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October 02, 2006



Another suggestion I would add, if it's all right, is that it might be a good time for these parents to get actively involved in the confirmation program--either as instructors or on the planning board. That may give them the opportunity to exert a little control over what is taught and what sorts of activities are allowed at the retreat. That and at least one parent might be able to go along in a chaperoning role.

I worked on the teaching team for a confirmation class years ago, and a campground with bunkhouses was chosen as the retreat site. As it was early spring and cold at night, the pajama choices were very, very modest! Just an idea.


Another suggestion I would add, if it's all right, is that it might be a good time for these parents to get actively involved in the confirmation program--either as instructors or on the planning board. That may give them the opportunity to exert a little control over what is taught and what sorts of activities are allowed at the retreat. That and at least one parent might be able to go along in a chaperoning role.

I worked on the teaching team for a confirmation class years ago, and a campground with bunkhouses was chosen as the retreat site. As it was early spring and cold at night, the pajama choices were very, very modest! Just an idea.


do you know what teenage girls wear for pajamas?!

Given what they wear to school, I can't imagine how much more intimate their actual intimate apparel might be...and I'd just as soon not try.

When I complained to the DRE, she accused me of being "judgmental," and didn't see anything wrong with what went on--the stories were "mild" and the models in the magazine weren't naked.

Oh, well, as long as they weren't naked. Because of course Jesus said, "Whoever looks at naked woman lustfully commits adultery, but ogling magazine models is all right, as long as they aren't totally naked."

Shouldn't a "retreat" constitute, you know, a retreat from things like half-naked models and ribald stories, in favor of some sort of, like, spiritual focus? Call me crazy.

FWIW, we have a "mandatory" retreat at our parish (if you don't go, you still get confirmed) that lasts all day, but there is no pajama implication, and I guarantee there are no car magazines or dirty stories.

In the past, though, I've had to suffer at lousy parishes, and in that circumstance I would be inclined to follow the course of action Jimmy outlines for trying to get my kids their sacraments at their own church, but without putting them through the official program.

Fr Martin Fox

I would love to have parents very involved in our confirmation prep, and they can go on the overnight retreat. The only proviso I would put on that would be that when parents are involved in a group activity, the rules and discipline have to be uniform for all kids -- no special rules for one child because his or her mom is there.

I recall an outing -- not a retreat but an 8th grade trip that was overnight -- that had some parents along. The main problems I saw were unevenness and lack of clarity in rules and discipline. (I was not in charge; one of the teachers was.) I said, when we came back to the hotel, after a night out at a ballgame: "Tell them they're in their rooms for the night; no visits, period." That didn't happen. So the kids were up and down the halls for all manner of "critical needs": ice, pop, "I left such-and-such in So-and-so's room." I herded all the kids to their rooms, made sure all the boys were in boys' rooms, girls in girls' rooms, and said, "you're done for the night." It was, I think around 9 pm.

Some of the kids were unhappy -- "so unfair!" they wailed, because someone "promised" they could stay up later, etc." (Of course, I didn't much care how late they stayed up, as long as it was guys and girls in their own rooms.) It was one of the parents who said, "this is too tough -- let them mingle some more." I said, "this is dumb; they're all in their rooms, the doors are shut; leave it alone." The teacher in charge relented, and they were all back out in the halls.

At that point, another of the grownups and I decided to go downstairs, and have a drink, and let the "parents" and the teacher in charge take care of it.

I don't offer this to rag on parents, only a cautionary tale. But I decided, then and there, that as far as I was concerned, anytime kids are on one of these outings, all socializing and mingling would take place elsewhere -- if need be, get a ballroom downstairs and have a "mixer."

Anyway, back to the confirmation retreat... My policy, which we enunciate to parents all the time, is this: you're in charge of preparing your children for sacraments; what the parish offers is meant as a help. Participation in parish prep programs is voluntary. Any parent can opt out, and we'll provide help if the parents want to do it themselves; and then my only requirement is to meet with the child beforehand to see if s/he is properly prepared.

That said: if a parent does participate in the overall program, then it shouldn't be opting in or out for individual parts of it. I'm not saying no exceptions; of course we make exceptions. My point is that we view the prep program as a "package deal," and its disruptive to the overall program to have a pick-and-choose approach to the events.

I should add, we scaled back the confirmation prep here, because I couldn't see a good rationale for a lengthy and intensive program. Sacraments aren't a reward for intensive study or completing X hours of work; they are gifts of grace. The Church's requirements are, by comparison, minimal. What I suspect confirmation programs are really about is a "last chance" to cram the kids full of religion before they leave and you never see them again. Understandable, but I just don't agree with that. You don't "earn" or have to "prove yourself" for a sacrament.

