teens and Confirmation


#1

I am very troubled by my daughter’s attitude about Mass and having to make her Confirmation next year. Classes start this fall.

She says she hates going to Mass and why should she make her Confirmation if she doesn’t believe what the Church teaches. And as soon as she’s done with Confirmation, she’ll stop going to church anyway. Sometimes I’m inclined to agree with her. What’s the point of Confirmation if she’s planning on quitting Mass attendance as soon as she is Confirmed? The other side of me is determined to have her Confirmed if it kills me, (and it might).:frowning:
I also think that maybe the Confirmation classes will help her understand her faith more and realize that she needs God.

When she asks me why she has to be confirmed, I try to explain the sacrament but this is a very hardheaded kid who already knows everything. I’ve told her that when she was Baptized I promised to raise her in the faith and make sure she has all the initiation sacraments. After that, her soul is in her own hands…and God’s , of course. When she moves out of my house then it will be up to her.

I am very frustrated with this child. I pray for her on a daily basis. Thank you for letting me rant.


#2

I had one kid like that.

He said he knows at least half the kids don’t believe the whole thing anyway but just go along with it. He said that he doesn’t know what he believes exactly, but he feels foolish and hypocritical to join with others and go through this ceremony. I think he is also worried that he will come off like others who seem to just be going along with it as lemmings.

I told him that I believe he has a good heart, and that he does seek the Truth even though he is not yet convinced the Catholic Church is the good way to find it.

Then I said that it was very important for me, personally, that he be confirmed even in his current state of doubt. In fact, if he feels like a hypocrite, then I’m asking as a favor for me to go ahead and play the role and go through the process, and receive the sacrament. I cited reasons of “what if it’s real” as well as social and logistics reasons. In this case, I know he has these feelings but please, be a hypocrite if you have to but walk the ceremony.

He did. Although he is skeptical about many things (sometimes makes me look like a lemming by comparison) he is glad he did. He just graduated from high school, and he became such good friends with the priest at his school (a young conservative, charismatic priest that watches South Park – what more could you want) that the other day Chris brought a friend who is supposedly “athiest” out for dinner. Chris, his friend, and Father Weldon had a nice dinner and ended up talking for a couple hours. This friend was over the other day, and has started opening up to discussing God.

You just never know. Was I a Bad Father in specifically asking my son to be a hypocrite as required, for as trivial a reason as our social image?

What would the social ramifications be if he was the only one in his class who sat out confirmation? That’s what I was concerned about at a time my relationship with the Church was very strained.

Alan


#3

[quote=moira]I am very troubled by my daughter’s attitude about Mass and having to make her Confirmation next year. Classes start this fall.

She says she hates going to Mass and why should she make her Confirmation if she doesn’t believe what the Church teaches. And as soon as she’s done with Confirmation, she’ll stop going to church anyway. .
[/quote]

one, she is pushing your buttons, and she will push mine if and when she gets in my confirmation program. Two, make a deal with her. How can she either accept or reject Catholic teaching if she does not know what it is? How can she say she hates Mass if she does not know what it really is? Ask her to attend confirmation Class and Mass for one year, learn about what she is rejecting before she makes that final step. Ask her to bring all her questions and contradictions that are not covered in class to you, and promise to answer honestly. Then do your homework and follow through.

If at the end of the first year she still says she is not ready, honor her decision. It is against canon law to confirm someone who does not consent. I can’t make her, you can’t make her, grandma can’t make her. Just make sure that the decision not to be confirmed is a decision to deliberately reject the Catholic Church, the faith, and her parents gift of faith to her in Baptism. It is not a decision to delay, it is a deliberate rejection of all you have given her. It is apostacy, rejection of Christ’s Church and his message. She must understand the gravity and finality of the decision, which cannot be taken lightly.

During this year ask her to try this method of making every Mass meaningful: listen carefully, not just to the readings and homily, but to all the prayers of the Mass for the one Word that God is speaking to you personally today. It is always there, it could be in the Gospel, in one of the songs, in the Eucharistic prayer, or in something else you observe. Write down that word and keep it with you all week, and look at it frequently. It could be one word, a phrase, sentence or idea. But God always speaks directly to you at Mass.


