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Andrew Anonymous wrote:

Hi guys,

I find myself in the following situation. My niece is now 18 but due to a problem with the local parish, she was not able to get confirmed. I am not her Godfather but I believe the family considers me her spiritual Godfather.

Similar to some CCD religious education classes, she was never really:

  • taught the faith
  • the value of a daily prayer life, or
  • the value of daily Mass.

Religion to her is a pain. Being in an Uncle role, what I can say is limited, because, as you know, the parents are the primary educators of their children's faith. To do more, would bother my brother and sister-in-law, and my image as a religious person would to move to one that is overstepping his bounds.

They have a family of four, and I was chosen to be the Godfather for their last child, who is now six.

Once I heard about what happened to my niece, I told my sister-in-law that, as his Godfather, having my God child confirmed was very important to me.

My sister-in-law told me later that she was going to see if my niece could get confirmed with his brother, my nephew, who is three years younger than his sister.

The problem: My niece has no real interest in the faith. In her first year at college, she is thinking of starting a club: The College Liberals.

She has a healthy sense of debate and I have shared with her the importance of:

"agreeing to agree and agreeing to disagree, while still being friends."

My question:

Although Confirmation imprints a character on the soul of the recipient and the recipient receives the completed baptismal graces needed to live a Christian life,
if she doesn't believe in the faith, what good will it do her?

I'm not saying receiving the Holy Spirit is not important. I'm not that stupid but I think she will say:

  • What good is Confirmation if I don't really believe in the faith?
  • Isn't the idea of Confirmation that of saying "Yes, to Jesus and the Church He founded" and of being a solider for Christ and his Church?

She may argument:

If I don't believe in the Church and, some, if not many of, its teachings, why should I get confirmed at all.

Any feedback would be appreciated.

Andrew

  { What good is Confirmation if she is not interested in the faith nor has the correct disposition? }

Mary Ann replied:

Hi Andrew!

You have a common situation. I don't hear anywhere what your niece has to say about Confirmation. It is common for an 18 year old to not display much interest in religion, and she may not know what Confirmation is. I doubt that the parish or the family has given her a lively sense of the gift of the Spirit. It is also common for "liberals" to be confirmed! and even to be good Catholics, as long as they are pro-life. I wouldn't deduce too much from her apparent disinterest and her liberalism. What does concern me is the problem with the parish. For some reason, they don't want to or can't confirm her. It may be:

  • she told them she didn't want to be, or
  • they needed some document, or
  • the parish and the parents had a problem or a misunderstanding.

At this time, it is between her and her parish, which would now be her university parish.

As for overstepping your bounds, it might be, if you insist that she get confirmed. However, telling her about the Holy Spirit and His gifts and power, and even giving her literature about Him, is not overstepping, and to a degree is your obligation as an uncle and as a Catholic. Nevertheless, you have to know the Holy Spirit, or at least know some good resources about Him! The fact is: that many young Catholics give up just when they are about to get solid food and real nourishment for the life they are beginning to lead.

I would challenge you to creative and loving ways of making the faith, and especially the Holy Spirit, live for your niece. Of course, it wouldn't hurt to ask what the parish problem was. If you know there was a problem already, the parents presumably made you aware and wouldn't mind.

  • Why are we Catholics so secretive and touchy about our faith?

Mary Ann

Bob replied:

Andrew,

My sense is that you should let it go and be a witness. If she is not ready, the graces she receives would be of no avail anyway.

We have found at my parish that those who missed Confirmation for whatever reason tend to want it later (for whatever reason); later there becomes an entirely different process that is usually much more meaningful and effective at creating a sustainable embrace of the faith. For example, RCIA, at our parish is awesome, whereas Confirmation prep is more like a sacrament factory.

I would not be concerned that you are derelict in your duty. God knows full well the situation.

Peace,

Bob

Eric replied:

Hi Andrew,

Well, it's not necessarily true that Confirmation has to do with being a soldier for Christ and saying Yes to Jesus (although it does provide a convenient opportunity to say Yes to Jesus) -- Confirmation is primarily about receiving the Holy Spirit.

Your niece is 18 which means that she is of age to make decisions on her own. She should not be forced to receive a sacrament. Who knows, it may be she'll have a conversion down the line and be glad that she had an opportunity to be confirmed when it has meaning for her.

I myself wish my Confirmation had been delayed (primarily because I did not choose a Confirmation name and wish I had that opportunity later). I wouldn't make a big deal out of it.

Hope this helps,

Eric

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