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.