I was baptized and confirmed as an infant. At age seven, I received Communion and was fully initiated into the church. That was many decades ago. Presently, our children are given more choices. “It’s the new curriculum,” my grandson explains. He is learning about puberty and is informing me of gay and transgender issues. And long before my grandson, my daughter Joy had shown me the changes in religious education.
“Don’t make any plans for my confirmation,” I remember Joy telling me a month before the scheduled date. “I haven’t decided yet if I want to be confirmed a Catholic. I might want to become a Buddhist or something else.”
Faith is a gift of the Holy Spirit. I had named my daughter Joy because I see her as a joyful gift from God. I had always seen her filled with joy and assumed she also was filled with faithfulness to the Spirit. I was totally caught off guard when she announced she was considering becoming a Buddhist. I have nothing against Buddhism. It is just not who we are. We are Catholics. But as a cradle Catholic, I shamefully was taking our faith for granted.
Like sunrays, the gifts of the Holy Spirit fall freely on everyone. But some are invited to open their hearts to God’s Love through Sacred Tradition. I wasn’t given any choice. I had been sealed with the Spirit before I could talk. But Joy was free to say no. So I started to pray. I also counted on the prayers from my mother who was on a pilgrimage in Mexico City. Pope John Paul II was there for the canonization of Juan Diego.
It came to be that our family got together to see a new animated film called ‘Ice Age.’ The story follows a wholly mammoth and other characters on a mission to return a lost human baby back to its tribe. A saber-tooth tiger (Diego) joins the herd for less than honorable intentions. But in the end, Diego has a change of heart and risks his own life to save the baby and others.
As we left the movie theater, Joy made a proclamation, “I just had a conversion experience! I was born in the Year of the Tiger and identify with Diego, the tiger in the movie, who also had a conversion experience! And Juan Diego was also a convert! I’ve decided to be confirmed and take the name of St. Juan Diego as my confirmation name!”
So it came that our Joy, a cradle Catholic, being raised a Catholic, and going to Catholic schools came to have a “conversion experience” to become a Catholic. She received the Sacrament of Confirmation and accepted the fruit of the Spirit. She chose to follow the Law of God—the law of love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control (Galatians 5:22-23).
Thanks to Joy and her conversion experience, I came to realize that I must renew my spirit daily. Through Sacred Scripture and Tradition, I try to always keep my heart open to the Holy Spirit. I am often distracted by the burdens of the world and lose my way. So I have to stop, turn around and pray:
Come O Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of your faithful, and enkindle in them the fire of your love.
V. Send forth your Spirit, O Lord, and they shall be created.
R. And you shall renew the face of the earth.
Let us pray. God our Father, pour out the gifts of your Holy Spirit on the world. You sent the Spirit on your Church to begin the teaching of the gospel: now let the Spirit continue to work in the world through the hearts of all who believe, through Christ our Lord. Amen.