Saturday, May 28, 2011

Should confirmation be delayed? Reflecting on the "restored order"


Confirmation of a youth in the Usus Antiquior

Currently, there is a movement in the United States and in Europe (and perhaps in other places) to move the age of confirmation lower. In recent times (that is, in the past three centuries or so), confirmation had been delayed until early adulthood. Moreover, first communion was often not received until this time of greater maturity (perhaps in the early teens). However, especially with the impulse of Pope St. Pius X, first communion was restored to the time of the age of reason (around the seventh year); however, until recently, confirmation was not moved up to this earlier age but remained to be received many years after first communion.
Certainly, the very recent lowering of the age of confirmation has caused some alarm among lay faithful and priests alike. In this article, we intend to look at some of the main concerns on both sides of the issue, and to discuss the nature of the relation between confirmation and first communion. This discussion will be concerned only with the practice of the Latin Church, as the issue is dealt with quite differently in the East.

Which is more traditional: Confirmation before or after first communion?
There are multiple traditions in this regard. While Peter Lombard listed confirmation before first communion, St. Dionysius lists communion first. St. Thomas Aquinas, the great synthesizer of the earlier traditions, at first sides with the Master, but then seems entirely open to the position of the Areopagite. It will be helpful to consider the relation between these two sacraments within the Thomistic synthesis.
The Common Doctor understands the sacraments (and especially the first three sacraments) by way of a certain analogy to natural life: Just as a man is not born fully mature, but grows into adulthood; so too, in the spiritual life, man comes to perfection in Christ through the three sacraments of initiation. Baptism corresponds to birth, for in this sacrament a man is made a new creation in Christ. Confirmation corresponds to growth, since this sacrament perfects and completes baptism. Finally, communion is that food which nourishes man unto final perfection.
Therefore, St. Thomas states: “It is clear that Baptism which is a spiritual regeneration, comes first; then Confirmation, which is ordained to the formal perfection of power; and after these the Eucharist which is ordained to final perfection.” (ST III, q.65, a.2) However, the Angelic Doctor follows with: “Nourishment both precedes growth, as its cause; and follows it, as maintaining the perfection of size and power in man. Consequently, the Eucharist can be placed before Confirmation, as Dionysius places it (Eccl. Hier. iii, iv), and can be placed after it, as the Master does (iv, 2,8).”
Therefore, at least in the mind of St. Thomas, neither order is necessarily to be preferred. Historically, we must admit that the practice of receiving confirmation with first communion seems to have a certain precedence. Even in the case of St. Dionysius the Areopagite, it is quite certain that he is not advocating the delaying of confirmation until years after first communion, but is only speaking of a certain ontological order of the sacraments – in the early Church all three sacraments of initiation seem to have been administered at the same time (at least, confirmation and communion were given together), and confirmation was almost certainly not delayed.
A practical argument in favor of an early confirmation
As we have recently argued, confirmation is necessary for salvation insofar as a man cannot come to salvation in so fitting a manner if he has not received this sacrament. Not, of course, that confirmation is simply and absolutely necessary for salvation (after the manner of baptism), but it is necessary after a manner of fittingness. Moreover, confirmation brings to perfection the graces which were bestowed in baptism.
The importance of the sacrament of confirmation must indeed be stressed – for this sacrament brings a man to adulthood in Christ, strengthens him with interior grace, and prepares him to face the obstacles of the world as a Christian soldier.
Considering the great value of confirmation and, even on a practical level, its usefulness to the Christian life, it is hard to understand why any would advocate delaying the sacrament until many years after coming to the age of reason. Indeed, especially in a world which is so treacherous for young people, the graces of this sacrament are much needed for perseverance in the vocation to holiness. Delaying this sacrament to the time of early adulthood will expose the youths to serious danger, since they will not have the sacramental strength which is required of one who comes into contact with a secular world often explicitly opposed to Christianity.
Refutation of a practical argument in favor of a delayed confirmation
Many will argue in favor of delaying confirmation to young adulthood, since only at this time is a young person able to truly understand the seriousness of the sacrament and of the obligations incumbent upon the confirmed. Moreover, they point to the fact that this sacrament is the “confirmation” of all that was begun in baptism – therefore, they will say, it is better for the sacrament to be delayed until the young person is able to make this commitment in full maturity.
This argument is deeply flawed. First, we must recognize that the “confirming” which occurs in the sacrament of confirmation is not primarily the subject resolution of the individual, but the work of the Holy Spirit in bringing the baptized to perfection in Christ. The sacrament is not principally about the subjective commitment of the individual (though, of course, this is certainly important), but is rather the work of the Holy Spirit in moving the baptized to be confirmed in grace and in the Christian life.
When some argue that seven-year-olds are not mature enough to make the commitment of confirmation, we must respond that it is the Holy Spirit and the grace of God which moves an individual. It is not so much that a man comes to maturity and then receives the sacrament (not at all); rather, the sacrament effects this new spiritual maturity in the individual. As the child grows in natural maturity, the spiritual maturity (which is already present in his soul through confirmation) ought to be fostered and come to a fuller expression.
A pastoral approach
It is not our intent here to completely dismiss the more recent practice of delaying confirmation till the early teens; rather, we simply desire to present the more ancient tradition on this practice. We do not state that there was grave error or neglect in the  more recent practice, certainly it was done with good intention. Indeed, we might even go so far as to admit that there are certain subjective, pastoral reasons in favor of delaying confirmation and that these reasons ought not to be completely ignored – for example, placing confirmation at the end of catechetical training helped to ensure that youths continued in CCD, at least through junior high.
Still, on the whole, the objective value of the sacrament, together with the theological tradition and historical practice of the Church, is more than enough to justify the return to the more ancient custom of administering confirmation together with first communion around the age of seven.

