Confirmation without Bishop


#1

So this has been eating away at me for awhile, so I figured I'd come here.

I was born into the faith, baptized, received communion, all of that, and there was no problem until I was 13 or so when the sex abuse thing hit my area, and my family, like many others, pulled me out of the religious education program at the church and as a result, I never made my Confirmation.

Years later, it started to bother me, so I called my parish, talked to a priest, explained my story, and long story short, they put me into part of the RCIA program. I didn't need the whole thing, just the Confirmation stuff. So I did as I was told and then waited for the rest of the people to finish so we could all do the stuff at the Easter Vigil.

I was really excited, and so proud for finally being Confirmed. I just felt like I needed this, I have always been faithful, very into my religion, and I read a lot on my own. I talked to my friends who had already been confirmed, and I was just very excited.

They described a lot of things. Wearing a red robe to symbolize the Pentecost, writing a letter to the Bishop, and of course, meeting the Bishop and having him confirm us. While I waited for the Easter Vigil to roll around, I wrote my letter to the Bishop.

When it was finally time to be confirmed, I learned that the letter wasn't really needed and nobody would read it. In fact, the Bishop didn't even show up! No robes or even nice clothes to show respect for what was happening. People wore whatever. The priest did his thing, and I guess I was confirmed.

A year later, I still feel kind of empty. My friends look back fondly on their Confirmation, but mine feels wrong, or like I was treated as an outsider. The RCIA is nice I guess, but I'm not a convert, and I feel like they just kinda tossed me in wherever. And I feel bad that the Bishop Confirmed my friends and not me. I feel bad for feeling this way, but since the Vigil, I've felt very disconnected from the church, and I don't know how to fix it.

I think if the Bishop gave me a blessing, I'd feel better, but calling the Diocese gets me nowhere. Nobody will talk to me, and if I get them to listen for a bit, they redirect me to my local parish. Is this superficial? I guess its like why people want blessings from the Pope, it's just kind of special.

The RCIA thing is nice, but those people shared a comradely for finding the Church together, and I feel left out because after all these years, I thought I could finally feel good about this, but I...don't. In fact, I feel really bad, so bad to the point where I'm considering switching denominations. This has bothered me for over a year now, and I want to enjoy Church again.

I'm assuming I'll be told to just live with it, but I want some closure. It can't hurt to ask, so I'm asking for opinions.

A talked to a friend who actually got confirmed at the normal time about this, and he has since left the Catholic Church. He said "You actually cared about it and the Bishop didn't come out for you. I was forced into it, and even I got him to come rub oil on my head. I don't know why you want to get into their club so bad. You're one of the most genuine people I know, forget that place." ...and as much as it hurts, I'm really considering following his advice.

Do you think there is a way the Bishop will bless me to make me feel better about this? A simple blessing from the man in red is all I need to feel good about this, I think.


#2

Hopefully this link will help to answer your question:

The Code of Canon law does permit the Bishop to deputize an priest to as minister of Confirmation:

Canon Law

CHAPTER II : THE MINISTER OF CONFIRMATION
Can. 882 The ordinary minister of confirmation is a Bishop. A priest can also validly confer this sacrament if he has the faculty to do so, either from the general law or by way of a special grant from the competent authority.

Can. 883 The following have, by law, the faculty to administer confirmation:
1° within the confines of their jurisdiction, those who in law are equivalent to a diocesan Bishop;
2° in respect of the person to be confirmed, the priest who by virtue of his office or by mandate of the diocesan Bishop baptizes an adult or admits a baptized adult into full communion with the catholic Church;
3° in respect of those in danger of death, the parish priest or indeed any priest.

You were Confirmed in the manner of many new Catholics, not as an outsider.

Welcome! May God fill you with peace,
your sister in Christ,
Trish


#3

You’re so concerned about getting a blessing by the Bishop that you’d consider leaving the Church if you don’t get it? I don’t understand. If you believe the Bishop’s blessing is so important, because of his office and all, why would you leave the Church because you didn’t get it? I understand what you’re saying, I just don’t see how leaving the Church follows.

