“But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, throughout Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”Acts 1:8
Today, I’ve been a full member of the Catholic Church for five years. On May 5, 2015, I made my Confirmation at St. John Gaulbert Cathedral. With my cousin, Karli as my sponsor, I chose the name St. Catherine of Alexandria, and was sealed with the gift of the Holy Spirit. I felt so joyful at that exact moment when Bishop Bartchak Confirmed me, especially because the journey to that moment was beautiful, sometimes challenging, but so worthwhile.
From my very first Confirmation class, I knew I had to take this sacrament seriously as I prepared for it. I mentioned in a previous blog post that one of our priests said if we don’t want to get Confirmed, we shouldn’t get Confirmed. That was the moment that I knew I had to be responsible for growing in my faith. I truly wanted to get Confirmed, and everyone knew it from how involved I was in the Parish and how much I participated in class.
(Click here to read Why I’m Still Catholic!)
Throughout my three years of preparing for Confirmation, I wasn’t always surrounded by people who were strong in their Catholic faith. Don’t get me wrong, several of my closest friends aren’t Catholic, and we still love each other so much. It’s not a bad thing to be around people of different beliefs, and while my friends never made me feel bad for being Catholic, a few individuals and a few circumstances did. I was never directly confronted about my faith, but I from time to time I felt judged. I witnessed a few classmates question and even challenge the Church’s teachings. I could only pay attention to how my teachers answered so that I could remember their responses in case I was ever in their shoes.
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It might have seemed like I was blindly following the Church, but I thirsted to know her teachings. I longed to know everything my faith encompassed so that I could understand it inside and out. This might be why St. Catherine of Alexandria picked me to take her name, because she intercedes for me as I study, teach, and defend the faith. Some were harder than others, but I always chose the Church instead of the world. I couldn’t imagine leaving the faith that I’ve been growing in since I was baptized. I remembered what Peter said when Jesus turned to the twelve and asked if they wanted to leave after learning about the Eucharist. “Master, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life” (John 6:68). I felt like him, knowing that the Church that Christ himself established is the truth and the way to Eternal Life. No matter what anyone else told me, I wasn’t going to miss out on it.
A few days before my Confirmation, I went to confession so that my soul would be white as snow when I got Confirmed. This helped me to prepare myself for this sacrament and fully participate in it. On May 5, 2015, my parents gave me a beautiful St. Catherine of Alexandria medal to wear with my crucifix. It reminds me of the Saint whose name I took and to ask for her intercession. I approached the Bishop knowing that in just a moment I would be a full member of the Church. I made myself be fully present, taking everything in to make sure I remember the exact moment. I remember the smell of the Chrism oil and feeling the Bishop trace a cross on my forehead with his thumb. I remember him saying “Catherine, be sealed with the gift of the Holy Spirit,” and me saying “Amen.” I remember the joy of being filled with the Holy Spirit, and I’ve never felt his absence since that moment.
In many ways I feel like my Confirmation is ongoing. I’m still experiencing the gifts of the Holy Spirit each day. As I navigate my way through life and discern the Lord’s will for me, the Holy Spirit guides me. He helped me to strengthen my faith in college and live my vocation in the moment. I don’t think I’ll ever stop discerning God’s plan for me because it’ll look different no matter where I am. In college as I served as a Rock Catholic leader and helped other students grow in their faith, as I started Radiant with Joy, as I start my next job after I graduate, and whatever comes next, the Holy Spirit will be with me, leading me ever closer to God and allowing me to help all I encounter fall more in love with God. All of this is because I didn’t treat Confirmation as “graduation” from the Church. Nothing really ended when I got Confirmed. This sacrament only began a new life.
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