Updated: May 3
My oldest son was confirmed in the Catholic Church six years ago, now. The link in the previous sentence explains the sacrament in a thorough, easy-to-understand fashion. Regarding names chosen at confirmation, it explains that:
"At Baptism, the name was chosen without the child’s consent because the child was too little to make the selection alone. Now, in Confirmation, another name — in addition to the first and middle names — can be added, or the original baptismal name may be used. It must be a Christian name, though, such as one of the canonized saints of the Church or a hero from the Bible."
At my own confirmation, my class was encouraged to stick with our baptismal names. Therefore, I chose "Mary," which is my middle name. While it's certainly nothing that has kept me awake at night, I've always felt cheated by that choice. Because I had already been given the name Mary (and because Mary is the Mother of God), I already had a devotion to her. Confirmation was an opportunity to cultivate a new, unique relationship with another brother or sister in Christ, one already part of the communion of saints.
This sense of being cheated became keen as I witnessed my son's selection of a confirmation saint. After mentioning for the previous year that he'd likely choose St. John Neumann, a Philadelphia bishop with connections to our diocese and parish, he informed me he'd chosen St. Boniface.
I knew nothing of St. Boniface beyond his name.
My son said he simply chose St. Boniface because they shared a German heritage. Not a very profound reason, but that's okay.
And then he began to research St. Boniface. And that is when I began to thank God for His tender little mercies. These little glimmers that nothing falls outside the scope of His loving care. That all is part of His Divine plan; even small choices made with our own free will.
While writing a short paper about St. Boniface, my son read aloud to me. I stopped him after a couple of sentences when he told me St. Boniface was the patron of the Diocese of Fulda.
"Fulda? That's where Grandma's grandparents were from."
Hmm. Isn't that interesting?
"He founded or restored the Diocese of Bavaria? That's where Pap Pap's family was from."
St. Boniface is also the patron saint of brewers, which pleased my husband, who has been doing some home brewing. He, however, was not the only brewer in the family as my son had taken to brewing sodas.
We can also thank St. Boniface for the Christmas tree. When he came across a Saxon tribe worshiping a Norse deity in the form of an oak tree, he felled it.
"Boniface walked up to the tree, removed his shirt, took up an axe, and without a word he hacked down the six-foot wide wooden god. Boniface stood on the trunk, and asked, 'How stands your mighty god? My God is stronger than he.'" (CatholicSaints.info)
St. Boniface then directed attention to a little fir tree growing nearby, saying:
“This little tree, a young child of the forest, shall be your holy tree tonight. It is the wood of peace . . . It is the sign of an endless life, for its leaves are ever green. See how it points upward to heaven. Let this be called the tree of the Christ-child; gather about it, not in the wild wood, but in your own homes; there it will shelter no deeds of blood, but loving gifts and rites of kindness.”
I watched my son's eyes light as he read about his patron. Wiseguy that he is, in answer to the question "How can you emulate your patron saint?", he promptly replied, "I can tear down pagan temples and build churches there." Which is something else St. Boniface did.
(I love the boldness of saints! So often in our politically-correct world, we're cowed into a cowardly meekness that goes well-beyond Christian civility and kindness, burying the Truth in the process.)
It's my prayer that this English-born bishop, martyred in 754 in what is now the Netherlands, may be a lifelong guide and intercessor for my son. Because I'm certain that it was not by accident that he was chosen.
Are you or is someone you love preparing for Confirmation? These Catholic Teen Books novels make great Confirmation gifts:
Fire Starters by Theresa Linden demonstrates what the gifts of the Holy Spirit look like in action as members of the youth group work to undercover a mystery, save their church, and prepare for Confirmation.
Gabriel Livingstone is a leader and a protector, confident in his quiet devotion to God. But God may be calling him outside of his comfort zone to live courageously in Guarding Aaron by T.M. Gaouette.
I Am Margaret by Corinna Turner raises the stakes for those who practice their faith in a dystopian society where believing may mean death.
In Where You Lead by Leslea Wahl, Eve and Nick must listen carefully for the prompting of the Holy Spirit to lead them in their journey of faith, which includes intrigue, treasure, and romance.