© Copyright 2002 Grace D. MacKinnon
This article taken from the book Dear Grace: Answers to Questions About the Faith, coming in March 2003 from Our Sunday Visitor. Order online by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 1-800-348-2440. Faith questions may be sent to Grace via e-mail at: email@example.com. You may also visit Grace online at www.DearGrace.com.
I can understand your heartfelt concern for your daughter. You want the very best for her. And of course we know that the very best parents can do for their children is to help them get to heaven. Unfortunately, sometimes it is quite challenging to be a parent, because, as in situations like this one, a parent can at times see things that are good for a child (or young adult) that he or she may perhaps not yet be able to see. This can be frustrating for both parent and teen. And each will have to show love, respect, and patience for the other.
Confirmation, as you may know, is a sacrament that must be celebrated and entered into freely. No one should feel forced or pressured into being confirmed. God never forces Himself on anyone, and this is so because love must be free in order to be real. The key factor here, however, is whether or not your daughter really knows what she is rejecting. As a Christian parent, a great responsibility you have is to teach and guide her toward God and all that is good and true. But how can you do this, you ask, when at times your teenager seems to absolutely refuse to be taught or guided? There is a loving way, I believe, that will make both of you feel you have each done your best.
First of all, learn as best you can what Confirmation is all about. Do you know, for example, that when we are “confirmed,” we receive supernatural strength to fight the battle that lies ahead for every Christian? By not receiving the sacrament of Confirmation, we miss out on one of the greatest graces that Christ gives us in order to help us get to heaven. What we mean by that is that at Confirmation, we receive a full outpouring of the Holy Spirit. It is as if we get the “whole bucket” poured over us. It is powerful! Many people do not know that.
Look at what happened to the first Christians. Without the “confirmation” of the Holy Spirit, Peter and the apostles would never have had the courage or strength to go out into the world and spread the Good News of Jesus Christ. It is the same for us today. Living in the world in which we do, we need this powerful gift from God. When we are baptized – as children or as adults – our parents, or we, make the decision to take up the “good fight.” Then, at Confirmation, it is as if we receive our armor (strength) for the battle – the battle against evil. And with the Eucharist, we receive the “food” for the journey. These are the three Sacraments of Initiation. We need all three in order to enter fully into the Christian life.
Introduce your children early on to the Third Person of the Holy Trinity – the Holy Spirit. He is often the least understood of the Three Persons. But we have not come full circle if we have not encountered Him, for He is God. And He comes to make us more holy. We need Him in our lives.
Although you cannot make your daughter receive Confirmation, you could – since she still lives under your care and support – require that she attend and go through the Confirmation process, with the understanding and agreement between the three of you that when it is over and she has had an opportunity to learn about this powerful sacrament, she will be completely free to make the decision about whether or not she will receive it. I think that if you do this, she will see that you truly do respect her freedom. And she does have this right. Every person must choose God for himself. We should, however, make sure that our children know what they are choosing. Then, we will have fulfilled the task entrusted to us by God. The rest is in His hands.
Parents love their children so much. It is sometimes so hard to have to witness the difficult times in their lives. But we must remember that it is hard for them too, and almost always, they love their parents also, even in their most rebellious moments. In your case, even if your daughter should reject the faith now, it does not mean it will be so forever. Be the best Christians you can be, and with your love, kindness, and patience, there is a very good chance she will eventually find her way back to God and the Church. Sometimes, it may take a while, but it can happen. Never give up hope that it will.