30 comments:

Anonymous said...

In Sacramentum Caritatis 17 and 18, Benedict XVI teaches:
"It must never be forgotten that our reception of Baptism and Confirmation is ordered to the Eucharist. Accordingly, our pastoral practice should reflect a more unitary understanding of the process of Christian initiation. . . . The Holy Eucharist, then, brings Christian initiation to completion and represents the centre and goal of all sacramental life. . . In this regard, attention needs to be paid to the order of the sacraments of initiation. . . . Concretely, it needs to be seen which practice better enables the faithful to put the sacrament of the Eucharist at the centre, as the goal of the whole process of initiation."

Seems pretty clear, eh?

Polycarpo

tharmon said...

I'm entirely open to an early date of Confirmation. Here's an argument I find compelling, rising out of Aquinas' analogy between bodily and spiritual life. Confirmation the sacrament is ordered to spiritual combat. The anointing in Confirmation is analogous to the anointing that took place in Roman legions, signifying the initiation of the recruit into the legion. Just so, Confirmation's anointing signifies the initiation of the Christian into Christ's legion to engage in spiritual combat. Bodily combat is fittingly done by a man with a mature body. Spritual maturity, clearly, does not map bodily maturity; but there is a relation. So, it seems fitting that the sacrament empowering engagement in spiritual combat would be administered at the time of life during which bodily combat also could be undertaken, as a reminder of what it signifies and as a more readily intelligible sign.

Anonymous said...

I have been an advocate of the restored order in the past several years, in favor of Grace and Tradition.
Many people fear that having it delayed to 15-17 gives kids an incentive to go to Church to get their Confirmation.
I think the Grace of the Holy Spirit is the real incentive. The Grace we cannot earn merely by proving how adult or mature we are. Rather, the grace proves us by making us more mature.

Ephrem

John R.P. Russell said...

Your reading of Pseudo-Dionysis the Aeropagite strikes me as erroneous. The first three mysteries he lists are "illumination," "synaxis," and "ointment."

