Minimum age for confirmation

My 2nd grade daughter (8 years old) is attending CCD in preparation for her first penance and First Communion this spring. She was Baptised as an infant and we have been practicing Catholics her entire life. I was told yesterday by another mother at church that her daughter who is 7 years old, not Baptised and recently began attending church 6 months ago will receive her Baptism, First Holy Communion and Confirmation at the same time this spring. Our children are in the same CCD preparation class at church. Why is it that her daughter is receiving Confirmation? She thought that it was strange as well and asked the Deacon as well as the teacher and they both said that, yes, her daughter will be Confirmed. I would love for my daughter to be confirmed at an earlier age as hers so what’s the deal?

As far as baptism goes, the Church divides people into two categories: infants and adults. Infants are those up to the age of reason and can be baptized based on their parents’ desire for the sacrament. Adults go through the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults (RCIA). At the Easter Vigil they receive all of the sacraments of initiation: baptism, confirmation, and First Eucharist.

The 7-year-old you know is being treated as an adult and will receive all three sacraments at the same Mass.

As far as the age for confirmation, canon law says:

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 complementary norm for the US says:

Complemenary Norm: The National Conference of Catholic Bishops, in accord with the prescriptions of canon 891, hereby decrees that the Sacrament of Confirmation in the Latin Rite shall be conferred between the age of discretion and about sixteen years of age, within the limits determined by the diocesan bishop and with regard for the legitimate exceptions given in canon 891. source]

In most of the US, confirmation is something for teens. Some dioceses, however, give it to younger children. Phoenix is one diocese I’m aware of where they have restored the order of the sacraments and children are confirmed. See for more info.

Basically, your bishop sets the age of confirmation for children who were baptized as infants.

By the way, the 7-year-old in RCIA would ideally have another year of preparation before she receives the sacraments. RCIA calls for someone to be in the catechumenate for at least a full year which would mean she’d receive the sacraments at the Easter Vigil of 2012. But many parishes offer a truncated catechumenate so it’s not exactly unusual even if it’s not exactly ideal.

The 7 year old is not in RCIA, she is actually in my daughter’s 2nd grade CCD religious ed. class at church. She has had no previous religion class or church attendance prior to August. I’m still confused.

The instruction for RCIA can be done in various ways. Obviously it makes more sense for the instruction to be done with other children her age rather than with the other adults in RCIA.

We have a little girl in RCIA in my parish. The person who leads the children’s religious education program and I are working together to prepare her for the sacraments. Her classes are with the other children and I’m coordinating the rites for her.

In the Eastern Catholic Churches infants are Confirmed and Communed at the time of their Baptism, so there is not hard and fast rule that Confirmation must be done later. It is a Latin custom to do it later, and the Latin Canon Law reflects that, but as it says the local Bishops have wide discretion in this area. :slight_smile:

Peace and God bless!

In the Eastern Catholic Churches infants are Baptized, Chrismated( Confirmed) and given Holy Communion all at once. usually at about 40 days old. This was originally the norm in the Roman rite as well, but over time there has been some development that thankfully has not taken place in the East.

Sacramentally, there is no minimum age. It can ( as is) given to infants.

But the Roman Church generally desires that it be offered to those who are at, or above, the age of Reason, generally defined as the Reason enacted by your average 7 year old.

When someone who is at or above the age of Reason is Baptized, Church law requires that they recieve Confirmation, and Holy Communion at the same time.

Those who are Baptized in the Roman Catholic Church are generally Confirmed at a later time, as set by the local bishop. This age can be anywhere between 7 and 16, depending on the bishop’s preference.

As pointed out above, Eastern Catholics are Baptized, recieve Holy Communion and are Confirmed at infancy.

The Diocese of Gaylord, MI is another. Children are generally Confirmed and recieve their First Holy Communion at the same Mass.

Why do you want your daughter to be confirmed if this little girl is the exception and not the norm at your parish? Perhaps the family as a whole is being accepted into the Church at the same time and receiving the other sacraments? That would make sense why this little girl is receiving confirmation along with first communion and reconciliation. But I have to wonder why you are comparing your daughter to this little girl if its not what is normally done at your parish.

Sadly, in today’s world, many parishes use the Sacrament of Confirmation as a carrot stick, to keep young people attending CCD classes.

I’ve watched it change from confirming kids in the 7th and 8th grade(when I was confirmed) to senior year of high-school, which is the age in my parish.

Its so common that once kids are confirmed, we never see them again, except at Christmas and Easter Masses, with their parents.


the second child, the unbaptized one, is in RCIA so the norms for the rites will be followed. After suitable preparation beginning once the child has reached the age of reason, usually age 7, she will indeed receive baptism, confirmation and first communion at the same celebration, the Easter Vigil. She will be instructed for and make first confession some time after this.

The age for Confirmation for baptized children and youth in the Latin Rite is the age of discretion (age 7) or any time afterward, at the age set by the bishop, who guages the pastoral needs of his diocese.

There are a dozen threads here arguing the age of confirmation. yeah, yeah the Eastern Church baptizes and chrismates (confirms) infants and even confers first reception of the Eucharist. The reason for the differences has more to do with the role of the priests and bishops in each tradition than it does with the theology of the sacraments.

rule for parents of children in sacramental preparation is the same as for parents with toddlers playing in the same sandbox: never compare your child’s progress with that of another, they each are coming from different places, growing at different rates, and hitting milestones at different times, appropriate for their own situations.

In my own state the age varies from diocese to diocese from 7 all the way to 18. Go figure. If you know how bishops think you know more than I do.

some parishes do group children of like age together for the CCD class, and separate them for the actual immediate preparation for the rites and sacraments according to their needs. but we (the DREs) are still bound by canon law and the particular law of our diocese as to the age at which the child in each circumstance celebrates which sacrament, so try not to blame us.