#4

When I was going through confirmation, I did the same thing to my mom. I hated going to the classes, I didn’t understand why I had to do it, in fact I didn’t even really understand what confirmation was. But…I’m really glad she made me do it. Especially now that I know what it’s all about and I know what I believe in. My mom didn’t make my little sister get confirmed and now she’ll have to attend the classes on her own. She couldn’t be the Godmother of my baby because she wasn’t confirmed. I think she wishes she would’ve gone now.


#5

AlanFromWichita, This is exactly what I’m doing…asking her to do it for me…with the hope that it will sink in and she might even enjoy it although she’d never admit it to me.

And puzzleannie, Good suggestion. How can she reject what she doesn’t know? That is basically what I’ve told her, too. Also what you said about her deliberately rejecting Christ’s Church might get through to her. I wish I could put her in your Confirmation class but commuting from Arizona isn’t an option. :slight_smile: She might actually open up to the Confirmation teacher if she would at least give it a try. And she could also bring all of her questions to class. I plan on signing her up for classes with the hope that someone will get through to my hard headed daughter. Her twin sister has no problem with being Confirmed and is open to it all. How can twins be so different?

If you would please pray for her (and me) maybe we will get through this and see her Confirmed in the spring.


#6

My son who is 14 will also start his confirmation classes this Sept. In the meeting to learn more of what the classes etc are all about the priest said…“your child may come to the classes and when it is time for Confirmation if he or she does not want the sacrament we will not give them the sacrament” The choice has to be up to the child…that is just my opinion. Not all kids are ready to recieve the sacrament when everyone else is …when they are ready they will seek it.


#7

As a teen, I have to put my two cents in.

My Catholic K-8 school confirmed the seventh and eighth graders every other year. I was in seventh grade when I was confirmed. My faith at that point was dangerously weak. I’d like to blame it in part on the religion class system at the school. I don’t know if it’s their fault or not. But religion classes never once got beyond “God loves you!” which is all good and nice but isn’t there more to Catholicism than that? I asked and didn’t hear anything except “God loves you, Mary!”

I didn’t have any real close friends, but that’s another story. Most people in our class were either noncatholic or atheist-catholic. Of course, everybody (catholic) received communion at school masses on Fridays and we all went through Confirmation. Nobody told us what Confirmation was for really. They wanted to give us a chance to opt out and say maybe get confirmed later or never or whatever, but the system was so if someone didn’t want to be confirmed, everybody would make a big deal and say “Jessy! You don’t want to be confirmed! Don’t you know God loves you?” So there really was no way to opt out.

So I ask you… Do you know what Confirmation is? Does your daughter know? Does she know more about the faith than “God loves you”?

Ask her. Ask her why she hates going to Mass. Ask her why she doesn’t believe what the church teaches. But don’t ask her accusingly. Don’t be rude. Ask her politely. Make it look like you want to know. And then want to know. Listen to her. Really listen. Understand. Ask questions. Maybe debate a little. But tell her that there’s more to Catholicism than “God loves you!” because, quite honestly, nobody cares at that age.

Don’t get mad at her if it sounds like she’s trying to be sarcastic. People make a big hype about guys voice changing and yeah, it’s probably worse than girls, but my parents don’t understand how difficult it is to measure the tone of voice and make it come out right. Don’t judge what she says by her tone of voice. Judge it by the words.

And talk to her when you have time. Don’t inturrupt halfway through the conversation and say “oh, I have to go pick up the drycleaning.” Teenagers need time to open up, and most of us really want to pour everything out, and a lot of times I’m about to when my mom or dad has to go do something or the phone rings or whatever and that ruins it.


#8

yo parents listen to cardenio, don’t just talk to your teen listen to your teen. turn off the TV, pull the car into a parking lot, put down the dishtowel and the phone, sit down, look her in they eye and listen. give her the same courtesy you would a friend, co-worker, boss. listen without interruptions, don’t make any comments except affirming, preferably a nod of the head, or for clarification: when you say your teacher doesn’t answer your questions, could you give me an example of what you mean. please give this a priority, you only have a few short years when they are still a critical part of your life, once they are in college or out on their own, these conversations will be once a year or rarer, so listen now while you still can, before it’s too late and they just give up on you.


#9

I agree that she should definitely go to the classes, and right on puzzleannie! You talk with her about your faith, and how it impacts your life. Be really honest. Talk about your times of doubt, the times it held you up, the way it holds your life together. Let it be more than words, more than a parent asserting control. Be real.

