Ace Number One was Confirmed on Saturday. She still smells like Chrism.
Several months ago, I asked her what name she was considering. “St. Thecla,” she responded, without hesitation.
“Who in the world is that?” I asked.
“She was a recluse and a virgin,” came the response.
“Oh, sweetie,” I responded in typical dad fashion, “You don’t have to be a recluse.”
This kid misses nothing.
When I asked a few weeks later if this was still her name of choice, she told me it was and when I asked why – on a day filled with anxiety and stress from school – she told me: “Thecla was a first century strong female saint who isn’t Our Lady…and she was anonymous.”
While I was proud of her for spending more time on researching her name than most kids her age, my heart broke a little as I realized the quest for anonymity was real. She is a young lady struggling to find her place in the world, who is overwhelmed by (in her words), “the vastness of God, the sinlessness of Jesus, and the need to go to Church.”
I have never been one to let my children choose whether they go to Mass or not. We go as a family and that is the end of the conversation. But as Molly got closer to Confirmation, she had more questions about the hypocrisy of the Church, the poor leadership of parishes, the awful liturgical celebrations she has experienced, and faith in general. To be fair, she probably thinks about this more than most 13-year-olds, but this journey of self-discovery was part of her preparation, so it was part of our conversation at home.
When one of the children asks, “Do we have to go to Mass?” my response is always the same. “No.” I tell them, “We do not have to go to Mass.”
“We get to go to Mass.”
We live in a country where we get to worship as we please. We get to believe, practice, pray, and celebrate our faith freely.
“And you get to get in the car now,” is how that conversation usually ends.
It isn’t that the children don’t enjoy Mass, it’s more that, since Fr. John died, the relationship has changed – not ended. They struggle to find a relationship that is consistent and a message they can remember. He really was one of a kind.
So Molly chose to be Confirmed. Not because she has all the answers – I assured her that her own father still struggles – but because she knows now that struggling with our faith is best done at Mass.
During the homily, Bishop Caggiano directed his message directly to the Confirmandi:
“You are on the road to sainthood,” he told them. “And it happens one choice at a time.”
One choice at a time.
One Mass at a time.
One day at a time.
One child at a time.
May your week be filled with the presence of the Holy Spirit and the sweet smell of Chrism.