American Bishop receives kudos from the Pope for reordering sacraments

This should cause some discussion!

From CNA:

Bishop Aquila receives Pope’s praise for reordering sacraments
By David Kerr

Rome, Italy, Mar 8, 2012 / 03:58 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- Bishop Samuel Aquila of Fargo said he is delighted to have first-hand papal approval for changing the order by which children in his diocese receive the sacraments.

“I was very surprised in what the Pope said to me, in terms of how happy he was that the sacraments of initiation have been restored to their proper order of baptism, confirmation then first Eucharist,” said Bishop Aquila, after meeting Pope Benedict on March 8.

Bishop Aquila was one of five bishops from North and South Dakota to meet with Pope Benedict XVI at the Vatican as part of their March 5-10 “ad limina” visit to the Rome.

Over the past seven years the Diocese of Fargo has changed the typical order of the sacraments of initiation. Instead of confirmation coming third and at an older age, it is now conferred on children at a younger age and prior to First Communion.

Bishop Aquila said he made the changes because “it really puts the emphasis on the Eucharist as being what completes the sacraments of initiation” and on confirmation as “sealing and completing baptism.”

When the sacraments are conferred in this order, he said, it becomes more obvious that “both baptism and confirmation lead to the Eucharist.” This sacramental assistance helps Catholics live “that intimate relationship of being the beloved sons and daughters of the Father in our daily lives,” he added.

The Bishop of Fargo said the changes have also distanced the Sacrament of Confirmation from “some false theologies that see it as being a sacrament of maturity or as a sacrament for ‘me choosing God.’[Do I hear an "Amen!"?]

Instead, young people in Fargo now have “the fullness of the spirit and the completion of the gifts of the spirit” to assist them in “living their lives within the world,” especially “in the trials they face in junior high and high school.”

Bishop Aquila explained his theological thinking to Pope Benedict during today’s meeting.

In response, he said, the Pope asked if he had “begun to speak to other bishops about this.” He told the pontiff that he had and that “certainly bishops within the Dakotas are now really looking towards the implementation in the restoration in the ordering of the sacraments.”

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101 Responses to American Bishop receives kudos from the Pope for reordering sacraments

  1. Marc says:

    I have been saying this for years: if the Sacrament of Confirmation is what we profess it to be then we need to start administering this sacrament at an earlier age.

  2. Slappo says:

    I am forwarding this on to my bishop. In talking with a priest of the diocese I found out that he is interested in moving the age of confirmation. He talked with the preists about it and they were all on board for moving the age of confirmation until the preists realized that he wanted to move the age of confirmation so that we confirm at an older age not younger!

  3. Random Friar says:

    Oo-rah! This is what I always teach about Confirmation. It is not a Catholic “Bar/Bat Mitzvah.”

  4. mitch_wa says:

    Hopefully these sort of moves will one day lead to the restoration of infant confirmation and communion, as it was in the west in many places until the 1300s.

  5. Fr. Augustine Thompson O.P. says:

    Very good news. Especially the Pope’s positive response.

  6. pcstokell says:

    Yes, yes, and YES. Restore the order of the Initiation Sacraments, and tell the Youth Ministry-Industrial Complex to reach young people without a sacramental “carrot,” or get other jobs!!

  7. Han says:

    Is the bishop still going to be the ordinary minister of the sacrament, and therefore chrismation will continue to be delayed until the bishop can visit, or will priests administer the sacrament so that an infant can receive it immediately following baptism?

  8. APX says:

    The Bishop of Fargo said the changes have also distanced the Sacrament of Confirmation from “some false theologies that see it as being a sacrament of maturity or as a sacrament for ‘me choosing God.’”

    I actually remember my Confirmation prep in grade 6 and our teacher telling us that “Baptism was more for your parents choosing your faith for you. Confirmation is your choice and you confirming you want to be Catholic.” I literally thought to myself, “That stupid. I’m 11 years old and my parents are forcing me to do this. ”

    Actually, the reordering of sacraments is nothing new. The dioceses in Saskatchewan have already been doing this for a number of years now.

  9. APX says:

    @Han
    Is the bishop still going to be the ordinary minister of the sacrament, and therefore chrismation will continue to be delayed until the bishop can visit, or will priests administer the sacrament so that an infant can receive it immediately following baptism?

    In my home diocese, where the sacraments have already been reordered, Confirmation and First Communion are done at the same Mass. Confirmation is conferred by the Bishop prior to the Sacrifice of the Mass and Communion.

  10. “The Bishop of Fargo said the changes have also distanced the Sacrament of Confirmation from “some false theologies that see it as being a sacrament of maturity or as a sacrament for ‘me choosing God.’””

    Oh dear… I just now discovered that this is what I was taught during my confirmation prep, and I hadn’t really explicitly corrected my perception until now. Kind of like a kick in the gut, finding out you had something wrong that you’d never really thought about.
    Well I’m glad I read this. Had a chance to set myself straight.

  11. Legisperitus says:

    Where does their first Confession go in all this? Before first Communion, I hope.

  12. AGA says:

    Why did it take so long for this to be clarified publicly?

    For how many years has the EWTN magisterium (especially all the former protestant lay theologians) proclaimed that Confirmation was the Catholic equivalent of the Protestant “personal acceptance of Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior”?

    Anyone who thought about this for a nano-second should have realized this was total hogwash. Was the Church really leaving it an open question for a young adult, who has already been baptized, to decide at some later point in life whether or not if Catholicism was what he *really* wanted?

  13. St. Rafael says:

    That is really great news. It’s about time our bishops reconsider how late confirmation is received. Our young Catholics need this sacrament at a much earlier age, and the graces of it, before they hit adolescence. They need that protection at a much earlier age because the decadence of the world and pop culture is really doing a number on the youth. They are getting overrun, cleaned out, mopped up, and by the time they hit middle school, it’s already too late.

    I volunteered for some time in local confirmation programs, and many of the kids were already severely damaged by the time they were in high school and started the program. It was shocking how pagan, decadent, and perverted they had already become. It’s a total state of crisis when it comes to the family and our Catholic youth.

  14. mamajen says:

    @APX I had the same experience preparing for confirmation, and I guess all this time I’ve had a false understanding of what the sacrament is about. How disappointing! On one level the way in which it was taught to me makes a lot of sense, but now that I think of it, it is rather worrying that kids receive communion for all of those years without having been confirmed and having the guidance of the Holy Spirit to ensure that they are in a proper state to receive communion. I suppose if a child is ready to receive communion (indicating unity and agreement with the teachings of the Catholic Church), then I can’t see why confirmation should be different. Still, I am a little bit confused now about the sacrament of confirmation, since just about everything I know is wrong. Sigh. Thank goodness for this blog!

  15. frjim4321 says:

    I guess I would appreciate this more if there were something in writing to this effect. Right now we just have a bishop reporting to his diocese something that the pope said to him.

    Restored order has been quashed in some dioceses, and absent some kind of written declaration by the pope it will remain so.

    All that having been said, the best confirmation program I ever saw was in junior year of high school. It was not used as a “carrot” to force kids through youth ministry, but it was a very intense program of preparation.

    Theoretically having the bishop come and confirm second graders at their first communion is fine by me. I think we need good high school programs with or without confirmation.

    (BTW, I am NOT saying that it will be easy [or cheap]).

  16. Philip Gerard Johnson says:

    I’m in agreement – all 3 Sacraments at infancy as the Eastern Church has maintained.

    Do we seriously understand Holy Communion more fully at age 7? Do we ever fully understand? We’d probably die if we ever fully understood the graces we receive.

  17. DFWShook says:

    Things like this drive me nuts. I understand that the Catholic Church isn’t run like a corporation or an army with the Pope as CEO or General, but the order of the Sacraments should be standardized and not up the “whim” of a Bishop. I say this not as a crank, but as someone who was on the receiving end of such whims. I received First Communion in 1973 in the Diocese of Los Angeles. Because it was the heyday of Post-VII innovations, the Bishop decided that since children were too young to really understand sin, the Sacrament of Penance could be postponed until we were older and that we could go ahead and recieve First Communion. And so we did. Four years later in Japan (my father being in the Navy) the priest preparing my sister and I for Confirmation about died when he found out that neither of us had received the Sacrament of Penance, although we had been receiving Communion every Sunday for years. I completely agree with Michael Voris that many cradle Catholics of the Vatican II Generation are angry because they were handed a Faith in tatters. So much of what ailes the Church in the US has its roots in the actions of the Bishops during that first decade Post-VII.

  18. James Joseph says:

    Woo-hoo. Dancing in the street!

  19. Mrs. O says:

    :) we travel to another diocese for this and our youngest son will hopefully do this in the fall! I was hoping more bishops would come in board as our catechesis is lacking in how it is being presented. I know 17 and older are being allowed for Confirmation here which seems to put them above, as prep is usually 2 years, what is approved for US. Yes, please keep talking about it!! I was hoping it would make it on the list for all the Bishops to discuss but if they have, it has been kept quiet or not reported! This is exciting and good for them!

  20. servusmariaen says:

    My niece and nephew in the diocese of Great Falls – Billings, Montana across the border also had their confirmation and first communion together on the same day in the past few years.

  21. ErnieNYC says:

    Going to my nephew’s Communion/Confirmation in April in the Diocese of Portland in Maine. He’ll receive Penance later. While I understand the theological basis for offering Confirmation at an earlier age (I was formed by the “coming of age and ready to fight for the faith” group)…I honestly don’t see how Penance is appropriately administered to a child past the age of reason AFTER Eucharist.

