Asked to be Confirmation Sponsor


#1

An in-law of mine asked me to be her confirmation sponsor. Everyone on both my and my husbands side (except for us) are fallen away Catholics, so we were so thrilled to hear that one of them wants to come back into the Church. I immediately said yes, not thinking about the ramifications of her request. Here’s the problem: she is in a sexual relationship with her boyfriend, uses birth control, and does not currently attend Mass. My husband and I have both expressed to her our feelings on her choices, but she continues to do them as she sees nothing wrong with them. So, although she wants to be confirmed, from what I understand she has no intention of changing other aspects of her life with the possible exception of starting to go to Mass every week.

The Confirmation classes also seem a little bit funny to me - it’s not traditional RCIA. There are only four, two hour meetings before the Confirmation. Maybe this is fine for some who are solid in their faith and are eager to receive this sacrament, but I don’t feel like it’s the right choice for someone who knows little about Catholicism.

So here’s my plan: I think I’m going to write her an email (so I can carefully put together what I want to say) and let her know that while I would love to be her Confirmation sponsor and help her in any way that I can, I don’t feel it’s fair to her or to the Church that she be Confirmed at this point in her life. I would be happy to go to the classes with her, and if she does choose to amend her life by the end then I would happy to sponsor her. If not, I would not go through with being her sponsor.

Does this seem fair? I don’t want to outright say no, because I think it’s a great sign that she wants to become Catholic again. I think she just doesn’t understand what Confirmation is, and isn’t prepared for it. I certainly don’t want to make it seem like she has to be perfect to become Catholic either - I’m afraid of driving her away from the Church again. It seems much more logical to me that she start going to Mass every week, go to confession, and find out if this is really something she wants before she does this four week process.

Am I on track here? I’d love any input!


#2

ASK HER… if she is planning to marry her boyfriend in the Catholic church after she gets confirmed. That would stop her adultery behavior. She may also want to have kids after she gets married so that gets rid of the birth control problem.

I have been attending a Confirmation class for couples who want to get married after they get confirmed. I am already confirmed. I just go to learn more about the Catholic church.

You would be doing her a favor by having her confirmed so the next step will be for her to search for a man willing to marry her in the Catholic church.

I think it is a positive move on your part to go ahead with being her sponsor. Even if you know her sins she may change her ways. God works in mysterious ways.

She is making an effort to become Catholic and with time you can help her some more with giving her Catholic books for her to read about and learn more about being a Catholic.

Remember the story of Jesus when he met a woman who was just living with a man? He didn’t turn his back on her. He just told her what he knew about her. She was a Samaritan which was an outcast group of people. The people were truly impressed by Jesus and Jesus didn’t throw stones at them. He preached to them wanting them to turn towards God.

So your relative is a flake. Go ahead and do what Jesus would do.

Tell her that she is living in sin with that man and it goes against what the Catholic church teaches us and hope that after she gets confirmed she will change her ways and follow the Catholic church. What do you think Jesus would say to her?

As her sponsor it will be your responsibility to help guide her towards becoming a better Catholic and tell her so.

I have seen flakey people who are not truly ready to get confirmed but it needs to be done in order to receive all of the sacraments.
Plus, I see them attending church on Sundays and that is good.

I am sure other people here will give you better advise. I just like to give advise based on what I know which is not much.But… it may get you started into thinking in a positive way.


#3

First, it is not unsusual for somebody who is already Catholic and unconfirmed to attend confirmation classes such as you describe. Too many parishes lump the catchumen/ elect, the candidates from other ecclesial communities, and the Catholics who are not yet confirmed together in one big RCIA class, mostly because getting volunteers for each of the groups is hard to do.

If you are thinking about parishes where young people in high school are put through their paces and jump through hoops for two years, well, that isn’t necessarily necessary, depending on the diocese. As has been pointed out here numerous times, babies in the Byzantine Church, which is an equal sister in every way to the RomanChurch, are confirmed (chrismated) at the time of baptism. These babies have never received RCIA instruction, nor have their parents received long and drawn out catechesis on the matter.

The bishop is the one who confirms, or in his place, an appointed priest. The confirmand may have to renew baptismal promises and make a profession of faith, but the action is on the bishop, who signs and seals- not the confrmand. It is not a “Come to Jesus” moment or altar call for Catholics.

So, the first part of your post is not a problem, insofar as length of classes, etc.

While I think she should ammend her life, and I think she should be given the opportunity, did you ask her why she is chooing to be confirmed, knowing that she is having premaritial sex and using contraception? As her sponsor, you can enlighten her on the facts. You can get her some really good materials at Catholic Answers, such as the books by Jason and Crystalina Evert, and Christopher West. You can provide her with a good role model. You can tell her she needs to go to confession before cofirmation, but there is no possible way you can demand it, check on her to make sure she did it, or ask the priest if she’s been. Her conscience has been her own since she was seven. That is where I would start, before withdrawing my support as a sponsor.


#4

If the Church only confirmed those of us who were entirely without sin and with no likelihood of sinning again it would be a mighty small community.

