St. Austin’s – an evangelizing parish, served by the Paulists, deep in the heart of Texas – is always a busy and active place. I NEVER find this parish boring. And that is wonderful!
Last week we had a very moving and marvelous exhibit here for KRISTALNACHT. I hope that you had a chance to take it in, meditating on what is our sad, but all too common, history. The memory of this tragedy should make us sensitive to all the forms of intolerance and hate in our world today, and hopefully engage us to move beyond apathy to work for justice, mutual respect and peace between all the religions of the world. We all live on the same planet, and regardless of your religion we are all affected by climate change, the economy and war. We do not have the luxury of not working together.
This coming week here at St. Austin’s – an evangelizing parish, served by the Paulists, deep in the heart of Texas – we are fortunate to celebrate the Sacrament of Confirmation. Bishop Joe Vásquez will be with us to seal about 24 of our parish’s young people with the Gift of the Holy Spirit. That sealing is the “confirmation”. Like a confirmation number when you book a flight or hotel room, or that you receive when you order something on-line, that confirmation is God’s guarantee of God’s choice of this person as God’s beloved son or daughter. God made that choice at the person’s Baptism, and now God confirms that choice in this Sacrament which is the completion of Baptism, by sealing the person with the gifts of the Holy Spirit. You cannot find a better guarantee than that. It is not only a life-time guarantee, but an eternal life-time guarantee!
The primary meaning of the Sacrament of Confirmation is NOT that the young person is confirming the choice made for them at their Baptism when he or she was an infant, but rather God confirming His choice of this person as God’s own. What God does in this Sacrament is vastly more important than what we do. Sometimes I think we put so much emphasis on what we do, in preparing and studying and service projects and so on that we get out of balance with the importance of what God does in this Sacrament. We can even fall into the trap of thinking we have somehow “earned” or “deserved” this grace because we have fulfilled all the requirements, done all the things on the checklist, attended all the classes, and so we now claim this by right. But Confirmation is not a merit badge. That is the heresy of pelagianism. God’s gifts are always grace, that is, free. All is gift. (see Eph 2:8).
I invite you to come and join us for the celebration of Confirmation here at St. Austin’s Thursday evening at 6:30 p.m. This is a celebration for the whole parish, as we see God pour out the Gifts of the Holy Spirit on our young people.