When our RCIA class went to the Bishop, it was a large gathering of parishes. Archbishop Vigneron did several that day, if I remember right, to fit in all the people. Afterward, I almost got a picture with him, but I lost my place in line. We got a group photo, but I didn’t get an individual picture. I was disappointed at first, but I told myself to get over it. During his sermon (or talk; there was no Eucharist, so not sure it was a Mass), he said something that stayed in my mind: he said he would like to get to know us all, and since he probably wouldn’t, we would get to know each other in Heaven. It was such a simple thing to say, but it makes me cry remembering it. Same with you and your Bishop: maybe not here, but in Heaven. :slight_smile:

You were confirmed in the Church Jesus Christ founded and has sustained and will sustain. Celebrate, don’t leave. :thumbsup:


#4

Aside from the fact that priests could be delegated and given faculties to confirm, since at least the time of Pope Pius XII in the Latin Rite. Or that priests in missionary areas in lands that were formerly Spanish Colonies. The Eastern Catholic Churches have included Confirmation (chrismiation) along with baptism and fist holy communion for infants for centuries.

We must also remember that be it a priest, or bishop who dispenses the sacrament of Confirmation it is the action of Christ who empowers and gives the graces to that sacrament to our souls that matters most. The externals and solemnity are nice, but the Mass offered in a small hut in a poor villiage is just as much the Mass as a Solemn Mass offered by the Pope in the magnificent basilicas in Rome. It is Jesus who is the primary celebrant at both places. The Mass at both is equally the Sacrifice of Calvary in an Unbloody manner, only the externals are different.

So without being too long winded, the Confirmation you recieved is the same sacrament with the same graces as if the local Bishop or the Pope himeslf had confirmed you. The blessing of being able to recieve our Lord in Holy Communion is the same be it in your parish, or from the hands of the Pope. It is fully Jesus, no less one place or more in another place.


#5

I think you got your wires crossed. Most parishes have separate programs for adult converts/candidates, and teenagers raised in the faith. The confirmation program for teenagers tends to be rather large, and a special date is scheduled so that the bishop can come to confirm them personally. It is the teenager’s ceremony has the robes and other details, whereas the adult ceremony is usually much simpler due to busy schedules.

For adult confirmation candidates, there are usually much fewer candidates, and the ceremonies are traditionally performed on the Easter Vigil at their local parish. There are unfortunately not enough bishops to confirm in a single every adult in the diocese! Therefore, the bishop authorizes your pastor to confirm you. I’m sorry that the adult program didn’t have quite as much ceremony as the teenage program.

A year later, I still feel kind of empty. My friends look back fondly on their Confirmation, but mine feels wrong, or like I was treated as an outsider. The RCIA is nice I guess, but I’m not a convert, and I feel like they just kinda tossed me in wherever. And I feel bad that the Bishop Confirmed my friends and not me. I feel bad for feeling this way, but since the Vigil, I’ve felt very disconnected from the church, and I don’t know how to fix it.

The RCIA thing is nice, but those people shared a comradely for finding the Church together, and I feel left out because after all these years, I thought I could finally feel good about this, but I…don’t. In fact, I feel really bad, so bad to the point where I’m considering switching denominations. This has bothered me for over a year now, and I want to enjoy Church again.

Consider volunteering to teach confirmation classes, or volunteer to be a confirmation sponsor for someone. Confirmation sponsors participate in several of the rites leading up to their candidate’s confirmation. Volunteering your time to help someone else learn and grow in the faith could help fill the void left in your experience.


#6

Juststoppingby, I am sorry you are feeling disappointed after your confirmation. When sacraments don’t happen the way we expect them, it can be disconcerting. Be at peace knowing that your confirmation was legitimate. Bishops are the ordinary administers of confirmation. Priests can be extraordinary administers of the sacrament under certain conditions. You still received the same grace from your confirmation that you would have had the bishop confirmed you.