I went through confirmation classes and had a lot of doubt. I didn’t want to reject the church, but I wasnt’ ready, at the age of 12 to make that kind of commitment. However, it was do it then,…or never. That was how it was presented. The deal was, how could I hurt/embarrass my family by saying no? The pressure was intense. If I jumped off the Catholic conveyor belt my family would be crushed. NOT a good situation.

In class we were taught that it was OUR decision, but it really wasn’t. In class we were told that if we didn’t feel ready it was OK to say “not yet”, but it really wasn’t. People can tell when they are being given lip service, and when what is said is really meant.

We were never given the chance to express genuine doubt or ask real questions from the heart. Not from our teachers, the priests or our families. The bottom line was that we all knew what we were there to do, so get on with it.

Being forced into confirmation when I was too young, and too confused hurt my relationship with the church. I felt bullied and resentful. I had been coerced into making a LIFELONG committment to something I was unsure about.

I personally feel that confirmation should be something we seek, not something that the church pumps kids through before they get busy with high school and it is “too late”. That completely goes against the purpose of the sacrament.

We get the kids in there because we so desperately want them to choose the faith, but this is the point at which they MUST be allowed to choose for themselves, or it is a farse. What grace is there in a farsical sacrament? What joy is there is making a committment of faith to make your parents happy, or to keep them off your back?

We would not dare to ordain a man against his will, or to force a person to marry. Please, give this sacrament of confirmation the respect it deserves.

cheddar


#10

A LETTER FROM ONE OF MY STUDENTS:

[size=3][font=Trebuchet MS]Over the past several months, I’ve been on an incredible personal journey through the Catholic faith, in all its depth and complexity. In seeing that, I was also able to have its true beauty and power revealed to me, and have again and again been left speechless by the things that have been uncovered to me in our faith and the Lord which it follows.

        However, it is a journey I almost never began.  I’d never given much serious thought to Confirmation until this year; it was simply a distant practice I’d have to put a lot of work into at some point in the future to me for so long, and I never once imagined what it would truly be.  However, one day, as we left Mass, my parents took a small detour to sign me up to the course, led by Robert ______, and my life changed.



        I then entered into the world of the Ignatian exercises and all the wonderful things that come from them and a deeper faith in Christ.  I’ve never felt so alive in my faith, nor has the Mass ever seemed so real and pertinent to my life.  Moral crises now pass me by without great trouble, and I am able to make clearer and more beneficial decisions than I ever could have before.  Simply put, thus far, this class has changed me more than I could ever have imagined, and I still cannot imagine how much more I will change as I complete this journey.



        However, to do so, I must actually be Confirmed in the Church.  To do so would make me an adult in her, and open the final few doors in our faith closed to me.  It would allow me to take my journey deeper and further than I ever could without being Confirmed, and would also allow me to achieve the closest relationship with Christ I’d have held to that point.  He and I grow nearer ever day, and I pray that this will culminate in your granting me the grace of Confirmation.



        Once Confirmed, I’ve no intentions of ceasing this lifelong journey that I began all those months and exercises ago.  Even now, I feel eager to go back through the entire series of them, just to see what my newly-expanded religious horizons will find in them that I missed the first time, and to continue to live out the promises I’ve made over the course of my Confirmation classes.



        It is the living out these promises that entices me most, I believe.  To truly grow into a better person who better serves his community and fellow man is something that fills me with great satisfaction, for I’ve always loved to help others.  I missed out on my chance to be an altar server as a child, but perhaps now is the time to begin looking for other vocations in the Church, as well as to someday share the sacramental joy of holy Matrimony as a Confirmed Catholic.  So much awaits me in my future, and I cannot imagine facing any of it without God entirely by my side and I by his.  For this, I ask you to grant this request, Bishop.

Love & peace,
Bob[/font][/size]


#11

actually this discussion betrays a very common misunderstanding of the theology of the sacrament of Confirmation which unfortunately permeates the entire atmosphere of preparation for the sacrament. Confirmation completes our Christian initiation and seals our baptism. It is an initiative taken by the bishop, not by the individual. The bishop, representing the universal Church invites, the individual responds (or not).

