Skip to comments.A Confirmation Rout — I Mean Retreat!
Posted on 05/25/2006 9:47:23 AM PDT by NYer
A couple of weeks ago, I attended a five-hour retreat with Josh, my young man, whom I am sponsoring for Confirmation. It was quite a surprise, and an honor, to be asked to be his sponsor as I had spoken to Josh and his father only in brief encounters after Mass or by happenstance meetings in a grocery store parking lot.
Josh wants to be a highway patrol officer and so he picked their patron saint, Michael, as his Confirmation name. St. Michael is a favorite with me, too, on account of his military aspect and my increasing (especially in this day and age) want of corporeal and spiritual protection. All Webbed Up Some People Have Way Too Much Time on Their Hands
When we met up at the retreat we were first instructed to get into a large circle and throw a beach-ball around. The beach-ball had questions written on it. When it was your turn to catch it, you had to announce who you were and answer the questions real burning ones like, What is your favorite color? or What kind of dessert do you like best?
Josh promptly apologized.
Im sorry, he said. The confirmation process has been very juvenile.
No problem I said, brushing it off. Its just an exercise to break the ice.
And, indeed, it was. It certainly seemed to work a camaraderie of humiliation was established all around.
Next, we were taken through a rehearsal of the Confirmation ceremony itself. Everyone paid strict attention because things get a little tricky in our church. During a recent renovation of the worship space, someone had the bright idea of making the aisles wavy like a river of water. Unfortunately, it also causes a train wreck during Holy Communion. So its understandable that no one wanted to walk in the wrong direction during Confirmation.
The next thing on the agenda was for the confirmandi to color T-shirts. The theme of the workshop was Super Heroes. I should have guessed when I saw a large television set in the sanctuary with a Spider Man tablecloth underneath it. But it seemed to fit: the Holy Spirit Spider Man the Holy Spirit. Get it?
Im so sorry to put you through this, Josh apologized.
Hey, no problem, I quipped. We can make this work. But we were staring down at the T-shirts and color crayon-markers in bewilderment.
Eventually, we came up with an idea. In keeping with Joshs personal theme and convictions, he managed to draw a respectable flaming sword on the back of his T-shirt he was way too embarrassed to put it on the front. We had a nice time getting to know each other while he neatly colored in the flames.
Just to make sure we were not getting bored, we were herded back into the church. But first, the young men and women actually had to put on their T-shirts and parade themselves before us sponsors who were, thankfully, spared the ordeal of having to wear or make T-shirts ourselves.
Even though I was cringing for the young people, I enjoyed how each one of them managed to come up with something clever and personal to comment about. I was sorry they said so little before they passed the microphone on to the next person like it was a hot potato, because some of their comments were profound and intriguing; all hinted at what the grown-ups seemed to be afraid to talk about directly: What Confirmation actually means to them.
I was just thinking about how nice it would be to really get to know them when they were told they had to wear those T-shirts for the rest of the evening, and we were all ushered into the next phase of the retreat. I patted Josh on the back encouragingly as we found our seats in the back of the church.
The next event was for the sponsor and the candidate to sit down together and get to know one another by answering a prescribed set of questions. Josh and I were way ahead of the game already on account of the T-shirt activity, but we dutifully went through the exercise and expanded on the original set of questions as we went along. This was actually a very enjoyable part of the evening for both of us.
But, alas, it was cut short as the television was wheeled out in front of the altar and we were forced to watch Spider Man 2. OK, OK, they fast-forwarded through the action scenes so that we could get the profound message of the film, which was well, Im sure it was there somewhere.
OK, the movie was over. Thankfully, the sponsors got a break to pray while the candidates read their letters from friends and family. This was really nice.
Next, we were given a Spidey trick-or-treat bag because we were going to go on a treasure hunt for the gifts of the Holy Spirit. As we found the stations expounding the gifts of Wisdom, Reverence, Good Counsel, etc., we also got a piece of candy to help us associate and remember what the gifts of the Holy Spirit are. For example: the Eucharist NECCO candy wafers the Eucharist. Get it?
Josh and I repeated the gifts, along with their corresponding candies, over and over to each other.
Wisdom SMARTIES said Josh.
Fortitude and courage RAZZLES. I replied.
Awe of Gods power UNO!
As he mentioned Awe of Gods power, I vaguely remembered that virtue as fear of the Lord," but I wont quibble here.
By hour five, Josh and I were definitely bonded in forbearance. So it wasnt all that humiliating to be herded into the kindergarten classroom to make a memento for each other.
We were amply armed with Elmers glue, feathers, beads, and glitter to make a card. Josh and I eagerly went our separate ways so that we could surprise each other, only to discover that when we exchanged cards, we had essentially made the same one: a sword with bright orange flames emitting from it.
