Help! Confirmation Class full of unvbelievers!

I have a confirmation class and many of them doubt the existence of God and don’t see the necessity of believing in God. What can I say to a group of 14 and 15 year olds that may help them understand why believing in God is necessary? They also doubt the existence of an afterlife.

Thanks and God Bless

You can’t force them to believe it. You can only present the material to them and allow them to make their own judgement. That’s what the confirmation process is about. It’s time for them to make that choice for themselves. Just keep reminding them that it’s now their time to make a choice. That before now it was their parents who made the choice for them. Their parents chose to have them baptized. Their parents chose to bring them to church. Their parents chose to enroll them in Religious Education classes. Now it’s their turn to choose God.

Make sure to emphasis their roll in the process that it is their eternal choice to be making. That they are now old enough to choose their spiritual relationship with God. Our current confirmation class has a very good program for catechesis and so far we’ve had no problems with them. Just keep giving them the truth of the church, pray for them, and make sure their parents are involved as much as they can be in the process. (though if the kids have already decided they don’t believe, it sounds like they haven’t been getting much catechesis at home.)

I might ask a lot of questions. Such as on what basis they make their assertions? Stick with basic stuff like First Cause and where existence originated. They might be less inclined to hold confidence in their positions if they can’t defend it from their side.

I’m no teen psychologist, but perhaps one way to go would be to approach them about Christ hypothetically - for instance, say, “If God did become a human being so that we could go to heaven, wouldn’t you consider it important to unite with Him so you can get to heaven?”

Maybe listen to Peter Kreeft’s talk about the Existence of God. I think it’s only a couple bucks on iTunes. He tends to be pretty straightforward and rational.

Wow! Welcome back Mike Ledes!

I would start them on Augustine’s Concerning Faith of Things Not Seen.

I would take them to a Matt Maher concert, or open class with one of his songs, explaining the theology behind it.

And I would have them watch David MacDonald’s and his wife’s Journey Home. This is a great one!

Are you still thinking of becoming a priest? Good to see you around.

In Christ,
Pete

The last Confirmation class I taught had a few kids in there who kinda felt that way, and openly challenged me to “prove it” that God exists. I admitted that while I can’t openly prove the existence of God, they couldn’t disprove it either, and that’s what faith truly is. There were a few who left it at that, probably shocked that I didn’t try to prove it to them from the Bible or some other source, but one in particular pressed on and asked how I can believe something without proof? I told him that I had proof, the Bible and writings of the ECFs that proclaim Jesus, but proof only works if one is willing to accept it. And really, that’s what it all boils down to. You can proclaim Jesus til your tongue falls out, but if no one wants to believe you or the proof that you give them, they’re not going to.

Teens today have it a million times harder than in past generations, even mine, and I’m a proud card carrying member of the dye-your-hair-blue-to-express-your-individualism-because-everyone-else-is-doing-it Generation X. The constant influx of information and media has their heads spinning like tops and the world is telling them that their life is their own, and not belonging to God, able to do with it whatever they please.

Be patient with them. I’d bet a lot of them are confused, trying to mix the messages they get from the media and the messages they get from you, and they just don’t jive, and they’re having to make a choice, sometimes for the first time in their lives. This isn’t just chocolate milk or white milk, this is the choice where they decide what they’re going to follow for the rest of their life. That’s some heavy stuff if you think about it. Pray for them, and hope that some of the seeds you plant now are able to fester and grow.

Explore what they do believe. Remember each persons salvation is by accepting christ, and confirmation is truly about making this choice. But to do this each person will have to do it personally and individually. To facilitate exploring these feelings it can help to simply ask open questions and let each person answer. This should take up 25% of your class time. Another effort should be made to explore faith and expression of faith.

Try to avoid lecturing! Try to simply listen and guide which can be hard to do. You can also ask them to write down, privately on a piece of paper, things they would like to learn about. This will give you some idea of where they are and need to be. Further, be sure to set up a time for them to have a one on one with a priest to ask them any question. Get them used to talking to Father on their inner issues. If possible arrange confirmation in tandem with other expression of faith. After a mass or before rosary! Remember to consider field trips and there are nuns and orders in every community that would be happy to show the children.

Remember you have a book to follow and use that but don’t let it become only a lesson in reading.

Thanks! God bless!

Hey Marco! Thanks so much! God bless

My question is: Should these individuals even be comfirmed? Are they going through this just because it is the next thing on the to do list? Is it not a sin to receive a sacrament with the wrong intentions?

Hey Pete! Thank you so much for the suggestions! How are you? Yes, I’m still considering the priesthood/ religious life. I’ll be going to Italy next month. I’ll be visiting Rome, Florence, Siena, Pisa, Lucca, and Empoli. I haven’t been in a debate here in almost 2 years!!! Hope everything is well and again thank you for the suggestions! Glad to see you are growing in your Catholic faith!!! God Bless

Exact-a-mundo.

I would recommend that the priest do one-on-one interviews and delay confirmation for the little budding atheists in the group.

As to resources to assist you, the Amy Welborn Prove It! series is quite good.

What do the parents say when you tell them their children express disbelief in God? I would let each parent know that they have a problem and need to be working with their child at home also. You have them one hour or two hours a week. You cannot fix what was 15 years in the making by yourself in one year.

I believe that is the objective of their confirmation journey: to provide them with the opportunity to know and choose Christ. If they reject Him, then they can leave and not be confirmed. It would indeed be a sad outcome though. :frowning:

No that is NOT the purpose of Confirmation.

No offence but what are they doing in a confirmation class?

Oops. :eek:

Hm… I’m not sure what can be done…

I know many children (I work with them) who went through confirmation merely because they were scared to displease or disappoint their parents. They truly felt they had no choice.

Do you best… but unfortunately some of these kids will be confirmed despite the fact they don’t believe.

Confirmation is not a “choice” to be Catholic or to “choose Christ.” They are already Catholic by virtue of their baptism. And, it is not they who are confirming, it is the Bishop.

Confirmation is often (wrongly) presented to teens as them confirming their faith, that it is they who are confirming and making a decision to be Catholic. This is totally false.

It is the bishop who confirms, and what is confirmed is their baptism. They receive additional graces and charisms appropriate to those who are disciples.

Every Catholic is OBLIGATED to be confirmed upon the call of the Bishop.

If a person needs the sacrament delayed-- due for example to professing disbelief in God-- then it is the priest’s role to counsel that person to help them prepare to receive the call of the bishop.

I know our parish had problems with teenagers in confirmation classes. Our diocese has now switched to confirming at age 8, so at least that will put an end to coping with stroppy teenagers. I do wonder about all the books and course material written on the basis of ‘Confirmation is making a choice as a young adult to follow Christ’, though.
Confirming at around the age of First Communion is such a different ‘take’ on the sacrament of Confirmation.

Correct me if I’m wrong, but to perpare the child for confirmation is the duty of the parents and godparents, right?

Ah, restored order… I can only dream that our bishop will embrace this. I pray.

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