On saturday I was walking towards my home and I saw a neighbour of mine. He is only about 12 and he was dressed to the nines with a suit and tie. A short while later another boy came out dressed the same. Why? They were off to make their Confirmation. Making your Confirmation here in Ireland is a catholic affair. I made mine when I was 12 and I too wore a suit. Mostly it is about money (children taken to every relative and friend, hoping to get a tenner [€10] or more from them). My friend's little brother got the grand sum of €1,200 just two months ago for his confirmation, although I have to say that he bought a goat for some poor people who live in Africa courtesy of the charity 'Concern'.
I like the boy and really wanted to go over to him and tell him how well he looked and how I hoped he would have a good day, because it is a big day for them. It's almost like a wedding there is so much spent on it. Everybody in the home gets all dressed up, sometimes in new clothes and after the 'event' they go off to a restaurant where the family pays for all the relatives... Sometimes the celebrations can continue on into a pub where, sadly, the child can be forgotten in the drunkenness... It can become a big expense.
I didn't go over to him to say "Hi" and congratulate him or to give him money although I wanted to. I sat in my sitting-room watching them fool about and kick a ball (in their new clothes!) and wondered what I could compare it to spiritually and this is what I came up with..
Suppose I had a best friend who had just left her husband. Imagine I met her down the town with her new lover. What would I say to her... "Hey, you two look really nice together?"
No, I wouldn't say that and I can't let the kids think that I in any way approve of what is happening. They know I am born again and it's not simply you have your way and I have mine. There is only one way to God and Heaven and it's not that way.
God forbid that I would let the children, that I witness to through a Bible Club etc, think that it is ok to do what they're doing. Although on the outset it all looks harmless enough, it's not. There's the difference between Heaven and Hell. It's that serious.
So, this is one tradition, one celebration that I won't take any part in, no matter how much I would like to. The stakes are too high...
God help them.