I asked my Eastern priest about giving Communion to my toddler child and he said since he was baptized in the Roman Catholic Church, he still needs to be confirmed/chrismated before he can receive. This strikes me as the discipline in the East, which usually isn’t an issue because all three Sacraments are given one after the other on the same day. But why does the West give communion first (at 7 years old) before confirmation (roughly around 12 in most dioceses)?
Because the order was never adjusted when Pius X gave permission, in 1910, for children to receive Communion at the age of reason. Until then Confirmation was before Communion but occurred in early teens to early adulthood. After 1910, Confirmation became a sacrament you received after you’d made your First Communion – not necessarily years later, but often the next time the Bishop came to celebrate Confirmation. I was 6 when I received my First Communion in the spring of 60, (end of grade 1) and was confirmed around the same time the next year when the Bishop came on his biennial visit. IIRC, my brother, who is a year younger than I, received his First Communion and was Confirmed that year too.
not clear as to what rite your child belongs to, or what rite the priest is referring to, and your child’s baptismal status.
he only needs to be confirmed and make a profession of faith before first communion if he was baptized into another Christian denomination, and that will not happen until he is of the age for first communion in your diocese. Otherwise in the Latin Rite he makes first communion at the age set by the bishop, usually about age 7 (age of reason) or later, and is confirmed, again at age set by the local bishop, anywhere from age 7 to 18.
I don’t know the practice of the particular Eastern Rite you belong to, and this priest may not either. If your toddler was baptized in a rite that also chrismates and confers first Eucharist at the same time to infants, then he should be able to receive communion again at the age other children do in your rite, and you may have to ask your Eastern Rite priest explain this to your current pastor.
A child baptized in the Latin Rite still needs to follow the procedure and age for the other sacraments set by his own bishop. No confirmation is not required before first communion in most dioceses, but that is not a hard fast rule, some now do it at the same time.
My son’s issue isn’t really a concern. He had surgery at 5 days old so I had him baptized in the hospital. The priest then also confirmed him.
My question isn’t about the Eastern Rite, but just that in the East they would not give Communion to one who isn’t Chrismated/Confirmed. Yet in the West its standard practice for children to be given Communion years before they can even be Confirmed. My question is WHY is it the practice in the West that Communion comes before Confirmation.
Thankfully, some dioceses have restored the order of the Sacraments of Initiation. I’m hoping that more will do so in years to come.
it seems to be for historical reasons, as Fr. Paul Turner explains. In the East the priest who baptizes has the faculty to confirm (chrismate) at the same time, for infants as well as for adults. In the West, the bishop reserved the privilege of confirming to himself. Since he could visit a given parish only infrequently, all the baptized, no matter what age, were confirmed at the same time when he did come. In the revised rite for RCIA implemented in the late 70s, the priest has the faculty to confirm all those he baptizes at the Easter Vigil, and if the bishop allows, baptized non-Catholic adults (children over ag 7 and up) whom he receives into full communion. The bishop can also grant the priest faculty to confirm baptized Catholics but it must be used for the named individuals at the time and place specified.
In practice, most Catholic children from the late middle ages onward were confirmed and received first communion at the same time, usually at the end of their formal education, which coincided with their religious instruction. That could be anywhere from 8 or so, to 12, 14, 16, 18, whenever the child went to work in the fields or factories, or on to higher education for the professions, and customs surrounding it varied by country and locality.
When Pope St. Pius X moved the age of 1st communion down to age 7, the age for confirmation never caught up, and the timing of the latter sacrament was not formally defined, so in most places it was still done at the time formal education ended. Canon law of 1983 now places the age at any time over the age of reason (about 7) at the discretion of the local ordinary (the bishop).
I believe it has to do with the Latin Rite Churhc having a different connection or understanding of confirmation then in the East.