To Confirm or Not?


#1

Hi All,

I have been a CCD/PSR/Religious Education teacher for close to 20 years and this year I am teaching a tenth grade class. We confirm at the end of tenth grade here(after moving the age back three times in seven years!) I have many kids in my class who openly express their distaste for our religion. They brag that they don’t attend Mass (even when Mass is right before the class) and have a very poor understanding of Catholicism. (This is my second year teaching most of them and the program has been going thru a tough few years as the church tries to start up Lifeteen instead of small group classroom teaching.) While I try to teach/explain our religion and answer their questions, many of them do not attend the classes (like come to 50% of the classes) we only meet about 10 times thru the year.

My question is this: Should they all be Confirmed and leave it to the Holy Spirit to enrich them as they grow older? Give it to God and let the Fruits of the Holy Spirit do his thing?

Or should only the “believers” or practicing Catholics be Confirmed?

I really cant decide…on one hand I want everyone to receive the graces of God, but on the other hand it really kinda cheapens the Sacrament for the kids who do believe and practice the faith.

I have spoken to our Pastor (he is old, but new to our parish, liberal. I got into lots of trouble last year because I told the kids it was a Mortal sin to miss Mass without a good reason o. I since have backed down on what I teach and pretty much just follow what I am given and avoid any mention of sin. Father feels that might offend kids.) I think he believes all should be Confirmed.

I know its not my decision to make but…Can you guys give me some advice? I keep praying but I just don’t know what to do. I really like the kids and I don’t want anyone to leave the faith…


#2

I think you should keep a record of all of this and meet with the diocesan director of religious education and with your bishop. It is sinful and scandalous for your ro be forced into teaching error. I would also advise the parish DRE and take him or her with you to a meeting at the diocesan office.


#3

You’re right; it’s not your decision. Are their Lifeteen meetings the extent of Confirmation prep in your parish? (If so, that’s just not right!) In any case, the person or team who is preparing them for Confirmation should inform the pastor of those whom they feel are properly prepared to receive the sacrament. At that point, it’s up to the pastor; after all, it is he who stands up before the bishop at the confirmation, presenting the class to the bishop and affirming that they have been prepared to receive the sacrament.

If you’re that person who is preparing them, then let your pastor know your opinion on who is prepared to receive the sacrament, and leave it at that. If you’re not that person, it’s not your call, right? Pray for the prospective confirmands and for those who are forming them.

By the way: whether these kids leave the faith or not probably doesn’t come down to whether they receive Confirmation this year. They might use it as an excuse for leaving, but it would be just that – a convenient excuse.


#4

Lifeteen is it with an extended small group but there is not other curriculum. Huge group for Lifeteen (170 kids) so we cant do the games and the kids really cant hear the Proclaims. Large group is held in a gym and it is very noisy. This is the second year for Lifeteen and the Pastor has never stayed for the entire program. The DRE just quit. Parents are NOT supportive.


#5

**I am not willing to escalate the issue. **I want people to come back to the church, even if it is only for Christmas and Easter. I just think they should know when something is wrong, but I understand that we need to help all. We are all sinners and maybe Mass attendance is not that important after all. Who is to say that sin is any worse then mine…


#6

All the more reason to take this to the diocesan level. I would say your parish is in a serious state of affairs all around. To paraphrase, “Evil triumphs when good people fail to act”.


#7

Sounds like your Religious Education program might be in (or might be headed toward) crisis over there…

Parents are NOT supportive.

Not supportive of what? The pastor? The Religious Ed department? The need for their children to be catechized? The age at which confirmation is taking place?


#8

“Maybe Mass attendance is not that important…” This, indeed, is error. I would suggest finding a good spiritual director, leaving the PRE program and perhaps finding a new parish. You cannot impart a faith which you yourself do not have. Read up on the virtue of fortitude; pray and act.


#9

To answer your question, No. They should not be confirmed.

Being Catholic (I am just learning this myself after 40 years) is more then attending mass, doing the sacraments, confessing once a year, etc. It is living the sacraments which means understanding those meanings. Currently I am reading the FORMING INTENTIONAL DISCIPLES, The Path to Knowing and Following Jesus, by Sherry A. Weddel. She talks about statistics in our church and our falling numbers and draws parallels to we Catholics not understanding our faith and thus falling away. It is a great book and put my own faith in perspective. The kids you are teaching have never had the right education from their teachers or priests. We have missed opportunities to teach and learn ourselves.

No, they should not be confirmed until they understand what that means. Please take a look at this book and suggest it to your parish. Being Catholic is so much more. I am not there yet myself…


#10

They should have been confirmed years ago, perhaps a few of them would not be having this lapse of faith.
I bet your problem is quite common. The logic of continually delaying Confirmation is simply beyond me. The only way it makes sense is if we are to completely deny the efficacy of the sacrament.
It does not work as intended. I do not know why this should be a surprise to anyone.


#11

Here is what Canon Law says:

CHAPTER III.

THOSE TO BE CONFIRMED

Can. 889 §1. Every baptized person not yet confirmed and only such a person is capable of receiving confirmation.

