If you were told right now that there was a chest of endless riches underground and that you’d have to dig with some effort to get to it, would you? If you were told you had to go to confirmation classes (or take your child to confirmation classes) for a year to be confirmed, how might you respond?
As a confirmation catechist, I believe that there are many fantastic reasons to be confirmed right here in our Archdiocese. However, I have encountered many parents who want to skip confirmation preparation here, and instead take their children to another country to have them receive the sacrament there.
I’ve often heard the comment, for example, that “Confirmation prep here is too long. I’ll just take my child to the Philippines to get the sacrament.” Parents consider that their children might be engaged in several extra-curriculars; from sports to music lessons. We could all agree that these have value. What about catechism and confirmation prep? Do we see it in the same way? When we decide for our children to skip it because we can rush the sacrament, what do we say about the value of this formation process? About the sacrament? Could it give the idea that it’s okay to put in a lot of effort into things other than building a relationship with Christ?
Extra-curriculars aside, let’s say a parent wants to take their child to a different country to quickly get confirmed, simply because the process here takes “too long”. It still sends the same message: skip the preparation; you can purchase or expedite your way to a sacrament. This overlooks an important part of confirmation prep: the formation process.
Granted, for some parents, it may be the case that getting kids to confirmation classes is actually difficult for legitimate reasons. In such a case, please do not hesitate to reach out to your parish priest or the confirmation teachers to see if arrangements can be made; it is as important to us as it is to the parents, confirmands, and everyone else.
Whether you are a parent reading this, or are a catechism student yet to be confirmed, here are some great reasons to do it where you are:
When you go to class weekly, you form a relationship with your teachers, with your classmates, and overall church community. A faith journey is never done alone; it is always done with others. You could be sources of support while undergoing confirmation prep, and even after that!
Learning about the sacrament is very important for you as you confirm your faith. It makes it more meaningful when you are able to know what you are agreeing to when you take on this final Sacrament of Initiation.
Going to classes for a year will give you the time to think about what you’re learning and relate it to the world around you; in the community you live in and beyond! It also allows you to ask the catechists questions which you might not be able to come up with in a matter of days.
Catechism classes encourage praying and studying outside of class time, forming integral parts of our faith and cultivating that desire to learn the richness of our faith.
Confirmation classes might have a “service” component which is important, as service is central to our call as Catholics.
In short, confirmation prep (and catechism classes in general) is not there as a thing to get over and done with just to get what’s at the end (the sacrament). Confirmation prep is a process that helps to form us and prepare us; spiritually, intellectually, humanly, to be part of a broader community, and so on.
I’ll close by asking these questions:
If you have yet to be confirmed, why do you want to be confirmed?
If you are a parent that wants your child confirmed, why do you want them to be confirmed?