My daughter Linda is getting confirmed this year. And let me tell you, getting confirmed is a whole lot more complicated than it was when I was a kid.
I have vivid memories of my confirmation. I went to a very small rural Catholic church in Ransomville, N.Y. and they conducted confirmations about every 3 years (or however long it took to get sufficient numbers of students to warrant the Bishop making the trek to perform the sacrament).
My sister and brother were both confirmed with me and somehow my Mom was able to scare up 3 different confirmation sponsors for us. (Of course, our family had so many cousins that the aunts were rotated in and out of Godmother and Confirmation Sponsor roles like football players in a pre-season scrimmage.)
We did have to attend classes in preparation for confirmation, but the only thing I remember about those classes is learning that the Bishop was going to slap us in the face after confirming us. I am not making this up. I recall sitting in the church next to my sponsor (Aunt Mary, who slept through the whole ceremony), anxiously awaiting the belt from the bishop. It was entirely anti-climactic - more of a tap than a smack.
Confirmation in 2009 is an entirely different story. Catholics have really gotten tough with the sacrament prerequisites. I had to take a baptism class to be a God Mother. Come on!!! OK, I was able to talk them into giving me the DVD version of the class, which I fast forwarded through, but I still had to take a class to be a God Mother.
There was a parent meeting at the start of the summer where the confirmation coordinator reviewed the requirements: attending every class, never missing mass, volunteer hours in the community, taking tests, attending retreats, curing cancer, etc. I also learned about the dreaded "Saint Paper". Linda had to pick out a saint that she admired and write a paper about that saint.
My friend Becca has a graduate degree in theology, so we asked her for advice on an interesting saint. She told Linda that there was a saint named Polycarp, who was a martyr burned because of his faith. But the coolest thing was that he smelled like bread when he was being burned. And they couldn't kill him by burning him so they had to stab him or something to make him die.
"Cool!" said Linda. (Polycarp is like action-adventure saint).
So Linda wrote the paper on Saint Polycarp. She was one step closer to confirmation.
Except for one teeny, tiny problem. It doesn't have to be a problem, but it kind of is. Somehow, during the parent meeting, I missed the part about how the Saint you choose becomes part of your confirmation name. Linda came home from CCD last Sunday telling me that her Confirmation name will be Linda Anne Polycarp.
I feel somewhat responsible for this, so I sent an e-mail to the confirmation coordinator and confessed to my brain lapse. She responded that if Linda wanted a different name she had to write another Saint paper. Still, she thought Polycarp was a very "interesting" name. Of course, the confirmation coordinator's name is Polly. (Again, I am not making this up.)
So we are faced with a dilemma. Do we let Linda honor Polycarp, the Patron saint of Panera and let her go down in Catholic records as Linda Anne Polycarp, or does she write another paper and become Linda Anne Teresa, or something else more socially acceptable.
If it were me, I'd be Mary Louise Polycarp. In a heartbeat.