  22. Mary Jane says:

    A couple commenters on here have brought up (or asked about) the Sacrament of Penance happening *after* a child’s First Communion…

    Call me confused, but I thought that confession always happened prior to the child receiving their First Communion? How can a child be properly disposed if they have not had an opportunity (since baptism) to have their sins washed away? Granted, a child of 7 isn’t likely to have committed major sins…but even venial sins are better washed away, especially before receiving the Eucharist.

  23. New Sister says:

    @DFWShook – same here. I received First Holy Communion in 1973 (in the diocese of Portland, OR) without ever hearing or knowing anything about the Sacrament of Confession. Furthermore, I had not even a basic understanding of the Sacrament of the Eucharist — no surprise, really, as I recently found my First Holy Communion workbook at my mother’s house. It barely mentions Our Lord. (Each page said, “the Eucharist is about celebration – draw a picture of your favorite celebration” “It’s about community – draw a picture of your community”… “it’s about love – draw those you love”) I went from this to rare, sporadic attendance at various churches, not knowing that there was any difference between Holy Mass or a Protestant service, until I was in my mid-30s. I made my first Confession at age 35, and received the Sacrament of Confirmation at age 36 – Deo gratias.

    Michael Voris is right about our generation — we were launched into a river in a leaky canoe without a paddle, but thanks be to GOD and Our Lady, who have been generous with grace to rescue us.

  24. New Sister says:

    actually, I made first Holy Communion in 1975 (not ’73); our catechism teacher became a Baptist a year or so later.

  25. RickMK says:

    I was so used to the idea of Confirmation coming last that I didn’t think it could be done any other way. It is certainly much better to do it earlier than putting it off until adolescence, as has been the trend! (That’s almost as bad as putting off Baptism until an infant is a month or two old.)

    As for the age of First Communion: I wonder if a child has to be 7 before making his First Communion in order for First Confession to be able to come before First Communion. In that case, it really does make more sense to save that until the child is 7, when they’ve reached the age of reason and are able to recognize sin and so are able to make First Confession first, than to administer Communion at the time of Baptism.

  26. Tina in Ashburn says:

    For us who were taught incorrectly about Confirmation, then, what is it? I vaguely remember my Confirmation, and I probably understood it better back then than I do now after all the crazy talk describing it throughout the years.

    In this diocese, Confirmation is definitely used as the carrot to keep the kids coming to religious ed. I believe there are discussions to delay the Sacrament even more. Once the kids get confirmed, you never see them again [the parents certainly have something to do with this- we don't see them either]. Absolutely true.

    I helped one year with a religious ed class of 7th grad confirmandi. Of 30 kids, only 2 agreed with the teacher that Jesus Christ is God. They didn’t understand the Resurrection or Purgatory but they sure knew all about reincarnation. Only about 2 kids went to Sunday Mass regularly. These kids did not know they were supposed to fast before Communion, nor did they know they couldn’t approach Communion if they had purposely missed Mass [they can find rides to the mall by begging parents or whomever, but getting to Mass 'can't be done']. On top of that, by 7th grade the ‘resentful sullen hormone’ and bad habits were entrenched making it nearly impossible to make any impression on them. Just as always, the most pious and informed children were those whose parents had taught the kids themselves, and for whom faithful Mass attendance was non-negotiable.

    I agree that the Church needs to Confirm children much, much sooner.

  27. Fr Deacon Daniel says:

    Amen, Amen, Amen!

    Perhaps someday paedoconfirmation and paedocommunion will be restored fully to the West. But as I have said for years (and not just me, obviously) the restored ordo of Initiation would be a great blessing to the whole Catholic Communion. It is a grave distortion and abuse of the Sacrament to have it so completely disassociated from Holy Baptism by being delayed practically until young adulthood.

    And if a child is Confirmed by his or her Bishop in keeping with the Western tradition, how much more fitting is it that he or she should receive the Holy Eucharist in the same Mass from the same Bishop!

  28. Mrs. O says:

    RickMK, exceptions can be made as to the the maturity of the child. Although 7 is generally when they reach the age of reason (tell right from wrong) it can happen sooner.

    Some have argued for a lower age for first holy communion.
    http://www.catholicnewsagency.com/news/vatican-prefect-says-todays-world-merits-lower-age-for-first-communicants/

    In a perfect diocese, it would be the parents presenting the younger children, in my opinion. Our children don’t stay innocent for very long.

  29. Mrs. O says:

    Tina: Bishop Aquila spoke more on Confirmation here:
    http://www.catholicculture.org/culture/library/view.cfm?recnum=9670
    If you are wanting to learn more about the sacrament, I like Thomas Sullivan’s book Called to Knighthood
    http://www.calledtoknighthood.com/index2.html

  30. Denise says:

    All these years I thought my reception of the Sacraments had been all messed up and now I find out it was actually done closer to the way it should have been done in the first place. I was baptized as an infant. I was then confirmed at age 3 because the bishop was in town, we were visiting my mother’s family, and her best friend had her heart set on being my madrina. First communion was in kindergarten, by myself, because it was right after Vatican II and no one seemed to know how things should be done. Our pastor said no white dresses and veils. No fuss. No prep. I just went up to the altar rail one Sunday and received. Confession was not until second grade when my classmates were doing First Communion prep. Interesting.

  31. Tina in Ashburn says:

    A clarification on infant Communion: Communion is only administered to the innocent baptized infant. The child no longer receives Communion once the child is no longer an infant. The child then has to wait for First Confession to receive “First” Communion.

    As well as infant Communion and Confirmation, I sure wish the western Church would return to the full-blown baptism rite complete with exorcism too!

    [Ever heard an old priest tell you about the occasional baptisms where the child starts screaming at the exorcism? Why the heck did we stop that effective part?]

  32. angelaocds says:

    This would be a wonderful thing in my parish/diocese. The “program” that my older girls have gone through has been all about fluff and personality test. It is described as making a young person’s faith decision personal and independent of their parents’ choices for them. With the way the world is now, these children need all of God’s Grace and protection that they can get. How sad when in my parish the First Communion Mass is a mad house, not about the children meeting their Bridegroom, Lord and Savior for the most intimate relationship this side of Heaven, no, instead it is pictures, parties, lavish gifts and then people who never darken the Church’s door again. I pray that ALL of the sacraments will truly be restored to the holy awe that they deserve. And yes, I am a convert as is my husband. I long for all of us to kneel in wonder and love every time we enter into God’s Most Holy Presence.

  33. Mrs. O says:

    There is something interesting regarding the Bishops who are reordering the sacraments. They seem to see an inconsistency in the way children with their family are brought into the Church fully at Easter vs those who have to wait in CCD. Our diocese reroutes the children of those coming into the Church into the CCD classes so they do not come fully into the Church with them. I guess we will not be the next to see this changed. Drats.

  34. NoTambourines says:

    This is why I read this site. I had no idea confirmation was anything but a circa-junior-high thing. We were told it was kind of like a Catholic bar/bat mitzvah… with festive felt banners.

    It really was life-changing for me, though and I thought our pre-confirmation preparation made a difference in my life. There are things I learned from an outstanding sister at our class confirmation retreat that I still think about today. Still, I’m shocked I had no idea that’s not how it was always done.

    I’ll have to ask my dad when he was confirmed (I know his confirmation name was Benedict). I wonder, as the tune goes, “How Long Has This Been Going On?”

  35. NoTambourines says:

    APX–

    My older sibling was allowed to refuse the sacrament of confirmation in 7th grade, and eventually left the Church as an adult.

  36. Geoffrey says:

    “Baptism was more for your parents choosing your faith for you. Confirmation is your choice and you confirming you want to be Catholic.”

    That is how it was for me, but at age 17. It made sense at the time, and I fully embraced it. I guess if there is going to be an eventual change, proper catechesis will be necessary for all!

  37. pm125 says:

    This idea is a perfect solution for young Catholics to grow in faith, families to look to more study (Bible), Catholic Identity, and teenage confusion/attrition/degeneration.

    Age 7 (second graders when innocence, sincerity, and serious interest are prime) for First Confession and a Mass for Confirmation, then First Communion is, to my mind, a perfect way for the child to be secure as a Roman Catholic and have a ‘life’ to study and delve into his faith.

    I think fewer youth would be lost between grade 2 (age 7) and grade 11 (age 16 or 17). I’ve seen too much groaning and skipping Religious Ed. years until time for Confirmation prep classes (two years). By that time, kids are working part time and have homework or sports committments etc. At that point, going to Mass and devotions should be part of the fabric of their lives going into maturity.

    As it is now, the years when they need identity, self worth, mission, and meaning; they are held in limbo. They could be effectively formed groups of youth and working with their parishes as worthy, attached members. It would be revolutionary for Catholic identity problems.

    Think of the Bible study groups that with which the religious educators could replace the cartoons and platitude glossy workbooks. Oh, and the copy machine relief. With no separation from other youth due to age and grade, only study interest.

    Someone above commented on the education complex thing – so easily refocused to Ten Commandment study, Creed study, Lord’s Prayer study, Reading the Missal/Liturgy study, and the Bible study. Practical, basic, lifelong, valuable time spent, forming friendships. Exciting.

  38. anilwang says:

    I definitely agree with the restoration of the proper ordering. Although the misplaced order did a lot of damage to the faith, Vatican II made a lot more damage because of this reordering.

    I was taught that confirmation was optional and not really important, so I was never confirmed until a few decades later. I lost out on both confirmation and the formation in the faith that I would have gotten if lifelong education was not tied to confirmation “graduation”.

    Just to add to the above stories, I too never went to penance before first communion or since then (until relatively recently) since I was never taught that one should.

    Had the sacraments been sorted out, I might never have left the Church without realizing that I had for 3 decades. The New Evangelization definitely must not only a proper ordering of the sacraments, but also the proper practice of those sacraments. Without it, our children are vulnerable and severely weakened.