By “illumination,” Pseudo-Dionysius refers to baptism and he includes what many would later call chrismation or confirmation under this heading. As baptism and chrismation are parts of one rite, he presents them as parts of one mystery. After he describes the rite of baptism, he writes that the newly baptized person is brought again before the bishop and the bishop “has sealed the man with the oil that produces divine effects.”

By “synaxis,” he refers to the Eucharistic communion.

By the mystery “of the ointment,” he does not refer to chrismation or confirmation itself, but rather to the consecration of oil for use in baptism, chrismation, consecrating altars, and anointing the dead.

ABehm said...

You briefly reference the practice of the early Church to administer all three Sacraments at the same time (for an infant around 40 days old). This practice is still held within the Eastern Rite Churches (Catholic and Orthodox). The given intention for the individual to be given new life in Christ (Baptism), the strength of the Holy Spirit instilled like the dove at the Jordan river (Chrismation), and Communion with the whole Church with the Mystical Body and Blood of Christ.

What is your opinion on this Tradition? Would you find this worth returning to for the Latin tradition?

Anonymous said...

All I want to say that my fifteen year old son has been talking about entering seminary for a few years. He has been asking if he can do that immediately after graduation from his Catholic high school, and then he would like to go to Rome for an STD. He has been in Catholic school for years, he has been serving at the altar every Sunday for years, he has been attending Sunday catechism classes for years, he helped me to bring Communion to the sick every weekend. In a month he will attend one more time a diocesan vocation retreat. However, he cannot be confirmed in his faith until next year. Does it make sense?

Cristiano

Mark of the Vineyard said...

The Eastern Churches still stick to the practice of the proper order of the Sacraments of Initiation. True, they have a somewhat different take on the Sacrament of Confirmation (in the Latin Church it has more to do with the connection to a particular bishop), but still I think that the reasons that led to the delay in the past are no longer a reason.

Joshua said...

The argument you present for delaying confirmation seems flawed in more than just the way you pointed out. If a person were not mature enough to understand the sacrament, a fortiori he is not mature enough for the Eucharist. I see no way around that, as the Eucharist contains a greater mystery

Further, my understanding is that the age of 12 was standard for confirmation. Indeed the Catechism of Trent places 7-12 years (the same it gives for the Eucharist...St. Pius X held he was still implementing Trent here). I find it most unfortunate that the CIC gives the option of delaying up to 16yrs, that certainly is very novel

There are still further considerations. I am not certain at all that your interpretation of Thomas makes any sense. He probably was not referring to the temporal order in which they are usually administered. In the early and high middle ages confirmation still followed immediately baptism in most of Italy and S. Europe. In N. Europe and England it was delayed, but not considerably. Often bishops would confirm whilst riding through a town with mothers holding out their babies of whatever age.

Now, it would be extremely odd if Thomas was not aware of the customs of his day. And He defends confirming children, arguing that the age of the body does not matter. Whereas with the Eucharist who argues that the use of reason is necessary, that is denied with confirmation.

Indeed, again as the Catechism of Trent states ALL should be confirmed. Hence in the 1983 CIC an infant may be confirmed in danger of death. If an infant can be confirmed, there can be no strong argument for delaying to 16.

Again, St. Thomas states that confirmation bring the perfection of spiritual age, and hence it is fitting that it should precede Communion which, not only is a greater sacrament, but is union with God. That is my take at least. I am very opinionated here admittedly as one who was denied confirmation until 18 and thereby forced to continue in CCD (which in my experience was an utter joke and more a danger to the faith than anything...so I am a bit jaded about the catechetical argument). Indeed, even if most CCD programs are orthodox and substantive, still a delayed confirmation gives a very false impression of a graduation or completion to learning about the faith...often involving robes like that of a graduation. So that catechetical argument is dual edged

Michelangelo said...

