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November 18, 2003

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Carrie

We are talking about approx. 10th graders, right? (It varies in the parishes in my diocese.)

1. Pre-marital sex--why it's a bad idea/what's to be gained by saving it for marriage.

2. How to discern God's desire in career/vocation choice.

3. The responsibilities that come with freedom from parental control.

4. The trap of self-absorption/why we need to focus on others, and what happens when we don't.

5. Why participation in aspects of the culture that ignore the laws of God is dangerous to emotional health.

Abortion certainly has a place in #1. Partial-birth abortion is a side issue, it could be argued. (It's certainly a better time to discuss abortion than in the 4th grade classroom where it was discussed in my daughter's school.)

Joe Marier

I heard Bp. Loverde's confirmation homily a few years back. He preached chastity, saying no to drugs, supporting a culture of life (from conception to natural death), and connected everything to recieving the gifts of the Holy Spirit. Although he did talk a little about political stuff, everything was organically connected to the reception of the Sacrament, in my opinion.

Joe Marier

He also did talk about vocations to the religious life.

Cris

Talking about chastity, etc. is great. But I'd want the priest to connect all of it together by talkign about the need for each of those being confirmed to have a "conversion of the heart." (I've forgotten the paragraph in the catechism that uses this phrase). In other words, NOW is the time for them to dedicate their whole selves to God. A lot of young people say to themselves that they are going to think about religion later, when they're married or maybe when they have kids---confirmation is a time to say, nope, Christ wants all of you, right now, and He'll help you do it.

Bill Cork

I've heard many confirmation homilies by Bishop Loverde. He sees this as a vital opportunity to speak not just to the confirmands, but to their sponsors, parents, and siblings. He wants to make sure they understand the gravity of the sacrament. And so he gives an overview of the Christian faith, especially focusing on those areas of morality of special relevance to the audience before him. A Bishop is a teacher, and Bishop Loverde excels at this. Yes, he makes some people squirm. Good for him. However you want to understand the Sacrament (soldier of Christ, power to serve, Christian maturity), young people need the grace of the sacrament as they go forth into the battles of the teenage years. This is the kind of homily all bishops should be preaching.

Todd

Peace, all.

Confirmation homilies are just too damned long, in my opinion. Forty-five minutes reveals a lack of trust in the parishes that are preparing teens. It might also reveal a lazy lack of preparation.

The new IGRM (55) defines: "In the readings, explained by the homily, God is speaking to his people, opening up to them the mystery of redemption and salvation, and nourishing their spirit..."

Therefore, bishops should preach the sacrament and what it means. Most dioceses have the confirmands write a letter to the bishop. Places that do this could ask them to suggest a topic for the bishop to preach on, something that troubles them about the faith or life. The bishop should encourage them to go to Sunday Mass and connect the Eucharist to their weekly, if not daily life.

If a bishop is going to preach on chastity or drugs or abortion, why stop there? What about drunk driving, cheating, being a loyal friend, attending to one's education, voting wisely, getting good summer jobs, and attending to matters of personal hygiene?

Big thumbs down to Loverde; send him to summer preaching school.

Cornelius

Todd,

Huh? You say that the bishop "should encourage [confirmands] to go to Sunday Mass and connect the Eucharist to their weekly, if not daily life." Don't you think chastity, drugs, and abortion are pretty relevant to teens' daily lives? You ask why stop there -- maybe because (1) those issues are among the biggest threats to teens' spiritual and physical well-being, and (2) you're already criticizing the bishop for talking too long.

Fr. Shawn O'Neal

At times, bishops compensate for not being able to make frequent visits to parishes by expressing many ideas during a Confirmation rite.

Simply sit back and enjoy that the bishop has come!

At least he didn't preach to the parents about the parish's debt situation. Such a thing occurred at one of my best friend's confirmation.

As I recall, at my Confirmation, Bishop Begley (God rest his soul) pretty much stuck with the homily printed in the rites book. He always spoke clearly, so he made bearable the reading off a sheet.

