Due to the schedule disruptions of the pandemic, Bishop Burbidge has appointed me to confirm the children of the parish once more. It is a shame that the children to be confirmed (confirmandi) won’t have the experience of meeting a bishop. It is so very much an important part of our Catholic identity. Nevertheless, frankly, last September went so well, I’m happy not to have to host a bishop. It is a lot less anxiety for me, staff and a host of volunteers.
Not only do I look forward to confirming the children next Saturday (May 15), but currently I find my interviews with them most enlightening. Firstly, the young Christian soul should give all of us reason to be hopeful. Most of them sincerely desire to participate in the Church and make a difference the world. Sadly, there are some other alarming truths that are crystal clear.
Many of the children are completely detached from the Christian calendar. A steady diet of Spring Break during Holy Week has successfully eroded some of the most sacred events of our faith from their understanding. The Passion, Death and Resurrection of Jesus are barely acknowledged for the historical and transformative events that they are. Just a reminder, there are no more important days on our calendar than the Triduum: Holy Thursday, Good Friday and Easter Sunday.
Another crystalline truth is that there is no amount of catechism (dynamic teachers, texts or time) that can possibly contribute to a scintilla of knowledge of the faith in comparison with the family that just goes to Church as instructed. Frankly, a bump on a log sitting in the pew each Sunday will absorb more of the faith than a child in a Religious Education (RE) program for one hour a week. This isn’t a critique of our program, but rather my estimation of what Our Lord has established in our Catholic tradition of going to Mass.
I wish many parents would stop thinking that they can have it all. They wish for their children to be involved in all the activities available on Sunday and for them to be Catholic. Habitually lived faith is necessary to combat the current of disbelief in which the children of the parish live. For example, the most fundamental tenant of Christianity, the Resurrection of the Body, is lacking in some of our confirmandi. How important is it?
St. Paul basically says pack it in and give up if you don’t believe. “But if Christ is preached as raised from the dead, how can some among you say there is no resurrection of the dead? If there is no resurrection of the dead, then neither has Christ been raised. And if Christ has not been raised, then empty (too) is our preaching; empty, too, your faith.” (1Cor 15:12-14)
And so, what I hear from many of our confirmandi are well absorbed RE lessons. I hear them talk about Jesus descending into hell after His death and then ascend to heaven, in order to open it up for souls. For minds that are formed by their environment of secularism and materialism, this is seems like a rational contribution of our faith. A consolation for us after death, but not the miracle that it is. Their minds have neatly packaged the Resurrection for the afterlife. “Rose from the dead” becomes a spiritual act, not the reality that we celebrate on Easter Sunday.
I hope that the Resurrection may change our lives for the better now. It starts with what we do on Sundays.