Father,

Excellent treatment of the issue. I couldn't see where you have previously treated of the "baptism in the Holy Spirit", which many Catholics are prayed over for at the end of the Life in the Spirit Seminar, given by members of the Charismatic movement.

Now, I agree with you regarding the importance for the Sacrament, I received First Holy Communion in 2nd grade and Confirmation in 5th. Certainly we grow all the time in the appreciation of the Sacraments and in how to cooperate with the grace they give us in our lives as we mature, so I would agree with you that earlier is better for Confirmation.

But what of the theology to incorporate the practical benefits of the "baptism in the Holy Spirit" as seen in the lives of so many Catholics? It has been called a "release" of the gifts of the HS in our lives. You being such an excellent theologian, I'm sure we would all benefit from the synthesis you might give, but only if you would like to, no petulant insistence here! Thank you, Father.

Darren said...

Where does the eastern tradition of administering both chrismation and holy communion at the same time as baptism fit in all of this? Was that ever a part of the Western tradition? And, if so, what prompted the change? As a convert to the Latin rite with little theological grounding on the topic, the practice of the eastern Churches makes more sense. But I'd be grateful for a better understanding of the Latin tradition's development.

Michael Barber said...

Great piece. I'm in total agreement. However, I did not know that there was a "movement". Isn't this a USCCB issue? Who renders the decision here? What exactly constitutes the "movement" you speak of? Has a report been filed? Have any bishops expressed interest? As a theologian, I'd like to participate? Which other theologians have signed on to this?

Anonymous said...

I do not agree with your stand on early confirmation. Most children do not even understand this sacrament let alone the theology behind it - and a confusing one at that. I made my confirmation in the 5th grade in 1947. I only remember the nun telling me I was now a soldier of Christ. Of course in time its meaning became apparent and I teach RCIA. I find it is a sacrament of beauty - the receiving of the holy spirit. Today's reading in ACTS talks about it. And it was to adults that the hands were laid upon. Better to understand a sacrament than to receive it without meaning.

Taylor Marshall said...

St Vincent Ferrer says that Christians will not be able to persevere under the Antichrist without the sacrament of Confirmation.

Also, in the USA (which includes lots of non-Christians) the average age of exposure to pornography is 8 years old! In our culture, they need the extra graces and gifts up front and early. Young people enter battle much more earlier - they need the strength given in Confirmation.

Also, Catholic royalty typically received Confirmation in infancy (like Eastern Christians).

Dick Landkamer said...

Thanks for your fine article, Reginaldus. I find it refreshing to hear that there is a movement back to “early age” confirmation. Based on my research on this topic, it appears as though the primary reason for the USCCB’s preference for “late age” confirmation is to keep public school students in the weekly religious education program for a longer period of time. Surely this is a good intention, but I think it is theologically flawed in that it essentially results in a sacrament being held “hostage” until the public school student has passed through perhaps ten years of weekly religious education, which is often of dubious value as was mentioned in one of the earlier comments.

Another problem with the practice of late age confirmation is that it overlooks an important aspect of the development of children. Middle school teachers will testify that there is a significant difference between the attitudes of fourth graders and seventh graders. Near the time of fifth grade the psychological and physical development of children puts them in a new phase of spiritual warfare. They are certainly better off entering that warfare having been “equipped” with the sacrament of Confirmation, which makes them “soldiers of Christ,” rather than entering that warfare without Confirmation.

Finally, the code of canon law itself seems to prefer early age confirmation. Canon 891 says that “confirmation is to be conferred on the faithful at about the age of discretion unless the conference of bishops determines another age . . .” and canon 842 says that “the sacraments of baptism, confirmation, and the Most Holy Eucharist are so interrelated that they are required for full Christian initiation.” It is certainly difficult to justify waiting eight years (i.e., from second grade till tenth grade) to administer a sacrament that is “so interrelated” to the Holy Eucharist, and is essential for Christian initiation.

