Monday, June 22, 2009
One Small Step for Man
I think I mentioned the other day that I had an old neighbor, Bud, who did not believe in the moon landing. He was not alone in his insistence that the whole thing had been staged in a Hollywood studio. There are websites out there supporting this view.
Did we land on the moon?
Back during my Chicago days, I was visiting an office building for some fund raising. We know how much I love fundraising. I went to visit a man who was a big deal at Pullman Standard. As far as I know these are people that make cars on trains. I never bothered to learn a single thing about my contact there or the company. My spiel really doesn't change anyhow.
I was sitting in this man's office. He had a picture of the earth taken from space. On his desk, he had a little Apollo landing spaceship model. He had another picture of someone walking on the moon. "Hmph," I thought. "Great pictures. Guess he likes the space program." When suddenly I realized I had his name before: James McDivitt.
He was an Apollo astronaut! The hairs on the back of my neck stood up. An Apollo astronaut! I was thrilled to meet him. I asked him what it was like to walk on the moon. He said, "The moon is really boring. It's gray and brown and that's that. There is really not much to say about it." So I asked him about being an astronaut. He told me a few amusing things about that. For example, he said that every single person who ever went into space threw up at some point.
Did we go to the moon? I think we did. But I can't prove it.
Which brings me to today's question from a reader:
My sister is getting confirmed soon (~2 months time), but she's told me that she doesn't believe in God or anything. My parents want her to get confirmed, so she's just kinda going through the motions.. I don't think anything she's going to be taught in her preparation class is going to help change her mind/educate her about Catholicism, at least if they are still the same as when I did them, as I was literally taught nothing about the Catholic faith (not wishing to insult the lady running it, but I think that's true.. A lot of it was probably also down to my own immaturity though)... :/
Anyway - what can I do? Should she not get confirmed at all? Will the confirmation even be valid if she doesn't believe in God etc? My parents want her to be confirmed so that 'she'll have something to come back to when she's older.'
One other thing - can you think of a good patron saint for her? I've suggested loads of names (e.g. Monica, because she prayed for her son's conversion for years, so I reckon she's a dab hand, Mary, because you may as well go straight to the top, and so on and so on..), but she's rejected them all... Thank you sister! :)
Truthfully, she should not get Confirmed at all. But we both know that's not going to happen.
There are a few things you can do, but I think you could talk yourself blue in the face and not convince her of anything. You may as well go argue with Bud Gillman about the moon landing.
Here are things you can do:
Pray a lot. I'd suggest St. Paul, the patron saint of dramatic conversion. Or St. John the Baptist. He certainly shook people up. Or St. Ignatius of Antioch.
Get a green scapular.
Set a good example.
God is there, just like the moon. Confirmation is the point where you confirm your willingness to be a Catholic. So, even if she marches around in a pretty dress or a robe and gets a slap from the Bishop, she isn't going to be confirmed in anything. Sacraments are a two way street. If you go to confession and you're not sorry or you purposely lie or omit sins, your reconciliation does not take place. You haven't reconciled a thing.
The moon is there. You still have to fly over and land on it.
All is not lost. God's not going anywhere. He is going to be there for your sister no matter what. Who knows, maybe the instruction will take! Or maybe, on her way to the altar and the Bishop, she'll have an epiphany! Maybe after it is all over with and she'll realize that she really does want to be a part of this and then 'poof' she will be. Since God has been there waiting the whole time, her Confirmation will just be....retroactive.
As for the Confirmation name, since she doesn't really believe in any of this Bishop-y mumbo jumbo in the first place, I'll wager she's holding out for a cool sounding name, period. She doesn't care that the city of Santa Monica was named for St. Monica because when the Spanish conquistodors first arrived there, the first thing they saw was a rock that was burbling water non-stop and it reminded them of St. Monica, endlessly crying for her son.
I would suggest a very cool saint with a very cool sounding name. How about Maximillian Kolbe? There's a guy who took his Soldier of Christ status very seriously! And her confirmation name could be "Max".
It turns out, by the way, that Mr. McDivitt never actually went to the moon himself. He was the commander on Apollo 9, which orbited the earth and he was in charge of the the Apollo program from the ground. Perhaps that's why he didn't want to talk about the moon.