My sixteen year old son announced Friday nite that he is not sure he is ready to be confirmed. He goes to a Catholic High School and the discussion came up in Theology. The teacher told them that they needed to be sure about their committment.

Confirmation classes start in two weeks in our parish. I think he should attend the classes .

I believe that a person receives sacramental graces that are irreplaceable.

Any suggestions???

My son is 16 and a junior in high school. He should have had his confirmation last year, but he, too, said he wasn’t sure he wanted to do that at that point. He had some questions about God and the ‘submissive’ requirement of the Catholic life.

I too, was taken aback, but respectful of his choice to postpone the sacrament rather than ‘go through the motions’. It was a wake up call for his father and me because we thought we were doing a good job living the Catholic life, setting examples, being active in the church…but the questions he raised were so fundamental and the good ol’ batimore catechism answer which is so obvious to us as adults (to know Him, to love Him and to serve Him), was not enough for him.

We did not insist he take the classes anyway, mostly because we know what the RE program is like at our church and it would not have answered the questions he was raising. Forcing him to attend might have turned him off completely and that was a risk we didn’t want to take. So we all agreed to spend the year finding the answers to his questions. We accepted his decision to postpone - he accepted his obligation to research the matter with the time he would have spent in RE classes.

We were worried, a little, that he might decide against Catholicism all together, but we prayed and relied upon the grace of the Holy Spirit within him since baptism to deal with that part of the problem. For the research part, I wrote to Dr. Ray at Relevant radio for suggestions about books suited for his age/questions. I also wrote to his godparents for suggestions. They both came through with the right kind of books. Son and I went to the bookstore, picked them up and both started reading. He never questioned the existence of God, nor did he question whether or not Jesus really walked the earth. It seems it was more a matter of taking that next step of believing the Catholic Church is the continuation of Christ on earth and therefore accepting her teachings…including the submission part. Fortunately there are many good books addressing that.

This year he is signed up to go through the process of preparing for confirmation. We were fortunate in that he was receptive to reading the books we bought. I explained to him that as parents and godparents we are obliged to the church to ensure he has all the tools necessary to develop his own faith and as a baptised child of God he was obliged to give it his best before deciding to reject it. I think that was the bottom line for our family: you can question, you can doubt, you can even walk away - but only after you’ve gotten all the facts and given it your best effort. We could not and would not respect or support his decision against Catholicism based on ignorance. He felt that was fair and stepped up to the plate to learn more. We had faith that the Truth and his baptismal graces would keep him on the right path, but recognized this is something he needed to feel in control of - the decision to continue in the faith - so we did everything we could to empower him with the proper resources. He and the Holy Spirit did the rest.

I believe it’s important to allow your child to explain his reasonings for his decision to postpone confirmation. It’s the only way to know how to help. It might be something he can find answers for right here at the boards in Apologetics or at the bookstore.

God bless.

[quote=mrlgrl]My sixteen year old son announced Friday nite that he is not sure he is ready to be confirmed. He goes to a Catholic High School and the discussion came up in Theology. The teacher told them that they needed to be sure about their committment.

Confirmation classes start in two weeks in our parish. I think he should attend the classes .

I believe that a person receives sacramental graces that are irreplaceable.

Any suggestions???

I think you have two issues here - learning about the sacrament and receiving it. Assuming that the classes are minimally adequate, he should attend the classes to discover whether he is ready for the sacrament. That is the purpose of the classes.

I’m a trained, certified, lay catechist with 12 years experience in the parish’s sacramental preparation program for Confirmation. The diocese where I served as catechist for 10 years has a 2-year long Confirmation prep program that met every other Sunday for 90 minutes with the Summer off inbetween. The one where I served for 2 years was only 6 months long.

I had kids who went to either a public high school or Catholic high school. Sometimes, the kids who went to the Catholic high school although they knew their Catholic faith by the books could still possibly be the most unsure about whether they wanted to “still be Catholic” as an adult.

So I can speak from my own minsterial experience and formal formation of my own catechetical ministry that your son is exactly where teens normally are at this age – in their spiritual development as well as in their journey toward Confirmation.

Yes, as Sacrament we receive graces. The ones for Confirmation are the 7 Gifts of the Holy Spirit.

We can lose those Gifts when we sin but at Reconciliation they’re restrengthened.

Gotta tell ya… some of the most holy people I’ve ever met in my life have been teens in my “classes.”

