Confirmation at the Cathedral of the Holy Spirit, Penang

It was a hot and sunny morning on the 24th June, when 50 confirmation candidates stood outside with their god-parents waiting to enter the cathedral. Even the hazy conditions did not dampen the spirits of 26 candidates from the English section, 9 candidates from the Chinese section, 3 candidates from RCIA and 12 candidates from the Church of Divine Mercy.

Bishop Rt. Rev. Antony Selvanayagam celebrated the mass assisted by the parish priest, Rev. Fr. Bernard Paul. In his homily, his Lordship remarked that it was most lucky for the Confirmands to be confirmed on this solemnity of the Nativity of St. John the Baptist. After a brief survey where there were only three people at mass that borne the name of John Baptist, he reminded everyone that John the Baptist was the herald of Jesus Christ as Messiah and Lamb of God.

There were two important messages of John the Baptist. First was the call for repentance. Repent whatever bad things done you have done so that you may be healed, saved and be whole again. He reminded them that even if the call for repentance is not heeded by all, the call is between God and yourself. It is God who will judge us.  But this call is not only for your own salvation. Your salvation also depends on the way you bring salvation to others. John the Baptist brought salvation to others. Your success is not of concern. Your concern is to be faithful, a duty to be a John the Baptist in whatever role you have to play. You will not be saved until your heart, your attitude is open to the salvation of the Lord. Sometimes you may be the only one who can be the pointer for others towards the Lord.

The second message is that when others flock to you, you must be clear to point them towards the Lord. He asked them to be reminded of the words of John the Baptist when he said that he is not the one but the one to show them the way. “I must decrease and He must increase.” He reminded the congregation that it is not easy to live the role of John the Baptist. It will take courage, humility and truthfulness. But he asked them do not be afraid or surprised. They had to prepare themselves in their families, their BECs, community to let others taste Jesus, feel Him and come to understand Him. This was the offering he asked the Confirmands to make this Sunday.

In his thanks to the Bishop and all those who helped in the journey of the Confirmands, Fr. Bernard expressed concern that some of the children that came for confession before confirmation had last gone to confession when they received First Holy Communion. Many had expressed that this journey to confirmation had made a difference in their lives. Some, even in expressing this, had said that they had grown more distant with their parents. He reminded the parents that this unusual phenomenon had serious implications on their family life. When other people complained about the type of children we have nowadays, they are complaining about their children. He reminded them that they needed to live up to their roles as the primary educators of the catholic faith to their children.

The celebration ended with a group photograph. After that the newly confirmed, their parents and relatives adjourned to the hall where his Lordship handed out their certificates and enjoyed fellowship with all those present.

Dr. Ivan Filmer
27th June, 2012.

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