by Randy Hain | May 26, 2022 1:01 am
It is Confirmation season in many dioceses throughout the world. I remember a thought I had during my son’s Confirmation Mass several year ago. The church was packed with friends and family of those being Confirmed. The bishop did a wonderful job explaining to the young people the tremendous gift of our Catholic faith and the responsibility they had to use this gift in their daily lives. As I watched Bishop Zarama anoint each forehead with chrism oil and say their chosen saint’s name, a thought occurred to me.
What if many of the young people, and possibly their parents as well, were mistakenly viewing Confirmation as a graduation ceremony instead of an important milestone in their continuing journey as Catholics and followers of Christ?
Would they follow the disturbing trend among Catholic youth of the last several years and gradually fall away from the practice of their Catholic faith? Would they enter their college years spiritually ill-equipped to withstand the secular onslaught that often confronts them during one of the most formative periods of their lives?
As startling as these questions should be to readers of this post, it should be even more startling to recognize that parents can prevent this from happening. Why do many Catholic teens drift away from the Church after Confirmation (if not before)? They may not be seeing good examples at home. As painful as it may be to admit, we may not be modeling and teaching the Catholic faith to our children. The excuses we may offer about being too busy, or “that is what PSR (Parish School of Religion) is for” or “I pay good money for my kids to go to Catholic school” may seem logical, but they don’t hold water. Do we all realize that our vocation as parents is to get our families to Heaven? This calling requires us to make sure our children know their Catholic faith and live it far beyond Confirmation.
“Education in the faith by the parents should begin in the child’s earliest years. This already happens when family members help one another to grow in faith by the witness of a Christian life in keeping with the Gospel. Family catechesis precedes, accompanies, and enriches other forms of instruction in the faith. Parents have the mission of teaching their children to pray and to discover their vocation as children of God. The parish is the Eucharistic community and the heart of the liturgical life of Christian families; it is a privileged place for the catechesis of children and parents.” (CCC 2226)
Are we on the right track in our homes? How would we really know? Perhaps this checklist might help:
This is a challenging list and I found it very convicting to answer the questions. Yet, we must know at some level, the vital importance of truly living our faith and taking seriously the responsibility of preparing our children to always be true to their Catholic faith and helping them attain Heaven. We are all made for Heaven and not this world, but we often act like the secular world is all we care about.
Ok, we see the problem and we own much of it. What do we do? Let’s start by saying “yes” to the questions above. This will be a great leap forward in helping our children and ourselves experience and live our Catholic faith. What else? Here are six additional actions:
The word confirmation comes from the Latincōnfirmāre, meaning to make firm or to strengthen. The Sacrament of Confirmation gives the strength of the Holy Spirit and strengthens our choice to be Christians. We are committing through Confirmation to act as Christ’s disciples. This is not a graduation or completion of something, but one of the most important days of their lives which signifies that an important door has been opened for them. Will they be prepared (by us) for what awaits them. Will they have the courage and commitment to walk through the door?
Maybe you are thinking about having a family or maybe you have younger children. You could even be a grandparent worried about your grandchildren. You could also be one of the parents, like me, who watch their teenagers get confirmed and are worried about getting them to Heaven.
Let’s not allow our children to be a statistic. While they live in our homes we have every opportunity to shape and mold them into faith-filled young adults who are focused on the right priorities. They will follow our example and grow up to be much like us when they have families of their own.
The question for us to ponder is this, “Will this example be a good thing or a bad thing?”
Image credit: “Chair of St. Peter” (detail) by Dnalor 01, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons
Source URL: https://integratedcatholiclife.org/2022/05/hain-staying-catholic-beyond-confirmation/
Copyright ©2022 Integrated Catholic Life™ unless otherwise noted.