If you think about it practically, it is impossible for the bishop to confirm all the candidates in his diocese at the Easter vigil. There is a real need for simple priests to be able to confirm. There are a lot of confirmandi in a diocese. Not only the candidates from the vigil receive the sacrament, but throughout the Easter season all of the eighth grade candidates as well. The bishop of my diocese has to visit all of the parishes to do this. There is a lot of time involved in that, especially in a large diocese.

Don’t take it personally that the bishop didn’t come.

Edited to add: I know my bishop reads the letters that are sent to him.


#7

Your post seems very odd. Your issues have nothing to do with the bishop or confirmation but rather seem much more deep seated. You should talk to your pastor and find a Catholic counselor.


#8

I think the way to feel better about this is to realize that you were not confirmed by the bishop himself because he cannot be everywhere on the single holiest night of the entire liturgical year, the night most appropriate for the Sacraments of Initiation. You did receive the laying on of hands, a sacramental act that, like the preference for conferring the sacraments of initiation at the Easter Vigil, goes back to the very beginning of the Church. The bishop could give you a blessing, but he is not going to re-confirm someone who is validly confirmed, any more than he’d re-baptize someone who was validly baptized or re-absolve someone who had already been validly absolved, no matter how much was left to be desired by the ones who provided those sacraments.

Still, this is something to talk about with a priest. If your own pastor seems, I don’t know, liturgically flippant to you, such that the Easter Vigil wasn’t quite obviously the high point of everything your parish does all year long, then find a priest at a different parish or a priest at a retreat center. It is not that your pastor can’t give you perfectly good answers. I’m suggesting that you go to a priest whose reverence for liturgy is something you fully respect. I want a priest that is not only going to give you the correct answers, but one you’ll believe. They may be able to help you find what you need. I don’t think the empty spot you’re feeling is due to the circumstances of your confirmation, but I do believe it is very real and deserves spiritual attention.


#9

#10

In my part of the world where the correct order for the sacraments of initiation is observed i.e. Baptism , Confirmation , the Eucharist , for practical reasons the priests of the diocese have all been delegated the authority to confirm .


#11

This is how you fix this: let it go. Who confirmed you is not important. What is important is that you were confirmed. I cannot understand why a good practicing Catholic would even consider leaving the Church because of this. Think of Jesus and how that would hurt him. I can understand being disappointed, but turning your back on Christ and His Church because your Confirmation didn't meet your expectations?
I think you need to stop obsessing over this and look at the reality of the situation. Go find a priest and talk this out. The Holy Spirit gave you a great gift, thank Him for it, and then let Him use you in the Church.


#12

Pray to the Holy Spirit and ask Him to assure you that you did receive him at the Easter Vigil. The sacraments are objective realities…the sacraments “work” regardless of how we feel or who the minister was for they are actions of Christ working through His mystical body the Church. When the priest baptizes you, it is Christ who baptizes. When the priest absolves you, it is Christ who grants you forgiveness. When the priest offers up bread and wine, it is Christ who transforms the bread and wine into Himself. When the bishop/priest confirms you with the gift of the Holy Spirit, it is Christ who confers His Spirit upon you. You were sealed with the gift of the Holy Spirit - an indelible mark has been left on your soul and nothing can ever change that. Thank God that our faith is not dependent upon feelings! We can ask the Holy Spirit for the grace of consolation (that is, feeling HIs presence), but we cannot rely upon these feelings - we must trust. At times God will allow us to experience long periods of dryness. This is a necessary step in our spiritual lives - a share in the sufferings of Christ in order to grow cloer to Him and in holiness.


#13

We understand your disappointment, mind you, but what you are talking about is even more serious than if a woman were to consider leaving her husband because she didn't get to marry him in a white dress with a cake and all the things that every little girl dreams of. It is understandable to feel disappointed, but leaving the relationship over this disappointment is the wrong thing to do.

Like the bride who can't let this go, to the extent that she'd leave her marriage, I'd say it is the relationship that is suffering. The melancholy over the non-essentials is a symptom of a discontent with deeper and more serious roots. Do not try to just "get over it"! Try to look for where the discontent that is gnawing at your heart is really coming from. Look at your relationship with the Lord and look at your relationship with the Church. Where could this be coming from? That is what is tormenting you, not the one-day conditions under which you were confirmed, I can almost guarantee it.


