Motherhood & Parenting

More Questions: Fear of Childbirth & Age of Confirmandi

I received two more questions the other day, which I’ll post below, as they’re good questions and interesting, too.

Question 1: Age of Confirmandi?

Hi Kim! Thank you for blogging!

It looks like some of your new confirmandi are pretty young.  How did you determine their readiness, and did you experience any resistance from the church because of age?

Response:

Thank you for the question.

Yes, it would appear that my children are young according to many bishops’ later age requirements for Confirmation.  (My children were confirmed at ages 13, 11, 11, 9, and 7.)  The Roman Rite, however, clearly states in both the Catechism of the Catholic Church (see paragraph 1319) and the Catechism of the Council of Trent (look under heading “Confirmation” and flip to the paragraph on “Proper Age”) that one need only reach the age of reason, which is stated at 7, prior to receiving Confirmation.  And that’s it.

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Consider owning both Catechisms–Trent and JPII’s.  Well, the Baltimore Catechism is great too.

Any bishop worth his salt will not deny anyone Confirmation, so long as he or she has reached the aforesaid age of reason.

Think of the Eastern Church, which does Confirmation immediately after Baptism because they wish to emphasize these Sacraments of Initiation and not to delay in distributing sanctifying grace.  Remember, Baptism gives one sanctifying grace and opens the doors to Salvation, while Confirmation pours out more sanctifying grace with the additional 7 Gifts of the Holy Spirit.  And both leave an indelible mark on the soul.

The question is then, why would anyone want to wait on this?  Either you have that grace and that beautiful mark on your soul or not.  And does it matter?  Yes.

The problem is that many Catholics in the Church see Confirmation as some sort of “graduation,” and so we have Catholics wrongly asking, “How do you know if your child is ready for Confirmation?”  Are we ever “ready” for any Sacrament?  Look, we do not ask our babies if they are ready for Baptism, and we do not ask them if they’re ready for Confirmation.  Naturally we prepare them as best as we can, but this is not some test.  Rather, we desire an outpouring of the Holy Spirit, and we’ll do everything we can to continue their education then and afterwards, forever and ever.  Amen.

Shoot, I’m still learning about Confirmation now at the ripe old age of 38.

Secondly, dear reader, you asked if our family received any opposition to receiving this Sacrament because of age?  Not in this diocese–the diocese of La Crosse, WI.  (May it please God to preserve our bishop for a long time.)  But I’m fairly certain I would have met with a silent storm of opposition in my prior diocese.  In the latter case, one can only politely ask and pray.  Or seek the Sacraments elsewhere.

In the end, either these things matter, or they don’t, though.  If it were me–and it does pertain to our family too–I’d get these things done.  Now.  I’d ask myself, What did our bishop and priests do during all this Corona Madness Shutdown?  Did they close your Churches and quit administering Sacraments?  If so, what makes you think they won’t do it again, come Corona Version 2.0 this Fall or Winter?

As my father, an eminently sensible farmer, says,  “Make hay while the sun shines, Honey.”

Question 2: Advice for a Fearful Mother About to Give Birth?

Kim, do you have any advice for fear of childbirth? As a bit of background, I’m due any day with Baby #6. I’ve had 5 amazing natural births, and yet I’m here and TERRIFIED to give birth again myself. (Needless to say, I feel rather silly…) I’m trying to approach it from a spiritual standpoint, and yet a terrible anxiety remains. Have you ever experienced this, and do you have any advice?

Response:

First of all, congratulations on Baby #6!

Now to the question and a full disclosure: I personally have not experienced fear or anxiety for an impending labor and delivery.  This is likely because I emphatically dislike being pregnant, and so when labor and delivery come around, I couldn’t be happier.  In fact, I love it.

But you are not silly for struggling with these thoughts.  There are mothers–good mothers too–who do fear childbirth and for all kinds of reasons.  I think it’s natural to anxious about the whole thing.   I mean, it is rather a painful experience after all.

The question I’d ask myself is, what is the cause of my anxiety?  Am I afraid of death?  Am I afraid of the baby dying?  Am I afraid of the pain?  Or is it something else?  If you can pinpoint where the anxiety is coming from, then it might be possible to come up with a few ideas.

If it’s death, perhaps one could find a few pertinent scripture verses on the fleetingness of life or on the glory of heaven?  Or, if it’s pain, consider an epidural or some medication to take the edge off.  You mentioned that you’ve done all natural births, but perhaps this time God wishes otherwise?  (I had a dose of Nubain during the last labor and delivery.  See HERE for those details.)

In any case, the Divine Mercy Chaplet might be a good option for you to pray daily.  Or if you enjoy reading, check out St. Faustina’s Diary, which is all about trusting in Jesus and doing His will amidst pain and suffering.

Lastly, I’ll ask a question to the readers.  Are there any mothers out there who have experience with anxiety in childbirth?  If so, please consider sharing any ideas in the Comments Box below.

