When I made my Confirmation in the 8th grade, I chose the name “Rose” as my Confirmation name. Choosing a new name for Confirmation is not mandatory, but is a popular tradition and expression of a new stage in life. We see many places in the Bible where a new name is given when someone devotes their life to God. Abram becomes Abraham, Simon becomes Peter, Saul becomes Paul. When choosing a new name for Confirmation, it is encouraged to research the Saints and choose that name of a Saint you can identify with and look up to. Someone who might serve as a role model and inspiration for you.
And so in preparation for my Confirmation, I read about many Saints and I decided to choose St. Rose of Lima. While I studied her before making my decision, I will admit that the biggest factor in choosing Rose as my Confirmation name was simple; I liked the name! I liked the way it sounded with my full name and I thought it was pretty and feminine. I can’t say that I particularly identified with St. Rose, but I knew she led a holy life and that was good enough for me.
A few years later I found myself teaching a Confirmation class and instructing the students in the same way I had been instructed; to choose a name of a Saint they could identify with and look up to. I knew several of the students were likely choosing their names the same way I chose mine; by finding one that sounded nice. I wondered for a bit if I should have chosen differently. I began to study St. Rose of Lima more carefully and to really contemplate the life she lived.
Saint Rose was born in Lima, Peru in 1586. She was very beautiful but did not want to be recognized for her appearance and so she would rub pepper on her face to mar her complexion. She wished only to serve to Lord. Her parents wished for her to marry and objected to her joining a convent. While she refused to marry, she wanted to remain obedient to her parents and so did not join the convent but instead became a member of the Third Order of St. Dominic and led a life a prayer and devotion to Christ from her home where she also served the poor and needy of the community.
Wow. How was I supposed to relate to that? At first it seemed I had nothing at all in common with St. Rose. But the more I thought about it, despite having little in common, I found that she could be quite an inspiration to me. I may not be in the same century or have the same vocation as her, but there are ways in which she can influence my life, and she has!
St. Rose worked to draw attention away from her appearance. While I may not go to the lengths that she did, that is certainly something I can work on and would do well to remember. How many times do I fret and worry over a stubborn piece of hair that refuses to go the way it should? How many times do I go through multiple outfits in the morning because I just cannot seem to find something that makes me feel good about how I look that day? How much time do I spend doing my makeup or painting my nails?
God created us in His image and wants us to care for our bodies. There is nothing wrong with taking care of our appearance so as to look nice for our husbands, to look professional when going to work, or to dress up for Mass on Sunday. But our primary focus should not be on our appearance. We should not worry so much about how we look, and instead focus our attention on the other qualities people can see in us. Rather than hoping for a compliment on a new dress or hairstyle, we should be praying that people notice the light of Christ and His love within us! I pray that St. Rose might help me to remember that beauty is more than what we see and that my focus should always be on Christ.
Another way St. Rose inspires me is her ability to help others in whatever way she could. She did not join the convent but instead found ways to help others from her home. There is always a way to help out. Whether through prayer, volunteer work, or donations. Just because I am not called to the religious life or to become a missionary, I am still called to serve those around me. We all are! As Christians we are called to be the hands and feet of Christ to those around us. Despite suffering in her own life, St. Rose found a way to serve those around her in whatever way she could. I pray that St. Rose might guide me to find ways I can serve those around me as well.
What drew you to choose your Confirmation name and how has your choice influenced your faith life? I may have thought I chose the name Rose because it sounded nice, but I know God led me to choose her for more than that. Despite the many differences in her life and in my own, she is still an inspiration to me. God drew me to St. Rose because of her name. And through her life, St. Rose is drawing me closer to God.
*biographical information on St. Rose of Lima from American Catholic.org