I recently attended a Confirmation in the traditional rite, at an FSSP parish. I have several friends who had children in the class, so I heard a lot about what they were learning and how well prepared they were for their Confirmation. I think the youngest child in the class was about 10, and I know several 11-year-olds. The normal age in this diocese is between 8th grade and Jr. in High School.
I am Byzantine Rite and we confer the sacrament immediately after Baptism, but I respect the practice of the Latin Church; although I would prefer to see the sacrament given earlier, around the age of reason. I recognize that I don’t really have a voice in this, though.
My question is about the requirement that these kids have to pass a (quite difficult) test in order to receive the sacrament. What approach is taken if a child is simply not intellectually capable of passing the test? What if, in spite of the child’s or teen’s spiritual preparation, memorizing questions from the Baltimore Catechism just isn’t gonna happen? I recall the situation of St. Bernadette, who, when the Blessed Virgin appeared to her, had not yet received her 1st Communion, because she couldn’t learn her Catechism. What provisions are made for these children, and how are they generally applied?
In a related question, what about adults who complete RCIA? Are they generally held to a similar standard in order to receive Baptism and Confirmation? Do they have to pass a test in order to come into the church? If not, what is the rationale for holding children to a higher standard than adults?
I hope this doesn’t come across as overly critical, even though it might actually be. :o I’ve been learning a lot about the Latin Church’s approach to Confirmation this past year, and it is really bothering me. It sometimes seems as if the kids “earn” the sacrament through their knowledge, service hours, etc. Is there flexibility in this approach for children and teens who don’t fit into the box, but still need the Grace of this sacrament?