We don’t know the pastoral decisions that have been made regarding the unbaptized child in this story, so we cannot criticize, but I can tell you, for instance, in this diocese particular law was promulgated in 2006 that raises the age for first communion to 3rd grade, following a 3 year preparation, but the document was silent on RCIA-the children’s catechumenate, so actual practice in the diocese is all over the map, no uniformity at all. The catechumenate so the RCIA rite prescribes is supposed to be not less than one calendar year, from Lent to the following Easter, and there is a mandated period of mystagogy, minimum 50 days, should be a year, after the Easter sacraments. In my experience fewer than 10% of these children return for any formal instruction after Easter.

The prevailing thinking of DREs and pastors here seems to be in favor of moving the older children toward baptism as soon as possible so they are not lost altogether. Whether that is pastorally or theologically correct is beyond my competence.

This parent is not an exception, many parents feel that it’s unfair that their children have to wait years beyond the age of reason for Confirmation when children as young as 7 who convert are Confirmed when they join the Church.

Not a few priests and bishops feel the same and that is why some dioceses are conferring both Confirmation and Communion in the same celebration. It really makes no sense to withhold this sacrament from young people at the very time of their lives when they may need it most. Certainly, 50 years ago, my classmates and I were confirmed at the end of grade 1, when we were 6 & 7 years old.

in this parish where we have so many CCD sessions what works best is having the children, teens and adults in sacramental & doctrinal classes during the week with their age group for two years, then bringing all those in RCIA together, on Sunday morning, with parents and sponsors, for the actual preparation for rites and for Lent and mystagogy (weeks up to Pentecost). We also moved to year round catechumenate, including summer, rather than traditional school year model, because we have much better participation and retention, and more chance to reach the parents and sponsors with some basic formation.

So it may be in your parish a given child or youth in RCIA may be attending two sessions each week, one for doctrine, one for the scripture session, and that their class extends for that year beyond EAster as well. Again, just worry about your own child’s readiness and preparation.

We are not discussing the appropriate age for confirmation. We are discussing one parent wanting to have their child receive an additional sacrament that only ONE other little girl is receiving. Parents need to trust their religious education directors and their parish priests more and not create a situation that is unnecessary when someone else in the program is the exception to the time line of receiving the sacraments.

The Bishop of the diocese would dictate the age of confirmation. In case of necessity, a child at any age can be confirmed. My son was baptized and confirmed in the hospital at 5-days old by a very traditional RC priest.

I don’t know if I am repeating what was said above.
When a child who is above the age of reason (7) joins the Church they do indeed receive all three Sacraments of Initiation at once. This isn’t about being in RCIA, being practicing, or anything special; it is about joining the Church above the age of reason. CCC 1285-1321 are on Confirmation; see especially 1290-1292 for explanation for unity between Baptism and Eucharist and how they got separated. The rites for those who join the Church above the age of reason maintain the unity between Baptism and Confirmation; the rites for those who join the Church through birth into a Catholic family maintain the separation between the two Sacraments.

CCC 1318 In the East this sacrament is administered immediately after Baptism and is followed by participation in the Eucharist; this tradition highlights the unity of the three sacraments of Christian initiation. In the Latin Church this sacrament is administered when the age of reason has been reached, and its celebration is ordinarily reserved to the bishop, thus signifying that this sacrament strengthens the ecclesial bond.

Neither is more correct because both are about grace which cannot be earned.

CCC 1308 Although Confirmation is sometimes called the “sacrament of Christian maturity,” we must not confuse adult faith with the adult age of natural growth, nor forget that the baptismal grace is a grace of free, unmerited election and does not need “ratification” to become effective. St. Thomas reminds us of this:

Age of body does not determine age of soul. Even in childhood man can attain spiritual maturity: as the book of Wisdom says: "For old age is not honored for length of time, or measured by number of years. "Many children, through the strength of the Holy Spirit they have received, have bravely fought for Christ even to the shedding of their blood.126 

I know I learned about this in my Sacraments course for catechesis certification but I don’t have my books with me at the moment. I will try to find the some official documents with explanation and post again later.

Minimum age - whenever the child is baptized, including immediately after birth.

When should the child be confirmed – well, I guess that depends. It has become an issue in our times. Back in the days of the early church, people were confirmed when the bishop showed up after they were baptized to CONFIRM that their baptism was legitimate. For most of my generation in the western world, growing up, children were confirmed whenever the bishop showed up after they received their First Communion, they might be 1st graders and they might be 7th graders.

Somewhere along the line, after Vatican II, in my area of the country, Confirmation was typically done in 8th grade, rather simultaneous with graduating from the local parish grade school.

Then, in the past few decades, Confirmation was moved to high school either (1) as a “carrot stick to keep children in CCD” or (2) as a reasonable reflection of the choice made by decerning Catholics old enough to make the choice (translated “you can make a 12 year old be Confirmed but you can’t make a 16 year old be Confirmed – although a certain amount of pressure can be applied if you own the car.”)

Bottom line . . .obedience. Forget being a helicopter parent. If your diocese/parish says your child is going to be confirmed at X-years-old and you don’t agree – offer it up. Unless you are in the military diocese, in which case you have some options.

Me? My kids all made it through Confirmation, in different diocese, at 16-,15-, and 12-years old. It was a big pain in the neck. I’m glad I kept my mouth shut (mostly) in obedience to decisions made by the Church in those areas. Not sure it helped, but they were all married in the Church and, so far, all grandbabies are baptized. So God’s grace and the power of the Holy Spirit is flowing . . .

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