This May day would have marked the day that my lovely daughter reached the age of reason, according to the Catholic Church, that is. At just 11 years of age I would have to argue that she has a few years to go yet!
I remember the build up to my own First Holy Communion and Confirmation days. I really was excited about the whole thing. From receiving the host for the first time, to the pretty dress ( I had coveted my sisters dress and veil since the age of three so the anticipation was great!) the shoes, the family day out, the many visits to family that we only got to see at weddings, wakes and funerals. The money!!! When confirmation time rolled round I was still into dressing up for the day and the party and collection of money afterwards wasn’t a huge trial.
Image my surprise when my little princess was totally opposed to making her First Holy Communion and wanted to wear a white track suit rather than a dress! She told us she didn’t believe in God. We put it down to a phase and went ahead with all the preparations. There was no shopping for dresses, or gloves or anything really. We did go shopping. We bought two pairs of converse, one pink and one black pair with flames up the side. No prize for guessing which pair my non believer wanted to wear on her big day.
We got through the ceremony without a hitch. She looked gorgeous as all little communicants do. We arrived back to our house and before the camera could be switched on she was in the middle of the garden in leggings and a t-shirt with a smile that would illuminate the western hemisphere lighting up her face. No photos other than those taken before the event or at the church.
Two years later her little brother began preparing for First Holy Communion with an excitement that was refreshing to experience.
It was with a little trepidation that we approached this school year. Confirmation is made every second year in my daughters school and this is her year! The phase of not believing in god has not ended. We decided to play it by ear. Take our lead from her. Not push the issue. We almost made it to the first hurdle, the naming ceremony without any hitch.
However, one evening whilst I was tucking my little angel in she asked me why she had to make her confirmation. I answered that you didn’t have to, that it was the next step in your journey as a Catholic, that she would be taking on the responsibility for her spiritual journey that her Godparents and myself and her Dad had accepted when she was baptised. I sensed trouble. I wasn’t wrong.
She looked at me with those beautiful blue eyes that are wise beyond their years and explained that as she didn’t believe she really didn’t think that she could accept responsibility. She felt it would be hypocritical for her to go through with making her Conformation and asked if I could explain it to her teacher.
Now, myself and her Dad don’t just go along with everything she says. We talked about the issue. Explained to her why we believe in the things we believe in. Listened to her reasons for not believing in God, countered her reasons with questions and beliefs of our own. She wasn’t for moving.
I spoke to her about losing people we love and finding comfort in the thought that they are somewhere close by looking after us. She respected my belief but countered it with a scientific like thinking and rationale. She never got annoyed but was quite adamant that making her confirmation would be wrong for her. We explained to the teacher that she would not be making her Confirmation.
While there is a part of me that secretly longed for her to be part of her class on Wednesday May 1st it is not because I believe that she is missing out on spiritual development. She is a very kind and considerate little girl who thinks deeply about the world around her. I consider Wednesday to be a milestone in her life. A rite of passage and because I was raised a Catholic that rite of passage is connected with making your Confirmation. While I might still see her as my baby girl she is actually making great progress on her journey to reaching her age of reason.
Many people have tried to encourage her to make her Confirmation by pointing out how much money she will miss out on. She has stood firm and replied that it is not about the money, it’s about religious belief.
I’m guessing that as life passes by and my angel experiences its ups and downs she may decide that having a belief in a higher power is a source of strength and comfort. Until then myself and her Dad will support her in every way we can.
On May 1st we’ll be celebrating just like every other family with children in her class. Our celebrations may not be the same as the traditional form that is so common in Ireland but hey, times change and family traditions adapt and evolve over time.
We’ve been informed by our younger little angel that when his time for Confirmation arrives he’ll have no bother making it! I think he has the money spent already.