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. šŸ™‚

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