First, you have absolutely nothing to be concerned about because God’s got your son in His hands, anyway. You’ve done your job… now it’s his turn to step up to the plate. Your parental concern and continued sharing of your faith as a devout, orthodox, practicing Catholic is the best “sales job” around. Next to, of course, his peers. Hey, at this age… peers rule.

Second, you as his parent are his first catechist. No religion teacher or catechist can replace your role in his spiritual development. You’ve taught him from speaking with him but more importantly in how you live the Faith, yourself.

Third, your son’s teacher at school is absolutely correct. Confirmation is a sacrament – a sacred covenant between you and God and the Mystical Body of Christ (His church). It’s not something to be taken lightly.

Now, having said all that… it is perfectly fine to choose to be Confirmed while still not being totally sure if you will want to be Catholic the entire rest of your life.

I’ve counseled the kids in my classes that if it’s only “for as far as they know for now” that this is good enough.

About 300 teens, and at the end of the program only a few of them decided not to continue and be confirmed.

Bottom line… yes, your son SHOULD attend those “classes.” Those “classes” don’t teach much new about the sacrament but are more of a review of what they’ve been taught and an opportunity to look at their faith more deeply for whether it “fits them.”

It’s absolutely natural and actually part of being a teenager for your son to not be sure at this stage in his life for whether he wants to be confirmed.

My suggestion is the encourage him to “just go for now and see how it goes for you. Just let me know when you’re done with the program for whether it is YOUR choice to be confirmed. Because, it IS your choice. I’ll love you either way.”

At the end of the interview I did with each kid individually half-way through the program, I told the kid that so far they were coming because most probably only because their parent(s) were making them come to Confirmation “class.” But now, the ball is now officially in THEIR (the kid’s) court for whether they were going to keep coming. After telling the kid that, I asked the kid whether they wanted to continue in the program.

What always worked for me was ask the teens who were balking even half-way through the program why they didn’t think they wanted to go on? The answers ranged from not thinking that God existed to other reasons. I told them that they were not stuck with their answer at half-way through the program, but if at the END of the program they did NOT want to be confirmed, I’d honor that choice. And if their parents insisted at that point, then I’d talk to their parents, and if need be I’d get our pastor in touch with their parents to let them (the kid) off the hook.

You’re doing fine. Just get them into the program from the very first day so they can relate with the other kids in the class from the “get-go.”

He’ll be fine. The kids in the class are going to be impacting him like he’ll be impacting them. They do that kind of thing as teens.

They help each other along in ways that they may not even realize, themselves.

Your son is much more spiritual than you might (or even he might) be aware at this point.

Hope this helps! Please let us know how it goes.

As his parent, just insist that he attends… and he can decide for himself at the end of the whole thing for whether or not he wants to be confirmed. Ensure that he knows that it WILL be his decision, ultimately because that’s the WHOLE POINT of this Sacrament.

But for now, he’s gotta go.

You’re doin’ great! Just get him to class and then pray that he at some point he opens up and listens at least at a shallow level. God will take it from there.


Bravo, can I bring you in to speak to the parents of my confirmation candidates? You did exactly what Catholic parents are supposed to do, and promised to do when their child was baptized. You are educating him in the faith first in the family by your own life and example, by giving him the means to learn and discussing things with him, and by getting him a good Catholic education. In the eyes of the Church he is an adult for the purposes of this decision, and while he needs the guidance of parents, catechists, pastor, sponsors to make the decision, it is still his and he cannot be forced under canon law.

On the other hand, it is the duty of the catechist, DRE and pastor to make the candidates aware of exactly what that choice entails. What is the choice to celebrate confirmation, what are the rights and duties of the confirmed, and guide them to adult understanding of the doctrines the are assenting to, and the moral commitment they are making, and the effects of the sacrament.

What often does not get said is that it is the Church, in the person of the bishop, who confirms that individual’s baptism and confers the sacramental completion of baptism. The individual is not a fully initiated Catholic without Confirmation. Confirmation does not refer to the individual’s decision to “confirm” the decision his parents made to have him baptized in the Catholic faith. It is a distinction that is often lost in the desire to respect the individuals faith development. If the bishop has decided on the age for confirmation and the means by which candidates should be prepared, and has called this group to present themselves for confirmation, it is a very grave thing to reject that invitation.

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