  39. APX says:

    @New Sister
    I recently found my First Holy Communion workbook at my mother’s house. It barely mentions Our Lord. (Each page said, “the Eucharist is about celebration – draw a picture of your favorite celebration” “It’s about community – draw a picture of your community”… “it’s about love – draw those you love”

    That sounds exactly like the book I used for First Communion in the early 90s and what my brother used in the 80s. When we weren’t drawing pictures during our First Communion classes, we were learning how to sing “His Banner over me is love” and do all the motions so we could perform it at our First Communion. I don’t think I ever actually believed in that it actually became anything our than bread and wine.

    When I reflect back on where I’ve been as a catholic and where I am now as a Catholic, it blows my mind. I don’t get it. Mind you, I still have a long ways to go, but still. I just don’t know how I got to where I am today. I can’t even fathome what kids are being taught these days. Catechesis seems to be a lot like the game Telephone. The more it’s taught and passed on to one group of people, the more messed up and in correct it gets to the point where it’s completely wrong.

  40. q7swallows says:

    A parent of youngsters, adolescents, and young adults who were all chrismated very young, I can assure you that the graces of Confirmation are needed and used well in advance of puberty, etc. It makes the tumultuous times easier to negotiate. Basic tenet of warfare: arm the soldiers BEFORE battle, not during!

    Also, is it my perception or is the pope moving very quickly with straightening up the Church? He seems to be rocketing along!

  41. mike cliffson says:

    Cor!

  42. abasham says:

    I’m in favor, for traditions sake, but I would kind of prefer that the age for communion be pushed back. I was confirmed as a junior in high school because my mother never bothered signing me up until then, and I hated it. But nonetheless I felt the effects of the sacrament. It wasn’t until afterwards that I started learning about my faith. Until the end of high school I couldn’t have explained the Eucharist, or answer any questions about my faith. If I had been confirmed at an earlier age none of my growth in faith would have happened. And I teach first communion classes now, and as much as I like my kids, they just don’t get it. And its not their fault, they’re just too young.

  43. Phil_NL says:

    I think we need to distinguish between several aspects, which tend to get muddied:

    1. The theology behind confirmation. I can join the chorus of those who indeed have never seen confirmation as anything different than the closure of the initiation sacraments, a sacrament of maturity, and if many even on this site have seen / been taught in that way, you can bet a Christmas collection on the theology being unknown to the vast majority of catholics. If the main idea is to ask God for the graces necessary to support the child, fine, but please get the word out before making the changes, or many will be utterly confused with all negative results. If this change is based in theology, get that theology known.

    2. Confirmation was actually also taught to me to be the point where a catholic took on responsibility for his own life of faith. While you can see this as an extension of the apparently faulty ‘choosing God’ point, it is different in at least one aspect: who is going to be responsible for the young Catholic’s choices in faith, at exactly a point where the youngster him/herself is not capable of doing so – you need more than ‘the age of reason’; there’s a difference between knowning right from wrong and finding the spinal fortitude to do the right thing by yourself; a difference that can easily take 5 years to work out, if not longer (in that sense, it would be too early in its current practice!). Now there may not be a need to mark such a transfer of repsonsibility by a sacrament, but again, in order to prevent an even bigger mess than we have now, some serious thought and communication is essential.

    3. There seems to be a process at work that draws people prepping kids for the sacraments towards their own pet activities like mots to a bright candle. It doesn’t matter if those activiteies are endless self-discovery, boundless aid projects for the poor or perpetual adoration and/or altar boy service; it very rarely revolves around the sacraments the kids are supposedly being prepped for. Not only goes that result in widespread misunderstandings – see above – but it is also exactly the wrong way to approach a youngster, and I have the impression both ‘sides of the aisle’, from very liberal to very conservative in their faith, are making this mistake. Lead kids by example, but the sacrament is different from being socially aware or having a rich devotional life. It’s about the sacrament, which trumps all of that. Throw it all into one jar, and the revulsion kids may have against one aspect may infect it all.

  44. AnnAsher says:

    Amen!
    I wrote to my Bishop last year asking for this in regard to my own children – no answer. A second letter was answered upon a second email only in response to the oldest receiving Confirmation outside the Diocese. Unfortunately the idea, though stated for exactly the same reasons as above, seems to come as a threat or a nuisance which doesn’t deserve a response.

  45. jflare says:

    “The Bishop of Fargo said the changes have also distanced the Sacrament of Confirmation from “some false theologies that see it as being a sacrament of maturity or as a sacrament for ‘me choosing God.’” [Do I hear an "Amen!"?]”

    Uh, well, that’s more or less the impression I’d got, yes.
    Let’s see now: I received First Communion in 2nd grade, undertook First Confession in 4th grade, then struggled to make sense of some of the faith’s teachings through high school, THEN received Confirmation in 12th grade. One week before Christmas, if I recall correctly.
    Then while in college, I learned that some dioceses switch the first two around and move Confirmation to 8th grade. I thought that rather squirrelly and didn’t entirely comprehend the rationale for some years until Fr Corapi’s Catechism show on EWTN began to make some sort of sense of it.
    Now I’m hearing that, no kidding, we SHOULD have not only undergone First Confession FIRST, but also been Confirmed next, THEN we should’ve considered First Communion!
    And by the way, between my early 20′s and now, I’ve had to tangle with the fuss over whether the Novus Ordo even consecrates the Eucharist at all, or whether I should be attending a traditional Mass to save my soul at all. After finally discerning that, however poorly the Novus Ordo was being offered, it WAS a valid, legitimate Mass and I should attend, AND discerning that the traditional Mass was (at the time) known to the local diocese, but not legally offered. ..Of course, I also had to make sense of what the Chancery lady meant by saying “They’re Tridentines!” in a rather disgusted manner in the first place!
    Received my faith in tatters? Yes, you might say that! You might also say I’ve had to severely question whether I’d received any semblance of faith at all!

    In all seriousness, I REALLY wish the bishops, at least in the US, would make up their collective minds regarding when we’ll all do what, and why. And be bothered to explain it all to all us wee, uneducated folks in the pews!

    I begin to understand why the 1969 mandate for the Novus Ordo caused so much wrath: With all the changes in so many things (in so little time), my head has begun to spin!

  46. Blaise says:

    Here in the UK it seems to be expected by the Church that education in the faith will happen in Catholic schools, so catechetical programmes outside of the school are few and far between. In schools it seems that the focus is put significantly on preparation first communion (typically at age 7) and confirmation (at about age 14). Because my parish has a large secondary school (11-16) they have a huge number of confirmations; I am not sure if the other parishes in the area therefore have none.
    My concern with this is threefold:
    Firstly, as has been pointed out above, the idea of confirmation as something done by the confirmand, as “his choice” is a fundamental misunderstanding of the nature of this or indeed any sacrament.
    Secondly, to suggest that for an adolescent (or anyone else for that matter) there is a single point in your life when one chooses to be Catholic is nonsense. We choose to be Catholic everytime we pray the Hail Mary, go to Mass on Sunday, actively engage in works of mercy for the sake of Jesus Christ, defend the Church or her teachings etc. Similarly if someone is confirmed one Sunday and cannot be bothered to go to Mass the next Sunday they are choosing against the Church. the focuse on one moment cheapens every other moment of choice and inadequately prepares the confirmand for life in the Church
    Thirdly, the handing over of catechesis to the school by the parish priest and by the parents of children leads to a failure to teach children the faith. This itself has at least two consequences: firstly the children do not get taught the faith; and secondly the children do not get inspired by the faith of their parents as lived and demonstrated by them. Why should we expect a child whose parents never talk about the faith to him to be strong in faith.

    This does not mean that schools cannot teach the faith or that preparation programmes for sacraments are pointless. But they need to fit into the broader, ongoing teaching of the faith elsewhere.

    As Gravissimum Educationis puts it:

    Since parents have given children their life, they are bound by the most serious obligation to educate their offspring and therefore must be recognized as the primary and principal educators.(11) This role in education is so important that only with difficulty can it be supplied where it is lacking. Parents are the ones who must create a family atmosphere animated by love and respect for God and man, in which the well-rounded personal and social education of children is fostered. Hence the family is the first school of the social virtues that every society needs. It is particularly in the Christian family, enriched by the grace and office of the sacrament of matrimony, that children should be taught from their early years to have a knowledge of God according to the faith received in Baptism, to worship Him, and to love their neighbor. Here, too, they find their first experience of a wholesome human society and of the Church.

  47. jflare says:

    “..it is strongly stated that even the youngest in danger of death is to receive the sacrament of confirmation and not ‘depart this world without having been perfected by the Holy Spirit with the gift of Christ’s fullness.’3″

    This statement reminds me of something I thought Fr Corapi had said during his ministry. He’d commented that, at one time, nurses had been trained to offer an emergency baptism to a child. There had been concern that, in cases where medical difficulties made plain that a child had only seconds or minutes to live, the attending medical staff wouldn’t have time to contact a priest.

    Seems they perhaps needed to consider more than just baptism, at least judging by the statement above.

    Can anyone corroborate what I think Fr Corapi said? Or further clarify it?

    (PS. I know, Fr Corapi is not longer actively ministering and may be barred from doing so as a result of possible conduct unbecoming of a priest–to put it diplomatically. Even so, during the time that he WAS ministering, I learned a great deal from him about the Church’s teachings that I might not have learned otherwise. I’ll admit that I miss his rather blunt, but humorous approach.)