I’m not condoning what she’s doing or saying that you shouldn’t have the thoughts that you are having. Becoming a full fledged member of the Church will hopefully give her the impetus to start following what the Church teaches. Most of us (at least on this forum) don’t commit sins that are so obvious to the average viewing public, but we are no more or less sinners than she is.


#5

Wow… interesting situation, but not uncommon either…

On the one hand, you have someone who wants to be whole with the church sacramentally, but not in her actions per se. From what I know, both have to be in unison. She will have to go to confession before confirmation anyways right? Maybe she plans on stopping her behaviour after her next confession? You can’t really know for sure.

I lived with my boyfriend before we got married and my sponsor (from when I converted at 19) encouraged me to move out before getting married. It wasn’t that simple for me. She said she was not going to do the readings at my wedding ceremony unless we stopped doing sinful things ( she didn’t know exactly what we were doing - and in fact we lived together as brother and sister for quite some time before the wedding ) so my response to her was “I have been to confession” and that was sufficient for her. She too has had times in her life where she was sinning more than others, even though she is an amazing role model now. We have to hold each other up.

I really appreciate her seriousness in her faith and her strength. This is obviously why your friend chose you, TessaRose. She admires and trusts your faith.

I don’t think you should ignore the situation ( and I know you don’t intend to by any means! ) but suggesting to her that this is a time to prepare for the sacrament of confirmation, and a time to go to confession and to think about one’s faith is definitely in order.

Anytime there is a sacrament coming up, it’s a time to reflect.

I am having my son baptised soon after he is born and the priest in the prep course cautioned everyone there that this was a time to think about one’s own faith and to NOT go ahead and baptise their child unless they themselves are SERIOUS about their faith.

This really made me think. (even though I am 100% positive I am baptising my son) I know at mass, we start by reflecting on our sins at the start. I know we need to do this everyday.

Having faith is a struggle every day and when we are able to follow strongly in God’s likeness, it is truly by the grace of God that we are able to do so.


#6

People usually cannot change their lives in a snap - it takes time and little baby steps. It sounds like she is taking one of the most important baby stepts and that is recommitting herself to Church.

Support her in all her baby steps toward a closer communion with the Lord! If you think she is ready to hear about all the wrong things she is doing and how she must change them in order just to start going to Church I think that would be the wrong thing - she is definately not ready to hear that and it would probably make her rethink coming to mass regularly.

Just let the Scriptures speak for themselves and she will hear them at Church. If she lives the kind of lifestyle you mentioned, I truly doubt that she reads the Bible. So if by coming to Church she will hear the Word, the Holy Spirit can work with that in His own time.

Don’t try to change her overnight. Don’t send that email. Don’t tell her all the things that are wrong - you have already done that anyway you said. And it didn’t change anything. Despite possibly feeling judged, the girl has decided to start coming back to Church anyway! Rejoice with her over this decision, support her as her sponser. THEN later as she learns more about God’s Word and God’s Will for her in her life - THEN when she comes to you regarding these things, THEN share more deeply with her. She will come to you when she is ready.


#7

Thanks for the advice everyone.

I definitely don’t mean to make it sound like I think she needs to be perfect in order to be confirmed. Certainly we wouldn’t need the Church if everyone was perfect! More than anything, I just want to make sure that she’s at least open to what the Church teaches. I didn’t send that email - I think I’ll either write up a new one or give her a call and talk with her a bit more in depth about why she wants to be Confirmed and what she is planning to get out of Catholicism. I myself am a convert and I know that it took me quite a while to accept some of the lifestyle changes I was going to have to make.

I thought I might ask her to read a couple of books and see if she is willing to at least prayerfully consider whether or not she can agree or accept Catholic teachings (not necessarily implement any big changes right away). If not, I don’t really see why she would want to be Confirmed, or how I could be her sponsor.

I am so thrilled that she wants to be a part of the Church again though!!


#8

I think I’d be inclined to say yes and proceed as if she plans to follow Church teachings. As various issues come up, you can discuss them together, share books, tapes etc.

At that point, if she flat out says she has no intention of living by those teachings, I’d question her about why she’s in the program.


#9

I second this. We are not worthy of the grace bestowed on us in the sacraments and there is nothing we can do to become worthy. She does not need to agree with and accept all the Church’s teachings to be confirmed. She needs to be confirmed and have her baptism sealed so that she’ll have the grace to accept and believe the Church’s teachings.

Your journey was different from hers. Don’t expect her to feel the same way you did. Yes, you converted and repented and made a concious choice. If you expect her reversion to look like your conversion, you are likely to push her away from the church at this time where she is seeking it and the Lord.

Praise God for the grace he is giving her in calling her to the church, praise Him for leading her to you her only real Catholic relative who can give her guidance and compassion and truth, and help this woman to be open to even more grace working in her life by getting confirmed. It isn’t your job to judge her. It is God’s. Like outinchicago said, God doesn’t set understanding and acceptance as criteria for confirmation. Don’t expect more from her than the Lord does. He’s obviously already leading her, so trust Him.


