An Exhortation for the Recently Confirmed
By Clare Walker, Holy Trinity In-House Writer
Several years ago I had a neighbor whose teenage son had his own car-a white Volkswagen Karmann Ghia, of all things. I don't know whether his parents had bought it for him, or if he had saved up and bought it himself, but he certainly took complete responsibility for it. He performed all the maintenance on the car himself. He was often outside washing it, waxing it, cleaning the windows, and vacuuming the interior. When he got home, he would get out of the car and inspect it, rubbing the fender with his sleeve if he saw anything amiss. His pride of ownership in his vintage automobile was evident: it ran perfectly (if loudly.) and there was never a scratch or a smudge on it.
My dad had a coworker who was a recent college graduate and whose mode of transportation was a cruddy old green Gremlin, his parents' old car. The body was rusty, the doors creaked, and the muffler was attached with duct tape. My dad's colleague owned the car, but he didn't take care of it at all because it had little value to him personally and certainly had no value in the marketplace. While I'm sure he was grateful to his parents for letting him have their old car, he was really just waiting for it to fall apart so he could get a new one.
My neighbor's son knew he possessed something of great value that was truly his and he treated it accordingly. My dad's coworker knew he possessed a pile of worthless junk and he treated it accordingly. It is natural to take greater care of things that we truly own and that we truly value.
I have a question for all the confirmandi, who recently celebrated your final sacrament of initiation into the Catholic Church: do you regard your Catholic faith as a gleaming Karmann Ghia or as a junky Gremlin? As newly confirmed, adult Catholics, do you truly own your Catholic faith or are you still grudgingly lugging around something you feel your parents saddled you with? Do you care for your soul the way my neighbor's son cared for his vintage car, or are you letting it fall to pieces?
From the time you were a baby, the care and maintenance of your soul and of your Catholic faith has been your parents' responsibility. They brought you to the Church to be baptized. They made sure you received your first Holy Communion and First Confession. They have been bringing you to the Faith Formation classes so that you could be confirmed. And for the next several years you will continue to depend upon them to drive you to and from Sunday Mass and any other special devotions, youth group, or other activities to help you grow in your Catholic faith.
But in a few short years you will no longer be under your parents' roof. The responsibility for the practice of your Catholic faith will be yours alone. Take advantage of your situation now and form good habits that will carry you into your young adult years with a faith that is a well-oiled machine and not a neglected old rust bucket.
First, don't let your education in the faith come to a screeching halt now. Pick up the catechism and read it. Take up the Bible, and a good Bible study guide or commentary. Get book-length biographies of the saints and other spiritual books or movies. (See the recommended resources at the end of this article.)
Second, get together regularly with other Catholics who are serious about their faith, especially other teens. Being a good Catholic is hard sometimes because there's so much pressure and so many opportunities to be bad. If you're the only Catholic in your regular circle of friends, you may find that you're frequently tempted to think, speak, and behave in a way that you wouldn't want your parents, teachers, youth ministers, or our parish priests to know about. Find some people who can encourage you and challenge you to resist the negative influences of the world. Join the parish youth group (every Sunday at 5:45 pm!!). Come to the parish Bible study. Or just find some other kids at school or in your neighborhood who are like- minded.
Third, put your Catholic faith into action by service to the Church and to the community. Holy Trinity's Youth Ministry has regular service outings, which are lots of fun. As a confirmed Catholic you are eligible to participate in any of the liturgical ministries at the church or join the choir. Getting out and helping others is a great way to live the Catholic faith.
Fourth, in order to keep your soul and your faith in top condition you need grace. Make sure you get to Mass every Sunday and holy day. Go to confession regularly--once a month is a good frequency to aim for. If your morning schedule allows it, go to daily Mass sometimes, or come on Saturday morning. If you ask your parents to take you to Church for Mass and Confession, you can build their faith, too, by your good example.
And finally, make sure you pray every day. This is the most important way to make your faith truly your own-the time you spend in solitude with Jesus. It's the only way to get to know Him. The method of prayer doesn't matter. When I was a teenager, my favorite time to pray was when walking somewhere. I know another teenager who would stop what he was doing every day at 3 pm and take a few minutes to pray. Even if he was at football practice or lifting in the weight room, he was faithful to this short time to simply lift his mind and heart to Jesus every day. (Plus he was good example to his classmates.)
Confirmation is not the same as graduation. Confirmation is one of the sacraments of initiation. The word "initiate" means "to cause or facilitate the beginning of", so you must remember that your confirmation is not the end-it is just the beginning! So get started!
Straight From the Heart: A Call to the New Generation
by Fr. John Bertolucci (1986, Servant Books}
Did Adam and Eve Have Belly Buttons? (And 199 Other Questions from Catholic Teenagers)
by Matthew J. Pinto (2003 Ascension Press}
Did Jesus Have a Last Name? (And 199 Other Questions from Catholic Teenagers)
by Matthew Pinto and Jason Evert (2005 Ascension Press}
Prove It! series by Amy Welborn (Our Sunday Visitor}
Titles include Prove It! - Jesus, Prove It! - God, Prove It! - Church, and Prove It! - Prayer.
Answers questions teens and others have about these topics.
by Mother Teresa
Story of a Soul
by Therese of Lisieux
Clare T. Walker, a Holy Trinity Parishioner since 2003, writes for the National Catholic Register (www.ncregister.com). She is also an independent fiction author. Here are some handy links to her website and her books:
Clare T. Walker
Sun: 7:00am, 9:00am, 11:00am
Daily Mass - Mon-Sat: 8:00am
Confession - Sat: 2:45 - 3:45pm
Holy Trinity Catholic Parish
25 East Richmond Street
Westmont, IL 60559