On Sunday 13 September 2020 I will be the Confirmation sponsor of Denise Bosman, a young woman from South Africa. What does this mean to me?
Different thoughts come to mind: the gift of being part of the Catholic Church. the joyful sharing of faith in Christ that always appeals to and moves people, the personal call for continual faith-formation, also the commitment to pray for Denise and her intentions.
Experiencing Christian faith within the “one, holy, catholic and apostolic Church,” as the Nicene Creed has taught us since the year 325, is for some people like a stream in which one has been immersed since childhood, for others it is a great discovery. But we all are invited to discover the pearls in the Church, pearls such as Mary — Daughter of the Father, Mother of the Son, and Bride of the Holy Spirit — the rosary (Denise is a real rosary warrior), the Church Fathers, the long stream of saints, the beautiful works of art, the pilgrimages, the documents and teachings, the liturgy, to name but a few. I am not blind to the deeply painful aspects of the Church, but rather than wanting to distance myself from them, I pray for healing and purifying.
It has been so special to witness the deep joy of Denise as she discovers those treasures, and to share in that joy with her. Those who build their lives upon Christ are never disappointed but are strengthened and made into “a richly watered garden, a spring whose water never fails” (Isaiah 58, 11).
Denise knows a lot, reads a lot, learns a lot about the Catholic faith. Her keen interest in learning challenges me to do the same. The internet offers countless possibilities: there are lives of saints, Bible references, etc. At the same time, it feels like an invitation to experience that knowledge in my everyday life, at home with my husband and sons, at school with the students, caring for older family members, in the group of praying mothers, and so on. I call it “applied theology”. Especially in this corona time, with its painful uncertainties, the words of Jeremiah 17, 8-9 are very dear to me:
Blessed is he who trusts in the Lord. He is like a tree planted by water, that sends out its roots by the stream, and does not fear when heat comes, for its leaves remain green, and is not anxious in the year of drought, for it does not cease to bear fruit.
Lastly, as a mother of five sons, just like that, I got an adult daughter: Denise and her loved ones now have a place in our family, and I feel the responsibility to pray for her and for her intentions, to support her in her (faith) growth where I can, and hopefully to share with her some of my modest life experience. I pray that God, who started this beautiful work in her, may also bring it to completion.