  48. Blaise says:

    I hadn’t seen Phil_NL’s comment when I made mine. I think he is right about the risk he highlights in his third point – that these things get taken over by theose leading the group’s own particular pet view. While people will always have their own enthusiasms, if those teaching were really focussed on the sacrament and the teaching of the Church this could be avoided. But of course they would themselves have had to have been properly catechized.

    I think in his first point, he may be reading too much into what is being said. It is precisely because it is one of three sacraments of initiation that the order of conferring those is to change. It is still very much a sacrament of intiiation but should be placed in the context of baptism and the Holy Eucharist. So just like baptism conifrmation is something that the Holy Spirit, through the Church does to the confirmand and like all sacraments a key result is the bestowal of grace on the recipient. Much needed grace as everyone seems to agree.

    As to the second point, I think that transfer of responsibility is not something that happens in an instant but over time. The sacraments don’t mark things, they make things – ordination makes a priest (deacon or bishop), baptism makes a member of the Church, the Eucharist makes us one with Christ and his Church (and much more).

    I think this is where the Church has really been infected by foreign and misguided thinking over the last fifty years. The sacraments are liturgy and prayer and they are not our tools to use for social engineering or to provide a rite of passage. They are tools, yes, but in the sense that they are there to build up the church, to strengthen her members for “our good and the good of all His Holy Church”; they are tools given by Jesus and which the Church can use only in accordance with the way they were given to her.

  49. Faith says:

    Tina in Ashburn’s comments resonate with me, but I conclude differently.

    “In this diocese, Confirmation is definitely used as the carrot to keep the kids coming to religious ed. I believe there are discussions to delay the Sacrament even more. Once the kids get confirmed, you never see them again [the parents certainly have something to do with this- we don't see them either]. Absolutely true.

    I helped one year with a religious ed class of 7th grad confirmandi. Of 30 kids, only 2 agreed with the teacher that Jesus Christ is God. They didn’t understand the Resurrection or Purgatory but they sure knew all about reincarnation. Only about 2 kids went to Sunday Mass regularly. These kids did not know they were supposed to fast before Communion, nor did they know they couldn’t approach Communion if they had purposely missed Mass [they can find rides to the mall by begging parents or whomever, but getting to Mass 'can't be done']. On top of that, by 7th grade the ‘resentful sullen hormone’ and bad habits were entrenched making it nearly impossible to make any impression on them. Just as always, the most pious and informed children were those whose parents had taught the kids themselves, and for whom faithful Mass attendance was non-negotiable.”

    Most kids will never go to church after their First Communion, if the “carrot” of confirmation is earlier. There’s even a joke about how to get bats out of the belfry–”You confirm them and you’ll never see them again.” I know the older kids don’t want to go, but it’s the only religion some of them get. Even if the only thing they get out of it, is that adults think it’s important, at least that’s something.

    All the theological points are well grounded, but I fear practically speaking, we’d be shooting ourselves in the foot.

  50. anilwang says:

    Faith, as someone who wasn’t confirmed as a child and received a poor first communion catechism (same as you say, I didn’t know Jesus as God), I can say that there are two issues.

    (1) children are lost earlier than confirmation, so they lose both the sacrament and education….although given my lousy education, I think it was a blessing that I had to self educate.

    (2) it has to be emphasized that education is lifelong. One thing protestants get right is that there is a heavy emphasis on adult faith formation and continual child formation. There is no graduation point, you’re always learning, and its assumed that you should be. Of course, you’re not learning the full faith as in the Catholic Church, so church hopping, because you’re always hungry for more, does happen. But that isn’t the point. That Catholic Church has 2000 years behind it and spans the whole world….It’s impossible to “graduate from” or master even in one life time, and has more enough to nourish any child of any background or interest. If our kids knew that, they would never leave. If they truly understood the sacraments and what the Church was, they’d never leave.

  51. anilwang says:

    f

  52. ByzCath08 says:

    Great, now keep going and restore all of the sacraments of initiation to the time of baptism.

  53. Mrs. O says:

    One of my concerns when I taught in a parish was that we lost an average of 30-35% students each year for the high schoolers. If we had a class of 5, which 1st communion may have had 40) that was considered a good class. Sad? Even with this data, the Bishop here went up instead of down so we may have had 10-15 in 9th grade, it dropped drastically. Coupled with the young people becoming independent, some working jobs at night and some taking college course, you have this faulty theology that teaches it is a coming of age, a graduation (we had one girl who had graduated before she was confirmed and she was in the normal classes – you know how senior years can be), or its a bar mitzvah. On top of it all, you have requirements above and beyond what is required in canon law. The mandatory retreat which thankfully it is no longer a co=ed sleep over but just a day retreat. But, if you do not attend, you do not receive confirmation. Most, if they haven’t been able to make the classes for whatever reason, will drop out knowing they don’t have enough service time or classes time, as this is mandatory here, because they know there is no point in finishing something or trying to when you will be denied in the end. Sadly, a lot of these kids come from divorced families and can not make the classes due to visitation rights, etc. If you just took those reasons alone, and left the faulty theology out, THAT should compel any diocese to move it. I am glad that Bishops are recognizing something is off/wrong about the way it is being taught but it is more than that. The burden they place on some is unreasonable.

  54. neworleansgirl says:

    APX–sounds like you and I had the same First Communion prep. I can STILL remember the hand motions to His Banner Over Me is Love. Remember “The one (index finger points up) way to peace (peace sign with 2 fingers) is the power (make fist) of the Cross (cross your index and middle fingers), His banner (hands over head) over me (point to self) is love (arms across chest).

    Geez.

    When we lived in Spokane, WA, a few years ago, my eldest daughter received the sacraments in the restored order in 2nd grade. It made no sense to me at the time, given what I was taught about Confirmation–basically all that “you’re choosing to be Catholic” stuff. BUT–they also made First Confession optional until 4th grade, because they said the kids didn’t have an understanding of it at the age of 7. Yet they were supposed to have understanding of the other 2 sacraments? We went ahead had prepared her for first confession then as well, and she was only one of 2 second graders to receive that sacrament first. The rest received Confirmation and First Communion, but waited on confession.

    Now we are stationed in FL and my second daughter is preparing for First Communion only, and it does feel like something is missing.

    Now, sing with me, “He calls us (hands cupped around mouth) into (hands beckoning) His banqueting table (hands flat in front, side by side, palms down. Sweep out and down as if tracing a table) His banner over me is LOVE!!!!!!!! ;)

  55. neworleansgirl says:

    Oh dear, when I said in the above comment that my second daughter is preparing only for First Communion right now, I meant only First Communion and not Confirmation too. She did make her first confession last Fall! I didn’t mean to imply that down here in FL confession is delayed. I only saw that in Spokane.

  56. Maxiemom says:

    Had my First Communion in the spring of ’68 when I was in second grade and was confirmed in the fall of ’68 in third grade. I’ve never met anyone who had been confirmed as early as I had been.

    Legisperitus – my nephews received First Communion in second grade and did not have their first penance until fourth grade – never got the reasoning behind that order.

  57. Sissy says:

    My parish is going in the opposite direction. They just moved confirmation from age 12 to age 15 (after considering moving it to age 16). I asked what was the rationale for the change and got a blank stare.

  58. Centristian says:

    I have to be honest, this is the first I’ve heard that the sacraments in the West were disordered. I’m not sure why they are though. To me, they seem to reflect the order of things as presented in the Gospels. Baptism is shown first. Later, the First Eucharist. Later still, Christ breathes upon the apostles, then comes the descent of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost. I’m not sure why the order in which the sacraments are administered shouldn’t reflect the order that they are presented in the Gospels. Seems to make sense.

    “Great, now keep going and restore all of the sacraments of initiation to the time of baptism.”

    Why?

  59. wmeyer says:

    Centristian, many things in the Church in America and Canada might well be described as disordered. Catechesis is an area in grave need of repair. What passes in many parishes for sacred music is beyond laughable. And sadly, many priests cultivate the insertion of personality into the liturgy.

  60. haribo says:

    Part of the reason there’s so much confusion about the meaning of confirmation is because it doesn’t bring about the same kind of clear, spiritual transformation as the other sacraments. Baptism is entrance into the Church, confession is the absolution of sins, marriage is marriage, but every explanation of confirmation I’ve ever heard was extremely obtuse and not something I could easily explain to a 13 year old.

  61. MuchLikeMartha says:

    I have heard many people over the years at our parish state, “Oh, but it’s their choice – remember, you can’t force them!” in regards to Confirmation. There’s something about that attitude that does not sit well with me. Our children’s souls are at stake here! If I’ve agreed to have children and raise them as Catholics, then surely that does not come to a stop when it’s time to be confirmed. I’m going to flippantly say that when they’re 18 or when they no longer live under my roof, then they can make those kinds of decisions for themselves. I only wish I’d had such a foundation during my teenage years.

    Our 8-year old is having her First Holy Communion this May, and is thus far our third to go through the process at our parish. I sent the coordinator an email telling her that we home school and asking if we could skip using the parish-provided materials and use the religion book and New St. Joseph First Communion Catechism (which includes the Sacrament of Penance prep as well) instead. The [stock] response I received was that in our archdiocese, they prefer all the kids to use the same materials. Having two previous children go through this process at our parish, I remembered how awful and “light” the materials were – and this is coming from a convert of almost 10 years now who went through the standard hippy-dippy, touchy-feely RCIA process and knew virtually nothing of substance about our Faith!

    All I know is how cheated I felt catechism-wise, and I did not want them to constantly be thinking, “Well I didn’t know that!” The parish materials went into the trash and we’ve used our own. I know for a fact that Fr. would not object to that; the poor coordinator is stuck in the middle. It’s unfortunate that the standard materials/programs at most parishes teach to the least common denominator: the kids who get little or no formation at home. In all honesty, I wish someone had simply handed me a copy of that First Communion Catechism when I first began my inquiry; it would have saved me much grief and frustration over the last ten years. As someone else stated, I’ve also had to self-educate. It’s been hard at times, but I feel like I’m stronger for it.

