On Friday night, I finally became a full member of the Catholic Church.
Baptized in first grade shortly before my First Communion, I was never a practicing Catholic. To be more precise, I intended to be a practicing Catholic for a full two weeks after my First Communion. I was fired up about the faith -- as fired up as a mostly clueless first grader can be, anyway -- and told my Dad I wanted to go to Church every Sunday. Bless his heart, he assented and took me for two weeks in a row. The third week, he came into my room to wake me up for Mass. "Don't you want to get up so you can get ready to go to Mass?" he asked. "No," I replied, "I think I'm going to sleep in today." And that was the end of that.
Fast forward to a year or two ago, and the tentative, halting way I found myself attending Mass on an occasional basis...then less occasionally...then semi-regularly...and now, almost always. When I entered grad school, I figured that since I planned to study and teach Catholic theology, it was about time I got confirmed, or "became fully sacramentalized," as I heard an acquaintance refer to the process. Friday was the culmination of that process.
As usual, of course, I was self-conscious and worried about standing up in front of a whole church full of people, worried about whether I had gotten dirt on my skirt, and half-convinced I was going to slip on the wood floor and fall down the steps while walking back to my seat in the pew. That is typical of me: even knowing the ceremony was not centered around me and all but a handful of people had no idea who I was anyway, I still feared everyone was looking at me and would notice if I did something wrong. But the auxiliary archbishop's homily was fantastic, and put me at ease -- or at least got me out of my head enough to realize the silliness of my self-centered fears. It encouraged us to shine as lights for other church-goers, and to model Christian living for Catholics and non-Catholics alike. This reminded me that my Confirmation is not just about me; it is about the body of the Church as a whole. And by living a spiritual life centered in the Church, I can bring the light of Christ to those who do not believe, or marginally believe but do not practice their faith.
Living for the greater glory -- for God's greater glory -- isn't that what this life is all about?