#14

:wave: I was confirmed by a brand new priest-- his first ever confirmation! It was a special day for us both. :extrahappy:


#15

I think your issue is with your parents.


#16

First, my thoughts and prayers are with you as you’re struggling with this. Feelings are. And “just living with it” - at least for me and the times I’ve struggled - is not an option.

To answer your question - no, I don’t think there’s an easy way for the Bishop to bless you - and even if he did, I’m not sure it would make a difference.

Here’s what I think happened (and I could be 100 % wrong as I’m inserting a bit of my own personality/experience in here).

You had a desire for, and a vision of, the sacrament of confirmation. You followed your heart and sought this sacrament. You trusted the priest and RCIA folks to guide you through what would be required on your end. You did what you were instructed. So I think part of you feels betrayed - not because it was an invalid sacrament, but because you were expecting one level of ceremony, and you experienced something less than what you expected - and no one told you in advance not to expect it. You were going off your friends recollections. Your priest was going off the normal process for adult confirmation.

Unfortunately, apparently neither of you realized that each of your “mental images” of the sacrament was very different. And when reality conflicts with our expectations, we feel hurt, and upset, and probably angry. I am sorry that happened to you.

My hope is that you realize that they didn’t let you down on purpose. I think what you probably need to do is to truly forgive them in your heart. After all, we are all human, and we all err.

We both know, I’m sure, that it isn’t really the ceremony that matters - it’s the sacrament - and how you move forward in your life journey towards all the good things God has in store for you up ahead. And healing the bad feelings is going to have to happen inside you through prayer, and knowledge, and forgiveness.

We dream and plan and expect things to go one way … and then, they don’t. :frowning: Marriages, births, graduations, first communions, even funerals … I’ve experienced them all - and trust me, some met expectations, some exceeded them, and some … well, I’m told I’ll either forget or laugh about what happened some day. But I don’t think I’ll do either. :rolleyes:

What I have done, is forgiven those involved (including myself), and accepted that the ceremony only marked a change on my life journey and that actual sacrament, or event was what really mattered.

Hope this helps - and if not, maybe someone else’s post will. Either way, I pray you find peace and joy in your life about this - and all things.


#17

It may help you to feel better if you knew that originally the sacraments of initiation were given all at once. Baptism, first Holy Communion and confirmation was given by the priest using Chrism that was consecrated by the bishop during the same service.

It was only after centuries that the sacraments were spaced out.

The Eastern Catholic and Orthodox have kept the original set up permently till this day and never separated them by years.


#18

[quote="andrewstx, post:17, topic:323168"]
It may help you to feel better if you knew that originally the sacraments of initiation were given all at once. Baptism, first Holy Communion and confirmation was given by the priest using Chrism that was consecrated by the bishop during the same service.

It was only after centuries that the sacraments were spaced out.

The Eastern Catholic and Orthodox have kept the original set up permently till this day and never separated them by years.

[/quote]

Originally all three sacraments were administered by the Bishop. It was when there were so many baptism that the bishop could not get to all of them in a timely manner that confirmation was separated from it. Priests then would administer baptism and Eucharist and the people would wait for the bishop to come to town to confirm them. Sometimes they waited a long time.


#19

[quote="Joannm, post:18, topic:323168"]
Originally all three sacraments were administered by the Bishop. It was when there were so many baptism that the bishop could not get to all of them in a timely manner that confirmation was separated from it. Priests then would administer baptism and Eucharist and the people would wait for the bishop to come to town to confirm them. Sometimes they waited a long time.

[/quote]

In the Latin (Western) Church...in the East, it has been the norm for priests to chrismate since ancient times.


#20

[quote="twf, post:19, topic:323168"]
In the Latin (Western) Church...in the East, it has been the norm for priests to chrismate since ancient times.

[/quote]

I was referring to the West, I should have made that distinction.


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