Cameron Lyle and Confirmation

Illustration: Gates Dupont

Cardinal Sean O'Malley was scheduled to celebrate two Confirmation liturgies in my parish today but a change in plans required his being out of the country this weekend.  I was invited to ask to be delegated to confirm our 70 high school students, which delegation Cardinal Sean gave me.  This is my homily for the two Confirmation Masses.  Deacons and visiting priests will be preaching at the regular weekend liturgies here at Holy Family Parish.  The illustration above was in today's worship aid and is the work of one of our newly confirmed.

Homily for Confirmation 2013
(Scripture for today's liturgy: Luke 8

Audio for homily

Two years ago… two months ago… two weeks ago…

Two years ago, 
Cameron Lyle was a sophomore at the University of New Hampshire,
a shot put star on the track and field team,
and along with some other UNH athletes,
he signed up to have the inside of his mouth swabbed
as part of a program searching for bone marrow donors
to match blood cancer patients in need of a transplant.

Two months ago 
that program called Cameron Lyle to tell him
he was a match for a 28-year-old man dying of leukemia
and they asked him if he was still willing to be a donor.

Interviewed about that phone call, Lyle says,
“I was surprised, I was pretty happy. I said yes right away.
And then afterwards I thought about everything I’d be giving up -
but I never had a second thought about donating.
If I had said no, that guy wouldn’t have had a match.”

(In fact, outside of the sick man’s family members,
none of whom was a match,
there was a one in five million chance of finding a match.)

Two weeks ago 
Cameron Lyle was at Mass. General Hospital
for a surgical procedure in which a syringe was attached to a needle
which was inserted into his hip bone about 200 times
to extract eight cups of bone marrow.

It will take about two weeks for Cam’s body to regenerate the marrow
but it will take more than a month before he can lift any weight
- like a shot put.

And that’s what he gave up.
His bone marrow donation benched him for the rest of his senior year.

At the Penn Relays, last weekend,
and at the America East Conference championship games,
this very weekend,
Cameron Lyle is a spectator, not a participant.
But in the eyes of just about everyone
he’s a champion of a different sort.
He’s a winner in a contest he’ll compete in the rest of his life:
the contest between loving yourself and loving your neighbor.

Two years ago Cameron Lyle did a simple thing:
he allowed someone to take a sample of his saliva
and so he began to open himself
to the possibility of something much greater,
something much more important, something more demanding.

Confirmation is something like that.
No one’s going to swab your mouth today,
but I’m going to smear some chrism on your forehead
as I say, “Be sealed with the gift of the Holy Spirit.”
and we are all going to pray that very Spirit of God
will come into your hearts
and make a home there -- and make a difference there.

Will you feel like a different person when you leave church today?
Well, I hope you’ll feel blessed, uplifted
and grateful for the gift of God’s grace in your life.
But you might not know the real difference today makes
until two weeks from now, or two months from now
or two years from now – or even longer...

What happens here today in your Confirmation
is what Jesus spoke of in the parable in the gospel we just heard.
In the sacrament of Confirmation, the Holy Spirit is the farmer,
sowing seeds in the rich soil of your young hearts.
Those seeds are the gifts we’ll pray you’ll receive in this sacrament,
the gifts the Holy Spirit plants in your soul like seeds:
• seeds of wisdom,
the gift of seeing the world and life as God does,
especially when we’re blinded by foolishness all around;
• seeds of understanding,
the gift of accepting what our faith teaches us,
especially when faith demands we take the high road;
• seeds of right judgment,
the gift of knowing what’s the right thing to do;
especially when we’re confused and unsure;
• seeds of courage,
the gift of strength to do what God asks of us, with conviction,
especially when we’d rather do our own thing;
• seeds of knowledge,
the gift of discovering God’s purpose for our lives,
discerning God’s plan for our gifts and talents;
• seeds of reverence,
the gift of putting God first in our hearts, above all others,
especially when those around us have no use for God;
• and seeds of wonder and awe in God’s presence,
the gift of the desire never to offend God
and always to do what’s right and just,
what’s pure and true – all for the love of God.
Like Cam Lyle getting his mouth swabbed, what you do today
opens you and your life to realities and demands you don’t yet know.
You’re inviting God to plant within you
the seeds of what you’ll need to live a Catholic Christian life.

Today you’re opening minds and hearts to gifts from God:
important and valuable gifts; gifts you’ll need in the future;
gifts that will serve you well,
gifts that will help you through hard times.

But like all planted seeds,
the seeds the Holy Spirit plants today will need good soil to grow in;
they’ll need the waters of prayer and light of faith
to grow and to flourish, to blossom and to bear fruit.
Your soul is like a garden: you’ll need to tend it well
if these seeds are to grow.

And just as presents need to be unwrapped and opened
before you can enjoy and use them,
so the gifts the Spirit gives you today will be wasted
if you don’t open them, if you don’t believe they’re for you,
that they have your name on them,
they’re the right size for your life,
that God wants and expects you to use and enjoy them.

These gifts of the Spirit are yours and like all really good presents
they’re meant to lift your spirits, to bring you joy and peace
and to serve you when you really need their help.

So we’re going to pray these gifts of the Spirit upon you today.

We pray that when confusion and hard times come your way;
when you’re tempted; when you’re alone and afraid;
when you’re not sure what to do or where to turn,
or when you’re just by yourself in a quiet moment,
wondering what it’s all about:
we pray you’ll tend the seeds planted in you at your Confirmation
and open the gifts God gives you today and that you’ll know,
without a doubt,
that the Spirit of God lives in you,
that the Spirit of God loves you.
that the Spirit of God will never leave you.


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  1. What a wonderful, thought provoking homily. Lot of meat to those words, whether you were confirmed Saturday or years and years ago!
    thank you.

  2. I can't believe Cardinal O'Malley could have done any better. What a gift you are to the people of your parish. Thank you for sharing with all of us.


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