God’s will. This path leads you to your ultimate vocation. This journey can be both volatile and satisfying. The Holy Spirit can be bothersome, at times, because he does not allow us to embrace the world’s definition of peace as simply passive tranquility. Pope Francis tells us that “We want the Holy Spirit to doze off; we want to tame the Holy Spirit.” The Holy Father explains, “This will never work because the Holy Spirit is God; he is that wind that comes and goes without us knowing from where.”
I pray that you will not leave the joy and anticipation placed in your hearts by God’s grace behind with other youthful memories. Confirmation and graduation call you to take a bold and brave step forward with a new sense of purpose and maturity. Remember the words of St. Paul: “When I was a child, I used to speak as a child, think like a child, reason like a child.” St. Paul continues to challenge us to “Put away childish things.” He is telling us it is time to take full responsibility for the vows of our baptism, listening for God’s voice and allowing his spirit to guide us.
God may be calling you to the priesthood, consecrated life, or he may be calling you to use your gifts to raise a family or shape a secular career path in a way that transforms your everyday life into a vocation of holiness and wonder. In the spirit of the New Evangelization, we are called to fan the flame of faith in our lives and allow our encounter with the living Christ to lead us to a life of holiness and service. May the peace of Christ go with you, no matter where your future path takes you. May you be complete in your love of service to the Lord and to one another.