For those parents who want to have their children confirmed at an early age, be aware that the code of canon law provides you with an option: “The sacred ministers can not refuse the sacraments to those who ask for them at appropriate times, are properly disposed and are not prohibited by law from receiving them” (CCL 843). Petition your bishop!

Alessandro said...

@ Darren:
The practice was common in both the Western and Eastern Churches, since in time of persecution it was necessary to grant all children the maximum participation in the mystery of Christ: martyrdom was a daily matter in those times. Nevertheless, as the Church turned from the model described in st. Ignatius (all people assembled around the bishop for the Mass), as the number of the faithful grew, the Latins and the Greeks took different approaches. The Greek regarded the union and order of initiation as fundamental, so bishops bestowed to the parish priests the power to administer the Myron on the children at their baptism. The Latin regarded the role of the bishop in giving the Chrism as prevalent, so they delayed Confirmation and First Communion at the time the bishop could visit the community in their long pastoral travels.

Personally I appreciate the Eastern tradition, but I like the solution introduced in the Ambrosian Rite in some parishes: First Confession, Confirmation and First Communion at once to children at the age of 10.

In Christ,
Alex

Casey Truelove said...

Darren, the Latin rite separated the celebration of Baptism from the celebration Confirmation because the bishops were not able to be at every Baptism. The focus, in the west, is on the bishop as possessing the fullness of the Sacrament of Holy Orders, so he must be present at the Confirmation (he confirms the Baptism). The eastern focus is on the 3 sacraments of initiation working together, so they are all administered to the infant in the same Mass. The Confirmation must be done with myron (chrism) that has been blessed by the bishop. Thus the Confirmation is linked to the bishop, but the focus is on the 3 sacraments of initiation. This is also the case of western candidates at the Easter Vigil. The bishop is not present at all of the Easter Vigil ceremonies in his diocese, but most/all of them have people being confirmed. Thus, we can see that both practices are valid and licit, but it comes down to a question of what one chooses to emphasize.

Michael: As far as I know, the USCCB has opened the decision for each individual bishop to determine the age at which he will confirm. I know my previous diocese (Gaylord, MI) restored the order around the turn of the millennium, and a few others across the nation have done the same (some before, some after). If, indeed, it is a movement, I am glad. I'm all for giving people the grace of the sacrament working in as much of their lives as possible.

ladyhobbit said...

My diocese, the Diocese of Greensburg, Pennsylvania, moved Confirmation to the second grade about twenty year ago. The parish priests were delegated by the bishop to administer the sacrament, so the bishop no longer performed any confirmations in the diocese.

A couple of years ago, with a new bishop, the age of confirmation was moved back to the eighth grade. My guess is that there was a steep drop-off in religious education attendance after the second grade, so the new bishop had pastoral reasons for the change back.

I must say, as a mother of grade-school-age children twenty years ago, that the implementation of the new system was poorly done, to say the least.

Reginaldus said...

John R.P. Russel,
As I am not a particular scholar of St. Dionysius' works, I am open to your interpretation.
The one I have given in this article is that of St. Thomas Aquinas, which he has received as the general reading of the text of the Areopagite ... hence, it has some level of authority.

In any case, my main point in that portion the article was to say that St. Dionysius is not really a witness to a delaying of confirmation ... and your comment would support this primary claim.

Reginaldus said...

@Joshua,
I think you need to re-read my article. You seem to think that I am advocating delaying confirmation ... this is precisely what I am NOT saying.
My whole point is that St. Thomas gives the theological foundation for affirming an early confirmation.

Reginaldus said...

@Anonymous (7:01am, May 29),
Regarding whether or not a sacrament should be given to one who does not understand what they are receiving ...
Your comment would lead us to conclude that Baptism should be delayed until well past the age of reason.
Likewise, you would seem to advocate that children should not make either their first communion or first confession till much later.

I find this emphasis on "understanding the meaning" and "accepting responsibilities" to be a bit Pelagian ... we do not earn the sacraments. Rather, the sacramental graces move us toward perfection and holiness.

