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Anne’s asked me to be her sponsor for her Confirmation.
For those of you who aren’t Catholic, once Catholics reach the eighth grade, they are asked to go through Confirmation. It is a rite of passage into the adult world of Catholic faith and one of the seven sacraments (some of the other key ones being Baptism and First Communion). Some view it as a second baptism where you affirm your faith as an adult where you couldn’t as a child. You also get a new name, known as a confirmation name or a saint’s name. Most people just use the name they already have, but you can choose from any of the saints. The bishop has to perform the ceremony. In short, it’s a big deal.
A sponsor, from what I understand, is your spiritual guide through this process. In fact, part of the sponsor’s job is to literally guide the candidate to the bishop by placing their hand on the candidate’s shoulder and then telling the bishop their confirmation name. You’re also supposed to talk to the child about the responsibility of becoming a full-fledged Catholic and pray for them and generally be there for them.
There’s a couple of problems though, the central one being PTSD. I’m still reeling from the shit they made me go through as a Catholic. It’s hard enough for me to just go to regular Sunday Mass, much less be part of a ritual. And I also don’t want Anne to get hurt. I would fight wild dogs for her. I don’t want anything to happen to her and, in my experience at least, the Catholic Church’s main export is pain.
But that’s just my experience. I’m sure she’ll do fine because she’s much more concrete in her thinking and, presumably, isn’t taking any of this quite as seriously as I did at her age. To her, it’s probably something that everyone else is doing and she doesn’t want to miss out or be the “weirdo”. I, at her age, was seriously considering not going through the sacrament at all, social consequences be damned, because I didn’t agree with how the Church was conducting itself and I couldn’t, in good conscience, say everything they wanted me to say in the ceremony. My Dad finally had to convince me that I didn’t have to mean it 100% in order to perform the ritual and that the social consequences outweighed any qualms I might have about my faith in the Church. I didn’t fully accept that either since I was still thinking…
But I went through the ceremony anyway to please Dad.
And now, approximately a decade later, I’m sitting on the couch trying to work out if Anne should get someone else to be her sponsor. I mean, I’m honored, but she should probably get someone who’s concrete in their faith, or at the very least is comfortable lying about how much faith they have. I’m neither of those things. I’m not comfortable lying to her about how she should be a good little Catholic and follow all the rules the Church sets out. Or to guide her along a strictly Catholic path. I can pray for her, but it won’t be to the same concept of God that she’s praying to. For me, God is in everything, not just bread or some beads which we’ve deemed “holy”. That’s to make God easier to understand and believe in for people who can’t or won’t accept that God is something we can’t fully understand. I can be there for her, but I really can’t endorse the rite in of itself since I think it’s cruel and unusual to make teenagers who can barely decide what outfit to wear pledge to devote their lives to the Catholic Church. In short, I can’t really do any of the things required of me with a clear conscience, or at least without a very long and boring talk about mature faith and how she probably doesn’t have it yet. There’s also the off chance that the rite will trigger my PTSD. I don’t want to have to explain to Anne why I’m shaking and keep tapping on my chest. I don’t want to freak out the other members of the congregation by suddenly being unable to stand. And I really don’t want to go through that whole thing again where suddenly…
But she wants me to be her sponsor… And this is about her. Maybe if I focus on her, I could actually do it. If I make this about supporting her… Maybe?
She couldn’t pick someone else?
Germans: Oh you’re learning German? Hey, you’re not so bad at it. Don’t fuck it up though.
French: About time you learned French.
Russians, Koreans, Spanish-speakers: WOW YOU’RE LEARNING MY LANGUAGE? LET ME HELP YOU I CAN GET SOME MATERIALS FOR YOU AND RECOMMEND SOME SITES AND VIDEOS, DID YOU JUST SAY “HELLO” IN MY LANGUAGE? YOU ARE SO GREAT WOW I AM SO IMPRESSED
Dutch: but why would you do this
why would you do this
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