What a profound divergence between those two nouns, Bishop and fist bump. The Bishop’s presence typically brings with him an environment of respect. We sit up a little taller, the children stand to answer the Bishop, they address him by name before they give their answer. He walks in and the room gets quiet.
A fist bump, an action indicating friendship and informality, typically happening in a hallway or at a sports event, here at school.
In the act of Confirming the children, the child kneels in front of the Bishop, and announces his/her Confirmation name, let’s use Francis for the example here. The Bishop proclaims, “Francis, be sealed with the gift of the Holy Spirit.”
The children respond, “Amen.”
Pause while he anoints their forehead, then, “Peace be with you.”
The child responds, “And with your spirit,” normally shaking the Bishop’s hand. Bishop Conley had a slight modification here.
Recently, while running, he fell and has a hairline fracture on his right hand. Shaking hands with 116 nervous children, some of whom have killer grips in their earnestness to do well, can cause issues causing the need for modification. So the Bishop asked the children to give him a fist bump instead of the typical handshake. You should have seen the smirk on the kid’s faces as the Bishop instructed them. Their smile that went with the quizzical eyes and a tilt of the head that said, “You really mean that, Bishop?” His smile and role play of the task at hand told them, yes, I mean it.
I think Pope Francis would love the Bishop’s modification. The children have the respect piece down, the fist bump, necessitated by the situation at hand, brings a familiarity and a friendly side to this Sacrament of the Church, which is at the same time, formal, yet brings grace to the soul which enables us to be truly joy filled and alive.
What a celebration we had for Confirmation. The children were very well prepared with appropriate theology. They “looked the part” with their fine dress. They prayed often and from the heart to open the door from the inside to receive well the grace. The “fist bump” seemed like icing on the cake to make the memorable day even more so. May they continue to please the Lord and know a Church which has room for a “fist bump” when necessary.
In His Love,