§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. 890 The faithful are obliged to receive this sacrament at the proper time. Parents and pastors of souls, especially pastors of parishes, are to take care that the faithful are properly instructed to receive the sacrament and come to it at the appropriate time.

Can. 891 The sacrament of confirmation is to be conferred on the faithful at about the age of discretion unless the conference of bishops has determined another age, or there is danger of death, or in the judgment of the minister a grave cause suggests otherwise.

So it seems that you are concerned about the “properly disposed” part of canon 889 §2.

As you said, it’s not your decision to make. It is the pastor’s decision. Some pastors interpret the kid still being there as them being “properly disposed”. I can understand the desire to be generous in administering the sacrament. It is a source of great grace. We don’t want to withhold it without a very good reason.

Make sure that you pray for your kids every single day. Fast for them, too.


#12

It kind of reminds me of the pentacostals who fight to keep baptism volunteerly hence their adult baptism only belief.

Not baptising infants basically means that 50 per cent never get baptised due to being introverted and having anxiety etc.

and we all know the importance of baptism and even though confirmation can’t be compared to the importance of the baptism because it’s the welcoming door to a christian life.
It most certainly will mean that some of them will never work up the courage to get confirmed later on even though they will like to.

This will again mean that they can’t marry in the Catholic Church and eventually it will mean that some of them may be faithful catholics who will end up on bad terms with the church.

and who are you to deny them to receive the gift of confirmation?

I support others that say that if for any reason some of them are to be witheld from confirmation it’s not your call, but the fathers responsibility.

remember that a lot of teens feel Akward talking about faith in front of each other and maybe put on a act of toughness to be cool in a group.


#13

I thank you so much for being concerned. I wish everyone in the church was this responsible with their faith. You are right in what you say. I don’t know what to advise though. I would go to the church officials about this. That’s all I could offer advise-wise.

If it is any consolation to you… I was one of those disinterested teens… or rather I did not understand the faith. I DO believe the Holy Spirit protected me because I had been given the Sacraments anyway. It was “in there” so to speak, but I think I needed to be awakened by life experience to really appreciate it all. So in that way, I am for just going through with it.

Just wanted to add… just do the best you can in teaching the faith… that’s all anyone can really do. Be a good example. That’s all one can do.


#14

If they marry a practicing Catholic. …yes they can get married in the Church without Confirmation.

As for the OP…if they are not going into this with the right attitude. .then they shouldn’t. I flat out told my candidates back in the 1990’s. …if your heart isn’t in it…dont do it. Our DRE told them the same. The OP is correct. .the parents drop them off…and that’s it.

Of course they know after Confirmation. …its done. They don’t have to come to classes until preCana. It is what it is.


#15

This is SO true… so many kids are just trying to fit in and ‘survive’- to be ostracized from the social scene is a death sentence to them.


#16

Sometimes good people bow to the authority of the church. My pastor is a good holy man who is trying his best not to alienate people from the faith. While I may not agree with all he says, I do trust in God and his servants.


#17

The parents seem to only want the kids to receive the sacraments on schedule. The vast majority do not attend Mass themselves. They are counting down the days until they are done with religious education.


#18

We do LifeTeen with about 85 kids in a VERY small space. Maybe utilize the “small group” model in your LifeNights to ensure proper catechesis. When we have kids that are rebellious (in all the years, only ONE student) we call in the parents and ask them why they force their child into it, if they clearly are not well disposed to learning. If they really want the instruction for their child, they will step up to the bat and work with their child on the faith.

BUT…our Pastor meets with each student prior to Confirmation to discern where they are with their faith HIMSELF. He has to assure the visiting Bishop that all are ready and well-disposed. He ha no problem with telling a kid and their parents that the student is NOT ready, does not WANT the Sacrament, therefore will NOT receive the Sacrament.

People often believe that we just go through the motions and God does the rest.
No. People of all ages have to make some effort. Else they are like the proverbial “clanging symbols” .

If they are not ready, they are not ready. Period.


#19

Been there done that…know it well. I couldn’t get parents to volunteer for anything. I took a lot of kids home …mass was at 5:30 pm after ccd. Most went to mass with me…amd I took some of them home afterwards. This is how they attended mass.


#20

I personally believe that Mass attendance is important. I do attend Mass, sometimes because I want to and sometimes because it is my obligation. I was told that the times you don’t WANT to attend are the times you NEED to attend most.

Finding a priest to be a spiritual director where I live is almost impossible. They are trying to minister to hundreds of families. They just don’t have the time. I have a strong faith but I always consider myself to be “practicing” because I am not very good at it. Not for lack of trying, but due to my human nature.

I love my faith and I am pretty good at teaching others. I also volunteer to bring Communion to the elderly and attend weekly Bible study classes. In other words, I am living the faith daily.

My husband and I are raising five children and somewhere we must have done something right because when the first two went off to college, they continued to practice the faith, attend Mass and volunteer in their campus churches. They do not attend Catholic colleges rather a Baptist college and a public college.

I came here looking for help, not to have someone attack my faith.


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