St. Michael really had his work cut out for him that night, and I think it was a rout after all, as Josh and I hugged and made a date to meet again for the big night his confirmation into the church as a man and not as a child. Too bad he wasnt treated like a man.
All Webbed Up
Some People Have Way Too Much Time on Their Hands
This bears a remarkable resemblance to the program in use in my (now former) parish.
My daughter's confirmation was much more reverent and solemn. What's more, they actually had to learn stuff . . . and take tests about the gifts and fruits of the Holy Spirit, and the Seven Sacraments, and so forth.
She chose a militant saint like Michael -- St. Martin of Tours. I think his association with horses had something to do with it . . .
Good article! Of course, the entire Church has been afflicted with the Catechesis of the Terminally Stupid/Immature, so at least he wasn't alone.
I was really fortunate here in St. Augustine. Quite by accident, I attended a confirmation (of 8th graders) at the Cathedral. The Bishop (Bp. Victor Galeone, the one episcopal spokesman who dared to come out against his "brother bishop," Lynch, on behalf of Terri Schiavo) gave a great homily, discussing truth, martyrdom, and all that good stuff. He had the kids on the edge of their seats as he told them the story of a 14 year old Cristero, now canonized, who had been beaten, had the soles of his feet cut off and was then forced to walk to the place where he would be killed, and finally was shot to death while yelling Viva Cristo Rey. And the Bishop did a good examination of the kids followed by the best Trinity for Idiots explanation I have ever heard!
Things are looking up.
More proof (this is a joke -- refrain from wad-ifying the panties) that the RC Church is especially blessed: No church so thick with jerks could have survived this long unless God were with us.
Sounds like my marriage-encounter retreat.
I've heard this sort of nonsense ... I attended such a retreat as this back in the '70s. I would have hoped that they had gone the way of the dodo bird by now.
Oddly enough, my 'Engaged Encounter' retreat, 'way back when, in the Dreadful Diocese of Richmond, no less, was sane and very useful.
LOL! Some things just beg to be made fun of.
My wife and I (engaged at the time) left halfway through the weekend - about the time her roommate asked if she could switch rooms with me and sleep with her fiance, and just after the deacon running the program refused to correct couples from promoting pre-nuptial agreements and co-habitation (during a group discussion).
Same thing here, or thereabouts.
It's sickening having middle aged morons trying to run a Confirmation program. Watching "Finding Nemo," doing everything visually. I had no idea we were confirming children...
Why don't these people treat the kids like the adults they are supposed to be in the Church??
PS - My Confirmation head person does the same garbage...
Gee whiz... mine was much better. We had something to eat after the Good Friday service, then we had the sponsor time where we went through the questions, then we went into an upper room where we were told we all had to be very quiet and to use the bathroom before we went in because we needed to stay in our seats. Then we had faith journeys by all the second year catechumens and all the candidates... must have been forty or fifty people. It was tedious. They said we might go all the way to 10:30, but thankfully we were all out of there by 9:30.
I know I'm making fun of this, and I certainly think it could have been done better. But watching the UB2s (catechumens) relate to each other made all of us candidates want to be closer to each other too, and I noticed a definitively heightened sense of fellowship among us for the rest of our time together, which ended last Sunday when we were confirmed and received our first communion. I also kept thinking of the stories throughout the rest of the Triduum. Boring yes, but I wouldn't trade the experience for the world.
In the Episcopal Church, which I fled, they have come up with a liturgy for girls upon reaching puberty. As an older priest I admire put it in his monthly column, one sure way to make sure a 12 year old girl never darkens the doors of a church again is to make her get up in front of the congregation and talk about her period.
I am the sponsor of a young man for his confirmation this coming Tuesday. He is my son's best friend. I am so honored that he picked me.
There were no retreat leaders,ice-breakers, games, T-Shirts, felt banners, juggling clergy, singing nuns, Christian Rock, Cheers about our awesome God, references to Leo Buscaglia, trust exercises, crying, blaming our parents, primal screaming, books about Jesus and Buddah, John Lennon's Imagine,labyrinths, Renew Trees, coloring books, or scavenger hunts.
Let me guess: There's the ceremonial slamming of the door, and then slamming it again because the first one wasn't loud enough. There's the ritual groan or scream (there's a combination noise 13 year old girls can make which is indescribable, but once you've heard it you never forget it) and the bursting into tears. There's the playing of music really really really loudly. There's the father stalking around the sanctuary "breathing threats and slaughter" against anything the ever thought of wearing trousers. And at the end there's the incredibly sweet climbing into the lap or mother or father while the parents fight to hold back tears knowing that the little girl they love so much is leaving them as she turns into an equally but differently lovable young woman.
Am I close? After all, I used to be an Episcopalian ...
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