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I can still remember the day we had Confirmation at St. Helena’s, in the Bronx N.Y., and how despite my fooling around I knew deep down that this was a very serious moment for me, you, all of us.
As far back as I can remember I knew God was real and not just some fairy tale like the Easter Bunny or Santa Clause. I can even remember the first time that I realized was a sinner in need of Gods grace, and His mercy. Grace being getting that which we do not deserve (unmerited favor, His forgiveness of our sins), and Mercy being not getting what you do deserve (the due penalty for your sins). It was a day like any other (so cliche) my sister and I were walking into our building and as we got to the elevator we could see an elderly couple had just entered the vestibule. Just after Andrea entered the elevator I jumped in and yanked on that sliding door pulling it shut quickly and up we went with that couple just missing it. Now I laughed, and my sister turned to me and said “that was terrible, you know that was wrong and sinful) BAM!! I mean at that moment I knew, really knew God was real and I was a sinner in need of a way out from sin and death and Hell.
Back to Confirmation though. We had to have several practices before the main event. Well I was sitting with Dennis Flynn on one side and Anthony Polesina (Spelling) on the other and we being the little sinners we were had a plan to sing a part of the song we were practicing real loud and out of tune. So when the appointed time in the song came, I let loose, only problem was they had a different plan to hang me out there. You can’t really blame them, it was a stupid thing to do anyways.
Well it was just a second and I had a Nuns fingers on my ear and being led to the Principals office for the dreaded seat outside and the long wait til finding out my sentence, which I figured had to be the death penalty for something like that.
I can’t remember what she said to me when she did call me in, and don’t even know if it affected me. But the one thing I do remember about confirmation day was that in the ceremony you affirm that you reject Satan, and that you accept Jesus. And on that day in my still maturing brain, dressed neatly, hair as perfect as it could be, and all the rest of the boys and girls the same way. On that day, at that moment, when the time came to make those declarations, I knew it was serious, dead serious,and whatever fooling around others were doing I was focused on my confession and acceptance of Gods Grace and Mercy. And I can just bet that there are a lot of you out there who felt the same way at that moment.
S o thank you Andrea, and my friends in our confirmation class, and everyone at St. Helena’s, including the Priests, and Nuns who dedicated themselves to us, you and me, a bunch of little sinners who needed direction to find that narrow way.
Years later while sitting in the Airline Bar, the whole gang there, Pete behind the bar, Johnny on one side and Dale on the other, the Jukebox began to play a song. AC/DC Highway to Hell and as we all were rockin’ to it I heard that small voice, and stopped my headbanging said a short prayer, a simple prayer, Jesus I don’t care what everyone else does or doesn’t I don’t want nothing to do with that highway to Hell, I want the road to Heaven. Each of you can surely relate a similar experience I’m sure. And that makes me smile. Life, as we have all learned can be hard, very hard at times. As an adult with 9 children plus one who died before birth, a loving wife, for the most part a very comfortable life, tears are inevitable. Myself, I have learned that tears can be a cleansing thing, a washing by the water. I don’t need to be tough, as if I every really was, just real. Only “real” can be a help to others, and many around us each day need help, understanding, and love.
Romans 12:15 (KJV)
15 Rejoice with them that do rejoice, and weep with them that weep.