Recently, I was reading someone’s perspective on Confirmation and the preparation for the sacrament… all the classes, catechesis, training, retreats, and completion of requirements. Before I could even absorb anything, I was thinking about our class of sophomore candidates and everything that still needed to be done or put in motion. I wondered about where they are, if they are ready, if they are sincerely willing. I thought of things that need to change, ways to reach them better, and on and on and on. I wasn’t really reading; I was skimming and thinking with far too much on my mind — until a single misspelling made me stop where I was and reconsider everything.
The world tells us that conformity is a terrible thing. Maybe the most despicable thing there is! Conforming means someone else has power, not you! Conforming means you have to sacrifice being true to yourself! You are brainwashed, controlled, and manipulated. So the world screams, increasingly louder: Don’t be conformed! Don’t let anyone tell you what to do! Freedom means doing what YOU think is right and necessary. The greatest evil is to let someone else control you.
It is a self-absorbed and hedonistic battle cry. Eventually, we realize that this battle is exhausting, never-ending, and will ultimately be devastatingly fatal. We begin to search for greater truth.
For our teens, this is the last step of initiation into the Catholic Church. This is the opportunity to take ownership, stand up, and claim the faith as Truth. It is the time to utter a final “yes” to be conformed to the Catholic Church, her teaching and tradition, and to Christ.
At our Confirmation, we give exactly that: a confirmation. Yes, we believe. Yes, we want to belong. Yes, we accept the gifts of the Holy Spirit to spread the Good News.
But what now?
For all of us, the journey to our completed initiation ends. A new, more demanding, and difficult journey begins. We now have responsibility for bearing the fruit of those gifts — to participate in and draw people to our community of authentic Christianity. And if we are to be authentic Christians, we must remember: our mission for personal holiness and sainthood is less of an agreement and more of a transformation. (1 Peter 1:13-16, Colossians 3) It is less of a “confirmation” and more of a “conformation.”
We are conformed — molded into the shape and likeness — to the perfection of Christ.
The means for this transformation of being conformed? Becoming more like those who we know to be most like Christ already: his Bride and his Mother.
To conform ourselves to the Catholic Church means adhering to teaching and tradition, even if we haven’t come to a full understanding of her Truth. We trust that the Church, as the Bride of Christ, wants only what He wants and desires only what He desires. We humble ourselves to her thousands of years of teaching, all based in Scripture and Tradition, and make our lives fit her path to salvation.
To conform ourselves to the Blessed Virgin Mary means loving, honoring, and imitating her in everything. She was so conformed to the will of God that His very life was made flesh within her. We find in her a model of humility, sacrifice, and enduring trust. TRUST that what she becomes, by the work of God, will be for His greater glory and her greater good.
The more we are like his Bride and his Mother, the more we are like Him. And this, afterall, is the ultimate goal.
We defy the world. The greatest evil is not that we are controlled, but that we fail to allow God to make us into the person we were meant to be. We are not enslaved by conformity — we are freed!
This morning, 57 of our teens will be confirmed. They will receive the greatest gifts of all: that which the Holy Spirit has to bestow, and the inheritance of the Church. Please pray for them, and for all of us — that as we confirm our faith with confidence, we continue to be conformed!