You Gotta Want It

This post appeared as a column in the May 23, 2021, issue of the St. Michael Catholic Church bulletin. It is modified from a Wednesday Witness blog post written for Saint Andrew Catholic Church.

A few years back I spoke with a teenage girl who said she wasn’t sure she wanted to be confirmed because it didn’t seem relevant to her future success. Her mind was on her grades and test scores, a degree and a career. She had things to do, and from where she sat, God’s gifts seemed quaint and His will, irrelevant.

But we are created for more than economics. We are made for love, and the sacraments give us the graces to love as God loves. Through the three sacraments of initiation—Baptism, Eucharist and Confirmation—we are welcomed into God’s family as His children; we receive the gifts, graces and fruits of the Holy Spirit; and we receive Jesus Himself so that we can become more like Him.

Confirmation is not the end of formation. It’s not a graduation, and it’s only recently been described as a teen’s adult commitment to the Catholic Church—historically, Confirmation was received at the same time as Baptism and before the Eucharist, even among the very young. The sacraments of initiation, like all the sacraments, mark the beginning of a new or renewed life.

Hopefully our teens desire this new life. Some may be “all in,” desiring to know God’s plan for their lives and to receive the gifts and graces they need to live it out. Some may desire it because “Honor thy father and mother” is a commandment, and their father and mother desire it for them.

But everyone has a choice to make. On some level, you have to want the sacrament in order for it to be effective.

So many people, including myself, are confirmed and feel no different at the end of the day. It is important to understand that feelings do not always reflect reality—we are indelibly marked by Confirmation whether we feel it or not.

But looking back on my own Confirmation, I’m not sure I really asked for or expected the Holy Spirit to be active in my life in a new way. It wasn’t until years later, when I surrendered myself to Him for the first time—thy Will be done—that He began revealing himself to me.

So teens, however this weekend’s Confirmation Masses go for you, stay open. Believe that God has a plan for your life. Believe the Holy Spirit wants to work with and in you—and ask Him to open your heart and pour out the gifts and graces you need.

Finally, parents, set a strong example. Make prayer and the sacraments a priority. Come to Mass every Sunday, get to Confession when you need to, and be sure to pray for and with your teen. Ask God to shower your teen with His graces and surrender them to His will. God’s plan is so much more than we can imagine!

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