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…

Shame vs. Guilt

Izzy's best friend, T, is going to RCIA this year and has asked me to be her sponsor. I've known T since she was a little girl.  Ever since she moved in two doors down she and Izzy have been BFFs.  They played together constantly.  So when their play had to be interrupted for Izzy to go to church or to the the children's choir, T decided to ask her mom if she could go along.

Over the years she has gone with Izzy to Children's choir and bell choir, and then she eventually joined the parish and went on several church trips to the Franciscan University Youth Conferences and is also a member of the church youth group.  She has celebrated feast days with us and talked religion and politics with us at the dining room table.  This year, after her 16th birthday, she asked her mom for permission to join and she is taking that step towards becoming a full member. I'm standing by her during the journey.
RCIA so far, has been a focus on the basics - like how to make the sign of the cross. I think a lot of the newbies are concerned about the mechanics of that.  But our leader, Father L, goes deeper - into what the sign of the cross means and how it is part of our "Seal" and part of what makes us precious to God.

It's "the rest of the story" part that I am enjoying so much.  I have been to two sessions, and I've learned something new at each one.

Last night, Father took us through Genesis chapter 3 - the fall of man, with special emphasis on verse 21
21 The Lord God made garments of skin for Adam and his wife and clothed them.

As I understand it, Adam and Eve sinned, and then were shamed by their nakedness.  When God made them garments, it was the first step in fixing their brokenness.

I really like that idea- that first God healed their shame as he brought mankind back to wholeness.

Father then spoke a lot about shame vs. guilt. The shame our first parents felt came through Lucifer.  It wasn't just about being naked, it was more about the negative feelings and thoughts of unworthiness that came about as the result of sin.  Guilt on the other hand, comes from inside.  It is the voice of God speaking through our consciences telling us that we are doing something wrong.

Fulton Sheen wrote:

This has been in my thoughts since last night- because I have felt shamed this past year and I know it has affected my blogging.

I've been wanting to write about politics, and homeschooling, and tips for mothers and more on living the liturgical year.

But how can I write about politics when I wasn't even in control of what was happening in my home?

How can I write about homeschooling when my child has dropped out?

What tips can I give mothers when my older children are living with girlfriends? haven't gone to college? aren't practicing their faith?

I have felt shame about these things - and I sit down to write about them and the thought comes over me - who are you to be writing any of this? Ever?

Days go by. and I don't write.

Last night Father L. said something that hit me like a thunder bolt - Shame like this is from the devil.  It isn't helpful. It isn't healing. And it keeps me focused on myself and on the past and doesn't move me towards forgiveness.  My shame is from embarrassment, and it's for the wrong reason.

Hearing that was very healing.  It was an epiphany moment for me.

What's happened has happened.  I can't change that.  But I can learn from it, and I can help others through my experiences - and most of all I can write about it.

So know this:
My Catholic Faith didn't fail   -  maybe the way we lived it or presented it to our children did.

Homeschooling didn't fail - maybe our family circumstances did.

Conservatism didn't fail - well, one only has to astutely look around to see the truth of that.

So I'm done with shame.  I've dealt with my fair share of  guilt (and not one ounce more!) and I'm going to face my fears on this - because I think I still have something to say, and I think even if no one reads it, it needs to be said and posted.

I'm also realizing that it's not over.  My oldest is 25, and I do see wonderful potentials in him.  I'm not giving up.  The next two are still in their early 20s. They are males. The launch wasn't perfect but I think they can still pop up and make it to shore. I'm not giving up on them either.

and I just might blog about it too!