Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Confirmation Day

Fearless Maria gets confirmed at the Cathedral of St. Paul:

Right in front of the bishop
If you've never been to the Cathedral of St. Paul, you really should visit it if you get a chance. It is a magnificent Beaux Arts structure that was completed just over a hundred years ago, mostly the product of the persistence of Archbishop John Ireland and the wallet of James J. Hill, the railroad magnate whose mansion home is down the street.

I've lived in the Twin Cities for over 23 years and I've only been to the Cathedral three times -- once for the ordination of a family friend, another as part of teaching a Boy Scout merit badge, and yesterday. As a symbol of the majesty of the Church, the Cathedral is unsurpassed, at least in the Midwest. It's a subjective judgment, but to my eye the Cathedral of St. Paul is a significantly more impressive structure than Holy Name Cathedral in Chicago. It certainly has a better location -- Holy Name Cathedral sits on Wabash Avenue and is part of the grid pattern of streets in the area, while the Cathedral in St. Paul has a commanding perch on top of Cathedral Hill.

Confirmation is a hugely important sacrament in the Catholic Church, as those who are confirmed are full members of the Church. The issue for many Catholics is that they don't take that membership as seriously as they ought to. Following Jesus means putting aside your own desires and listening to something other than the sirens of the larger world. It's never easy to do. In his homily, Bishop Cozzens spoke of his own challenges as a young person and how he struggled to hear God's voice. It's possible that someone in the group pictured above could have a religious vocation some day. It's a path not often chosen, but as we've seen throughout the past year, lay people within the Church play a large role in faith formation as well. The challenge in the bishop's message is to listen more closely and find the role God plays in our lives.

I was confirmed a long time ago, back in 1979. In those days, the practice in our diocese was that Bishop would come to your parish, instead of traveling to the cathedral. I'm glad that we go to the Cathedral now; it serves as a reminder of the glories of the past, along with the challenges ahead. We don't have to rehearse the many scandals that priests and other religious have caused and the tremendous pain involved; it is an ongoing challenge and represents a stain that is impossible to remove. We build cathedrals to celebrate glories of God. We emerge from the cathedrals to find a world where God is always present, but also a world where it is often difficult to see the hand of God or the workings of the Holy Spirit. Those who were confirmed yesterday face that challenge today. Those who love and support those who were confirmed have the same challenge.


Gino said...

its been a tough decade to be a Catholic.
yes, i fail most days, and miserably so.
still, there is nothing else i'd rather fail at as much as this.

W.B. Picklesworth said...

Tough decade, yes. But often the tough stretches give wonderful opportunities. I've got high hopes for the Catholic Church and I know that it will be just fine. It's going to have the chance to shine as our culture flounders. And so will Maria!

Mr. D said...

My sentiments exactly, Gino. And I agree with you, WBP -- the opportunities ahead are wonderful.

Paul said...

Congratulations to all of you!