#10

TessaRose’s inlaw must be in a state of grace before being confirmed. In other words, she must have remorse for her mortal sins, and confess them with the intention not to repeat them. TessaRose has an obligation as her sponsor to not only pray for her and walk with her on her journey, but to consult with the parish team as to her in-law’s readiness to receive the sacrament. According to Canon Law, the confirmandi must be “properly disposed” and must renew their baptismal promises. According to TessaRose, her in-law “is in a sexual relationship with her boyfriend, uses birth control, and does not currently attend Mass.” These are mortal sins. She can probably attend the Confirmation prep. sessions, but she is not ready for the sacrament until she proclaims her assent to the Church’s teachings and can honestly promise to live by them.

Can. 885 §1. The diocesan bishop is obliged to take care that the sacrament of confirmation is conferred on subjects who properly and reasonably seek it.

Can. 889 .§2. To receive confirmation licitly outside the danger of death requires that a person who has the use of reason be suitably instructed, properly disposed, and able to renew the baptismal promises.

Can. 892 Insofar as possible, there is to be a sponsor for the person to be confirmed; the sponsor is to take care that the confirmed person behaves as a true witness of Christ and faithfully fulfills the obligations inherent in this sacrament.


#11

I was just confirmed. One thing I had to say at confirmation was my profession of faith. This consisted of the following statement: “I believe and profess all that the holy Catholic Church teaches, believes and proclaims to be revealed by God.”

If she has to make a similar profession, and I assume she would, then it would be a lie - and the distribution of the sacrament based on that lie. You shouldn’t sponsor that.


#12

Again, for the same reason- she is not doing the confirming.*** You*** are not sponsoring her as somebody “perfect” for confirmation, as you are not doing the confirming. This is not a “Come to Jesus” moment as in a protestant church. It is the action of the bishop and Holy Spirit. Confirmation is really is a bad theological term IMO The Eastern Church (again fully Catholic) calls this chrismation. It is sealing, or confirming, the baptism with the Holy Spirit. IMO, it never should have been moved from its spot in baptism, or should have been made available within months for infants at the cathedral. Particularly in the US, we have changed confirmation from its actual meaning and action to a Catholic bar or bat mitzvah. We need to get back to what it really is, and confirm children without delay.

Yes, if a person receives a sacrament in the state of mortal sin, then the sacarment does not take effect- until the person goes to confession; ineed, until the person repents. It does not invalidate the sacrament were one to receive it with a mortal sin. First, those who are naysayers aren’t understanding the sacrament of confession. There is no record of confessions in a church by any priest. This is because it is a secret. So, if this gal goes, it is nobody’s business. There will be no record of it anywhere. Second, while this is indeed grave matter, with some of the low-level catechesis still going on, the young woman may not know this is a mortal sin, or even the gravity of mortal sin. That mitgates her culpability. Remember: Grave matter, intent, sufficient reflection.Third, she will probably be given the opportunity to go to confession with the rest of her class before confirmation.

Further, you are all mistaking “sponsor” to mean approval and guarantee, one that the person is snow-white and read,and two, approval. That is not the task of a sponsor. Think more like a combination of a godmother (somebody to guide and assist in spiritual progress) and an AA sponsor. The pastor has the repsonsibility to relay to the bishop that the confirmands are ready, not the sponsor.


#13

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#16

I was in a similar position and agreed to sponsor a friend. It turned out badly as she dis-liked me standing up for Church’s teachings (no ABC) The bad situation was compounded by a way-ward priest telling her ABC was fine as long as it wasn’t chemical birth control! She painted me as the bad guy and spread stories about me to others. One woman whom I knew through a prayer group was surprised I was her sponsor. She had heard this woman speak of her sponsor (me) in a bad way and was shocked when she found out it was me! The image portrayed did not match what she knew of me. It was bad! I just stayed firm in the teachings and tried to gently approach the topics when they arose. I’m sad to say that we weren’t friends after that. She felt I was judgemental and harsh, but there was no way I was going to agree to ABC being okay.

Make sure the RCIA program is true to the teachings, it will make your job easier. It is much easier to explain teachings than it it is to correct false teachings from people in authority (lesson learned!) Also find out WHY she is being confirmed. She may be on an honest journey to God, and has not come to be fully graced with his truth. Isn’t that true of us all? My journey of faith has many ups and downs, and I am ashamed of some of the things I did as a Catholic. I’m glad God gave me a chance to come to Him!


#17

#18

My parish just completed our six-week adult confirmation class. The bishop will confirm them in a couple of weeks.

One of the things that totally impressed me about these people is that – as adults – they see how important it is to be confirmed and have taken steps to receive the sacrament. They were all very committed to coming to class. They were completely interested in learning more about the faith. And now that the class is over they were asking how they could continue to learn more and deepen their relationship with Jesus.

They don’t know 100% of everything there is to know about Catholicism, but they’re no different from most Catholics. I’m sure they don’t adhere to 100% of Catholic teachings either. But for each of them, this is a big step forward in their spiritual lives. And I hope that this is only the first step on a lifelong path.


#19

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