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…

Confirmation Preparation - Reading A Philadelphia Catholic in King James's Court

Holy Cross, Tralee - THE CHURCH
Irish Dominion Photog via Flickr

One of the things that was certainly lacking in my "Catholic" high school curriculum back in the 70s was apologetics. In fact, I didn't even know what apologetics was until my mid-30s! Unsure and ignorant of my Catholic faith I spent a lot of years sort of drifting in the wind blown by the infamous "Spirit of Vatican II" with no substance, no form, no conviction, and no clue!

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As I started to train my own children in their Catholic Faith I looked for sources that would not only tell them what the Catholic Church teaches but also go into a rich explanation of the "why."

A Philadelphia Catholic in King James's Court is the kind of book that would have served me well back in my high school days. This novel is engaging, thought-provoking and even humorous in places. The story is so compelling that the reader can become totally engrossed in it. But more importantly, it teaches the Catholic faith in a way that captures the imagination and heart of the reader.

Michael O'Shea is a high school senior, beginning to think about his plans for college when his fireman father is tragically killed in a house fire saving a drug dealer. His mother Tammi, is so shaken by her husband's death that she agrees to take her children out of school early and live on her brother Les's farm for the summer so that she can have time to sort through her husband's papers and have some quiet time to grieve.

Les lives deep in the bible belt. Catholics in that area are in the minority. Although Les had great admiration for his late brother-in-law, he thinks that Tammi made a mistake converting to Catholicism, and he has made it his mission to use the time he has with his sister's family to reconvert them back to Protestantism, starting with his oldest nephew Michael.

In many ways, Michael is like a lot of post-Vatican II Catholics. He doesn't really understand what the church teaches or why, but he did have the example of his parent's deep faith. As uncle talks to him about questions he has on Catholicism, Michael starts reading the books his father had and learning to understand Sacred Scripture and how the Bible is essential to explaining and understanding what the Catholic church teaches.

Young Michael is confronted many times in the books on different issues, like devotion to Mary and the papacy. The climax at the end of the book is when Michael must face a well-known Protestant apologist in front of an entirely Protestant congregation.

Michael does not become a top-notch apologist overnight. He has a lot of stumbles and insecurity, but perseverance and study become his allies.

One of the parts of the book that really meant a lot to me was that Tammy O'Shea is never by her son's side during these confrontations, but she is always at home praying her rosary for his safety and guidance. The power of a mother's prayer.

A Discussion Study Guide is also available. I used that somewhat in preparing my son for confirmation.

I first read this book myself years ago and learned a lot from it. I gleaned, even more, the second time around a few years later. This would definitely be a good book for any Catholic adult of my vintage who wants something enjoyable and not too technical or dry for re-learning some of the basics of the Catholic Faith.

This is the one book I read with my kids before they are confirmed so we will be re-reading it this year with Rosie.