For the 17 confirmands it was a time to reflect on the stage of their lives and decide if they wanted confirmation. After all the years of attending catechism classes, serving in a ministry in the church, choosing their godparents and confirmation names, going through an interview with the parish priest, Rev. Fr. Martin Arlando, attending a confirmation camp by Martin Jalleh with a healing session and, lastly, doing a confession the day before, the time had come. They had learned the foundations of their faith and that God did not need them as He had everything. Did they want God in their lives and serve Him to gain rich rewards for themselves?
At the beginning of the Rite of Confirmation during the 9 am mass on 20th July, 2014 at Church of Divine Mercy (CDM), Penang, Fr. Martin welcomed the 17 confirmation candidates and invited them to stand and to be recognized by His Lordship, Rt. Rev. Sebastian Francis, the Bishop of Penang Diocese and the congregation. His Lordship expressed gladness to be part of this historic occasion and invited them to be disciples of Jesus and witnesses of Christ in the world especially when they leave home to persue their ambitions. He was also happy to know that there were another 17 adults who had just begun their journey in RCIA at CDM. In addition, he welcomed all the visitors of many christian denominations from East Malaysia from the Bomba training institute in Penang, who faithfully attended mass every Sunday at CDM.
In his homily, his Grace, mentioned that the church was preparing for Mission Sunday on the 19th October, 2014. On that day he was going to send all catholics out on mission to the world. He then asked those present what was the highest form of worship that Jesus left us in the church. In church, we have praise and worship, intersession, and penance. But these are all mere preparations. The highest form of worship has nothing to do with words or even doing a silent retreat. For catholics, the highest form of worship is as simple as eating and drinking. One does not need to go for courses to learn this. It is available to all. It is the eating of the body and drinking the blood of Christ. Everything else leads up to this absolute form of worship. Everyone can understand this.
The confirmands were going to receive the Holy Spirit in their lives today. He lamented that we have reduced the Holy Spirit to a dove, a counselor, a guide, a friend or companion. But He is more than this. The scriptures say that the Holy Spirit is the Lord and Giver of Life, sent by the Father and the Son, preparing church for the final coming of Jesus Christ. The second highest form of worship is to surrender to Holy Spirit. His Grace invited the congregation to surrender to the Lord Jesus, to intercede for us speaking to the Father and to surrender to the Lord and Giver of Life. Together with it will come the gifts of the Holy Spirit.
He continued to emphasize that we are disciples of love. The primary symbol of the Holy Spirit is Fire. This is all about love and truth, as we need both in our lives. We need to continue to speak of love and truth in Malaysia as God cannot be imprisoned in any language. The catholic church here will continue to proclaim love and truth as young people are most concerned of truth in their lives. The Holy Spirit is also about the Spirit of Freedom. This is represented in the symbol of Wind as true freedom comes from the Holy Spirit. He reminded the confirmands that nobody gives you that freedom for it is already in them. He advised them to use the gifts given to them this day and all the talents given to them by God in discipleship in their mission into the world.
At the end of the ceremony, the friends and families were invited to a sponsored brunch where His Lordship presented the confirmation certificates. The confirmands also cut a cake together to be united in mission. In addition, each confirmand was given a souvenir to remember the first confirmation held at CDM.
Dr. Ivan Filmer
30th July, 2014