Fr Martin Fox

Sorry for the long post -- I should make clear, the story I told was when I was a parochial vicar at another parish, not pastor.

Another Catholic Mama

Excellent post, Jimmy! Dear friends of mine went through something terribly similar to this. In their case, one of the daughters of a good homeschool family who are friends of theirs ended up pregnant after one of these sleep over church retreats! Coincidentally the retreats were always preceded by sex ed classes including directions in the proper use of condoms, as if to set the tone of the 'retreats'. Didn't work in the case of the pregnant homeschool girl, obviously.

One positive that came from the ordeal was that finally the program was scrutinized with a more Catholic perspective, and the youth minister and the D.R.E were soon dismissed. Considering all the damage done, that seems too mild, but at least it put parents on their guard and protected future youth groups from this outrageous program.

CMinor makes the excellent point that parents (those who know their Faith, most especially) need to be involved in these programs from the beginning!

Mary Kay

Unacceptable is an understatement.

Another Catholic Mama

Fr Fox's description of the overnight 'retreat' sure doesn't sound very spiritual at all. I cannot understand what the heck any of this sort of business is supposed have to do with the sacraments? Even adding a bunch of parents into the mix would not help if the focus is all wrong. Kids that age are raging with hormones. What help do these priests and program directors think they are providing when all they are doing is creating the near occasion of sin?

I am not blaming Fr Fox for it, I am sure he is only following what he thinks the more knowledgeable DRE and parents suggest to him, but he should think about it from a more Catholic perspective. The whole concept of 'sleep-overs' is scandalous. I mean, imagine St Therese of Lisieux going on an overnight co-ed sleep over!

Fr Martin Fox

Another Catholic Mama:

I'm sorry in my lengthy story, I wasn't clear. I was not describing a "retreat," but a class trip: the 8th grade took a trip to a big city several hours away, and it included an outing to a museum, a ballpark, and if memory serves, an amusement park.

While I thought the leadership on this trip was at fault (as described), I am unaware of any actual impropriety, and there were other steps taken to avoid that, such as spot checks of rooms and baggage.

I am not against an overnight retreat, done properly. But again, what I described was not a retreat.

Catholic Mom

Fr. Martin Fox brings up a point that I think needs to be reiterated over and over. These rigorous, lengthy confirmation programs give the idea that confirmation is a sort of graduation. Once you are confirmed you have all the information you need. We are then left with Catholics whose religious education and understanding stopped at eighth grade or whenever confirmation occurred. Confirmation is a sacrament of initiation. It is a beginning. I am currently teaching 7th grade CCD which is the confirmation prep year for our parish. If I can convince these children that learning about the Faith is a lifelong process I will consider myself successful. Our books and curriculum provide a wealth of good orthodox information on the faith, but there is so much pressure to pass the final exam that I really feel pressured to teach to the test. I've been posting some of this year's experiences here.


Fr. Martin, you were clear. It's right there in the first sentence of your account: "not a retreat but an 8th grade trip that was overnight."

Brian Day

I can empathize with the parents. I pulled my daughter out of my parishes confirmation program because I felt that it was doing more harm than good. I had long talks with the instructor and the program director (youth minister), both who tried to tell me that my fears were ungrounded.

They were unable to persuade me. I hope to have her enrolled next year in the adult confirmation program.


I *used* to teach confirmation at our parish. We had a student who openly admitted that they didn't really believe that there was a God, however, they had done their retreat and service projects and so was permitted by the DRE to be confirmed.

As others have already lamented, that student (and several others) did not continue to come to class after confirmation, although a promise to do so was part of the whole program.


Thanks so much for this article! One of our sons is ready to be confirmed as a Freshman in HS. Our parish prefers Soph-Seniors. We are pushing forward with putting him in the program (our hope is that it will be relatively orthodox; we have a good pastor), even though it violates the parish preferences. You have just given us the ammunition to make our case. In view of the what the Catechism says about how important Confirmation is, and the fact that in the East, charismation occurs with infants, I think we should push the age down as much as possible (assuming the child is ready). How many Catholic youth are we losing because of this lacksadaisical approach to Confirmation?

anon, to protect the identity of the guilty

I'm the mother who wrote to Jimmy. Thank you so much, Jimmy, for your thorough and enlightening reply.

I'd consider volunteering to be part of the religious ed program, but at this point I have a feeling my parish wouldn't accept me.

I wanted to add a follow-up. Our pastor and DRE, after a long and painful meeting with us, have agreed to a comprimise: we may bring our daughter on a substitute weekend retreat of our choosing. I have in mind the Foyer of Charity, where I've been before. http://www.foyerofcharity.com/

We haven't yet decided whether we should send her to the two years of classes, or have her confirmed in another diocese, or prepare her ourselves and then insist on her right to be confirmed at her own parish.

