13 January 2015

Revisiting the age for Confirmation

I have long been in favor of restoring the appropriate order of the Sacraments of Initiation and of ending the nonsensical notion of the Sacrament of Confirmation as an individual person's acceptance of the faith for himself (which is not found in any of the Church's books or documents).

With this in mind, you can imagine my delight to read Richard Becker's argument for rethinking the age for Confirmation. Part of his reasoning is as follows:
Current practice puts the accent on confirmation as a sacramental goal line, and so it is incorrectly perceived as the “source and summit of the Christian life” instead of the Eucharist. And not only does confirmation come last in line, but it also generally involves a great deal of preparation—a full year or more of instruction and formation, for example, along with any number of obligatory service projects. All those mandates can give the misleading impression that confirmation is not only the most important sacrament, but also one that must be earned.
First Holy Communion prep was, by comparison, so simple: A few crafts and some worksheets, maybe a banner, and that was it. There was never any question that the Eucharist could or should be earned, and the only real requirement was that the communicant be able to recognize the difference between ordinary elements on the one hand, and the Eucharist on the other. It was all so elementary because, well, the recipients were in elementary school.
According to the Church, kids reach the age of reason around their seventh year, and at that point they have adequate intellectual and, presumably, spiritual resources to prepare for not only confirmation, but penance and Eucharist as well. Our actions, however, indicate that confirmation is so serious that it requires greater spiritual maturity and intelligence, and so we push it off until the teen years.
This was not the ancient practice of the Church. This is not the practice of the Eastern Churches. Nor is it always the current practice in the Western Church, even in the U.S.A. I, as another example, was confirmed when I was baptized on the day I was born (I wasn't expected to live long).

Please, let's return to looking at the Sacrament of Confirmation for what it is, a strengthening of baptismal grace, rather than what it never was.


  1. We had a baby who wasn't expected to live long. He was baptized and confirmed before the cord was severed.
    And his 15 year old brother still waits...

    Father Darren- I've followed your blog and I realize that I hold you as a friend even though you don't know who I am. Such is the nature of blogs!
    But I come to you- asking you to pray for my brother(and yours!). My older brother, Father Joseph Peek- ardio of atlanta, was just given 3-9 months to live as of 12/30. Please pray for him as he makes his way to our true and final home.

  2. Thank you, Elizabeth!

    I will gladly remember your brother in my prayers, and you and your family, as well, and I invite my readers to do the same. May Our Lady wrap you her in her loving mantle.