This introductory module allows the young people to become familiar with how to navigate through a learning module. It also allows them to create a personal profile that expresses their unique talents, attitudes, values, and activities and guides them through selecting a favorite quote and six words to describe themselves. Their profile can be seen by other young people in their “section.” In this module, the young people also meet Bishop Frank Caggiano in a light-hearted fashion. Bishop Frank offers the “catechesis” in each module. Finally, the young people reflect on the important relationships in their life as a foundation for meaning, and the module closes with prayerful reflection on the importance of a posture of gratitude.
God desires our joy and happiness, but happiness (the kind God desires for us) is often confused with the world’s sense of pleasure. This module leads the young people through a discernment and clarification process to arrive at the meaning of true happiness. They are introduced to Pope Francis’s Top Ten Secrets to Happiness, and they reflect on the one they most desire to further incorporate in their own life. Bishop Frank introduces the young people to the teaching “God is Love” and that love is the source and foundation of true happiness. The young people are invited to consider where love is most needed in the world today, and Bishop Frank expands their reflection by inviting them to consider how love is most needed “in the shadows of society” and how we are called as missionary disciples to bring love to those most in need. The young people are further invited to consider how their Confirmation is a calling to be witnesses of God’s love in the world. The module closes with prayerful reflection on the amazing Grace of God.
True happiness comes at a price, and it requires courage to seek it and sustain it. Loving the way God desires us to love is not always easy, but it is a gift worth the commitment. In this module, the young people explore how choosing the path of true happiness takes courage, strength, and resolve. The young people discover that the Gifts of the Spirit are actually foundations for a life of happiness. The young people are then invited to explore more deeply with Bishop Frank the places in our society where profound brokenness and injustice exist and to consider how they are called to bring the gift of happiness to others, especially those most in need. To support that invitation, the young people are led through a discernment of the Gifts of the Holy Spirit to then consider which gifts they most need strengthened in their own life. The module closes with prayerful reflection on what it means to allow the Holy Spirit, as Pope Francis says, to “draw us into this missionary dynamism, awakening within us the desire, the joy and the courage to offer our own lives in the service of the Kingdom of God” (“Message for the 52nd World Day of Prayer for Vocations”).
Bishop Frank opens this module by sharing the story of his own Confirmation preparation when Sr. Thomas Bridget impressed upon him the importance of doing what you believe. The module leads the young people to explore inspirational stories of peers around the world who are putting into practice their belief through acts of mercy. Then, through the stories of Jesus in Scripture, the young people explore the fruits of the Holy Spirit as the signs of, and witness to, doing what you believe. They are invited to consider adults in their lives who inspire them by the way their lives manifest the fruits of the Holy Spirit. Rooted in this sense of inspiration and admiration of people who they experience as models of “doing what you believe,” they are led to discern their own Confirmation sponsor. The module closes with prayerful reflection on what most challenges the young people in their own practice of “doing what you believe” and a prayer for God’s guidance and help. Before completing the module, the young people submit to the Confirmation coordinator the name of their Confirmation sponsor.
Selecting a saint name is a long-standing tradition of Confirmation. What is the significance of this practice, and how can it become an opportunity to deepen one’s connection with a spiritual life and commitment to mercy? This module leads the young people into an exploration of the life of Jesus and his works of mercy and then into an inspirational contemplation on the lives of great spiritual women and men, particularly those canonized by the Church as models of the Church’s mission of giving witness to mercy. Bishop Frank invites the young people to consider saints not as lofty models of unattainable holiness but as our friends. After choosing a saint’s life to research more deeply, the young people are invited to consider the conversation they would have with that saint if they were to sit down with her or him today. The young people then enter a process of discerning a saint for Confirmation who can serve as a spiritual friend and guide in their life. The module closes with prayerful reflection on the call to each of us to live saintly lives on earth, to be people of scandalous mercy for the healing of the world.