Thanks again, Jimmy.

Catholic Mom

My thoughts are biased by my own Confirmation experience. I was three years old. My mother's best friend was anxious to be my comadre or Godmother. With no preparation whatsoever, I was presented to the bishop when he came through town and received Confirmation along with many others. I am in no way advocating such an approach, but it does point out that all the requirements we place such as attending a retreat or passing a written exam are arbitrary and external to the Church's requirements for receiving Confirmation.

I have had similar problems.

We had to attend a baptism preparation class in Scripps Ranch to get my child baptized. I ended up having to practically teach the class because the instructor was so incompetent.

In Poway, we were repeatedly threatened that our son would not receive first communion if we did not follow the Religious Education Director's parking plan. We changed church on that one. We did not want to attend a church where we were receiving threats.


I'm actually surprised at the overnight retreat business - many diocese have forbidden overnight parish and school-sponsored retreats and field trips for youth.


"I do not want to switch parishes, because the others in the area aren't orthodox. In my parish, the pastor doesn't mess with the liturgy, and never intentionally preaches heresy."

But he allows, even requires, under his pastorship, co-ed sleepovers for Confirmation?

I'd say the parish in question isn't that orthodox either.


We ran into a mild form of overnight retreat for our daughter's confirmation. Since her classes were only 7 weeks long at the time, I simply kept "forgetting" to sign her up for the retreat, and voila, she was still confirmed. It should be noted that in our society, there really are very few hard and fast rules about anything. So, sometimes we use this to our advantage.

That being said, the program has since been changed to a two-year program. We've already decided that if there are going to be any problems like what was described in the original post, we will simply ask our 16 year-olds to wait until they are 18, and enter RCIA.

Ed Pie

I'm suddenly a lot less cynical about my own CCD experience. We had a spiritually focused (nobody was interested in anything more risque than a few hands of euchre one of the evenings), overnight, "mandatory" retreat, following what might be described as a two-year juvenile Cursillo, and boys were always bunked in separate wings or buildings from the girls, and strict curfews were enforced.

When the girls and boys were together, they were supervised.

Well, I'm glad someone was watching! As long as children are getting freaky in front of adults, it's okay, right?

The chaperone-types at my retreat only had to show they were taking their jobs seriously for us to behave civilly. We were a pretty clean bunch, but we knew any funny business would be nipped in the bud so they never had to go Gestapo on us.


Some more practical suggestions:

1. Find a parish run by the Institute of Christ the King, Sovereign Priest.

2. Find a parish run by the Priestly Fraternity of St. Peter.

3. Find a parish run by any other approved traditionalist order or any approved indult parish.

4. Find a Byzantine, Maronite or other eastern Catholic parish.

5. Find a parish run by a priest who is affiliated with Opus Dei.


This actually sounds like the youth overnights that were a feature of the UNITARIAN "Church" when I was forced to attend, back in the early 80s. It was an excuse for pre-teens and teens to get together and spend the night, and yes, a lot of bad stuff happened (speaking generally, not personally) of which spin the bottle was the most tame. Of course, the youth group was the new youth group, since the previous youth group was dismantled by the UUA because of rampant drug use and etc.

I know I shouldn't be, but I'm really surprised that any Catholic parish, no matter how left-leaning, would get into any of this junk. It's not 1983, people - AIDS, pedophiles, ecstasy, date rape drugs...WHAT IN THE WORLD IS THIS PARISH THINKING?!?!?!?!

francis 03

ajesquire, allowing co-ed sleepovers doesn't make you unorthodox. It is obviously scandalous and objectively harmful to the souls of the participants (at least as described here), but that's just not what it takes to be "unorthodox"-- for that there has to be some denial of a truth of the faith.

I know that in modern parlance an "orthodox" parish is one that just follows the age-old Catholic "best practices," but the more precise meaning of the word is still very useful. A priest, parish, or parishioner can be perfectly orthodox and still live a scandalous, reprobate lifestyle. Conversely, a rampant heretic could also be extremely morally upstanding in matters not pertaining to the heresy.

The choice between an orthodox-but-morally-lax parish and a heterodox-but-mostly-morally-upstanding parish may arise more often than we suspect. It is made even more difficult when the orthodox parish is not only morally but also fiscally or administratively lax.

francis 03

Clarification: in order to be an "orthodox sinner" you must, of course, believe that your sins are in fact objectively sinful. The opposite would I suppose be theoretically possible-- you could believe that an immoral action is actually not sinful, but still decline to take that action for some other reason. Whether there would be actual personal sin involved in such a situation is beyond my moral expertise.

