Sunday, May 15, 2011

Thanks to Two New Witnesses

This morning at Mass, I had the unexpected privilege of seeing something that in nearly a half-century of being Catholic, I never had: an adult confirmation. It was powerful to watch Rev. Tom Odorizzi, C.O, who leads the growing New Brunswick Congregation of the Oratory, confirm two men into the faith.

Dressed in dark suits, the men stood solemnly while their sponsors, also middle-aged men dressed in suits,  placed their hands on their shoulders as the priest blessed and anointed them.

 We applauded loudly when the sacrament was over, welcoming two new witnesses into the Body of Christ. How fitting this happened on Vocations Sunday, a time we all are asked to pray for an increase in religious vocations and also to consider how Christ, our Good Shepherd, beckons us.

Indeed, every confirmed Catholic is called to spread the Gospel, by what we say and by how we live our lives. The introduction to the Rite of Confirmation states: "by the sacrament of Confirmation, [the baptized] are more perfectly bound to the Church and are enriched with a special strength of the Holy Spirit. Hence they are, as true witnesses of Christ, more strictly obliged to spread and defend the faith by word and deed."

In his homily, Father Tom spoke to us about how difficult and necessary it is for Christians to want nothing except Christ. "The Lord is my shepherd, there is nothing I shall want," as the psalmist writes, not the approval of others, not the acceptance of our culture, not material success. Our focus, always, should be on Christ.

The Church renews Herself through new witnesses. They renew the hearts of those of us confirmed decades ago. I was moved at the end of Mass when the soloist sang an ancient Irish melody: The King of Love My Shepherd Is. This is what it's all about!