Today, my oldest child was Confirmed. This is a serious sacrament for Catholics but has the somewhat unfortunate existence to usually occur right at the zenith of teenage ambivalence. As a catholic parent, we all think: my child is 15, time to get Confirmed. And I fretted quite a bit that my son’s commitment to the sacramental process of Confirmation was anemic. But I cried anyways. I watched this group of 28 kids, many of whom I have known since kindergarten, gowned in white robes. The church was stuffy and the incense was thick. My son stood with his great uncle, a man we have always affectionately called Big Bob. He is a loving, lovely and honorable man who was a wonderful influence. And did I mention I cried? When I watched the bishop trace a cross with the chrism on my son’s forehead and then pat the side of his face, I really cried. Thankfully, the lady sitting behind me had a big box of Kleenex she shared…with everyone in double arms distance.
This son is also the child who made his first Holy Communion – or rather took Communion for the very first time – at St. Peter’s basilica in Rome on Easter Sunday in 2004. It was the last Easter Mass celebrated by Pope John Paul. So while this child is somewhat irreverent and apathetic about his faith and religiosity in general, and while his Confirmation had a bit of the Cradle Catholic default setting…I know that one day in his future, his faith will be a significant thing. How do I know this? Why do I believe this? Because my child (both my children) are thinkers. They think deeply. They ponder and reason through things. They pay attention to details and nuance. One day….it will dawn on him that he has had some really major faith filled events in his life. And….his dad and I have laid a solid foundation for him to develop his faith further when he is ready. And when he selects Saint Philip Neri as his confirmation saint……because Philip Neri is the patron saint of Rome and the US Army Special Forces. My son also claims he is the patron saint of “jokes and riddles”. And with that…..I know that my child is being intentional and purposeful about even his (supposed) ambivalence.