Because most philosophies that frown on reproduction don't survive.

Saturday, May 06, 2017

Be Sealed With The Holy Spirit

Today Julia, age 13, will be confirmed. She's taking Josephine Bakhita for her confirmation saint. 

Julia first heard about St. Josephine last year at our parish's Vacation Bible School, when I had to write up a small bio of her as our Saint of the Day:

I was born in the Sudan, in Africa, around the year 1869. I had a happy childhood, but when I was nine I was kidnapped and forced into slavery. This was a terrible time for me. I was treated so badly by my captors that I forgot my own name. I was given the nickname “Bakhita”, which means “lucky”. I didn’t feel lucky! I was beaten daily and treated so cruelly that I wanted to die. 
When I was fourteen, I was sold to an Italian man in Africa, who treated me kindly. He gave me as a gift to a family who took me to Italy and made me the nanny to their daughter. The little girl and I went to stay for a time at the convent of the Canossian Sisters in Venice. For the first time, I learned about the love of God. I loved the life of the sisters, and I wanted to learn more about Jesus, who died the death of a slave. When my owners tried to take me from the convent, I said no! The sisters helped me take my case to an Italian court. The judges ruled that since slavery was illegal in Italy, I was free!
How did I use my freedom? I wanted to become Catholic and join the sisters. In 1890 I was baptized with the name Josephine, and I received communion and confirmation from Archbishop Sarto, who later became Pope Pius X. 
I was a sister for 42 years. During that time, I was known for my gentleness, my cheerfulness, and my strength in suffering. During World War II, the people of my Italian town counted on my prayers and courage to help them when bombs fell. Not one person died. 
I died on February 8, 1947. On October 1, 2000, Pope John Paul II declared me a saint. I’m the patron saint of my homeland, the Sudan, and of all people suffering in slavery.
For a more detailed account, including how she got the terrible scars of her slavery, you can read more here.

Please pray for Julia on her Confirmation, and pray for me as well, because God keeps putting it on my heart (a cliché, but accurate) that I should teach Confirmation class next year.


Brandon said...

What are you putting in their water that makes them grow so crazily fast?

One thing that helping out with Confirmation this past few years has shown me is that there is always a desperate need for help. I don't regard myself as at all well suited for this sort of ministry, but I've kept on in part because it really is that desperate -- better even a poor fit like myself than no one at all. And it's a problem that's difficult to solve, too, since not just anyone is suitable for it -- you need someone who takes their faith seriously, who can teach it accurately, who recognizes the importance of the sacrament of Confirmation itself, and who can understand that it's not youth spirituality retreat but a way of making sure that everyone has the minimum (and then some) that they need in order to understand the sacrament and build on it, and who also is able to handle teenagers (my weakness -- I couldn't deal very much with teenagers even when I was teenager, so I might as well be helping to teach aliens from Pluto) and yet has a schedule that can manage it. Even in parishes that put a lot of work into supporting Confirmation class, the need is there; I have yet to come across a parish in which it was supported adequately. So the need is certainly there.

mrsdarwin said...

I am not the worst with teenagers -- maybe it helps having to deal with them at home every day, I dunno. I'll have a built-in advantage in that for the first while at least, I'll be bringing a tiny baby with me to class; you can't do better than that as an ice breaker. It's a plus for me that some of the kids up for Confirmation this coming year are kids I've had for the past two years in 6th-7th grades, so there will be some continuity. (There are two sessions of religion class, AM and PM, until Confirmation, when everyone combines. But I've taught 6th-7th for three years now and a lot of the kids have passed through my class at some time.)

At this point, I'm mostly looking forward to it. Having had kids in Confirmation for the past two years, I've heard a lot of analysis about what has worked/not worked in past years, and although I'm not a "crafty" teacher or one who's good at the fun and games, I am a teaching teacher and know the faith. Seems like the default lately has been to go with video programs from the big Catholic publishers, but these are really subject to the whims of whether or not you can get the A/V equipment running, and they eat a lot of time. It seems like it's good for the kids to know that there is actually a real live person in their parish who knows the faith and is willing to stand up in front of them and teach it, without farming out the catechesis to the pros.

One of the awkwardnesses of a big program (we had 93 confirmandi this year, although perhaps less than a quarter of those are eighth graders from the parochial school and so not in the PSR program) is that there is such a range of knowledge and home education. Some kids have a strong faith education at home and come well-prepared; some are not as educated but have a devout home life; some go to church and PSR but don't really retain anything; some barely go to church; some are just dumped into Confirmation class for their Catholic graduation. One of the first tasks will be to teach about what the sacrament really IS, as you pointed out.

Brandon said...

Yes, I think you would be quite good. Just being a parent, I imagine, would put you in a much better position than I am; having the Teenage Experience is even better.

One of the things I discovered quickly is that I'm not at all a fan of the video curricula. They are sometimes OK for very-first-introduction; and they can usually be put to good use in review. But they seem consistently useless for anything in between. What's really needed is for people to explain some of the Whys, just a few of the most important ones, and the videos are almost never good at that. (I also find that they too often fail to grasp that the Gifts of the Holy Spirit are things the Holy Spirit does in us, not things we do.)

I'm horribly uncrafty, myself. I did have one big success though (and it is the only activity I've found in which it actually helped that it was a huge class, of over 70) -- saints musical chairs. It took a lot of set up, since each student had the name of a saint with a short biography, and each chair was tagged with the name of another saint. Then I removed chairs by calling out a couple of saints and saying one or two things about them, and people who were left without seats when the music stopped had to read their saint bio (although they could substitute saying a few things about their confirmation saint). But it ended up working quite well, for that group at least; it was one of the things at the end of the year that they remembered quite vividly, and a few of them in exit interviews said they hadn't really realized just how many saints there are until we did it.