Thursday, January 05, 2017

Confirmation, letter to the bishop, and the original order

The most sought after posts on this blog concern confirmation preparation and parents looking for examples of confirmation letters to share with their children. But in this post I would like to share why I would like to see confirmation put back into the original order after baptism, and see children confirmed earlier and with fewer requirements.

In no way do I blame the pastor or the DREs for these confirmation requirements. I know this comes from the top down and they do their best to implement them.  I am just of the opinion that we should restore the original order and eliminate a lot of this busy work and concentrate more on some faith programs that would help teens know their faith on a more mature level -perhaps with some apologetics training.

Five of my six children have received the sacrament of confirmation in the 8th grade, so I have a bit of experience with how we prepare for the sacrament in the Diocese of Cleveland.

My sister-in-law's kids live in the Diocese of Gaylord and they were all confirmed much earlier. In fact, there are 10 dioceses in the USA that restored the original order of the sacraments of initiation to baptism, confirmation and then communion.

I have yet another experience with this - for some reason, the parish I was baptized in as an infant back in the late 50s confirmed me as well. Not at the same time apparently, according to my baptismal certificate, but I was still an infant.


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I didn't find this out until 8th grade when my class was starting to prepare for confirmation and getting new dresses and planning parties and such and my mom told me that I couldn't because I had already been confirmed!  I remember feeling a little disappointed - not because I thought the sacrament was so great and I wanted to experience it with my 8th-grade maturity, but because I wanted the new dress and the party.

To make matters worse, my sister did get the 8th grade confirmation because she had not been in the same state when she was baptized.  I don't remember being annoyed at that, (although I probably was) but I do remember being interested in the ceremony itself because I didn't remember ever seeing a confirmation.

My grandmother told me that when she was confirmed, the bishop gave her a big smack on the face, and so we practiced that. I was curious about how hard the bishop would hit and whether sis could take it!  He apparently didn't hit too hard or at all because I don't remember it. So the fascination for me for a long time was a slap from the bishop.

I don't remember much else about confirmation preparation as a kid, but when my oldest son came of age we suddenly had a ton of hoops to jump through - things that I just couldn't imagine the early church had in mind when they instituted this sacrament.

My confirmandi had to

  • write a letter to the bishop
  • Perform a number of service hours
  • write a report on their patron saint
  • attend a retreat with other confirmandi. 
The parents also had to write letters to their candidate and solicit letters from family and friends as well as get them to all the extra meetings and practices.

In retrospect, I think those were all good and noble activities - but being able to be confirmed shouldn't hinge on any of that.

I had two children with learning disabilities so accomplishing the writing tasks were very difficult to accomplish.

Then there were the confirmation retreats that were probably great fun for the kids who went to school together, but a little harder for the PSR kids and harder yet for kids that were from other places or new to the parish and were just trying to get this done so that they could get confirmed.

The retreats consist of a nice dinner on Friday and then sleeping overnight with a full day of speakers and activities the next day ending in mass.  There was always a lot of goofing around and drama and not a lot of sleep at that overnight. For a couple of years, I was a speaker at the retreat and I knew as I looked out into that crowd of jr. high girls that most of them were trying hard to keep their eyes open. It's hard for any speaker to compete with sleep deprivation right before lunch time. My kids don't remember them fondly either other than as requirements to be checked off to get the sacrament and all the tangibles that go with it.


So we are about to get a new bishop sometime soon in the Diocese of Cleveland. I sincerely support restoring the order of confirmation to come after baptism and before first communion. 

But until then, here is my article on preparing a letter for your candidate, including links to letters I actually wrote to my sons and daughter. 


Here for the first time, is an example of a letter my son wrote to the bishop for his confirmation:


January 3, 201_


Your Excellency:
 I am writing because I wish to be confirmed into the Catholic Church. The reasons that I would like to be confirmed are:
·      To be a fully initiated member of the church and
·      To receive the Holy Spirit and his gifts.
After I am confirmed I will keep serving God and work hard at what I think He wants me to do such as helping others in any way that I can and to positively influence other just like others (the saints and P.S.R) have influenced me.

Sincerely,
  • march 2010 075



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