In our lives it’s hard to measure success, or even know if we’re moving forward and growing without goals, markers and signs. In school we learned material, took a test to make sure we had comprehended and studied that material and received a grade for our efforts. As adults, we earn raises or reprimands based on our performance at work for the year. We mark our relationship lives with milestone goals of how long you’ve known each other, and our romantic relationships with how long you’ve dated, engagement, marriage and children.
We live our lives with expectations of something to work towards and mark the moment. We want something tangible. Concrete evidence we can see and show to others about ourselves, our family and our friends.
Often times in our Catholic Church, you’ll hear people ask about what Sacrament they need to “get” next. As if it’s something to grasp, attain and complete. It’s an end goal to accomplish.
And yet, our faith is intangible. Indefinable. It’s not something we can grasp and put goals on. Our relationship with God is more than memorized prayers, attending Faith Formation Classes, Youth Ministry or Catholic School and more than knowing the answer questions on a theology test. It’s a relationship of the soul and heart with God.
As a Director of Youth Ministry, I experience the attitude of goal attainment in regards to sacraments often, and it’s something that breaks my heart. I have to remind people often that the sacraments are not a goal to get, but a moment to be celebrated.
I don’t blame people for seeing the sacraments as a goal, because it’s how our society has trained us to look at life. But I do try to help them change that mindset. Because once we all as Catholics understand that celebrating a Sacrament is not just a goal or mile-marker in life, but that it’s part of a whole life-long faith journey, then our lives can change.
Our lives can change because we recognize the need to participate in Faith Formation is more than just preparing for a Sacrament, but that it helps us relate and understand God in our daily lives. That Faith Formation isn’t something we do just as little kids or teenagers, but it’s something adults need too. And that the intangible, indefinable and indescribable relationship with God is more than the “goals” of Sacrament reception.
Receiving the Holy Spirit in the Sacrament of Confirmation is not a graduation. It’s a new beginning. And a call to continue even more passionately the journey of faith.
As one of the teens from my parish who will be celebrating the Sacrament of Confirmation tomorrow with our parish put it, “[Confirmation is] the beginning of a new chapter in my life. One in which the Holy Spirit will be even more present. Because I now realize that Confirmation is just one moment in my faith journey, not just something to get and do. And I am really looking forward to it!”