SummarySuzanne Tombs was running out of time for her son’s Confirmation Preparation but was inspired to serve it with nightly desert and make it a family affair!
No, you didn’t misread that title.
It has turned out that helping my son prepare for his Confirmation at the table right after dinner has become a blessing to the whole family rather than the hectic affair I dreaded it might be.
This is a true story with a happy ending, plus some milk and cookies.
1. A Brief History of How We Got Behind Schedule
Our family has been using Seton to homeschool for 8 years now, and our youngest son Kevin is in 8th grade. Seton’s curriculum presents Confirmation preparation in 7th grade, though our pastor mandated that Kevin receive the sacrament in 8th grade as is the practice in our parish.
I really did have every intention of covering the material in 7th grade, thinking that then he would be well ahead of the game. When 8th grade came around, we would do some review, he could participate in the parish’s Confirmation retreat and activities with the other candidates, and we’d be all set.
Piece of cake, right?
Well 7th grade was a busy year for Kevin and his well-intentioned but slightly frazzled teacher.
The curriculum was challenging, math was especially time-consuming, sports were always beckoning, and we welcomed a Lab puppy (not included with the curriculum!) into our home. Knowing that he didn’t need the Confirmation prep until 8th grade, I let it slide off the radar, as the minutes and hours evaporated each day and escorting the puppy outside at frequent intervals dictated our schedule.
A smart mom might have made Confirmation preparation a summer project then. Not this mom.
Finishing up those pesky book reports, shuttling kids to summer jobs, and enjoying a family vacation gobbled up our summer break. All of a sudden it was 8th grade and I had no wiggle room left!
Spoiler alert: Seton’s 8th grade curriculum does not leave much time to spare in the day, especially for moms running bustling households, squeezing in some volunteer work, and walking the now-gigantic puppy twice a day.
I was running out of time and was disappointed that Kevin’s Confirmation preparation was going to become a hectic affair. Should I tack it onto the end of an already-long school day when neither teacher nor pupil was at their best? Could we squash it randomly into our ever-varying weekend whirlwind?
Neither looked like a terrific option for something as important as sacramental preparation with a worthy disposition.
2. A Minor Miracle at the Dinner Table
It dawned on me to say, “Kevin, why don’t we all go over a page or two of your book while we are sitting here?”
“Right now?” Kevin’s reply was only slightly surprised.
“Why not?” was my reply. “The book is right here and we have a few minutes.” And so we did.
In my mind, though perhaps not in reality, the clouds parted, the sun shone down, and I could see a way through our dilemma: together, at the table, with Dad and his big brother there too, we could all be part of Kevin’s Confirmation studies. A habit was born!
Most evenings, though not all, since real life and the dog are never far from interrupting, right after dinner we linger for a couple of minutes at the table.
The school day is far enough past that it doesn’t feel like just another subject. Sports practice is either done or starts later on. Our bellies are full and we are relaxed. For a few moments we can all devote ourselves fully to helping Kevin prepare for this beautiful sacrament.
3. The Icing on the Cake
And what a blessing that it is a family affair! My husband works during our normal school hours, so he doesn’t generally get to participate in Kevin’s education this way.
For once, I’m not the only teacher—ahh, what a relief. Big brother Ethan gets a mini religion course refresher; what teenager couldn’t use that?
Each evening one of us takes a turn reading a page aloud. Discussion follows without prompting as we tend to be a talkative household.
Terrific and important family conversations about our faith have bubbled up effortlessly, as I bring in material from my knowledge of Church history, and my husband provides serious input regarding how our spirituality plays out in the world outside our doors.
His experience provides an essential perspective for both our sons, and our whole family is enriched by our after-dinner Confirmation discussions. Funny how nibbling on a brownie can entice us to linger a little longer over a conversation, too!
A verbal pop-quiz on the Spiritual Works of Mercy? Lucky Kevin had an assist from Ethan when he got stuck on the last two. Way to go, Ethan, great teamwork! The whole family knows the gifts of the Holy Spirit, thanks to a catchy musical jingle. We’ve almost got the fruits of the Holy Spirit down pat with another melody.
Running through the rite of Confirmation is a great reminder of the importance and purpose of the sacrament for parents whose confirmation was long ago.
Does brushing up on the Beatitudes give some pause to consider whether we are living the Beatitudes each day? You betcha!
So my concerns (panic) about being able to squeeze in enough Confirmation prep time have been replaced by the unexpected joy of our family’s spiritual journey together.
I know that the Holy Spirit will bestow His graces on Kevin when he is confirmed this spring. I am absolutely certain that some extra graces are being poured out on all of us while we are eating ice cream at the table, too.