Monday, November 22, 2010
Maria, I Just Met a Boy Named.....
The song tells the story of a man who had to go through life with the name of "Sue" and how extremely difficult his life was with this woman's name. He spent his life angry and bitter and hating his father. His father had saddled him with the name "Sue" and then abandoned him. The song traces the man's life to the day he finally encounters his long lost father in a bar and they have a real donny brook. After the fight, Sue asks his father why he did it. There is a touching moment where the old man explains that he knew he wouldn't be around to raise the child and wanted to give him a name that would cause the boy to learn to stand up for himself. His plan had indeed worked. The man and his father reconcile in a tearful reunion. The final advice given by Mr. Cash (as Sue) is that if you have a son you should name him, "Bill or George! Anything but Sue!"
Which brings me to today's question from a reader, a follow up to our last post:
I've actually had a similar question, but since I'm a guy I've been much more hesitant to bring it up. I'm in the RCIA process right now and have been thinking about a confirmation name for a while, but the only saints that have really resonated with me have been female. As a protestant, I was very much drawn to the life and work of Bl. Mother Teresa, and now I find myself fascinated with St. Teresa of Avila as well. I'd pick Teresa in a heartbeat if there weren't a weirdness about a guy picking a girl's name. I'd just like to get your take on that, and if you could think of another male saint whose work closely mirrored that of Bl. Mother Teresa, I'd be happy to hear about it.
Here is my take on it. I can't think of any saints, male or otherwise, whose work closely mirrored that of Bl. Mother Teresa. She is in a class by herself. Father Damien, who was recently canonized, famously worked with lepers, but his life is not very similar to that of Mother Teresa, really.
And Damien, thanks to another cultural reference point, is now thought of as another name for the devil, because that's the name of the little devil boy in "The Omen" ( I through XII). Not that that silliness should actually influence your choice. We know you're not going to throw anyone's mother off a balcony or run over anyone with your tricycle.
It's up to you whether or not you want to have Teresa as your Confirmation name. There is one small point you might consider. Unless someone asks you, or you want to run around blabbing your Confirmation name to everyone, no one is ever going to know what it is, except for you and God (and the St. Teresa's). It doesn't go on to any legal documents or hospital records or anything of the kind. No one is ever going to peer over their half glasses and shout into a waiting room full of people, "Thomas William Teresa Smith? Thomas William Teresa Smith?"
If you have the nerve to have the congregation hear that your Confirmation name is "Sue"...I mean, "Teresa"....in the moment in which it is given to you by the bishop, no one need ever hear it spoken aloud again, unless someone asks you the direct question, "Hey, there, what's your Confirmation name?"
It happens. Not often, but it happens.
I can't tell you what to do. Your trepidation is entirely understandable. It doesn't seem fair that women can take on men's names with impunity and it doesn't seem to work the other way. Perhaps our readers have some suggestions.
If I were you I may be tempted to take Teresa anyhow. You are, after all, becoming a soldier of Christ. It certainly toughened up the boy named Sue.