Confirmation or Instituionalized?

Possibly you all could offer some insight here.

I don’t like having a fixed age for confirmation (or communion). The chances that all kids come to faith (even in a local area) at the same age is almost zero. I know this is done in some protestant churches too.

It seems to remove the spiritual element and turn it in to an institutional “check mark”, and seems to be treated that way by many.

How did anyone higher up the church ever think this was a good way to function with the goal of true faith?

There is no fixed age.

Canon Law:


Can. 889 §1 Every baptised person who is not confirmed, and only such a person, is capable of receiving confirmation.

§2 Apart from the danger of death, to receive confirmation lawfully a person who has the use of reason must be suitably instructed, properly disposed and able to renew the baptismal promises.

Can. 890 The faithful are bound to receive this sacrament at the proper time. Parents and pastors of souls, especially parish priests, are to see that the faithful are properly instructed to receive the sacrament and come to it at the opportune time.

Can. 891 The sacrament of confirmation is to be conferred on the faithful at about the age of discretion, unless the Episcopal Conference has decided on a different age, or there is a danger of death or, in the judgement of the minister, a grave reason suggests otherwise.

Then lucky for you the canons don’t read that way. At the parish level, the pastor can determine if a child is properly disposed to receive the sacraments.

Seems you have some misunderstandings about the sacraments of confirmation and eucharist. It is not about the “kids coming to faith” and certainly not in the way that protestant churches teach.

Perhaps you are unaware that in the Eastern Rite Catholic Churches infants receive all three sacraments of initiation at the same time and receive communion from the time they are infants onward.

Well, that’s an opinion.

The sacraments are gifts of grace. The bishop in the West has retained the administration of confirmation as it was in the early church-- conferring the grace of the sacrament in person rather than delegating in most cases. Therefore, the bishop establishes norms around when he confirms. They are guidelines, norms in that territory.

Individual children may receive a particular sacrament earlier or later depending on the situation.

I heard in some dioceses that there is not a fixed age for confirmation. So is this something determined at the diocese level, or can an individual parish make it’s own choice?

Good to see that at the official Church level this is not the case, but it seems to be the rule in my area.

It would be very difficult for a Bishop to give individual Confirmation to every person in the Diocese, and very difficult to hold a separate preparation for each individual. That is why it is done in groups, for practical reasons. Even if he delegated it to the Pastors, it still would take a lot of time teaching and administering the Sacrament at individual paces. Each diocese sets it’s own age, so that is not universal across the Church. But there are practicalities to be considered. And, it is up to the parents to see that their children continue to attend Mass and continue their religious education after Confirmation. I was confirmed when I was 11 years old, but continued in CCD until I graduated from high school and was about to enter college.

The bishop sets the norm in his diocese. Within that, pastors typically have leeway.

In our diocese the bishop has set the norm at 15 or 16. It is common to have those in 10th or 11th grade confirmed, some parishes choose 12th grade.

Canon law states:
*Can. 913 §1. The administration of the Most Holy Eucharist to children requires that they have sufficient knowledge and careful preparation so that they understand the mystery of Christ according to their capacity and are able to receive the body of Christ with faith and devotion.

§2. The Most Holy Eucharist, however, can be administered to children in danger of death if they can distinguish the body of Christ from ordinary food and receive communion reverently.*

Most children receive the Eucharist beginning at age 7 or 8, which equates to approximately 2nd grade in the US.

Canon law states:
Can. 891 The sacrament of confirmation is to be conferred on the faithful at about the age of discretion unless the conference of bishops has determined another age, or there is danger of death, or in the judgment of the minister a grave cause suggests otherwise.

The age of confirmation varies widely, from around 7 or 8 up to 16, 17, 18. The bishop determines how things are done in his diocese.

Candidates for Confirmation have to receive instruction, so most young people receive Confirmation immediately after that instruction concludes at the parish priest can recommend them for the Sacrament. Even so, some kids aren’t ready yet and wait longer. I didn’t get confirmed until I was 19. If a child is ready earlier, I think most parents would just have them wait until their Confirmation class finished, but I know of some parents that requested their child receive the Sacrament early. Most dioceses have designated Confirmation Masses for irregular situations and of course, converts are almost always confirmed at the Easter Vigil.

I like the Catholic Church, and am a recent convert. Because of this I probably ask more questions.

Questions like why wait until Easter Vigil? In the New Testament there did not seem to be much waiting - believe, repent, find some water and baptize!

The purpose of Confirmation is to “harden” or “strengthen” the graces of Baptism. (That’s what “confirm” means in Latin.) The other way to express it is that the Holy Spirit “seals” Baptism through Confirmation, and we receive a fuller portion of the Holy Spirit’s Seven Gifts. Finally, Confirmation provides us with a stronger protection against demons and evil, and against sinning.

