Monday, April 21, 2014

Confirmation Promises

I believe and profess all that the holy Catholic Church believes, teaches, and proclaims to be revealed by God.
I said these words 11 Easters ago when I was received into the church. I got to see this profession being made by a number of people yesterday at the Easter vigil. I was the altar server so I got a good view. It brought all that back quite powerfully. It was a hard statement to make and I was overjoyed that God had brought me to a point where I could pronounce a convinced Yes.

What I find strange is that cradle Catholics never make this declaration. Somehow it is not part of the confirmation liturgy when children get confirmed. It just seems so wrong. Why should entering the faith as a convert be any different from entering the faith as a member of a Catholic family? It is the same faith. We all have the same privileges and responsibilities.

I think it is even worse because there is a myth out there that converts need to worry about orthodoxy and cradle Catholics don't. It is silly but you run into it all the time. When people see that you take seriously the teachings of the church and they find out you are a convert they kind of write you off. Converts are like that. We cradle Catholics are different. We can be Catholic without making the actual teachings of the church such a big deal.

The liturgy should be designed to combat such myths and not confirm them. Yet we seem happy to process kids through first communion, first reconciliation and confirmation without really challenging them to embrace some of the more counter-cultural parts of the faith. We seem afraid to let kids seriously ask themselves if they are ready to confirm that they actually believe the faith their parents have formed them in. In fact, the parents often have a wishy-washy faith so that can be par of the problem. Still a sacrament of initiation should make very clear exactly what you are being initiated into. Having the kids make such a declaration would help a lot.

I would even go further. We renew our baptismal vows every Easter. Why not renew this profession? It seems the best time to do it would be Pentecost. Confirmation is associated with the Holy Spirit so renewing your confirmation every Pentecost just makes sense. The Holy Spirit leads the church into all truth and leads us to embrace that truth in our own hearts and minds.

Many Catholics deny central Catholic teachings when asked by pollsters. It is so easy to see how they would remain in the church and never be challenged to either admit they are not Catholic or submit to the teaching of the church as the word of God. We have created a culture that avoids confronting dissent. It creates tremendous confusion about what the Catholic faith involves. This would clarify things a lot. A simple statement that what the church teaches is revealed by God. All of it. If you believe that you are Catholic.

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