There are times when we fall short of acting with love, short of following the path of “doing what we believe.” And there are times when others fall short in treating us with love, times when we hurt one another through our words and our actions. This module begins by inviting the young people to consider times when they have been hurt by another and to consider how easy or hard it can be to forgive. They hear several powerful stories of forgiveness and then consider the question, Could I forgive like this? They also explore the ways in which they and their peers fall short of acting with love and mercy in their ordinary, daily life. Considering the reality of sin in this light, the young people are invited to explore what a response of love looks like—forgiving unconditionally, as God does—in order to see that love restores brokeness, hurt, sorrow, and sinful action. Bishop Frank invites the young people to consider practical things they can do in this moment to heal the hurt of someone they know. The module closes with prayerful reflection on our call to forgiveness and reflection on the unconditional love and forgiveness of God, who loves and forgives us despite our brokeness and failings. The ultimate questions for reflection are these: Can we love? Can we forgive one another like this?
Love confirms human dignity. In this module, the young people are first led to consider for themselves the meaning of the term humandignity by exploring ways in which human dignity is diminished. They then enter the story of the Great Commandment and Jesus’ call to mercy as the action that builds up and restores human dignity. Bishop Frank invites the young people to understand how “love helps a person to realize the dignity they already have” and that love is not something to be earned. We are born with dignity. Why? Because we are made in the image and likeness of God. The module closes with prayerful reflection on our call to see where the dignity of others is being diminished and our call to be people of love who helps others “realize the dignity they already have.” The young people are asked to consider this question: Tomorrow, when you encounter someone in need of tenderness and mercy, what do you hope you will do in response?
Do I really need to be part of a community, the Church, to follow the call of mercy? Many, if not most, young people (and not-so-young people) ask this question at some point in their life. This module allows the young people to explore this question by considering first the ways in which they already live all aspects of their lives as part of a team, a group, or a community. They explore models of the Church that expand their childhood notion of the Church as just a place where we go to Mass, arriving at a broader, more mature vision of the Church. Bishop Frank tackles the question and explores the idea of what it means when we ask, Am I more spiritual or more religious?—a common wonderment of young people. Ultimately, Bishop Frank leads the young people to think about that question in a new way and to think about how the community of the Church can support the authentic spiritual search for God. The young people are then led to consider not only how they need the Church but also how the Church needs them to fulfill its mission of being a witness and sacrament in the world. The module closes with prayerful reflection on the young people’s call as individuals and as members of a community of believers—the Church—to be confirmed in, and strengthened by, God’s love and to give witness to God’s love.
The words of Pope Francis open this module: “. . . Our duty is to make this world a better place, and to fight. Our faith is revolutionary because of the inspiration that comes from the Holy Spirit” (Address to the National Ecclesial Congress, 2015). Bishop Frank sets the stage for this introspective and reflective module as he calls the young people to see that the Church nourishes them for one purpose: to leave the four walls of the Church, to go out and change the world by giving witness to God’s love and mercy. The young people are presented the inspirational challenge of Pope Saint John Paul II to do one simple thing each day to make the world a better place. They are then invited to name one simple thing they will commit to doing right now as a first step. The young people explore stories of inspirational people who have taken up the call to mercy in profound and beautiful ways and are introduced to a young boy, Lucas Hobbs, who at the age of 12, while enduring treatment for cancer, was granted his Make-A-Wish Foundation request—to give back to those who show mercy to others every day of their lives. As Called to Mercy comes to a close, the young people, in light of all their learning and contemplation, are asked to consider one last question: If you were to take up one cause to make the world a better place, what would that cause be and what would you do? The young people are invited to share stories of their peers who are doing amazing things to make the world a better place. Saint Mary’s Press will choose a winner, someone with a particularly inspiring story of mercy, to receive a $1,000 gift each year. Bishop Frank offers a final word of encouragement as he reminds the young people that even the things we do with the best of intentions that don’t work out still give glory to God because we tried. The module closes with prayerful reflection on Confirmation not as graduation but as the full initiation into a life of mercy for the betterment of the world.
The Order of Confirmation concludes with this Prayer of the People:
Confirm, O God,
what you have brought about in us,
and preserve in the hearts of your faithful the gifts of the Holy Spirit;
may they never be ashamed
to confess Christ crucified before the world and by devoted charity
may they ever fulfill his commands. Who lives and reigns for ever and ever. Amen.
(Order of Confirmation, 33)
This module leads the young people through the Order of Confirmation, highlighting and shedding light on the significant moments in the Order that tie into the call to merciful lives that they have explored through their preparation. The module is in part summative and introductory, allowing the young people to become familiar with the movement, words, actions, and language of the Order of Confirmation so that on the day of their Confirmation the liturgy may take on greater meaning and significance.