At any rate, the point is that what you BELIEVE and PROFESS makes you orthodox; what you DO is an important matter, but in my opinion not connected to orthodoxy or heterodoxy except insofar as it is evidence or a profession of your beliefs.

Jonathan Prejean

At least in my diocese (Orange, CA), we have a number of "requirements" for confirmation, but if any parent simply and directly requests confirmation from the bishop, the request will ordinarily be granted. The fact is not publicized, but the policy is just what the canon law demands: that Sacraments will not be denied to those who seek them at appropriate times, are properly disposed, and are not prohibited by law from receiving them. I wish they would be more straightforward about that policy. The thought appears to be that if parents were told that this was not strictly a requirement for confirmation, then the parents would not make their children participate. My point would be that if you can't convince parents that the classes are spiritually beneficial and important for the children, then they are probably not as important or useful as you think.



Agreed. However, the inquirer used the word "orthodox", and specifically referred to "messing with the liturgy" and "intentionally preaching heresy."

I think one would be hard-pressed to find any widespread "intentional teaching of heresy" in any diocese, let alone in all but one particular parish.

As far as "messing with the liturgy", it's tough to know what one means by this. Some people are subjected to truly inappropriate liturgical behavior, but judging by some of the calls I hear on CA, some people have complaints about totally appropriate things.

That being said, my only point to the poster was that there may be a blind spot for the pastor, who ultimately bears responsibility for the manner in which the sacraments are administered. Rather than lay it all on the DRE, I'd go to the Pastor with my complaints. If he truly is orthodox, it shouldn't be a problem.

Fr Martin Fox

Do I understand some here to consider it a "co-ed sleepover" if the boys are at one end of the retreat center, the girls at another, and things are monitored?


Man, this stirred up memories of my own confirmation class experience some 12 years ago... Our parish (perhaps fortunately) didn't spend enough money on religious ed to have an overnight retreat, though the day retreat we had was pretty silly.

The experience was crazy enough my folks ended up switching parishes after I was safely confirmed. My younger brother simply waited for RCIA, though my sister had her own adventures in the new parish. (Her teacher, the full time youth leader, was an enthusiastic C. S. Lewis fan who had been hired because she was "excited about Christiantiy" but turned out not to be Catholic.)

If there's a place for experiencing all the zanniness that afflicts modern American parish life, it's putting a kid through confirmation.

Some Day

Fr Martin Fox ,
With all due respect for you being a presbyter, I still have to tell you that a hall way is not much of a barrier.

Tim J.

If the quality of the religious education programs was higher I wouldn't have such a problem with the long duration. As it is, I don't think the kids really benefit at all from a mandatory 2-year program.

We homeschooled our kids for a few years, and there is no reason that a child can't be fully prepared to receive the sacrament in a month.

I think that the intentions are good - an attempt at remediation where parents have neglected their kid's spiritual development - but for families that DO teach the faith to their children, all the jumping through hoops is burdensome and unnecessary.


Perhaps some would call me lax, but being only a decade out from being a teenager, I'm not sure I can must up quite the level of indignation over the very concept of co-ed weekend retreats as some are experiencing. It sounds like in this case the problems were that:

1) No modesty rules and gender segregated cerfew were being enforced.

2) Behavior was not being sufficiently policed.

3) The actual formation going on was lousy anyway.

However, I've also seen youth group and other events which are weekend or even week long events which are carried out in a completely responsible and upright manner despite being co-ed. Evil-minded types tend to remain so in co-ed situations, and well formed kids tend to continue to behaving in a well-formed fashion.


Fair enough, ajesquire. Of course "messing with the liturgy" isn't per se unorthodoxy either, although it is heteropraxis. As for intentional teaching of heresy, well, I guess it all depends on what diocese you're on, and how charitable you are willing to be about interpreting a preacher's words. I have certainly witnessed open preaching of heresy in a very representative upper-Midwest parish.

A Simple Sinner

I think a lot of the issues being brought up here speak to a bigger issue: We don't understand and teach what the sacrament is very well at all. A Protestant mentality seems to have arisen: Confirmation as a sort of bar mitzvah like "coming of age" event.

Too many are seeing it as a sort of "Grade school graduation" or coming of age ceremony. In fact in the Phillipines and Mexico and all Eastern Catholic Churches, the sacrament is routinely administered to infants at the same time as baptism. ("In the Greek Church and in Spain, infants are now, as in earlier times, confirmed immediately after baptism. Leo XIII, writing 22 June, 1897, to the Bishop of Marseilles, commends most heartily the practice of confirming children before their first communion as being more in accord with the ancient usage of the Church." Catholic Encylopedia)

Unfortunately this sacrament seems to be withheld as a sort of incentive to complete CCD or to keep young Catholics in youth programs.

