Pope confirms 44, including two U.S. teens

VATICAN CITY — Pope Francis confirmed 44 people today, including two teens from Ridgewood, N.J.

It was a warm, sunny morning and the faces (not to mention the new suits and dresses) of the confirmation candidates were bright and shiny.

Pope Francis confirms Anthony Merejo

Anthony Merejo of Our Lady of Mount Carmel Parish in Ridgewood, NJ, is confirmed by Pope Francis. (CNS/screen grab)

Using chrism oil to seal each candidate in the Holy Spirit, Pope Francis made the sign of the cross, then proceeded to rub the oil all over their foreheads. Each candidate got a quick peck on the cheek afterward.

In his homily, Pope Francis said the Holy Spirit brings “the new things of God. He comes to us and makes all things new; he changes us.”

If Christians allow it and are open to it, he said, the Holy Spirit starts making things new now, in this life. “The Holy Spirit is truly transforming us and through us he also wants to transform the world in which we live.”

“How beautiful it would be,” he said, if each person allowed himself or herself to be guided by the Holy Spirit. Each night he or she would be able to review the day and say, “Today at school, at home, at work, guided by God, I showed a sign of love toward one of my friends, my parents, an older person.”

Pope Francis said he wanted to be realistic; “the journey of the church and our own personal journeys as Christians are not always easy; they meet with difficulties and trials.”

But the Holy Spirit gives believers the strength and courage to overcome trials, Pope Francis said. “Let’s not get discouraged,” he said. “We have the strength of the Holy Spirit to conquer these tribulations.”

“Remain steadfast in the journey of faith,” the pope said. “Listen carefully, young people, swim against the tide; it’s good for the heart, but it takes courage.”

The Holy Spirit is the source of the necessary courage, he said. “There are no difficulties, none, no trials or misunderstandings to fear if we remain united to God.”