Writing a letter to your confirmation candidate

It seems that one of the biggest events in confirmation preparation in this country is the letters of support to be given to the confirmation candidates during their mandatory retreats.

I have three such letters saved on this blog:

Confirmation letter to my daughterConfirmation letter to my fourth sonConfirmation letter to to my third son
I've asked my children what they remember about the letter they got from me and their dad, and also what they remembered about the letters they received. 
The answer was not much, or at least nothing specific. In general they were happy to have gotten a bag full of letters and there was a sense of feeling loved and supported. I guess that's the main thing - for them to have a sense that this is an important step in their spiritual growth, and that people they know, love and respect have taken the time out of their lives to let them know that! So here are some tips on procuring and writing letters for young confirmation candidates. Start thinkin…

A Mother's love.

When I was a little girl, I was lucky to live with my grandmother and my mother. I remember sitting in my grandmother’s lap and putting my head on her chest and feeling so comforted, so peaceful and so loved. My mother would snuggle with us too and I remember feeling that there could never ever be anything ever as wonderful as being enveloped in a mother’s (or grandmother’s) loving embrace. I can still think of that and feel safe and warm.

We lived on a dairy farm. I remember that during the day we had a few cats hang around the barn on a regular basis, but during milking time we had dozens of cats show up for the warm milk that my uncle would pour into two big milk bowls. I kid you not, one time I counted as many as 60 cats in the barn getting milk. We also had kittens on a regular basis. The mama cats would make their little nests and frequently we would get to see the new born kitties with their closed eyes and their tiny little noses as they mewed softly waiting for their mamas to nurse them and lick them clean. My sister and I loved playing with all of the cats and mother provided vet care when that became necessary.

I remember one time there was a group of kittens that were probably a few months old, hanging around waiting for some more warm milk. We were letting the cows out of the stansions so that they could go back outsize to graze. Barn cats are usually pretty smart. They know how to avoid hazards like hawks and moving farm machinery – and cows. As I was letting the cows out, I fully expected this group of kittens to get out of the way, which they did. But unfortunately one little kitty did not move fast enough and got kicked in the chest as a cow was moving towards the doorway. She was breathing hard and with much difficulty and I held her in my hand to comfort her, thinking that she had just had the wind knocked out of her. But she died in my hand. That was the first time I had ever seen anything actually die before and at first I didn’t believe that the kitten had actually died. But when I realized she had I ran for my uncle.

I don’t know what I expected Uncle to do. He said he was sorry and then he told me he would bury the little kitten and that was that. As sad as I was about the kitten (vowing never to trust kittens to get out of the way on their own again!) I was glad that I had been there to hold and comfort her while she passed away peacefully.

I was a grown woman with a husband when my grandfather died. His intestines burst unexpectedly and by the time the doctors figured out what had happened, he had a massive abdominal infection. My mother, my husband and I sat at his bedside for days waiting for him to pass. I didn’t know what he could hear or even if he could hear, but I held his hand and talked to him quietly until he died, surrounded by love.

In 2002, a good friend of mine gave birth to a trisomy 18 baby. She knew the baby would not live long after its birth, but my friend gave her child as much of a chance to survive as she could. Against the medical advice of some, she opted to birth her daughter by Cesarean section. The child survived that birth and later that day my friend and her family held her and loved her while she was taken off of oxygen, expecting her to die. But God allowed them to keep her a bit longer. They took her home, bathed her, changed her diapers, fed her, even had a family picture taken together. They were there with her when she finally did slip a way a few months later.

At the child’s rosary in the funeral home, I gasped when my friend reached into the coffin and held her little baby in her white funeral gown, as we all recited the rosary. That was her baby, and she was going to love her in her earthly form for as long as she could.

I do not know when Raphael died. I remember I was sitting at my computer typing and suddenly the baby in side of me started moving a lot, almost violently like a convulsion or a frenzy. I put my hands on my stomach and tried to calm the baby down and eventually it stopped but I never felt the baby move again. I think that is when he died.
When Raphael was stillborn I was afraid to look at him at first. It’s hard to look at death. But when I did look it comforted my mother’s heart to see that he looked so peaceful and even comforted. He had one little hand under his cheek and one over his chest, as if he had settled down quietly, or had been comforted into an eternal sleep. Maybe my words and my encouragement comforted him. I hope so. I hope he felt what I felt when I had when I heard my mother’s voice and felt her enveloping embrace that made every fear or discomfort disappear.


Mother’s now I think seem to be afraid to literally love their children to death. Maybe we as a culture are to blame because death is kept from us as being too difficult. It is no longer part of our day-to-day life experience and we seem to not want to deal with it or to see it because we are afraid that our hearts will be broken beyond all repair. But I don’t think that’s true. I think there is nothing better we can do for our babies, especially our sick and dying babies, then to hold them, and to love them, physically in our arms until they leave this world.

The Anchoress said something this week that really moved my heart, on the day of Our Lady of Sorrows. She said:

But that is what a mother does. She reassures. She works for her family. She serves. She carries on and carries forward, doing the things that need to be done. Even if all the while, her heart is pierced with a sword of deep and lasting sorrow. But that is what a mother does. She reassures. She works for her family. She serves. She carries on and carries forward, doing the things that need to be done. Even if all the while, her heart is pierced with a sword of deep and lasting sorrow.”<
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I would just want to encourage moms who are facing the pregnancy of a child a who is terminal for whatever reason, to follow Mary’s example. Don’t miss out on the opportunity to hold, love, and mother that child for as long as you can, whether it be a few years or a few seconds. Serve that sweet child, comfort it and love it for all the time that you have. Let that child feel it’s mother’s warm embrace – there is nothing like a mother’s love. Be the mom you’re called to be. You’ll never regret it.

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