Yesterday, I provided a rather glowing summary of Monday evening’s Confirmation Intensive. Indeed, the evening overall went very well and was a positive experience. On the other hand, there are always a few moments that provide sobering reminders of the troubles that some of these kids have.
The Confirmation Intensives allows me the opportunity to catch a glimpse, so to speak, of each of the five 8th grade classes. For the most part, each of the classes was very cooperative and the kids well-behaved. One class, in particular, was a handful, mainly because of one young man who seemed like he could care less about Confirmation and unfortunately, influenced others in his group.
During the 10 minute session, this young man paid little attention, didn’t open his book, and engaged in side-talking throughout. At one point, I noticed that he had taken the little foil croziers they had just made in a previous class and was shredding it. A few moments later, I saw that he was stuffing the pieces of foil in his mouth. Holding a wastebasket, I confronted him and told him to spit it out and to pick up all the pieces that were strewn about him.
A few moments later, as we were reading some brief sections of the text, I went over to stand by him since he was side-talking, not reading along, and laughing. I told him that he should think twice about laughing at the Holy Spirit whom we were talking about. He said he wasn’t laughing at the Holy Spirit but at what his friend was saying, and in a very unrepentant attitude, asked: “You mean to tell me that you wouldn’t laugh if you heard something funny?” I responded, “Not if I was supposed to be paying attention to someone and something more important.” What I really wanted to say was, “Where did you learn to talk to your elders like that?!” I stood over him (he was seated) and leaned in and said in a calm, soft, but stern voice, “You should think twice about what and who you’re paying attention to and the fact that if you’re listening to your friend during class, you’re ignoring the Holy Spirit.”
He eventually opened his book and unenthusiastically followed directions for the activity we did (making the mini-mobiles of symbols of the Holy Spirit) all the while procrastinating as much as possible.
I was saddened by the experience of encountering a young person who was passing up such a wonderful opportunity to grow as an individual and to deepen his relationship with God. Some kids are just not there. Some are carrying baggage that prohibits them from opening up to God’s grace. I know that his catechist is experiencing this challenge on a weekly basis and he (the catechist) is a fantastic role model for this young man. I hope and pray that he and all of us who come into contact with this young man and others like him can make an impact through our words and actions.
What kind of difficult moments like this have you faced?