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 Baby's Christmas Funeral

Today I attended the funeral for a little 2-month old baby girl. Sadly this is the second time in my life that I have attended a funeral for a little baby girl during Christmas, and while I wouldn't wish that kind of experience on any parent ever, there is something rather charming about a Christmas Funeral for a little girl. Maybe I feel this way because of my own two daughters. Moreso than their brothers, the girls have always really delighted in the lights and colors of Christmas. They "OOO" and "AHHH" at the lighted Christmas trees, and even as babies they had a fascination with all that glittered and gleamed at Christmas time. So although it is heartbreaking for the parents, I think it must be something quite wonderful for the little feminine soul that travels to heaven during the Christmas Season and have her funeral mass amidst the sights and sounds of Christ's birth.

A few years ago, when the parish was trying to get people to volunteer for the different ministries, I volunteered to attend masses for children and babies. I felt as a mother of 6 I had a special perspective for it; having buried one child gives me some empathy. So the funeral lady calls me every time there is a baby. She is always apologetic, as if she is afraid she will hurt me somehow by telling me about another baby's passing. I always thank her profusely for letting me know and reassure her that I WANT her to call me. And so I go and sit with the "funeral ladies;" the ladies there representing the parish and singing the hymns and saying all of the responses.

But it's never easy. I see the grieving mother and I want to tell her the pain will go away in time. I want to tell her that if she keeps her heart open and her eyes alert, she'll see the goodness that can come out of her tragedy. But I don't. I think it's something that you just have to live through to see for yourself. No one can tell you, although I think there might be a time areassurance can be given that a broken heart heals itself in due course.

The parents today were so young. They reminded me a lot of my Calvin and Sarah. And what do they know of mourning? A black dress is for parties and special events! Not for saying goodbye to your baby. They had a hard time saying good bye too. I'm sure they couldn't fathom closing the lid on that tiny casket for the last time. Learning to grieve should come in concentric circles from the outside in - by watching your parents grieve for their parents, and perhaps as friends slowly lose their parents. This couple today was learning one of life's hardest lessons in one of the most difficult ways. That made it all the sadder.

As of today I have given away all of my copies of Mothers' Manual . I will have to buy some more and then carefully turn back the corner of page 89 so that each grieving mom can find this prayer:

Mary, my mother, obtain for me, I beg you, the grace of a holy resignation. Obtain for me the grace to understand this trial which is so hard for me to bear. I know that God in his all-wise providence has seen that it is for the best. Yet it is hard for me to bear the grief I feel. I come too you,dear mother, comforter of the afflicted and constant aid of those who trust in you. I know that you can obtain for me the peace and resignation that I seek. I confide in you entirely in this my tribulation and sorrow. You know the meaning of a mother's love, and can understand the dept of my affliction. Be to me a tender and protecting mother. For now, dear Mother Mary, I feel more than ever the need of your motherly love and sweet consolation.

Mary sorrowing, Mary of all Christians, pray for us!

If I buy five more, I hope that I can end the year with all five of them.
christmas 2010 011

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