Gray Eminence

Having attended quite a few confirmations and heard different kinds of homilies, I think it's good for the bishop to speak seriously and CONCRETELY about the sacrament and what it means. Based on what Bill and Joe said, that's exactly what Bishop Loverde did.

Also, I think it's not necessarily a bad thing when people are talking with other people about a homily days after the fact.

Michael D. Harmon

I'm bemused by the comment that the homily was too long at 45 minutes. That's just about the length of the average hour TV show, minus the commercials. Is an hour of TV too much? Most of us watch that, or more, every night. Most high-school students sit through six 45-minute classes every day, many of which are uninteruppted talks by a teacher. But it's too much for a one-time talk by a bishop, ordained by God to be our spiritual guide and leader? Give me a break.

Janetta

I have read Todd's posts other places, and for the first one of the first times, I agree with something he says (although as another poster wrote elsewhere, it is wonderful that he is a gentleman who is able to "disagree without being disagreeable.")
Yes, it is true that television shows are often longer. Were there commercial breaks during the sermon?
I am guessing not, and that it was surrounded by more than an hour of ritual. In that context, it reminds of George Washington's apology for a long letter -- "I apologize for the length of the letter, I am sorry I did not have time to write a shorter one."
Editing is an art.

As to his topics, I think they are on target.The sad truth is that Confirmation does act as a sort of graduation for the catechized young. It is a last crack at them.
And yes, those subjects ARE the stuff of everyday life, and how we react to them defines how we react to God's techings.

Drunken driving? betraying friends? cheating?

I would say those will need to be attended to in the same manner as promiscuity and abortion and premarital sex when we have powerful organizations, political parties, indeed most of modern secular society and popular culture supporting our "right" to engage in them.

Do you know of television shows aimed at teenagers that promote poor hygiene as your right? that portray a long awaited drunken joy ride as a "happy ending?"

karen marie knapp

Back in the olden days when I was confirmed [1967], it was my first experience of a dialogue homily. The bishop bounced questions out at the confirmands --- half aged 10-12 and the other half 20-75 --- and when one or another of us bounced back the "right" answer, he'd take a paragraph or three expounding and expanding on the answer, encouraging us to raise our hands to ask questions back, and we must have done this for at least 30-45 minutes, on about a dozen prompting questions; but it didn't seem long at all. I don't know about our sponsors and kin, whether they were yawning in the pews behind us, but the confirmands were fully engaged. We were given to understand that this "oral exam" was normal, and we were warned about it in our pre-confirmation classes. Besides that, I remember that the bishop told one joke on himself, in relation to the Church's catholicity: In the entire Church Universal there were only two bishops named Clarence, he and one other, and they were both in Cleveland!

karen marie

normnuke

Be not afraid, be not dismayed. Recently, the local ordinary of San Jose, H.E (call me PJ) McGrath changed the Confirmation rite into a diversity fandango. Complete with 14 year-old Hispanic boys in bathing suits dancing made-up Aztec dances to made-up Aztec music while singing made-up Aztec songs. Never mind that the Aztecs were slavers and cannibals. Big time.

Peggy

Is the complaint that the children were too young to hear homilies on such matters? I think we all know from our own experience as post-1960s youth, that kids know a lot more about these things than we'd like to hope. They'd hear it in Sunday mass, too, in Arlington Diocese. Priests don't necessarily get political, but might make passing reference to a current event if it relates to the homily/readings. If you're here for a month or more and have not heard straight talk about what I call the "sex" sins, then something isn't right.

If the kid is used to Georgetown Catholicism (I know not the Univ) I understand that there is less rigorous orthodoxy in parishes there than in NoVa, and some families will choose those schools for that reason. So, these topics would surprise a family not regularly exposed to them in Mass.