We do not do this for baptism or First communion. And we certainly would not do this for folks in need of the Sacrament of the Sick.

Some Day

Its use under these ideas have also been an incentive to trick people into they have to do it or they can't get married into the Church.
Way to go. Lying is the key to success.

Fr Martin Fox

Some Day -- understood, which is why I also said, "things are monitored. There are various ways to do that.

Of course, one could have all boys one weekend, all girls another, but that's not easy.

Also, there is a good reason for doing longer retreats -- the idea is that it takes time for the kids to focus, to really open up to the message of the retreat, and get something out of it. Other than the practical issues, is there anyone who thinks a shorter retreat is better than a longer one?

Some Day

Depends. Retreats and speeches aren't made by the speakers but by the participants. You as a priest must know that if the audience is shuting out of a sermon, it might need to be cut shorter than intended. So if the confirmation kids are a good bunch, than a long one is better. But co-ed has been both scientifically and morally question since its institution. See coed retreats are ok if there is a separation, like seating wise. But overnighters pose a risk indeed. I'll tell you that I myself have never done it, but those who I have participated with in overnight coed things, escape. I once went to a voluntary millitary camp. What did the other boys do? They escaped. How? The sons of darkness are more astute that thoses of the light. You can't risk it. Trust me on this one Father.


Can I ask what is the purpose of the retreat to begin with? If one is versed correctly in their catechism and have been taught modesty why would the church even consider putting boys and girls while their hormones are starting to jumpstart into the occassion of sin?

Does not the church teach this anymore? I personally have taken my children all together out of the RCIA and placed them under the tutelage of nuns being taught the Baltimore Catechism. IT is an extreme hardship on my wife and i as we drive 25 miles each way, attend a high Traditional Latin Mass (we would accept nothing less) and then wait in between the high and Low Mass and then after as they are schooled.

Their souls are more important to us-not something that is "Easy" as I heard the good Father say

Salvationa and the sacraments nor raising Good Holy Children in this day of evil was never meant to be "Easy"

Brother Cadfael


Their souls are more important to us-not something that is "Easy" as I heard the good Father say

The good Father, as you refer to him, most certainly did not say that your children's souls are "Easy."

Is it too much for you to ask to get the facts on anything right?



You are nothing more than an antagonist that searches for any post of mine to take the counter, even if it is in support of boys and girls sleeping together in the same room as part of a church sponsored program that is supposed to foster a child as a "soldier of Christ"

I have no problem saying that you are nothing more than a sham as a clergy and it is your ilk that has the church in such shambles today

We can only pray that the Lord provides us with good shepherds to guide the flock in the future instead of the 50% homosexual priesthood and pedophiles gone unchecked by a church bent on a liberal priesthood


I missed the post where Brother C wrote anything "in support of boys and girls sleeping together in the same room".

Brother Cadfael


I am not clergy, and I do not support boys and girls sleeping together for any reason, much less a confirmation preparation program. (Neither does the good Father you gratuitously maligned in the previous post.) I do not go searching for your posts, they stand out all on their own by being incredibly obnoxious. You know nothing about me or "my ilk," and your continued willingness to speak loudly about subjects for which you have absolutely no competence does nothing more than spectacularly flout your ignorance for all to see.


Brother Cadfael, you realize, of course, that Ellis Peters is Post VII, so he won't have heard of the 'real' Brother Cadfael. :)

David B.

FWIW, John,

Brother Cadfael was the main character on a miniseries, and my brother in Christ is not a religious.

Fr Martin Fox

The purpose of a confirmation retreat is essentially the same as the purpose of any retreat -- to pray, reflect, spend some intense time with the Lord. Retreats are well established as a part of Catholic spirituality, and recommended before major events in one's life, as well as annually if one can do it. All Catholics and Christians can benefit from frequent retreats.

Brother Cadfael


Brother Cadfael, you realize, of course, that Ellis Peters is Post VII, so he won't have heard of the 'real' Brother Cadfael.

John may not like my biographer, but you'd think he'd cut me some slack since I actually fought in the glorious Crusades, am well-versed in all things Latin, and predate VII by over seven centuries! Oh well. There are worse things than to be misunderstood by those who choose not to hold fast to the Ark of Peter.


It's hard to understand the intense animus by some conservative Catholics which is so often directed at traditionalists.

I am fully in agreement that some--like Fr. Moderator at Traditio, or some at Tradition in Action--are borderline or fully schismatic and disgrace the love of Tradition with their bitter, unchristian tirades against anything that occurred in the Church after 1958.

