I was part of an interesting discussion at a recent end-of-the-year luncheon with a group of seasoned directors and coordinators of religious education - about garb for Confirmation. There was the usual rolling of eyes about the skimpiness of the dresses that girls want to wear to the celebration, and the tale of a family who was willing to spend lots of time and money to have their son in sports, but balked at being asked to provide him with a white shirt and tie.
Predictably, several of those present said that's why they use red robes. Then came the challenge question from one who has not used robes - if we tell the kids Confirmation is NOT "graduation" what does it say when they wear robes? (The inference being that the other time they wear robes is graduation).
Now THERE is a question! What if we are reinforcing the connection by using robes? Most dioceses now discourage the use of a "stole" with canidates for Confirmation - either priestly or diagonal one, like the diaconate. Since modesty and dignity of clothing for a formal occasion is now a rather foreign concept to most young people, how can we make a distinction between the robes worn for Confirmation and their graduation robes? And, is red the most appropriate color? Or should it be white?
How can we choose these and other details of the celebration of the Rite of Confirmation to help young people understand that this marks a beginning - of life fully in the Catholic faith - and not an ending of faith formation?