Keeping with tradition, the Cathedral of St. John the Evangelist was filled for the Sunday vigil Mass on June 7 as more than 60 teens and adults received the sacrament of confirmation from Bishop Nelson Perez on the eve of Pentecost.
In his homily, the bishop explained that just as the apostles were never the same after Pentecost, neither are we. Initially, the apostles were frightened, he said. They were in the room with Jesus and afraid to leave for fear that the same thing that happened to him was going to happen to them. Ultimately, they were right since all but one – John – died as martyrs. Thankfully for us, they did leave the room and went out to proclaim the death and resurrection of Jesus, the bishop said. Had they not, we wouldn’t be here today, he added.
Three of the seven sacraments are received only once. They change you, Bishop Perez said, because the sacrament can never be taken from you. “Once this gift is given, you can’t give it back,” he added. Those sacraments are baptism, confirmation -- which in Latin means “to seal” -- and holy orders (ordination). He said that Pope Francis explained it best at one of his Wednesday audiences saying, “When we allow the Holy Spirit in, he shapes our lives and molds us into the image of his son.”
Just before being confirmed, the candidates were asked to renew their baptismal promises as a way to recommit themselves to God and his Church.
The bishop also asked the confirmandi and their sponsors to do something for him. Once they received the sacrament and returned to their seats, the confirmandi were to close their eyes and talk to the Lord and the Spirit that was just sealed in them. Then to the sponsors he said, “There are 7.5 billion people on this planet that those to be confirmed could have chosen and they chose you to stand by their side. Before the end of your evening, ask them why they chose you, what they saw in you and what they expect from you.”
As Mass was ending and the final blessing was being given, the bishop asked one more thing of those who had been confirmed. “Get to know your patron saint. Get to know the saint whose name you took today,” he said.
The Mass was concelebrated by Father Sangjun Park, administrator of St. Andrew Kim Pastoral Center in Cleveland, and Father John Schneider, pastor of SS. Peter & Paul and St. Therese parishes in Garfield Heights.