John Hetman

It's been so long ago since I was confirmed that it seems like a different era, a different galaxy. I was confirmed with my 4th grade class at a time when our Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondolet still wore their amazing habits. We knelt at the altar rail, received the holy chrism and a slight "slap" on the cheek and were told how now we were soldiers of Christ. Those were also the days of "Crusader" magazine for kids in junior high. We learned of hte bravery (fortitude) of martyrs and how we were to act now that we had achieved a special standing in the Church. The bishop was awesome and distant--getting the respect that he deserved for not being Mr. Rogers. I took the name of Benedict as I had recently seen a movie about the saint in the parish hall.
A far cry from when my two were confirmed with video cameras rolling and flashbulbs going off and Bishop Feelgood presiding. The challenge and awe were gone the way of the beautiful Church music and a Mass that caused reverence rather than boredom or honhommie.

Father Wilson

Personally, Amy, I believe that one of our most serious problems as a Church is that, without realizing it, we have all too often turned our Faith into something it is not -- an Ethic, a Moral Philosophy. A matter of "Do this," "Do not do that," "Be a good person and be kind to others." And many Catholics (and others) absorb that idea, and then, of course, move on to, "Well, I don't go to Church much but I believe that I am a Christian because I aam a good person..."

There is a whole, vast, rich higher dimension to our Catholic Faith, and so many even of those enrolled in our Religion classes never realize it is there at all (and turn to other traditions or New Age gimmicks seeking "spirituaity."

Archbishop Sheen said that when St Paul, in Acts, had the opportunity to speak to the wise men in Athens, they turned him off; later on, Paul would write emphatically, "We preach Christ crucified... to us who are experiencing salvation, the power and wisdom of God." Sheen suspected that, upon reflection, Paul had realized that he had tried in his talk in Athens to gear his content too much towards their philosophy and 'natural religion,' and that he would never make that mistake again.

The retired Bp Broderick of Albany was a FANTASTIC Confirmation bishop; he would help out and we used to beg for him. Kind, simple, reverent but relaxed. Preached a wonderful sermon -- about the love of Christ, and the difference it can make. It was ALL centered on Jesus. Talked about a couple of carefully chosen saints and how their lives were caught up in love of Christ, and the difference that made. He'd point to the difference it makes in our lives, knowing that we are loved by friends and family, and he'd speak simply of Jesus, our best and wisest Friend. Right to the heart of the matter -- he didn't preach long, but it was deeply moving.

I don't mean a reflection on Bp Loverde: I have never met him, nor heard him preach. [Two years ago I sat through a twenty-eight miniute Confirmation sermon in a steaming Church -- about the pedophile crisis and how the work of Catholic Charities goes on -- during which the Name of Jesus wasn't mentioned ONCE!!!] But I think Bishops should revive the custom of episcopal Visitations where it has died out, separated from Confirmation. Use those occasions for topical sermons.

But for Confirmation, nothing beat Bp Broderick and the heart of the matter!

Lynn

I was Confirmed in much the same manner as John...when I was in the 7th grade. The Sisters of St Joseph still wore the long habits (and used clickers)! The Bishop asked us questions during the homily (which kept us alert) It was all very solemn.

We had been instructed by the nuns that Confirmation was a Sacrament that made us soldiers of Christ who would "openly practice our faith...and rather die than deny it."

Is this also the experience of other 50's Catholics?

Pio

LOL.... Sorry people, since when does the shepherd need to ask the flock what to speak about? The Bishop has every right and obligation to speak on the issues he finds important. The problem with today's Church is that people don't understand their particular roles. I bet the Pharisees would have liked to give Jesus some advice on which topics to touch upon in his sermons too. But Jesus would not even consider altering his message to please the Pharisees and neither should the good Bishop!

maryelizabeth

Bishop Loverde preaches about the Culture of Death at his confirmation homilies and he gives the same stale homily over and over...too long and unoriginal becaues that is what he knows. He should preach the beauty and significance of the sacrament and inspire the comfirmandi to greater faith.

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