Refusal of Confirmation by and adult (considered by the Church to be anyone over the age of reason, about 7 yrs), assuming they have been instructed on the meaning of the sacrament, the reality and action of the Holy Spirit in the life of the Church and the individual, and the basics of Catholic doctrine, is a refusal to accept the initial faith given to us in our baptism. It is extremely serious to make this rejection and those being prepared must be informed of that reality. For this reason an adult may not be confirmed by force or coercion, any more than they may be forced to accept marriage or any other sacrament.


#12

[quote=cardenio]As a teen, I have to put my two cents in.

My Catholic K-8 school confirmed the seventh and eighth graders every other year. I was in seventh grade when I was confirmed. My faith at that point was dangerously weak. I’d like to blame it in part on the religion class system at the school. I don’t know if it’s their fault or not. But religion classes never once got beyond “God loves you!” which is all good and nice but isn’t there more to Catholicism than that? I asked and didn’t hear anything except “God loves you, Mary!”

[/quote]

Same way with me, in the late 60s early 70s. They were more interested in anti-drug and anti-racism propaganda that seemed to take the place of Catholic Catechism. We never cracked open a Bible in all of grades 1-8.

They wanted to give us a chance to opt out and say maybe get confirmed later or never or whatever, but the system was so if someone didn’t want to be confirmed, everybody would make a big deal and say “Jessy! You don’t want to be confirmed! Don’t you know God loves you?” So there really was no way to opt out.

Exactly. No way to opt out without being conspicuous about it. This is free will “accented” with coercive pressure. Only hard core purists in their own beliefs might refuse.

Actually that’s one of the reasons I told my kid it’s OK if he feels like a hypocrite. He is very resistant to pressure, and in fact if he feels it he is likely to stand up against it not even knowing what it is. He is such a hardcore purist, and it made it worse for him to think there were others who also didn’t believe but went ahead anyway because I think it bothered him to be grouped with lemmings. I gave him permission to be a lemming, because I knew him better and knew he was just doing it as a favor to me.

That was also pretty coercive, but I’m quite sure that the ultimate decision was Chris’s.

Ask her. Ask her why she hates going to Mass. Ask her why she doesn’t believe what the church teaches. But don’t ask her accusingly. Don’t be rude. Ask her politely. Make it look like you want to know. And then want to know. Listen to her. Really listen. Understand. Ask questions. Maybe debate a little. But tell her that there’s more to Catholicism than “God loves you!” because, quite honestly, nobody cares at that age.

I love the way you say this. So many parents are so busy with the world, and when they are “parenting” they feel like they have to wear a certain hat that society has been fitted for them, that they are not really open for honest communication. They see teenagers with problems as issues they “are supposed” to take care of, and not only that but they cannot use their own instincts and love for the child because they have to be concerned with “what sort of parent” am I for taking a certain course of action. It really clouds everything up when we’re worried about being a good parent, instead of just allowing ourselves to love our children, empathizing with them, and then helping them in a way that we won’t have to say, “some day you’ll thank me for this.” While sometimes true, I think that saying is most often used to end discussion and disallow consent – it gives peace of mind to the simple of mind.

Thank you also for emphasizing and then want to know.

Yes, parents can indeed purposely change their own desires, and you are right to expect them to. :clapping:

You are wise beyond your years. The things you say are things I learned at the school of Hard Knox as a parent. I pray that many parents hear your message, which does not reinforce the popular “tough love” and “be a hardass” attitude that is currently in vogue with PSAs.

I am so blessed for having learned the exact lessons you have just espoused, and my six children are so delightful (four teenagers, two younger) that I just have to shake my head in awe at how great God is.

I nearly lost one of my sons, the very one in question, over my own frustration at dealing with him and trying to control him. He is still a PITA in a lot of ways because he is passionate about things, he gets bored easily, is charismatic and gets his way practically all the time. He is just as charming to his brothers and sisters as to authority figures, is incredibly intelligent, and even though he still has reservations about Catholicism, he was recently trying to get an athiest to make certain logical concessions that certain scientific views are just as much a religion as Catholicism. He told the priest who was SD at his school, and the eager priest asked him to invite the athiest out to dinner. Of course, Chris did it; he will never miss a chance for adventure. The athiest did open up his thinking a little bit, at least to acknowledge that science is not necessarily more objective than religion.

These enthusiastic, impulsive, reckless kids can really get things done some times. It seems the highest performers are often high maintenance, kind of like cars.

Alan


#13

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