How can anyone hope to understand the mysteries of the faith (including the sacrament of confirmation) without the full influx of the grace of the Holy Spirit which is given through the sacrament?

Reginaldus said...

Regarding the "movement" to give confirmation at an earlier age ... I only mean to say that the practice is slowly becoming more and more popular. Not that there is a defined group of people advocating the "restored order".

@Michael Barber -- you can join the "movement" simply by promoting a good sacramental theology! I am sure that the work you are already doing is helping!

Reginaldus said...

@tharmon,
You make a good point about the analogy between bodily combat and spiritual combat.

What I would say is this: Even from a very young age, children are able to be great warriors for Christ. Consider how many times Our Lady has used children to change the world (especially in modern time: Bernadette, and Lucia, Francisco, and Jacinta).

Thus, while the analogy would indeed be more clear if confirmation was given at the age of entering into physical maturity (so as to fight in a battle), the necessity of the sacrament to wage the spiritual battle (from the age of even 7 years) inclines me to vote for an early confirmation.

See, Taylor Marhall's comment (below, 7:14 am on May 29) -- it is quite clear that our children are already in the midst of the spiritual combat (even if they are too young for physical battle).

[moreover, if we really stuck to the analogy, then we might end up concluding that only men should be confirmed ... since it does not seem very fitting for women to be soldiers]


Still, I will admit that your point about "spiritual maturity" is important.
It is on this account that I favor the Latin practice of delaying confirmation at least until 7 years of age (as opposed to the Eastern practice of administering the sacrament shortly after birth).
Once the child reaches the age of reason (but not before), he is able to enter into the spiritual combat; still, in danger of death, the sacrament ought to be given even to infants so that they may come to "the perfection of salvation" (as St. Thomas says).

Reginaldus said...

Over at the "Ask Reginaldus" page, 'Mary' left the following comment. It is a beautiful testimony to the power of sacramental graces active in children.

-------------------------------

You mention that in the last three centuries confirmation has been delayed until early adulthood. I received my First Holy Communion when I was six and my Confirmation when I was eight, as did all of the First and Third Graders, so this practice was widespread in the 1950's. Did I misunderstand what you said? And in support of early reception of Confirmation, I can assure everyone that an 8 yr. old child is indeed receptive to the Graces bestowed, and is strengthened in Faith and able to live it. I am sure that it was because of being confirmed when I was eight that I acted as I did afterward, for instance, in choosing to subject myself to rejection for being friendly to the children everyone else shunned or made fun of; or in being the most loving, obedient child towards a father whom I would loose to cancer just 5 years later; or in accepting the suffering that came from being in a car crash that claimed my little brother's life and put me in casts for over a year. Picture a little child awakening from a coma, with a wooden cross secured to her back, to keep her bones aligned while they healed. My first reaction? Pure joy! I thought "I have a wooden cross, just like Jesus!" I'm sure all off this is due to the effects of Grace, received in the Sacraments which were thankfully administered to a little girl. What would have been the outcome if the Church had said I couldn't have these wonderful, life-giving Sacraments until I had reached early adulthood? Better for me that I received them as an innocent child, happy to do God's will, than as a teen-ager who might have rebelled because of all she had been through.

---------------------------------

helgothjb said...

It seems here that the Confirmation is being spoken of only in terms of grace for personal holiness. However, the Sacrament is ordered to our mission as Christians and the graces given are for that purpose, namely, spreading the Gospel. This is no small point. Confirmation is not so much about our personal struggle for holiness as it is about our sanctifying the world for Christ. When one is ready for to take on this mission varies. It is for this reason that I would argue, with St. Thomas, that pastoral consideration should be given to the individual circumstance both in giving it early and in delaying the reception of Confirmation. A more pastoral approach would, however, mean that pastors needed to be much more involved in the sacramental decisions of their parishioners. The easy path of treating all the same, such as we do cattle, by declaring some magical age that is appropriate for all, will likely remain because, well, it is easier.