    The priest who baptized and confirmed me is no longer at our parish. When that change happened about five years ago, most of his staff left our church as well. Our current pastor knocks himself out daily trying to wake up the parents in our parish; he is constantly doing what he can to get people to really think hard and understand the gifts we receive in the Sacraments, to understand the responsibilities we have as parents in our children’s faith formation and to do it all with the reverence and propriety that they so richly deserve. We are so blessed to have him, and the changes he has brought to our church are building a stronger foundation brick by brick. He is passionate about what he does and it is bearing great fruit in our parish.

  62. dominic1955 says:

    To me it seems that all the Sacraments “of initiation” (baptism, confirmation, confession, communion) should be given by the age of reason, with baptism obviously shortly after birth. The grace is more powerful that the catechesis, but of course, that needs to be seriously overhauled in practically every diocese.

    In the mean time, we should never use any Sacrament as a “carrot” to keep people in religious ed and whatnot. What good does it really do them? If people want to leave, let them leave as they have already left in their heart. Trying to trick them into staying is detrimental to both them and the wider Church. It would be good for the Church to get smaller, more dedicated, and more faithful. Trying to get every material heretic to stick around brings everyone down. The light is always on for them, but sometimes they need to screw up on their own.

    Even if your parish has excellent catechesis, good liturgical life, good parish community, etc. etc. people still have free will and their own mind. Sacraments should not be about a numbers game.

    I for one do not get the point in trying to make the Church “big tent” such that we try to get everyone and anyone to “be Catholic”. That really worked for the Anglicans, didn’t it?

  63. LisaP. says:

    MuchLikeMartha,

    I’ve got a phone call in right now to the priest at our closest parish asking if we can home school to prepare my child for First Communion. I can’t put her in the hands of religious education, I’ve seen too much that is too bad in too many parishes in religious education and sacramental preparation classes.

    Folks who want to “capture” kids for religious education using the sacraments, that is such disordered thinking. I ran through this when baptizing my third child, we couldn’t baptize unless we re-took the classes (as if baptism changes over time). The folks teaching the class thought they were doing well by bringing the faith to folks who were just stopping in to baptize and didn’t regularly attend. But what they wound up doing was teaching error and bullying folks into listening to lectures. My understanding is that the Church teaches that baptism is necessary. Don’t hold my baby’s salvation hostage.

    If you want more people to come to religious education classes, make the classes worth coming to. Make sure they teach orthodoxy and have solid content. Forget the bells and whistles, if you make it clear that you are catechizing faithfully people will come, and they will send their kids. Those already faithful will send their children because they now can; those who have fallen away will come because there will be something to come back to. Forcing tooshes into seats for a few hours each week to listen to misguided pablum by holding it over their heads that their kids can’t wear the white dress otherwise, that’s not going to bring one person any closer to the Church, or to Christ. You want people in religious education, give them a reason to come, not a threat.

  64. Tina in Ashburn says:

    Just in case some don’t know this: the wisdom of giving as many Sacraments as possible as early as possible [including baptismal exorcism] is that bad habits are less intrenched and Grace is able to work more fully in the soul. Waiting until after bad habits, attachments to sin, a confused/darkened intellect, insensitivity to the devil’s influence, etc., have acted on the soul, puts the individual at greater risk.

    Sure it can make ‘sense’ to delay confirmation as a way to entice parents and children to participate in the parish, but how much more of an advantage might it be to infuse all the Graces and Sacraments into souls first? I’m guessing that then the desire to know and love God would be more powerful, and thus a soul is more likely to want to know God and participate in His love.

  65. Fr. Augustine Thompson O.P. says:

    Centristian,

    The misordering of the sacraments is not, as I seem to have read in one of the comments, an American thing. It is universal in the Latin Church and the result of ill-informed liturgical changes under Pope St. Pius X.

    In his zeal to promote more frequent Communion, he ordered the moving of first communion down to the age of reason — as early as possible, given that children needed reason to make their first confession. Previously first Confession, Confirmation (by the bishop), and first Communion were administered when young people were in their teens. The idea was that getting children going to Communion every week as a habit would keep them going every week for the rest of their lives.

    In those day’s, too, confession had REQUIRED before Communion, and the confessor decided how often you could go to communion before you had to return for confession. In practice, except for daily communicants, this mean that you went to Confession every time you went to Communion (perhaps a few times a year, but at least once for the Easter Duty). The daily communicants usually went to Confession once a week (and, if the confessor required it, more often). Pope St. Pius X also abolished this requirement that confessors’ permission be given before (in practice) every Communion. Instead, it was left to the penitent to decide if a mortal sin had been committed and Confession was necessary. But it took until the 1950s for this freedom to decide for yourself whether you needed Confession to sink in. Then came the virtual abolition of the Eucharistic fast, and St. Pius’s goal of frequent Communion (indeed Communion at every Mass) because the practical norm.

    I am not enthused about moving confirmation earlier to the time of First Communion, rather First Communion (with no question preceded by Confession) should be later. St. Pius was right about one thing, regular Confession probably should start at the age of reason, so that the “habit” of going is established before we even start to worry about inculcating a habit of frequent Communion — since it is now treated as a “right.”

    But moving Confirmation to the time of the still too early first Communion is probably a good first step. And the triad of of Baptism-Confirmation-Communion can be symbolically restored by making it a triad of Confession-Confirmation-Communion. After all, Confession is theologically the restoration of Baptismal innocence, and so a kind of “second baptism.” Or as the fathers called it “The plank after shipwreck.”

  66. erin_hark says:

    A thousand times worse than the “confirmation is something you choose” mindset is the “confirmation is something you earn” mindset that is heavily promoted by the ever-increasing and increasingly onerous requirements in many if not most parishes for “public service” projects as part of confirmation prep. In many places these are requirements are for literally dozens and dozens of hours. As if anything we can do can “earn” the graces of a sacrament! At least moving confirmation back to a younger age would put a spoke in the wheels of this Pelagian practice.

  67. MuchLikeMartha says:

    LisaP,

    I will keep your efforts in my prayers.

    My kids have asked me many times why this or that saint did not have their First Communion until they were a teen; The Song of Bernadette comes to mind first and foremost. They were even more surprised to find out that those saints were confirmed first. I’ve never been able to come up with an answer that wholly made sense to all of us other than, “That’s just the way they did it back then…” which doesn’t really cut it.

  68. New Sister says:

    @APX – it is amazing. I like to ponder this in prayer, the forces that brought us home despite the forces of evil that sought to keep us away. I think, “who am I [are we] to receive such grace?” I thank my Guardian Angel, my patron Saint Therese, Blessed, John Paul II, St Joseph, and above all, Our Lady. I also thank my mother who didn’t know the faith herself, but in her suffering prayed that her children would know God — and she did have me baptized as a baby (I was one of the last to be baptized by the Traditional rite, with the exorcism, May ’67)

    Those of us who receive faith later in life are so grateful and zealous for it – we have a lot of making up to do. In that sense, the devil made a tactical error by being so bold with the modernism. It seems more and more to be backfiring on him.

  69. acricketchirps says:

    I had X-treme! Unction first, but then, I was one bad-assed baby.

  70. twele923 says:

    So my fiancée’s parents missed the deadline on enrolling her in 2nd grade First Communion classes, so they put her in an RCIC program and she made first Confession, Confirmation, and Communion at 9. Would this be an option in places where there’s resistance from the parish/diocese? Just to “miss” a deadline and utilize a different Christian Initiation programme?

  71. Suburbanbanshee says:

    Re: various Eastern and Latin Rite folks suggesting that we do everything the Eastern way –

    Yeah, sure. And I’ll come over to your house and change out all your furniture for what I like, and move all the food in your fridge and stock it with only my favorites, and we’ll hold a coin toss every Mass to decide whether we use unleavened or leavened bread on the altar….

    We have to protect the integrity of our own Rites’ worthy traditions by protecting the integrity of those of others. Or we have to keep telling each other to kiss off, which isn’t very polite; so I’d rather go with option 1.

    It’s really sad that so many Latin Rite (and other Western rites) Catholics don’t understand their own sacramental order. But the answer is studying up, not throwing every out and trying to take over what other people do, without understanding everything that they do either. This is exactly how we got into this mess, post-Vatican II, so why on earth would you advocate snarling things up even more? Sheesh! Go get a ball of yarn and a kitten, and work out your organizational issues with her first!

    Re: First Communion at the age of reason

    You don’t get less grace by having First Communion at the age of reason! Sheesh! First off, if you’ve just gone to Confession, you’re as clean as if you just got Baptized; and second, do you really want St. Therese to come beat you up!? She’s one of the great ones for receiving First Communion early, after proving she’d reached the age of reason early. If our kids are more ill-catechised than 19th century French chicks, that’s probably because we don’t prioritize catechization, not that kids are stupider. We may yet have to go back to memorization tests, if people don’t get on the stick.

    Of course, it’s possible that today’s kids are often so neglected by their parents that they don’t understand right and wrong, or basics of Catholicism, or are unable to reason, at the age of seven. In which case, there is plenty of leeway between about seven and nine. I understood First Communion just fine, because my parents made sure I did. My First Communion preparation didn’t start a month before I was seven, either; it was the result of a (short) lifetime of my parents making sure we were all ready when the time came.

    Re: Confirmation of baptized kids in danger of death —

    Fr. Z posted about this once. Priests can and should do it. Nurses can’t (unless they’re also bishops or duly designated priests).

