Love is often misconstrued in our culture. We use the same word to describe our fondness for coffee, our favorite book, our dearest friends and family members. In relationships, love is reduced to a feeling, often bound up in lust. For some, love only exists in fairy tales, because of the hurt, betrayal, and pain they have endured by people in their life who were supposed to love them. But true love, true charity, is self-emptying, sacrificial, unconditional.
When I was 17, I had to get blood drawn. My mom went with me, and the phlebotomist happened to be an old acquaintance of hers. Making small talk, my mom asked the phlebotomist how her daughters were. She mentioned that one of her daughters was going through Confirmation, albeit reluctantly, and that she was encouraging her daughter to finish it “just in case, you know, she ever wanted to get married in the Church, it’s always a good thing to have in your back pocket.” I was so surprised at her attitude, as was my mother, who delivered some smart remark (ever so politely) about how she was pretty sure Confirmation meant a whole lot more than that. I’m not sure why this memory is so vivid, but I’ve never forgotten it.
Though this may come as a surprise to some, Confirmation is not about becoming an adult in the Church, or deciding for yourself whether or not you want to remain Catholic, or graduation (read: freedom) from Faith Formation/CCD classes. (If you were ever under the impression that it was, you’re not alone; at one point, I was too.) And it is certainly not just “a good thing to have in your back pocket.”
As a young girl, I always loved the Sundays when a Baptism took place in the context of the Mass. There were many reasons I found Baptisms captivating; for starters, they punctuated our usual Sunday routine with something out of the ordinary. But more than that, I was drawn up into the joy and the excitement of the sacrament. I loved seeing the little babies, water poured over them, oil lathered on their foreheads, their candles lit, the priest saying “________________, in the name of Christ, we welcome you into the Church,” and the choir singing, “Blessed be God, O blessed be God, who calls you by name, holy and chosen one.”
Built in 1831 as the headquarters for French missionaries working in northern Indiana, the Log Chapel was the first building on what is now Notre Dame’s campus. Fr. Sorin received the Log Chapel, along with the rest of the campus property, when he arrived in 1842. This one-room cabin with an attic served all of Notre Dame’s needs during its first year.
I first encountered “As Kingfishers Catch Fire” in a homily. While I don’t fully remember the homily itself, this poem has stayed with me ever since—enough that I even bought a book of Hopkins’ poems. I keep coming back to it because it helps me to recall and envision the grace-filled life that God desires for me.