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…

The convalidating miscommunication!

The young woman beamed. She wore flip flops with brightly painted toenails, well manicured fingernails, short leggings with a flowy top. She could have been from the local university or even one of the high school girls that plays on our local soccer league - pretty, young, innocent and flush with excitement as she was planning her wedding ceremony.

Yet she wasn't like one of those girls. For whatever reason, she was actually already a young wife. Married in a civil proceeding a year or so prior, she had already been loving, caring for and supporting her young husband as his career had taken them out of the area. The church wedding had just never happened and she was now there to correct that.

That is how I met her. She was hiring me to play flute music as a prelude to her wedding ceremony. I have a thing for Bach, and so I played my favorite and familiar selections for her and she seemed pleased. Classical and beautiful-that is what she wanted for her ceremony.

Technically this was a convalidation:

A. 1. "Marriage convalidation" means to have your marriage "recognized" (or blessed) by the Catholic Church. Those who usually seek a convalidation, it is because they married outside of the Catholic Church/parish. The position of the Catholic Church is very clear on this matter. For a marriage to be recognized by the Catholic Church, it must be performed in a Church (unless otherwise canonically dispensed as in a Jewish-Christian marriage) in order for the marriage to be both valid and licit.

It seems, however, that traditionally when Catholics hear the word "convalidation" those of us in the wedding biz think, "this is going to be a piece of cake!" Simple ceremony, quick vows, perhaps a little cake and punch reception, and then back to reality. No wedding bans, no frills, - a down to basics approach. Perhaps in the old days this type of ceremony was done in the chapel with the priest, the couple and a couple of witnesses.

But I didn't get that vibe from this bride! You don't hire a flutist to play Bach just as a formality. She wanted a beautiful ceremony. This was making it right - a "do over." I LOVE Do-overs! I am a real sucker for them.

In the weeks leading up to her ceremony those two paradigms (no frills convalidation vs. wedding ceremony) seemed at odds with each other. We heard "convalidation" but the young bride saw "wedding."

In the end though I think we all got it right. The marriage was indeed convalidated on a perfect day in chuch.  The stunning young woman radiated happiness in wedding dress with her handsome husband surrounded by their formally dressed wedding party. Parents smiled and laughed through tears. There were scripture readings and the gospel, a thoughtful homily and a wedding mass with the Eucharist. She got her flute music too.  I played the beautiful Bach selections as well as I could for her special day. Despite the miscommunication of the word "convalidation," everyone and everything was perfect.

Briney and Irene Beveridge

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