But that's not real traditionalism.

I don't know John, but I suspect that he sees many of the abuses that a number of conservative Catholics see--the constant, constant abuse of the Mass, Assisi, Quran kissing, the Balamand Statement, Catholic prelates praying in mosques and synagogues, Cardinal Law given archpriest title of St. Mary Major, Pope John Paul's appointees (Mahony, Weakland, Bishop Tom O'Brien (hit a guy with a car, embroiled in sex scandals, asked if his being driven around by chaffeur could count towards his community service), the various scandalous actions by the USCCB and the foreign cardinals who are constantly undermining Church teaching on contraception, etc., Dignitatis Humanae, false ecumenism, telling the Jews the Old Covenant was "never revoked," duping the FSSP priests by mandating priests who specifically joined to say the TLM say the NO once a year, equivocating vis-a-vis the 3rd Secret of Fatima (claiming that the Mother of God appeared in 1917, performed a great miracle, and issued a cataclysmic secret which numerous cardinals saw and said dealt with a great apostasy in the Church, only to have the Vatican claim that this great secret told us that...a pope would be shot 64 years later by a lone gunman in St. Peter's)....I needn't continue this list.

There are a lot of problems in the Church today. 75% don't go to Mass, 70% aged 18-44 are material heretics with regard to the Real Presence, seminarian numbers from 1965 are down over 90% (from 47,000 to 4,600), ordinations and religious have plummeted...no one, conservative or traditionalist, disputes this.

But even Mr. Akin seems to have fallen prey in this post to never typing the letters "SSPX" without the word "schismatic" or "excommunicated" in the same sentence. It's not that simple, folks. It really isn't. I submit that a conservative Catholic who calls it as it is with regard to that list above, those stats, and other problems, will soon become a traditionalist himself.


I find it refreshing that the Church hierarchy has made such provision for the faithful to receives the sacraments even when the local legislation interferes. Makes me proud to be a Catholic.

Brother Cadfael


I am fully in agreement that some--like Fr. Moderator at Traditio, or some at Tradition in Action--are borderline or fully schismatic and disgrace the love of Tradition with their bitter, unchristian tirades against anything that occurred in the Church after 1958. But that's not real traditionalism. I don't know John....

Since you don't know John, perhaps you have not seen all of his "bitter, unchristian tirades" against Vatican II, Pope John Paul II and Pope Benedict XVI, among others. He has also claimed in no uncertain terms that each of the foregoing were in themselves heretical and/or teach/taught heresy. His latest gem is to claim that the Holy Spirit was never invoked and therefore not present at Vatican II. Simply put, that's not real traditionalism.

Bill Logan

On another note, I found this sentence from the CDW letter intriguing:

Indeed, the longer the conferral of the Sacrament is delayed after the age of reason, the greater will be the number of candidates who are prepared for its reception but are deprived of its grace for a considerable period of time.

Might there be an upcoming change to make the age of reason the normative age for conferring the sacrament of confirmation? Some sort of combined First Communion & Confirmation?

charles R. Williams

"Some sort of combined First Communion & Confirmation?"

This is exactly how it should be done, the kids should do Penance, First Communion and Confirmation as part of a single process when they reach the age of reason - approximately 7.

charles R. Williams

"Canon 891 of the new code says confirmation 'is to be conferred on the faithful at about the age of discretion unless the conference of bishops has determined another age, or there is danger of death, or in the judgment of the minister a grave cause suggests otherwise.'"

For some reason the US bishops have adopted a rule that confirmation will be administered between 7 and 16, depending on local diocesan policy.

It creates the perception that confirmation is some kind of ceremony where the individual makes a personal commitment or some kind of reward for attending classes or passing a test. It is, in essence, neither of these things but a conferral of unmerited grace.

If children are prepared for communion, they are ready for confirmation.


With all due respect for you being a presbyter, I still have to tell you that a hall way is not much of a barrier.

Shoot, Some Day, following your logic, we should just impose Sharia and not let boys and girls near each other at all until we marry 'em off, preferably by arrangement, at 18. Do you really think all teens are sex-crazed beasts all the time? Or that no good catechists exist who can manage mixed groups of kids and see to it that appropriate limits are maintained?

At the very least, have the good sense not to assume that you invariably know more about everything than persons who actually have practical experience to offer in the matter being discussed!

Anyway, didn't JPII chaperone mixed groups of young people on retreats in his priest days?

General PS: Sorry about that double post at the top. If anyone has any idea how to get rid of the extra copy, please let me know.

