Misunderstandings about the age of confirmation

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10 thoughts on “Misunderstandings about the age of confirmation”

  1. Christine Jeffrey

    Thank you for this clear explanation. You make it clear for unbaptized children and for baptize non-Catholic children. Is it possible to address children who are Roman Catholic and uncatechized, asking for the sacraments later than their peers? For instance a 4th grader returning with no catechesis when the norm is to receive First Eucharist in 2nd grade. Thank you.

  2. Hi Christine. A baptized Catholic child would be subject to the diocesan guidelines for confirmation. His beginning level of catechesis is irrelevant as long as he is considered “ready” at the time of his confirmation. So if a Catholic child begins his formation at fourth grade, he would celebrate first communion whenever he is discerned to be “ready,” and he would normally celebrate confirmation at the diocesan-approved age.

    However, if a child is discerned to be ready for first communion, he is also ready for confirmation. There is no requirement for readiness for confirmation that is greater than readiness for first communion. So the parents of the fourth grade child could request that the bishop confirm him at the time of his first communion.

  3. Eugene Bolzan

    Why don’t we confirm children who were baptized as babies when they children receive communion (and penance)? It would seem that your arguments would favor this as well.

  4. Hi Eugene. More and more dioceses are doing just what you suggest — celebrating confirmation at the time of first communion. However, in the United States, the preferred age of confirmation is up to the individual bishop. So if your bishop has set a later age, then you would have to make a special request to have a younger child celebrate confirmation in your diocese.

  5. Elaine Ouellette

    I really appreciate this article. It is so often misunderstood.

    Could you speak a bit more on children who have been baptized Catholic but never received Eucharist or Confirmation. I believe we call them uncatechized. What about the children who join the PREP program in 3rd, 4th and above and have never received first Eucharist. Should they be Confirmed before they receive First Eucharist? Do they have a place in the RCIA process? In my experience they just try to catch them up and prepare them for First Eucharist and then they fall into the Confirmation program. There is resistance there by DRE’s to let them participate in the RCIA process and receive Confirmation before Eucharist. A lot of territorial things going on here.
    Does the pastor have permission to confirm them if they participate in the process?

  6. Hi Elaine. See my reply to Christine above. In an ideal world, a child who begins his Christian formation at third or fourth grade or later would be involved in elements of the catechumenal formation process. That is, he would be apprenticed in the Christian life through his involvement in the parish ministries of word, community, worship, and service. And, ideally, he would be doing this formation with his parent(s).

    His formation process, however, is distinct from the ritual process. If he is baptized Catholic, he would be subject to the diocesan rules for the celebration of confirmation. That means a priest can only confirm the child if he requests special permission from the bishop to do so.

  7. Karen Lewicki

    Our Diocese of Knoxville is dropping the age of Confirmation from a junior in high school to the 5/6th grade beginning in 2019. As DRE, I am currently running a more unique prep program for the high school years this year and the middle school years 2017-18. This will put us on track for the change over. I appreciate many of the comments you made on not making the age of Confirmation the late teens to keep the kids in the church.
    You posted that we should work on developing “spiritual parentlng skills”. Could you elaborate on this? I just recently gave up my responsibilities for Adult Ed to someone else and we want to work together to make a cohesive program. If you have some suggestions or resources that would be great. Thanks for all your great work.

  8. Marylouise Lambert

    “It also means that children who were baptized into a Christian tradition other than Catholic (or Eastern Orthodox) are confirmed at the time of their reception into full communion (see Canon 885.2).”

    Another misunderstanding: I myself am a Catholic of one of the 24 sui iuris Eastern Catholic Churches. We are fully Catholic. For us Eastern Catholics the Sacraments of Initiation have remained together, as they were in the Western Church for centuries. (See Canon 695 CCEO*) The justifications used for postponing Confirmation in the Latin Church have sadly often become a backhanded way of discrediting the other 24 Catholic Churches which validly and licitly baptize, chrismate (confirm), and commune infants, and all those who seek baptism.

    When Constantine proclaimed Christianity the state religion in the fourth century the East and the West made different decisions about how to handle the Sacraments/Mysteries of initiation for a large number of pagans seeking to become Christian. The choice in the West for the bishop to retain for himself the right of confirming caused the separation of these Sacraments/Mysteries. As your post indicates, over time the Latin Church developed teachings to explain, some would say justify, the division of these Sacraments of Initiation with the innovation of “maturity” as the explanation. Too many deacons and priests, in addition to catechists have fully embraced this modern teaching apart from the historical facts of its origin. Thank you for helping to clarify the practice.

    It should be noted that in the case of a gravely ill infant who is baptized into the Catholic Church, typically in a hospital, by someone other than a priest, for both East and West a priest should come to complete the Sacraments of Initiation ASAP. In the event the child recovers and lives, he or she would be a fully initiated infant of the Catholic Church, ascribed into the Catholic Church, Latin or other, of the Catholic parent/father, according to the Canon Law of that Church.

    *Code of Canons of the Eastern Churches: Canon 695
    1. Chrismation with holy myron must be administered in conjunction with baptism, except in a case of true necessity, in which
    case, however, it is to be seen that it is administered as soon
    as possible. 2. If the celebration of chrismation with holy
    myron is not done together with baptism, the minister is obliged
    to notify the pastor of the place where the baptism was administered.

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