Making Men, The Sacrament of Confirmation

August 9, 2018

man dressed in armor holding a child

Today I had a thought, or rather connections of thoughts, that led to an unexpected sacramental destination.

A friend had asked me to look at the Rite of Passage Weekend, an offshoot of the Blessing Generation movement which puts together young men and their fathers in a shared weekend — outdoors, in the woods, in the rain and mud, amidst adversity, and a shared victory that comes through prayer and personal bonding. One of the recommended weekend preps was to read the book, Raising a Modern Day Knight. Interesting!

The poster also captured in visual form the valiant attempt to ennoble young men by allowing them to rub against the elements that define them, the natural world, the spiritual realm, and relationship — sonship and fatherhood. It was all steeped in a confirmation of life, love, and identity, so sorely missing in the formation of our youth today.

There was no room for that little evil word – boredom, as in, “I’m bored Dad, there’s nothing to do”. Translated from teen-speak, for those of you who haven’t bought the v.2.1 of the Teen Angst Lexicon App, it says, “I don’t see the purpose in my life right now at this moment. Help me.”

This weekend certainly has the right spirit of formation. And it got me thinking.

Without a grounding, a placement, a sense of one’s history and identity we can lose sight of the “great trajectory” and the living-stream of grace and sacrifice passed on from our parents, and grandparents, and all generations that have gone before us marked with the sign of faith. A gift given by hidden hands precisely for that one crucial moment when we must choose the good! When youth realize that faith has bought them a moment of freedom so they may choose to love. That is a confirmation moment.

And there it is again, that word – confirmation.

For us Catholics the great sacrament of Confirmation is often seen as a rite of passage, a wellspring to an adult life, a mature Christian life, where our baptism is crowned by the light of the Holy Spirit. We are readied for battle, to become the Lord’s knights, and make of ourselves a great oblation for the kingdom, as Christ did for us.

But is this really what Confirmation is?

Does not the Roman rite share with the eastern rite (the Oriental Churches) as normative that the sacraments of baptism, the Holy Eucharist, and confirmation can be taken together at a very early age to help the soul drink deeply of the sacramental wellspring, well before a child reaches early teens and grade 8? I had heard this before. But if true how would or how could this spiritual triple run help our youth, especially our young men, to become real men?

I turned to Thomas K. Sullivan’s great article, the Sacrament of Confirmation: Knighthood in the Kingdom Family of God” to get a larger perspective.

A couple excerpts jumped off the page.

“One of the highest responsibilities of the people of God is to prepare the baptized for Confirmation.” (DOL. 2512)

“A kingdom is helpless without soldiers to protect the king, the queen mother, and the members of that kingdom from being attacked. The soldiers of a kingdom play a crucial role in the survival of the kingdom. In our country, we only read about these soldiers in our history books and know them as “knights in shining armor.” We recall some of these knights: Sir Lancelot, Sir Galahad, Joan of Arc, and many others. The term “knight” also has another meaning as well as that of soldier, and that is “one who is devoted to the service of a lady as her attendant or champion.”

Thomas Sullivan goes on to connect beautifully the concept of kingdom, knighthood, and the great sacrament of confirmation. It is well worth a good read | http://catholiceducation.org/articles/religion/re0785.html

As the Knights of the Holy Eucharist continue to reach out to provide an answer to the little question lurking in the hearts of those God has chosen to serve in our Franciscan brotherhood, this article helps us realize that we are all children of great war. We have been bought at a great price and all our actions, sacrifices, and prayers no matter how small can help create an environment for a young soul to chose the fullness of Christ’s love.

If you know of a prayerful young man searching and discerning his vocation please don’t hesitate to speak “a word”. You may just be the one, chosen from the beginning of time, to give a future religious vocation some confirmation.

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