The Sacrament of Confirmation


At Alba Ligia’s confirmation, touch became the language of communication. Mothers lovingly knotted their sons’ new ties, while fathers gently patted their children’s backs in encouragement and pride. Parents combed, fluffed, and plastered gel into unruly hair. Hands held smaller hands and led them to the entrance of the church to await the Bishop.

Once a year, the Bishop arrives from Granada to confirm all of the faithful teenagers on Ometepe Island. This year, three towns and hundreds of teenagers prepared for their confirmations. Alba Ligia’s family arrived at the church in Urbaite on the back of a pick-up truck dressed in all their finest. All the young girls wore panty hose for the first, and hopefully last time. I wondered where they even bought panty hose on the island.

After much anticipation, the Bishop finally arrived. We filed into the highly decorated church festooned with palm leaves and smokey incense. Since Ron and I were Alba Ligia’s sponsors and Godparents, we were hoping for a good seat. However, by the time the line finally cleared, all the plastic chairs were taken and we ended up standing through a long, exceptionally hot and crowded service.

After what seemed like several hours of kneeling, and watching young acolytes wipe sweat from the Bishop’s forehead and redirect the fan to his sweat drenched face, it was time for the confirmation to begin. Sponsors lined up behind their teenage charges and we slowly shuffled to the front of the church where the Bishop individually blessed each confirmed student. Alba knelt before the Bishop, Ron and I laid our hands on her shoulder, and she was anointed with chrism, an aromatic oil that has been consecrated by the Bishop. “Be sealed with the gift of the Holy Spirit,” the Bishop chanted.

An hour later, after pictures with the Bishop, and a procession of gift filled baskets of fruit and toilet paper for the visiting dignitary, it was time to celebrate the confirmation in each family’s home. I was more excited about finding a bottle of water because it had been a long, hot day in a crowded church filled with rituals and rites I knew nothing about. I’m just grateful I didn’t have to wear panty hose. πŸ™‚

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7 thoughts on “The Sacrament of Confirmation

  1. Yikes! down memory lane I went in my “bride outfit” up to the bishop, kneel down and have him accept my confirmation Name, which was Anna, my mothers name, Now I was a Soldier of Christ and off to defend the faith and breed souls for god. What a Crock, but what a mystical and magical ceremony. I can still smell the bloody incense! However, that part of us all that loves and seeks the mystical and magical, is an legacy of our early days. Anyone who wishes to trace that history should read G.K. Chesterton, a Short History of the World. Powerful!
    What was to Toilet Paper about??? Wait! Its streamers! festoons! how symbolic. Streamers were the Celestial Ribbons that connected us to the Universe and is a vestige of the idea are we are, indeed, connected to the stars.
    “Aint relgiion fascinating???

  2. Beautiful ceremony πŸ™‚ check out the Misa del Gallo(rooster’s mass) at midnight on Christmas eve or the procession of silence

  3. Fruit and toilet paper for the Bishop.How interesting. I enjoyed your slide show and description of the confirmation. What a proud moment for Alba, her parents and dehydrated Godparents. Like you said, at least you didn’t wear panty hose. The little one in his green shirt and white vest and pants is a classic.

    • Haha, Lynne. I know…I thought toilet paper was such an odd gift, but I’m sure gratefully appreciated. The little ones all dressed in their finest were beautiful. It was a very touching ceremony, although I really couldn’t wait to get out of that hot, hot church! πŸ™‚

  4. What a lovely, lovely ceremony, Deb! Reminds me of my days as an Episcopalian (a “looser” form of Catholicism!) and Dallas’ days as a Catholic and an alter boy in New Orleans.

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