    One reason is that, even before the age of reason, kids are old enough to potentially have spiritual trouble while in danger of death (either the natural or the demonic kind). If baptized kids in danger of death are Confirmed, they are strengthened against such things. (And there are other reasons too.)

  72. Suburbanbanshee says:

    Re: ignorance and bad catechesis about Confirmation

    Of course it stinks! Of course most of us were taught wrong! (I know I was, though I kinda ignored most of the wrong stuff because I loved the first Pentecost so much, and things were kinda charismatic-tinged back then. We were all hoping for the Seven Gifts of the Holy Spirit in extremely tangible form.) But the good news is, the Sacrament is the Sacrament, and it is full of graces for us whenever we receive it, and those graces can always flower more in us as we dispose ourselves better.

    We shouldn’t be gloomy; we should pick ourselves up from where we are, and start learning and teaching better, and paying more attention to God and the authentic teachings of His Church.

    And I did receive significant graces on my Confirmation day: even though I was Confirmed in junior high, even though I was ignorant and too ignorant to know it, even though service hours were borderline simoniacal and no CCD was provided for kids after Confirmation. I don’t really have any reason to complain, thank God, because the Holy Spirit has kept me out of all sorts of trouble that I certainly never would have had wisdom to avoid on my own, and because He has always been with me, since then, when I needed His seven gifts. It is a mighty Sacrament, and a beautiful one.

  73. wecahill says:

    Am I the only one who thinks that it makes sense to be confirmed in the early teenage years? I received the Sacrament of Confirmation at the end of sixth grade (age 11). We spent the entire school year in preparation, which meant intensive Baltimore Catechism, regular Confession, mass every First Friday (it was presumed that you would attend on all Sundays and Holy Days of Obligation). By the end of the school year we had a reasonably good understanding of what the Catholic faith was, and what it meant to be a “soldier of Christ”. The Baltimore Catechism says:
    “What is necessary to receive Confirmation properly? To receive Confirmation properly it is necessary to be in the state of grace, and to know well the chief truths and duties of our religion.” With all due respect to the many readers who are smarter than I am, how can an infant, or child ‘know well the chief truths and duties of our religion’? Does anybody really think that just changing the order of the sacraments will make our young people less susceptible to the glamour of evil that saturates our culture? Doesn’t it make sense to have Confirmation (and Confirmation prep) at a time when they are old enough to have some understanding of what it means to be a soldier of Christ? I’m just askin’

  74. Alice says:

    My mother-in-law was confirmed on the same day that she received her First Communion because that’s how they did it in Philadelphia ~1950. She was either 7 or 8, I believe, and from what I can tell she never went to CCD except in preparation for Confirmation and First Communion. She and all her siblings are still Catholic, though, so I guess it worked.

    I wish that it were possible for infants to receive all the Sacraments of Initiation. Out of respect for our tradition of reserving Confirmation to the Bishop, the priest could baptize and then the Bishop could hold quarterly Masses for each vicariate to confirm and give First Communion to the newly baptized infants.

  75. Mrs. O says:

    To receive confirmation one has to be at the age of reason, in the state of grace, able to either confess creed (faith) or renew baptismal promises (creed) ‘do you reject Satan etc’ A child is not expected to know what they should know as an adult as we should be ever learning. That is all that is required to properly receive Confirmation. A 7 yo could do it. Just a thought. If it were reordered, the high school kids could be taught serious apologetics plus theology of the body. If there are two things needed now it is how to defend your faith, and sexuality and the purpose.

  76. Mrs. O says:

    Just to clarify, the US has permission to Confirm children/young people between the age of reason and about 16. As far as I know, it is a US thing. I did read something interesting about the “about 16″. When they first issued/asked permission to the Holy See, it was left blank. They wrote back and said they need an age. US (suppose NCCB) answered with “about 16″. Canon Law has age of reason (7) for reception unless the Bishops have something else approved, which they do. Is it confusing? Yes. Is it their right? Yes. But if a child not meeting all the requirements of the diocesan policy (younger) requests this sacrament, and is denied….they can appeal to the Holy See and they usually side with the child.
    IF we look at this Sacrament as truly bringing the child closer to Christ and preparing them for graces in order to more fully receive Christ in the Eucharist – then this makes sense. I didn’t get that someone commented when I was Confirmed (age 13) that I had during the mass received my 1st Holy Communion. IF you follow that theology, then yes they were right. Now I like the Knighthood symbols/theology regarding Confirmation because we need to be ever reminded of the battle we will do. They both make sense. What doesn’t make sense is “coming of age” “you choosing Christ” “you choosing to be Catholic” or “earning the sacrament thru service hours”.
    This is from the CCC
    1293 In treating the rite of Confirmation, it is fitting to consider the sign of anointing and what it signifies and imprints: a spiritual seal.

    Anointing, in Biblical and other ancient symbolism, is rich in meaning: oil is a sign of abundance and joy;103 it cleanses (anointing before and after a bath) and limbers (the anointing of athletes and wrestlers); oil is a sign of healing, since it is soothing to bruises and wounds;104 and it makes radiant with beauty, health, and strength.

    1294 Anointing with oil has all these meanings in the sacramental life. The pre-baptismal anointing with the oil of catechumens signifies cleansing and strengthening; the anointing of the sick expresses healing and comfort. The post-baptismal anointing with sacred chrism in Confirmation and ordination is the sign of consecration. By Confirmation Christians, that is, those who are anointed, share more completely in the mission of Jesus Christ and the fullness of the Holy Spirit with which he is filled, so that their lives may give off “the aroma of Christ.”105

    1295 By this anointing the confirmand receives the “mark,” the seal of the Holy Spirit. A seal is a symbol of a person, a sign of personal authority, or ownership of an object.106 Hence soldiers were marked with their leader’s seal and slaves with their master’s. A seal authenticates a juridical act or document and occasionally makes it secret.107

    1296 Christ himself declared that he was marked with his Father’s seal.108 Christians are also marked with a seal: “It is God who establishes us with you in Christ and has commissioned us; he has put his seal on us and given us his Spirit in our hearts as a guarantee.”109 This seal of the Holy Spirit marks our total belonging to Christ, our enrollment in his service for ever, as well as the promise of divine protection in the great eschatological trial.110

  77. Tina in Ashburn says:

    wecahill: The more innocent a soul is, the better effect a Sacrament has.
    Also, I too was taught that Confirmation didn’t work unless we understood and accepted it, kind of a paraphrase of what you said above. But it is clear we were taught wrong. Confirmation does have an affect whether we understand it or not. Oh it is true we must be in the state of grace to receive the power of any Sacrament, so obviously a just-baptized infant fits that.

    We know that Baptism has its effect in spite of any understanding of it. This is why we believe in infant baptism, with other other organized beliefs teach that baptism is for later in life, when the recipient can understand it. I’m sensing this applies to Confirmation’s effect too.

    In regard to doing everything the Eastern rites do – to a point that is a good idea. I’d like to return to the good practices that the West dropped which the Easterners preserved, such as infant Confirmation or no handling of Communion by unconsecrated hands. There might be some practices Westerners could take up that were never done before. However it is true, there is an East and a West in the Church because of certain differences of approach that maybe should be left to each. As was explained to me once, the Romans were uptight and humorless [thus the way the Latin Mass, its music and the vestments developed] while the Byzantines were more extroverted and flashy, copying the habits of the extravagant courts of Pharoah [hey if thats how they treat THEIR god, we can do better than THAT!] which in turn affected the music, Liturgy and their vestments. I would very much miss statues, icons are gorgeous and mystical, but I do like statues and all the art of the Western Church, just for instance.

  78. KAS says:

    One of the classes for my MA in theological studies was on the Sacraments and their history. Great class. We shared profs with the seminarians and that was pretty amazing too. What struck me was that the historical order of the Sacraments of Initiation is Baptism, Confirmation and then Communion. After receiving those the person would begin to go to Confession too. I’m thrilled that this Bishop has restored the ancient order and moved the age down to the age of reason.

    I had one child enter the Church through RCIA and receive all three Sacraments of Initiation. I think it did more spiritual good for him than my other child’s experience of the out of order Sacraments and waiting until much older for Confirmation did for her. Considering how little the teens understood Church teaching when confirmed, it seems silly to insist it be done older. Let the younger children receive the graces and be better prepared for the challenges to the Faith that come with puberty.

    I’d rather see the teens working on apologetics and how to answer challenges to the Faith. Teens want to argue, teach them the reasons why we disagree theologically with our separated brethren. That will help them better remember what we believe and why.

  79. Mrs. O says:

    con’t
    2 It is evident from its celebration that the effect of the sacrament of Confirmation is the special outpouring of the Holy Spirit as once granted to the apostles on the day of Pentecost.

    1303 From this fact, Confirmation brings an increase and deepening of baptismal grace:
    - it roots us more deeply in the divine filiation which makes us cry, “Abba! Father!”;117
    - it unites us more firmly to Christ;
    - it increases the gifts of the Holy Spirit in us;
    - it renders our bond with the Church more perfect;118
    - it gives us a special strength of the Holy Spirit to spread and defend the faith by word and action as true witnesses of Christ, to confess the name of Christ boldly, and never to be ashamed of the Cross:119

    Recall then that you have received the spiritual seal, the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of right judgment and courage, the spirit of knowledge and reverence, the spirit of holy fear in God’s presence. Guard what you have received. God the Father has marked you with his sign; Christ the Lord has confirmed you and has placed his pledge, the Spirit, in your hearts.120

  80. Dr. Eric says:

    Suburban Banshee,

    It’s not the case of everyone having to do things “the Eastern way” but that originally, the baby was Baptized, Confirmed, and then received the Holy Eucharist. This still happens on the Easter Vigil for new Catholics. We don’t make our new converts wait 7 years until they can have the Eucharist and then another 5 until we Confirm them. The ancient way is Baptism, Confirmation, and Eucharist at the same Liturgy.

