Why do Catholics have confirmation at such a young age? Have they really made an informed decision? Should the age be raised, if so by how much?
What age are you referring to?
Well where I grew up we were 11-12 when we were confirmed.
For the most part Confirmation is now made during the high school years. (Ages 14-17 ) So, they have a little more knowledge and desire to become confirmed. The process in many places takes two years.
oh…things must have changed…
the age in the EAstern Church is at the same time as baptism, and first communion by the way, usually in infancy, so that the child receives complete Christian initiation as in the days of the early Church, and is instructed in the faith as he grows older.
The age in the Latin rite is anytime after the age of discretion, usually age 7, after suitable preparation and with worthy disposition, either at the same time as baptism or afterward. It can be before, after or at the same time as Confirmation.
Confirmation is a sacrament of initiation which completes baptism and is inextricalby linked with that sacrament. It is a gift. There is absolutely nothing in the theology of the sacrament itself that requires preparation, service projects, and so forth. What is required is that since, like baptism, the candidate makes a profession of fath if they are an adult (over age 7) they understand the elements of what they are profession. Even for RCIA it is intended that only initial catechesis for that end is required for initiation, and that catechesis for further understand of the mysteries (sacraments and liturgical life of the Church, doctrine and practice) takes place AFTER not before initiation.
In Texas our diocese confirms Catholic youth at age 16 or 10th grade following 2 years of preparation. In the Dallas Diocese it is 4th grade, as in Denver, at the same time as First Communion (following first confession). I have two grandchildren in Ohio who were in 8th grade this year, one was confirmed, the other will have to wait until 11th grade. The US Bishops set the age at any time between 7-18 and each bishop decides for his diocese.
When I was teaching CCD up north our diocese moved Conf. from 11th to 8th grade, and the neighboring diocese moved it from 8th to 10th. go figure.
Anyone received into the Church through RCIA (children over age 7 are considered adults for this purposes ) MUST be confirmed at Easter by the priest who baptizes them unless there is a grave pastoral reason to delay confirmation.
I am a cradle Catholic who was baptised and confirmed as an
infant. My mother took me to Mexico City to visit my grandparents and I was confirmed there just a matter of weeks
after my baptism. Maybe that is one reason that I have never
"wandered" from the faith. I also remember my fervor when I
received my First Communion, I had no doubt about Whom I
was receiving and I was in another world when I received!
Confirmation doesn’t have anything to do with making an “informed decision” so the age at which one receives it is irrelevant as it pertains to “deciding” anything.
The Sacrament of Confirmation completes the Sacrament of Baptism.
Really. When I was confirmed is was billed as my chance to say wheather I accept Christ. Surely there must be some thought required to make such a statement?
This is completely untrue and whoever told you this did you a major disservice.
Nope, because the confirmandii makes no such statement.
Sacraments are by their nature effective without your level of knowledge having anything to do with it. Nonetheless, this idea (of making the “informed decision”) keeps floating around the Latin Catholic community, for centuries actually.
As has been already stated the three sacraments of Baptism, Confirmation and Holy Communion are the initiatory sacraments, and were once all given at the same time. Yes that’s right, even Holy Communion. Regardless of the age of the convert, entire families could receive all the initiatory sacraments together from old men and women to babes in arms.
Later in the Latin west the idea gained currency that the person should have a “basic understanding”, and both Confirmation and Holy Communion were withheld to higher ages. But that’s not how it was originally. The only thing I can see also preventing raising the age of baptism for infants in the west was the fear of eternal damnation for the innocent children who may die, another uniquely western idea. It is acknowledged by the church that the sacrament is fully effective even if the infant cannot reason it out.
This line of thinking is why the Baptists do not accept infant baptism, they are wrong but that idea circulated amongst Latin Catholics many centuries ago, whom they once were. They simply rejected the church hierarchy’s position that the sacrament would be effective anyway.
This kind of thinking raises a whole lot of other questions…
If the age of reason or discretion is absolutely necessary for a sacrament to be effective, what does one do with the mentally disturbed, the comatose and mentally handicapped? Some of these never reach an “age” of reason or discretion.
Do they never get Baptised? Do they never get Confirmed? Do they never receive Communion?
These sacraments are good for them.
Thanks for clearing that up. I appreciate it.
a MAJOR disservice. Why so?
Because they gave you a completley erroneous understanding of the Sacrament. And, you have clearly carried that with you. You might even have given that erroneous understanding to your own children had you not asked this question here at CAF.
Moreover, the erroneous idea that the Sacrament of Confirmation is where you “make a choice” for Christ is not even a Catholic concept, but rather smacks of Protestant theology.
This is incredibly bad theology - I’m very sorry that you had to encounter it. No, you became a Catholic when you were baptized - this is not something that can be undone. Once a person is baptized in the Catholic Church, he or she is Catholic forever.
The choice of whether to be Confirmed or not is not a choice of whether to become Catholic, or not - rather, it is the choice of whether or not to receive the seven gifts of the Holy Spirit - wisdom, understanding, knowledge, right judgment, courage, piety, and fear/awe of the Lord. In other words, it is the choice to become a good Catholic - or not.
“In the Latin Rite, the sacrament is thus customarily conferred only on persons old enough to understand it, and the ordinary minister of Confirmation is a bishop.”
I am sure I remember saying yes to the whole “do you reject satan” spiel as part of the confirmation. As I said, it was looong ago.
and some more info I read: “Reserving administration of the sacrament to a bishop, who cannot be present at every infant Baptism, means that large groups of older children and young adults are confirmed together, making the occasion something of a rite of passage and an opportunity to profess personal commitment to the faith”. - is this totally incorrect???
This does not negate anything I have said. There is nothing in the Sacrament that is about “accepting” Christ or “making a choice for Christ”
No, this is not part of Confirmation.
However, we (the entire congregation present at Mass) do often renew our baptismal promises during the Easter season by following the question and answer form of the Creed.
But if you are old enough to understand it, and you are going along and “getting confirmed” you have made a choice no?
That much I know
They aren’t making their very first commitment to the faith, though - they can renew their Baptismal vows (the whole “Do you reject Satan” thing is the Baptismal vows) but it’s not like they are making these vows for the very first time, or like that they are going from being non-Catholic to being Catholic.