That’s why the normal way to receive Confirmation, throughout the history of the Church, was to receive it either right after Baptism, or not long before First Confession and First Communion. The Church didn’t want to leave kids or new converts picking their toes and waiting around, without their full spiritual defenses and gifts.

The idea of Confirmation as the person himself deciding to be Christian is basically a Protestant thing. I’m not sure that it wasn’t introduced to fight Anabaptism, and the idea that a person shouldn’t be baptized as a kid or baby. Since most Protestants weren’t getting Confirmed by anybody with apostolic succession, the timing probably didn’t matter so much.

Similarly, the idea that Confirmation should be a Catholic Bar Mitzvah is pretty stupid. If people wanted that, they should be giving kids much more heavy duty religious instruction and then giving them a degree, after making them make a speech in Latin (or Greek, or Aramaic - I’m not picky).

An educational degree or merit badge is not free, but then, they aren’t a Sacrament. Sacraments are supposed to be free to all Catholic recipients asking for them.

Making high school kids engage in involuntary servitude and involuntary classes in return for the reception of a Sacrament – that is simony. Making the parents and relatives also engage in non-voluntary activities, like service hours, mandatory donations, and letterwriting, so that the kids can receive – that is even more simony. It’s amazing how much immoral **** that American Catholic religious education teachers are willing to pull, and how much the pastors get sucked into it.

So yes, I support those bishops who have gone back to the normal way of doing things, put the age of Confirmation back to the age of six or seven (prior to the age of reason), and quit piling all this misinformation and simony onto one of the basic Sacraments of Initiation.

Markie Boy – It isn’t necessary for people to wait until Easter Vigil to be baptized. If a pastor does see a good reason to baptize immediately, he does it. Pastors can ignore RCIA, and often do, if a candidate is already well prepared and knowledgeable.

OTOH, if the Holy Spirit isn’t prompting the pastor to use speed, it’s also ancient to have baptismal classes, and to get everybody baptized and confirmed and First Communioned at Easter Vigil.

(If you haven’t read St. Cyril of Jerusalem, look him up. We have a transcription of the early Christian RCIA classes he ran, including the bit where he warns you not to become Christian if you’re looking to learn secret Christian magical powers or impress girls, and where he makes the catechumens swear not to reveal the Christian teachings that were reserved only for members of the Body. Here they are — the Catechetical Lectures. After Easter, he gave the Mystagogical Lectures, which are the last five lectures on that page I linked to.)

If a person isn’t already extraordinarily well prepared, a lot of Catholic stuff needs either explanation or a living example of how it works. So it’s sensible to go to class and to take time to think about things you learn.

From the very beginning of the Church, the Vigil is the time and place for the sacraments of initiation for the unbaptized-- catechumens who become the Elect and then are received. And with all things, exceptions can be made.

Non-Catholics who are validly baptized need not, and indeed should not, be received at Vigil. They can and are received at all times of the year. I was received and confirmed in October of the year I became Catholic.

Au contraire.

These were Jews and Gentile converts to Judaism, those who had a strong foundation in faith already.

From the beginning, we can see that the early Church had a period of instruction and catechesis with pagans coming to the faith. In fact, the catechumenate was about 3 years in length in the early church.

I really like it here! Thanks for all the input everyone!

The restored order of the sacraments allows completion of Christian initiation at the age of reason. This original order or sacraments is Baptism, Confirmation, and then Eucharist.

This is favored by Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI. The Archdioceses of Fargo and Denver and Diocese of Honolulu have adopted it, and others, as listed by* OSV Newsweekly* in 7/8/2015:

Ten dioceses or archdioceses offer (or will offer) the sacraments of initiation in the restored order. They are:
*]Saginaw, Michigan (1995)
*]Great Falls-Billings, Montana (1996)
*]Portland, Maine (1997)
*]Spokane, Washington (1998)
*]Fargo, North Dakota (2002)
*]Gaylord, Michigan (2003)
*]Tyler, Texas (2005)
*]Phoenix (2005)
*]Honolulu (2015)
*]Denver (2015)

Archdiocese of Denver doing this now?
The Archdiocese of Denver is restoring confirmation to its original place because children need more grace at an earlier age to become saints in our increasingly secular world. The archdiocese is not doing this on its own, but is responding to calls made in the documents of Vatican II, Pope Benedict XVI’s document Sacramentum Caritatis, and the personal encouragement Benedict XVI gave to Archbishop Samuel Aquila in 2012.

That is interesting!!! And looks good!!!

This. It isn’t some coming of age affirmation of faith, it’s a literal metaphysical process that bestows the gifts of the Holy Spirit.

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