  81. trad catholic mom says:

    IIRC the change in order and timing was a result of the reformation and the council of Trent. I think we should go back to the tradition that is maintained in the Orthodox Church of having baptism, confirmation ( IE chrismastion) and first communion all at once for infants with confession starting at the age of reason.

  82. Amyjo says:

    That is my Bishop!!!! :) :) :)

  83. Margaret says:

    Every Catholic has to make, sometimes more than once, a conscious, clear, willful decision to stay a Catholic, somewhere in the range from early adolescence to will into adulthood. A “Come to Jesus” moment for Catholics, if you will.

    Let’s not confuse that decision with the Sacrament of Confirmation. I suspect, actually, that the aforementioned act(s) of the will would be more clear-cut and tangible if that sealing grace/imprint of the Holy Spirit was already present in the soul.

  84. Han says:

    SuburbanBanshee,

    Y’all should not change your practices just to mirror ours, but there may nevertheless be a sound reason to revert to the more ancient practice. It seems to me that the “age of reason” requirement for receiving Holy Communion in the Roman Catholic Church is at odds with the general trend of Roman Catholic sacramental theology, as well as with the Roman Catholic stance on life issues, which have arisen to prominence in recent times. If sacraments work ex opere operato, there is no more reason to withhold Communion from infants than to withhold from them Baptism. I think that the “discerning the Body of Lord” in 1 Cor. 11:29 cannot be properly read to require an intellectual awareness of the Real Presence since the entire discourse starting at 11:26 is about taking care to not partake unworthily. One would think that the same Church that hashed out all the serious Christological controversies would certainly have noticed that it was improperly giving Communion to infants for hundreds of years if 1 Cor. 11:29 were to be understood to require “age of reason.” I find it hard to believe that the whole Church was wrong about the most important thing that Christians do until the Middle Ages, which suggests to me that the contemporary Catholic practice has deviated from Tradition.

    Moreover, the Roman Catholic Church has been at the forefront of reminding the world that human personhood is not a function of intellect or utility. Why then, if it is so wrong to deprive the very young, or the very sick (e.g. Terri Schivo) of life, is there a requirement that a member of the Church need to be able to understand the Sacrament (or at least regurgitate what was taught in First Communion class) to be given the Bread of Life or to taste the Fountain of Immortality? My prediction is that the contemporary awareness of personhood issues will lead the Roman Catholic Church back to the ancient practice of infant Communion.

  85. Maxiemom says:

    It just occurred to me that moving up Confirmation means that religious education classes will be emptied of children even earlier.

  86. Samthe44 says:

    When I converted at the age of 13, I went to my first Confession, was Confirmed, and then received my first Communion. It seemed natural to me to receive for the first time after Confirmation. I am a bit confused, however. I have always thought that Confirmation was a ‘coming-of-age/you-choosing-your-own-faith’ kind of thing. I gather that It is not. What actually is Confirmation then?

  87. Martial Artist says:

    As a convert to the Catholic Church in 2010 (I was raised and confirmed LCMS in the 1950s) this change makes a great deal of sense to me, and allays the mild sense of confusion as to why the order of Confirmation and first Eucharist was ever changed from what I had experienced as a youth, and had always assumed was the practice of the ancient church. I hope and pray that this will spread throughout the Church.

    Pax et bonum,
    Keith Töpfer

  88. Fr. Augustine Thompson O.P. says:

    “It’s not the case of everyone having to do things “the Eastern way” but that originally, the baby was Baptized, Confirmed, and then received the Holy Eucharist. This still happens on the Easter Vigil for new Catholics.”

    As I wrote earlier: This is not the “Eastern Way” it is the Latin Way from antiquity up until the reign of St. Pius X. The badly considered changes in both confessional discipline and the order of the sacraments made by St. Pius are totally outside the Latin Tradition before 1903. If you want a study of actual Latin practice in the middle ages (and to Trent and beyond), see this book: HERE.

  89. Tina in Ashburn says:

    This is a great discussion which brings to light my confusion about Confirmation.
    Thanks to others for informative links.
    The Catechism of the Council of Trent is most succinct and puts emphasis on characteristics in a different, maybe better context. It makes the reading of the new Catechism of the Catholic Church a little less muddy and puts the emphasis where it belongs.

    check it out: http://www.catholicapologetics.info/thechurch/catechism/Holy7Sacraments-Confirmation.shtml. It explains everything, including the purpose of the slap and the balsam.

    Trent’s Catechism also cites the age of reason as necessary to Confirmation, and emphasizes the imprint of the Holy Ghost that strengthens us in our warfare. Although Confirmation is not necessary for salvation, no one should die without Confirmation.

    I’m thinking out loud here, if anyone can offer other insight, that would help clarify why the Sacraments should be re-ordered, confirmation’s true characteristics, and advantages of infant confirmation. It seems to me, that although reason is necessary for Confirmation, having been Confirmed as early as possible allows the Sacrament to do its work as soon as the recipient is ready. Although the age of 7 is the accepted age of reason, plenty of kids reach reasoning way before that. I know someone who around 3 years old, hid behind the couch to purposely swallow her gum knowing it was wrong because her father admonished her not to do so. Or a child while still in the crib, remembers listening mutely to adult conversation and analyzing why such and such was being said.

    Sacraments generally impart their characteristics to an individual no matter what even if there are barriers. This is why confession restores the effects of baptism, or if an unbaptized person somehow participates in a marriage, once he is baptized, the effects of the Sacrament of marriage will then kick in. This was recently explained to me, hope i got it right.

    I guess reason is needed for Confirmation because of its characteristic of preparing us for battle. We sin with our minds first, rationalizing the action. To fight temptation and actively war against it, it makes sense that we get imprinted with the Holy Spirit not only for strength but to enlighten our intellect. Therefore the sooner we have this protection in place, the better off we are. The soldier is best armed before going into battle, not after he is wounded. Am I guessing right?

  90. q7swallows says:

    Re: the Eastern discussion:  
     
    Our large ROMAN family partook in the Eastern sacraments of infant Baptism, Chrismation, and Eucharist (in infancy for the youngest members but as much as soon as possible for the older children–then about 8 or 9 years old)– and we have seen nothing but benefits and experienced the great wisdom of the practice.  

    We, too, were shocked and dismayed to learn then from our bi-ritual Byzantine pastor what Han and Fr. Augustine are telling you now about what WAS ONCE our Roman patrimony.  I’ll never forget his words:  ”Once you accepted Baptism, you were entitled to as much of the Church’s sacramental treasury as you could hold.”  That the ancient church would give Chrismation (Confirmation) to an infant was a great testimony to the fact that even children ARE already warriors in Christ’s Kingdom–not  potential ones (as current Roman practice implies).

    So, in my experience, it does make great, urgent sense that we Romans be given BACK this trinity of sacraments of initiation at ***infancy*** and then Confession at the age of reason.  Afterward, white clothes & a party for the child’s “First Solemn Communion” is how we celebrated the sacrament of Confession since the children had already been receiving the Eucharist.  It works nicely, seems more natural, and Confession is highlighted with an importance that is almost necessarily second-class in current Roman catechetical practice because the spotlight is on receiving Holy Communion for the first time, so Confession often ends up being more like a hoop to jump through to get ‘there’.  

    Yes, take them all back to infancy and don’t neglect the baptismal exorcism!

  91. Han says:

    Tina Ashburnia,

    I want to answer your question, but be advised that I am writing as an Orthodox Christian, and my answer will be informed by this.

    Chrismation should be administered to infants because the Church is Trinitarian. In Baptism, we die to sin and rise to new life in Christ, and while the Trinity is involved in all of the sacraments, Baptism is very much Christological since those who have been Baptized into Christ have put on Christ (Gal. 3:27). However, the Church is not simply the mystical body of Christ, it is the icon of the Trinity. Chrismation, then is each Christian’s own personal Pentecost. Just as the Holy Spirit descended upon the nascent Church in Jerusalem both collectively and individually (see Acts 2:2-3), Chrismation is necessary to incorporate a Christian into the Church. As early as the Second Ecumenical Council, the Church has recognized this distinction by, for example, holding in Canon 7 of that Council that certain heretics were to be received into the Church by Chrismation, but that others were so debased in doctrine that they were not even Christians, and thus needed to be Baptized. Anyway, this is the primary reason why infants ought to be Chrismated. Infants are full members of the Church because the Church is a family; unlike political society, the Church does not recognize degrees of membership, so nobody is a “minor” with limited Ecclesial rights until some later age of majority. This is why the “Catholic Bar Mitzvah” thing is so wrong. “Bar Mitzvah” means “Son of the Covenant”–it is the moment when a Jew becomes responsible for keeping the Law for himself rather than be the responsibility of his parents. But because every member of the Church is a member of a “royal priesthood, a holy nation” (1 Pet. 2:9), not as a consequence of what he does or knows, but as a result of being a Christian, every member of the Church from infancy should be anointed with Holy Chrism as kings or priests are anointed (see e.g. 1 Rg. [1 Sam.] 10:1, Ex. 29:7).