Catholic Whiteboy

Maybe this is overly harsh, but I'm absolutley floored at the comments about why have teenagers going on an overnight retreat in the first place. It makes me wonder if people have a) helped organize such a weekend or b) had really incompetent organziation when they participated in such a weekend.

Having participated in and orgainzed a large number of retreats with various youth groups I've worked with, I've found that even just a little bit of intelligent organization can avoid the vast majority of problems people are mentioning here. Expectations are set and enforced...and believe it or not, teenagers tend to rise up to meet expectations that are solidly in place. The adults involved don't let kids "get away with" anything, and the teens are always supervised. Add in the spiritual offerings of a retreat...it's a no brainer that an overnight weekend retreat is of benefit to teenagers.

That said...a comment about the "mandatory confirmation retreat." On face, I'm not a fan, if for no other reason than a retreat should be something someone wants to engage in, not something one is forced to do because their parents are making them get confirmed. However, an experience with a Confirmation retreat last spring has slightly altered my view. I was handed a program when I arrived at the parish (trust me...I probably would not have designed it this way) where anyone in the Confirmation program was required to participate in one of our two youth group retreats. There were this group of about 20 kids (out of the 70 that went) that wanted absolutley NOTHING to do with Confirmation, the Church, or anything remotely spiritual. They were as closed off to a retreat as one can possibly imagine, and tried to avoid participating if at all possible. But at the end of the retreat, something had changed. Not in all of them, and not a sudden life-changing thing...but it was obvious that quite a few of them realized that there was more to our faith that they were missing, and those hardened hearts melted even if just a little bit. I may have been wrong about requiring the retreat...because had they not gone, nothing would have changed.

I'm still not sure if having a required Confirmation retreat is the way to go...but given what I've seen, a knee-jerk "no overnight thing ever no matter what" is just dumb.


Do you really think all teens are sex-crazed beasts all the time?

Sadly, that's mostly true. Check out the stats on frequency of occurrence of sexually related thoughts for teenaged males.


OK, have to chime in...

Being Mary's sister, I also have experience with Unitarian co-ed sleepovers and retreats. I also have experience with carefully-chaperoned co-ed overnight trips, though not through church.

When I was in high school (graduated 11 years ago), our band and orchestra went on an out-of-state trip each year: Washington DC, St. Louis, Florida, etc. They were intended to be both educational AND opportunities to perform as ensembles out of the area. We also had a week of band camp every summer at Michigan State, although the dorms were gender-segregated by floors.

Our director made it abundantly clear that he would brook no nonsense on any of these (or in any other context, for that matter), and I'm not aware of any moral laxity that took place. Boys and girls were not permitted in each others' rooms, and the chaperones checked. At curfew time, each room was checked by a chaperone adn then the door was 'sealed' on the outside with a piece of masking tape, so if anyone opened the door before morning the chaperones could tell. Since we had bathrooms in each room, the only valid excuse for leaving one's room during the night was to go find a chaperone in case of an emergency; that would obviously explain why one's seal was broken, and if something like that happened all opened rooms were re-checked and re-sealed. So while Some Day is right that a hallway is not much of a barrier, there ARE ways to manage co-ed overnights while minimizing the kind of dangers that Another Catholic Mama alluded to.

If a kid is really bent on breaking the rules, s/he will probably find a way, but just knowing that all those measures were in place certainly kept me and the overwhelming majority of my classmates in line. Whether anyone broke the rules I couldn't say, but if they did they were not going anywhere with the band again - the director made that perfectly plain.

For the record, that band director is my favorite teacher ever. Three years in his band taught me more about discipline, attitude and life than all the other teachers I've ever had combined, and nearly as much as my parents. I wish I could tell him that now.


Check out the stats on frequency of occurrence of sexually related thoughts for teenaged males.

Sorry, anon, but having sexually related thoughts (not at all unusual in teenaged males) and having the sexual self-control of livestock are not the same thing. Teenagers can and should be taught that they don't have to indulge sexual thoughts or more importantly, act on them. I have met plenty of decently-behaved young people who strive to be ruled by their moral compasses, not their gonads.

While I'll agree that it's not prudent to push the envelope as regards self-control (hence factors like good supervision, separate sleeping quarters and minimum standards for sleepwear that have already been mentioned,) it's absurd to assume that there will be orgies going on just because male and female teenagers happen to be in the same general area overnight, or that boys are going to revert to animal instincts just because they know some cute girls are sleeping down the hall. Upbringing and personal ethics count for something.

It occurs to me that one valuable lesson that teens can take away from well-managed overnighters such as those described above is the understanding that boys and girls (subsequently, men and women) can be in each others' presence without anything of an inappropriate nature happening, and that they can control their urges. If they haven't learned that lesson by the time they're in a college dorm, a military barracks, or their first apartment, it's a bit late to start teaching it then--and the occasions of sin at that point are multiplied.

