I have no doubt that each adult heart burns a little to reflect on that question. Every last one of us would come up with a long list of advice to our teenage self. "Oh if only I had better understood this back then..." "If only I could have convinced myself of this..." I also believe that the things we would rank as most important on our lists of advice would be things that relate directly to our inner or spiritual life.
Our young people will make their way next week, with their parents and sponsors, to the Cathedral of St. Paul to celebrate the Sacrament of Confirmation. If I could give one last piece of advice to the young people it would be precisely that – that someday there will be much that you wish you would have known or better understood now. Know that you will not always think as you do now.
It might be a good exercise for the young people to imagine themselves as adults and to consider what advice their adult self would like to give to their teenage self. Or, it might be a good exercise for them simply to try to be more open to the advice of a parent or adult in their lives. I truly believe most teenagers are just one good piece of advice away from a drastically more happy and fulfilling life.
One of the gifts of Confirmation is wisdom. St. Thomas Aquinas defined wisdom as, "the view from the hilltop" or "a view from the heights." As we grow in the Holy Spirit we get a better sense of the big picture and of the things of God. Just knowing there is a bigger picture makes a big difference.
A week on either side of this year's celebration of Confirmation our world also marks some anniversaries. April 24 was the 100th anniversary of the beginning of the Armenian Genocide – and the slaughter of up to 1.5 million Armenians in present-day Turkey. Many believe that this genocide emboldened Hitler later to conduct his holocaust. Part of the reason Confirmation is important is to equip our young people to confront the evils they must face in our world.
Then, May 6 is the 100th anniversary of Babe Ruth's very first career major league home run. That's another reason to celebrate Confirmation – to remind us that God is always beginning something new and has good things to come. We can always be sure of that. God’s best blessings! We love you, Nativity’s young vessels of the Holy Spirit!