    In Chrismation, we receive the Holy Spirit in a pronounced way. While it is true that all sacraments are Trinitarian, and therefore all sacraments are made efficacious by the action of the Holy Spirit, and therefore we receive the same Holy Spirit in some sense in every sacrament, in Chrismation the whole point of the sacrament is to receive the indwelling of the Holy Spirit as such. I submit that the purpose of this is less about personal gifts imparted by the Holy Spirit (while important), but rather corporate gifts for the Church. After all, the Spirit blows where He wills, and it is by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit that one can come to Christ in the first instance, or repent of sin, or return to the true Church after having fallen away. Thus, it seems to me that notwithstanding some alienation from God, the Holy Spirit still works in persons separated from Christ or from His Church. The indwelling of the Holy Spirit given at Chrismation therefore gives the Church member the grace, the right and the responsibility to be a guardian of the true faith, and to discern the manner in which he is to do this. For most of us, this ministry amounts to living the Orthodox life, passing down the faith to our kids, and honestly proclaiming “axios” at the consecration of the bishop (or courageously proclaiming “anaxios” if the candidate is actually unworthy). Thus, it is not the Chrismation gives the Orthodox Christian the power to be a better Christian than the unchrismated Protestant, but rather it gives the Orthodox Christian the ability to exercise gifts–charismatic gifts–for the purpose of maintaining the Tradition which the Church is charged with transmitting.

    Thus, the difference between Baptism and Chrismation is that one is primarily about Jesus Christ, and the other is about the Holy Spirit; one is about the individual salvation, the other is about incorporation into the Church; one is about affirming the truth that nobody comes to the Father except through the Son, the other is about affirming that truth that one cannot have God as Father without the Church as mother. Chrismation is a parallel sacrament to Baptism, not some sort of supplement, just as the Holy Spirit is in His own person “the Lord, the Giver of Life, Who proceeds from the Father” and not some subordinate being to the Son. Because the Son and the Holy Spirit act in parallel, Chrismation should not be administered at some later time is if it were some sort of Bapitsm booster shot, but rather with Baptism because Christianity is Trinitarian.

  92. q7swallows says:

    A few more practical considerations:

    As we learned from hard experience about when, exactly, the age of reason occurs, the answer is that it is largely around age 7 but it can be earlier.  We learned we had to be child-specific in choosing times to educate for Confession.  This system is suited beautifully to a homeschooling scenario but could be perhaps more tricky otherwise.  Still, it should be the child’s ultimate welfare and spiritual well-being that decides it.

    Now, if Confession  is implemented as I discussed in my earlier comment above, it is easier to be flexible about including First Solemn Communions on any Sunday:  just have the little white-clad darlings & their families sit up front, direct part of the homily to them, and allow them to receive first.  This allows regular Sunday worship to continue for all without provoking an orgy of parish First Holy Communion liturgies, preparations, and general flightiness.  It leaves the children more at peace to enjoy and contemplate the gravity of the event when they come to it as they are ready and in the more natural context of their worshipping family–both immediate and parish and not in a herd of classmates.

    The danger with this is always the keeping up with the Joneses phenomenon.  But it’s sobering to know that parents have the obligation to keep up the practice of providing the children with access to Confession once they begin.  And that it’s about the relationship with the Lord, not the party afterward.

  93. Tina in Ashburn says:

    Han, thank you. Your explanation is full of mystical beauty!

  94. Tina in Ashburn says:

    q7swallows: really makes sense what you have added ["children ARE already warriors in Christ’s Kingdom–not potential ones"]. And I like the idea of smaller First Communion/Confession groups. How hard is it for many of us to focus on the wonder of meeting Jesus, instead of the outfits and the parties and the pictures? These extras add honor and excitement to what is occurring, but these things must not distract either. The Communion classes are so huge in our bursting Arlington Diocese that the groups are divided over 2 or 3 Masses in many parishes. What a crush!!

  95. Imrahil says:

    The thing is: I think the initiation Sacraments should either be conferred at once (in adults), or each on its own. And if the latter, I see no real reason to wait for the Eucharist after Confirmation has been conferred; but there is some reason to wait for the Confirmation when Eucharist has not been conferred because every Catholic Christian with use-of-reason can communicate, while Confirmation is a Sacrament of completion (thus the talk about maturity has some real sense, vide St. Thomas).

    However, Confirmation is nowadays conferred way too late. About the fourth year of primary school (but after First Communion), as it was with our parents’ generation, that’s what I figure to be best. At any rate I think it is unadvisable to wait for puberty.

    What also is unadvisable is making people have a bad conscience for, or even intentionally hindering them to, celebrate such a solemn event with an appropriate celebration. We may not like all the phenomena which this brings with itself, but neither do we like all the phenomena alcohol brings with itself and yet God did create the vinyard.

  96. Imrahil says:

    Sorry: when Eucharist *has* been conferred.

  97. q7swallows says:

    Imrahil,

    Of course a celebration afterward is appropriate because we are incarnate beings whose senses can benefit from some affirmation of spiritual realities.  I never advocated eliminating that or making anyone feel bad about celebrating sacraments!   I’m rather emphasizing that smaller scale, family-inspired celebrations help to prevent the massive organizational orgies that see a disproportionate amount of effort spent on the party, choreography, photography, etc. arrangements to the amount of effort involved in actually preparing the children for the sacrament.  We adults must lead by example; so if the trappings expend more of our efforts than the sacrament (and our own consistent participation in it), we do the children a great, great disservice. They are more observant than we think!

  98. Imrahil says:

    Well around here it was heavily discussed in the Parish Council to oblige (!) parents to dress their children in – let us call them unbeautiful – frocks for First Communion to avoid parents paying for their girl’s communion dress, with this same argument. Yes, in this wealthy time of hours after our grandparents and greatgrandparents etc. etc. who were way poorer had somehow managed it.

    Likewise, many people frown upon Christmas (as popularly celebrated) because presents happen to be material (I call that crypto-Manichaeanism, if anyone’s interested), and happen to, among other things, foster the economy (which I call a benefit as long as the “among other things” is clear, but many seem to consider economy evil-in-itself). There is always much effort to make the better the enemy of the good, as we say in a proverb.

    Of course what you say is true 100%.

    And of course children are as observant as possible.

  99. q7swallows says:

    Unbeautiful frocks are as distasteful off the sanctuary as they are on it.  I always sewed my own children’s First Solemn Communion clothes (they make great heirlooms!) but not everybody has the time or the skill.    How about setting up a set of parish volunteers/retirees to sew/acquire nice, more tradionally-styled white gowns/suits and make a lending or low cost stock of them for those who cannot afford their own?  There are certainly some nice ones out there for way less $$ than brand new. And beautiful used is always preferable to new polyester sacks.

  100. Imrahil says:

    Yes, but you’re missing the thought behind. Because once you accepted “beautiful used is preferable to new polyester sacks”, parents will say: Beautiful new is preferable to used, at least if it is about my daughter, and after all the money is somewhere there. One may call that “keeping up with the Jones’s” or also love to one’s children.

    And then the thought which isn’t my thought but which ought to be understood goes on into two directions. 1., the honorable direction: what about the one unknown family who can not afford? Isn’t it a shame that this child alone must wear a used one, or that the Godfather or even the Parish Council must be asked? 2., the rather less honorable (objectively; this is not an insult!) direction: Ought we not rather spend the money for social justice (not charity btw, justice)? Or – and I accuse no one of explicity thinking that, but it cannot really dismissed to exist as a background feeling at all – if it comes to it (for noone would), ought we not rather keep up our possessions instead of wasting them for some religious ceremony (which btw Dr. Martin Luther OSA, a pure philistine in this respect, thought preferable at least where indulgences, in which he at that time believed, were concerned, cf. Thesis 46)?

  101. q7swallows says:

    1.    If they have the money after all, problem solved.  You were attempting to solve for the poverty issue invoked by the Parish Council, not pride.  Truly poor people will be grateful for beautiful used over polyester sack.

    I have been there and could neither make nor afford our last daughter’s dress.  A beautiful used one was offered to us by a kind soul.  Daughter = thrilled & beautiful for the day.  Parents = humbled but  grateful.  We didn’t have to ask because someone had the charity to seek us out to see if we had what they thought we  needed.  The most touching part?  That someone bothered to care about us at all.  (When I was able, I gave her a little donation later so she might similarly help another child in the future.)

    Again, what’s more important:  the child or one’s pride?

    Also:  most children don’t know about the difference between new and used.  Most don’t care.  What they do care about is whether it’s beautiful and comfortable!

    2.  Spending $$ on social justice:  charity begins at home.  And in one’s home parish.  Besides, it sounds like the Parish Council was going to be spending $$ anyway — on ugliness/mediocrity.  All you’d be  doing is decentralizing the effort and offering beautiful alternatives.

    I did say sew as well.  Are there no seniors or marginalized folks near you who need to be appreciated for their sewing or at least shopping skills?  There are dresses for sale out there on-line, at thrift stores, & at garage sales for less than $5.  That’s not going to break anyone’s bank!  A careful washing, a few new ribbons or trim and they become new creations!  You might foster even more clothing the naked than you think!

    If you undertook it as a micro-ministry, no one will argue with you, you will be thanked deeply by those who needed it (maybe even the P. Council), you could save an untold number of children from wearing polyester sack and others from having to look at it.  All you need is a few lines in the bulletin maybe.  Or a table after Mass.  Or ask the priest/teacher  which families you might seek out first.

    3.  We are incarnate beings!  Beauty surrounding the sacraments is always a positive.  The poor we always have with us but HIM we do not.  The wedding-type  outfit at First Holy/Solemn Communion is a  fitting reminder that the Baptismal clothing has been renewed in Confession and that one with a clean, white soul is a beautiful bride for Jesus.  Holy Communion is consummation of our marriage with God.  Help others (the poor) be  dressed for it–inside and out!  

    Don’t argue all this!  Just make it happen!  God bless you!