Reginaldus said...

@helgothjb,
Not sure how you can claim St. Thomas Aquinas to be on your side ...

He most certainly thinks of Confirmation as the perfection of the individual's soul and not primarily as for the perfection of the mission of the Church.

When he discusses the sacraments in general, he lists Holy Order and Matrimony as sacraments for the benefit of the whole mystical body.
Confirmation is considered as being for the sanctification of the individual -- in ST III, q.72; the Angelic Doctor continually speaks of Confirmation as bringing about the perfection of the soul of the individual.

It is needed for the individual to come to the perfection of salvation ...


And, since the spiritual combat begins with the age of reason, it is more fitting that confirmation be given at that time and not be delayed.

[I do not deny that confirmation gives us graces to spread the Gospel ... I only emphasize that the primary purpose of confirmation is personal holiness]

helgothjb said...

"And therefore by the sacrament of Confirmation man is given a spiritual power in respect of sacred actions other than those in respect of which he receives power in Baptism. For in Baptism he receives power to do those things which pertain to his own salvation, forasmuch as he lives to himself: whereas in Confirmation he receives power to do those things which pertain to the spiritual combat with the enemies of the Faith. This is evident from the example of the apostles, who, before they received the fulness of the Holy Ghost, were in the "upper room . . . persevering . . . in prayer" (Acts 1:13-14); whereas afterwards they went out and feared not to confess their faith in public, even in the face of the enemies of the Christian Faith. And therefore it is evident that a character is imprinted in the sacrament of Confirmation." - ST III q. 72, art. 5. I agree that sanctifying grace is given through the sacrament, for growth and stability in righteousness, but St. Thomas does clearly say that the baptismal grace give the power to do those things which pertain to his own salvation and confirmation gives the power to do thing that pertain to spiritual combat and confessing Christ Jesus. The error I made, may be in making a false distinction between evangelization and personal holiness, for spreading and defending the faith are nessecary requirement of holiness.

helgothjb said...

Furthermore, it would seem that if what you are saying about personal holiness were true that Confirmation would be necessary for justifcation. What are your thought about this? St. Thomas does seem to say the the Gifts of the Holy Spirit are necessary for salvation. What does that mean for a person who dies without being Confirmed?

Reginaldus said...

@helgothhjb,
First, I hope that my previous comment was not too terse; sometimes when I try to answer quickly and succinctly, it can come off a bit harsh.

I do agree with you that confirmation does have a lot to do with preaching the Faith -- hence, it is directed toward salvation of others.
Still, it is principally a matter of the perfection of the individual soul -- hence it is compared to adulthood.
Thus, confirmation is necessary for salvation insofar as it is the most becoming means of coming to the perfection of salvation.


Regarding the gifts of the Holy Spirit -- you are quite correct that they are necessary for salvation. However, we must recall that they are given in baptism.
In confirmation, the gifts are brought to a certain perfection -- but they already exist in the soul from baptism, since it is impossible for the soul to be in the state of grace and lack the gifts.

Regarding a man who dies without confirmation ... certainly, they can be saved. However, their soul lacks a certain sacramental perfection (since it has not received the sacramental character) -- there is no need to think, however, that this would entail a less beatific heaven.

Peace to you, and thanks for the great questions! It helps me to clarify the points in my own mind as well! +

Jack Quirk said...

Baptism is followed immediately by confirmation in the Eastern churches, and that seems to me to be by far the better practice. In any event, delaying Confirmation until the child is a teenager in the secular western world is child abuse.

ndp465 said...

I enjoyed reading your article on delaying Confirmation. I wonder if will get this rite right. A decent understanding of Confirmation depends upon solid and effective catechesis, especially when those desiring this Sacrament are young adults. A stark reality to which we must pay attention involves determining the extent to which effective catechesis concerning Confirmation applies to parents as much as it does to their children.

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