Call Me Catholic

What to do with Confirmation $$ ??

Many of you readers know that our five oldest children were recently confirmed by Raymond Cardinal Burke.  O glorious day!

I’ll post a few pictures below for a brief recap…

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The Eldest, just confirmed, making her way back to the pew at the Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe.  Hard to see anything here, I know.
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Cardinal Burke giving The Youngest a blessing afterwards.
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Our whole family after receiving a blessing from His Eminence.

As the dust settles from last week and indelible marks remain on the children’s souls for all of eternity, there was only one item yet to be taken care of…

What to do with all that cash their relatives so graciously bestowed upon them?

Hmmm…what would you do, if you were given some cash as a child?

Without parental intervention, our children would likely have done one of two things:

  1. Shoved the cash into their piggy banks.  (Not a bad idea.)
  2. Biked over to the local grocery store and purchased ridiculous amounts of Mike and Ikes, Cherry Nibs, and Peanut Butter M&Ms.  (Fun.  But a bit of a waste.)

Fortunately, we had a plan, should any cash find their way into those Confirmation cards.  All the children–except The Eldest as she already owned one–purchased Latin Mass Missals, and they’ve arrived in the mail!

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Here they all are.

Their names are written on the front of them, and we keep them on this bookshelf in the living room for easy access.

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We’re very thankful that the older children can have their own missals, as we feel it’s important to begin familiarity with it as soon as possible.  There are wonderful things to learn about the Mass in these books too.  (For those of you who may be unfamiliar, the books have Latin on one side and English on the other with explanatory notes.)

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Here’s a shot of the pages directly preceding the prayers of the Mass.

But what about The Eldest, you might ask?  What did she purchase with her extra cash, since she already owned a missal?

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The Eldest’s 3 volume purchase, which sits on her bookshelf in her room.

She purchased the Roman Breviary, which was certainly more expensive.  Fortunately for her, she had saved up her piano money from the spring and summer.  Now she will be able to pray the responses during Lauds, which begins around 6:25am in our household.

Hopefully in a year or two the boys will be able to purchase their own breviaries too.  These books are very beautiful.  We find it edifying and inspiring to pray the ancient psalms of the Church day in and day out, and we look forward to the boys praying them aloud.  As it is now, they sit quietly with us and are either silently praying in their hearts or dozing in the candle light…

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Thank you to all the grandmas, grandpas, aunts, and uncle who contributed to the children’s Holy Book Fund!

And most especially, thank you to everyone who prayed for the children on that most memorable day!

Call Me Catholic

Confirmation with Raymond Cardinal Burke

Yesterday five of our seven children had the great privilege of receiving the Rite of the Confirmation in the Extraordinary Form by Raymond Cardinal Burke.

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Here we are afterwards, meeting His Eminence.  Just about to kneel for his blessing.

The whole day was one marked by great beauty.  We were surrounded by our family and friends.  The weather, albeit a bit hot and sticky, was clear of thunderstorms.  And we were able to pray in the magnificent Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe in La Crosse, WI.

The Traditional Rite of Confirmation began with the priests and Cardinal Burke chanting the Veni Creator Spiritus and then moved on to an Exhortation.

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Cardinal Burke, seated on the faldstool, about to give his Exhortation.  Fr. Altman is seated to the right.

At one point, during his Exhortation, Cardinal Burke said, “Do not give way to cowardly fear, for you will face opposition and persecution.”  This being one of the reasons why one needs the Sacrament of Confirmation, as it increases sanctifying grace and gives us the 7 gifts of the Holy Spirit.  (It also leaves an indelible mark upon one’s soul.)

He also repeatedly encouraged all the confirmandi to, “Ask the Holy Spirit to reveal your particular vocation, as your vocation is the way to happiness in this life and in the life to come.”  And again, with strength, “Pray to know your vocation and respond to it with your whole heart.”

Following his brief words, Cardinal Burke outstretched his hands in prayer over the confirmandi, invoking the Holy Spirit.  Then the Cardinal confirmed them individually as he or she knelt before him with the sponsor standing behind.  This was the Second Laying on of Hands and the Anointing.  The confirmandi then received the acclaimed “Slap.”

The Slap, intended to be a reminder that one must be ready at all times to suffer for the faith, was our children’s favorite part.  It’s more like a “tap” and was given with the words, “Pax tecum.”  Or, “Peace be with you.”  One of my son’s remarked with a twinkle in his eye, “I was hoping for good whack.  He didn’t smack me hard enough!”

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Here we are again.

In the end, we feel very blessed and are so very thankful for Cardinal Burke’s willingness to administer this most holy Sacrament, for it was just that–holy.

As an aside…one my my girls remarked, “Mom, he’s got a pretty hat.”  Yes, he does!*

 

*It’s called a mitre.