As we all learned in recent weeks, it's a point of Catholic theology that faith and reason go hand-in-hand. Why would we want to give credence to the (paganistic, IMHO,) view that faith and reason will collapse in the face of a little estrogen and testosterone?

"Find a parish run by a priest who is affiliated with Opus Dei.

How do I do that? (Thanks in advance for any help!)


"Find a parish run by a priest who is affiliated with Opus Dei.

How do I do that?

Try www.albino-assassin.com. :-D


Catholic Mom makes a good point about Confirmation being a beginning, not the "graduation" it is treated as. It is a failing on the part of the institutional part of the Church on several levels that so many people have learned essentially nothing after Confirmation. The types of sleep-overs and other such nonsense described by the original question to Jimmy are just incredible (as in unbelievable). How do people come up with these ideas that are so essentially extrinsic to sacramental preparation? Furthermore, who has stopped paying attention to orthodoxy and sound morals so that these shenanigans are allowed to continue? Some of those in leadership need to grow a spine and end practices like this.


"Find a parish run by a priest who is affiliated with Opus Dei.

How do I do that?

Try www.albino-assassin.com. :-D

Too funny.


In my diocese confirmation doesn't occur until around 11th grade. That way supposedly there is time to prepare and understand it but it is early enough to not really be a "graduation". or that's the thought.

We had a group of those already confirmed who put on two retreats one overnight, the second was day only. these retreats can be an opportunity for learning and grace, but I should add mixing after being in pajamas was not capable thanks to seperate buildings and sacrifice of some team members of a few hrs of sleep to stay outside to prevent sneaking around.

The big thing that helped too was some pastors had their own programs in ccd which allowed us to do more supplemental teaching rather than real teaching.

just wanted to point out that confirmation retreats can be a good experience when not run by lobotomy candidates


I went through the confirmation process at my diocese, and I later returned as a teacher for the program. The program changed hands just about when I completed it, and the new director has been working hard to repair its gross deficiencies, but the fact that they ever existed is shocking. Up until a few months before confirmation, I was a borderline agnostic, and said as much in class, but the teachers didn't seem to realize this fact, and just loved all the things I was saying. There was certainly no requirement or even recommendation that anyone attend confession, and if there was ever a lesson relating to sin, I missed it.

The worst problem, though was discipline and attention. One hour-long class a week is not enough, especially when most of the parents don't care and are only doing it to please the grandparents. More importantly, we're fighting the school systems (public and, unfortunately, Catholic), which, by the mid-teens, have indoctrinated the students with all the idiotic modernist ideas that render them resistant to the faith. My mother once said that they should either do the confirmations at a much earlier age, like they used to, or, if they're really serious about all that "coming of age" nonsense, wait until adulthood. The mid-teens are a horrible time to do confirmation. They've discovered sex, an excess of independence provided by parents and a culture that thinks teens deserve to do whatever they want, and they've had enough education to resist the faith but not enough to defend or appreciate it (drink deep from the Pieran spring, indeed).

The younger students are typically more interested, more receptive, and more intelligent. I had some great 7th and 8th graders in my classes, and things went very well (which is interesting, because public schoolteachers I've know swear that teaching 7th and 8th graders is like trying to teach wild Jacobin mobs). The older students, who are closer to the actual date of confirmation, are generally jaded, cynical, self-absorbed, and uninterested (I certainly was). They rarely bother to follow up their confirmations by say, attending Mass on Sunday, or going regularly to confession. If they think about salvation at all, they think that they've completed the annoying classes, gone through the ceremony, gotten their photos with the Bishop, and salvation is therefore assured- obligation to God fulfilled.

I would almost be in favor of holding confirmations earlier, and continuing to educate students after, but I know the students and parents in this program well enough to know that, once confirmation has been celebrated, half of them won't bother showing up again.

Still, things have gotten better. The program has been consistenly every year, thanks to a new director and a cranky middle-aged Jesuit instructor who didn't take any crap from the students. There's a long way left to go, but things are improving.


""Find a parish run by a priest who is affiliated with Opus Dei.

How do I do that?"

Ask Opus Dei members in your diocese. That is, assuming Opus Dei is active in your diocese. . . keep in mind there are diocesan priests who are members of Opus Dei as well. They're around. You can seek them out.

That being said, just because the priest might be orthodox (Opus Dei or not), it doesn't mean he is free from the politics and pressures of parents involved in the parish religious education program. Welcome to parish life. Sigh. . . yet another reason to pray daily for our clergy.

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