Story of a Confirmation
Last February Bishop Robert visited Athens to Baptize and Confirm members of our St Paul’s Congregation. Here is the experience of one of the Candidates – Nelly Paskevopoulou.
Story of a confirmation
Spirituality and religion has always been my great passion. I grew up in a very religious family and faithfully attended Sunday School at the Evangelical church until my teens. Part of my education at home, by my half Scottish Grandmother, was learning Bible verses by heart and singing hymns before going to sleep at night. I loved Jesus with all my heart and prayed often to Him for all kinds of things. I knew for sure that He was listening. I admired saints, missionaries, nuns and priests. As a teenager all this changed and I followed other, more “materialistic” paths. After many years of exploring almost every existing religious and spiritual path, from East to West and back again, my family tradition proved to be stronger and I “found my way back home”: to Saint Paul’s.
It was the last Sunday of October 2017 when I decided finally to attend the service at the Anglican Church. I never expected to be so moved. I spent an hour crying from pure relief. Everything was familiar, but also completely new. Everything felt just right. Later on I asked Father Leonard for spiritual guidance and we had an illuminating discussion, which helped to clear my mind on religious matters. Since then I have done a lot of reading about Anglicanism and continue to feel that this is the right spiritual path for me.
When I heard that Bishop Robert would be visiting Athens and would baptize and confirm members of the congregation, it sounded like the next step for me. I had been baptized as a child but never confirmed. As part of the preparation, I followed a series of lessons by Fr. Leonard and Fr. James, which were very informative and from which I learned many interesting facts about Christianity in general and Anglicanism in particular. The Creed was analyzed and explained, we refreshed our knowledge about Jesus and His life on earth, discussed the parable of the prodigal son, shared our understanding of the Holy Spirit, our experience of reading the Bible, learned the basics of Holy Communion. I especially enjoyed watching a short video from the Bible Project www.thebibleproject.com, in which visual storytelling meets the Bible.
On Saturday 2nd February we had a rehearsal in church with Fr. Leonard, so as to be better prepared about the sequence of events. On Sunday February 3rd, Presentation of Christ in the Temple, we gathered in St. Paul’s and the candidates had a short chat with Bishop Robert. The atmosphere was serene but full of expectation. We were going to be officially welcomed into the Anglican church, we were to be anointed by the Bishop with the oil of Chrism, it was a very significant moment for all of us, specially for Sarah who was also to be baptized. I felt something special was happening. When Bishop Robert pronounced the words “God has called you and made you his own”, then laid his hands on each of us saying “Confirm O Lord, your servant with your Holy Spirit”, my soul rejoiced. I felt a warm radiance spreading through my whole being. I felt blessed and happy. I had lived an extraordinary spiritual experience, which cannot really be described in words. Everything had changed, everything was the same.
At the end of the service, we were each given a lit candle and the Bishop led us through the church, while we were applauded and congratulated. I was touched to receive a lovely card from Deacon Chris, with blessings, welcoming me into the family of St. Paul’s, an icon and a prayer card from Fr. Leonard and all the congregation. Small gestures which mean a lot.