I was asked recently why Catholics have their children recieve the sacraments of Holy Communion (usually at 7 years old) and confirmation (usually at 13 years old) at such young ages, for such serious of sacraments. I did not have a good answer. Could anyone here please give me some suggestions for a response?
I don’t know the reason, but thats a good question. Here’s my opinion not fact. Receiving communion is good for the soul even for young children. I was confirmed in the 8th grade (13 years old), but now a days our children receive the sacrament in 11th grade (16 or 17 years old) in Louisiana. Confirmation is reafirming your choice of being a Catholic.
The age of 7 is considered the age of reason therefore being able to understand that Jesus is truly present.
The reason for 13 ( in our parish it’s 10th grade) is not the rule but I think , IMHO ,at that age they need all the grace they can get it in this most powerful Sacrament of Comfirmation to enable them to get through these difficult years.
My son is two years old and has been receiving the Eucharist since he was baptised and chrismated at 40 days old. This is what we Orthodox do and I suspect that those Catholics who are not of the Latin rite do the same. Why do Latin rite Catholics deny their infants the bread of life?
We’ve addressed this issue in a number of threads, but it is, in fact, normal practice in the Eastern Catholic Churches for infants to receive all three Holy Mysteries if Initiation - Baptism, Chrismation (Latin Confirmation) and Holy Eucharist - during the same ceremony. Having survived many decades of “Latinization,” most Eastern Catholic Churches are only recently returning to this ancient tradition with regard to both the timing and the order with which the newly-initiated faithful receive the Holy Mysteries (“Sacraments” in the Latin Rite).
Please understand that even though the timing and the age of reception may differ greatly from the Latin Church, these Eastern Catholic Holy Mysteries, or Sacraments, are just as valid, just as Catholic, as those administered within the Latin Church.
Many people who do not understand the Sacramental theology see the Sacraments as something I do and not something done by Christ for us. That is why it is said that we “receive” these Sacraments we do not take them. The Sacraments act on their own because it is Christ who is acting in them. We must be capable of receiving the grace given in order to benefit, but it is always given. So that said age does not determine when a Sacrament should be received. It is more the purpose of that Sacrament which determines when it should be received.
I was wondering about this very thing because this past spring, 2 of my young cousins in Italy made their First Holy Communion and they were at least 9 or 10, considerably older than most Americans. My guess would be that it is a call for individual bishops to make for their dioceses, or perhaps the council of bishops for each country?
Originally one received Confirmation before First Eucharist. Pope Saint Pius X wanted younger children to receive the Eucharist so declared that it should be received as soon as they could distinguish it as something special - age of reason - about seven for most children. If they do not receive at that age they must be confirmed before they receive. Thus you will see children of 8-12 being confirmed at the Easter Vigil.
The age for Confirmation is supposed to be set by the Bishops for each country. In the US the USCCB has set the age at between 7 and 18 [or something on that order] and left it to the individual bishops are to set the age for their diocese.
My children have been receiving our Lord’s Body and blood since they were some weeks old as well-and i am inclined to follow John’s/prodromos’ (really?) line of thought. I have seen way too many two and three year olds of our Churches recognize that the Eucharist is not merely bread and wine-they get upset and want to know why they can’t have their “bite of Jesus” when He is denied to them. Granted, the age of reason does come differently to each, but the Eucharist is readily identifiable to a pure soul. There are other threads dealing with confirmation and its age of reception (right after Baptism seems best, but definiately prior to the first Holy Communion).
It is silly to have Confirmation in 8th grade, which as to be the worst years in a teens life. Comfirmation is the 3rd part of the Sacraments of Initiation and should be given soon after Communion. These kids need all the graces they can get BEFORE they are teenagers.
I have to disagree, The Confirmation canidate has to willingly ask to be confirmed, and write a letter to the bishop and home priest on why they want to be confirmed. This cannot be accomplished at a young age. One must mature more fully in order to know if they want that sacrament. Confirmation is not supposed to be forced, but voluntary.
Historically, confirmation has been the 2nd part of the sacraments of initiation and used to happen immediately after baptism (as is still the case with adults). Over time, the two became separated and, as Joe Kelley noted, Pius X lowered the age of first communion but left confirmation unchanged - resulting in the order of these two sacraments becoming reversed. There’s this common misconception that confirmation is about some sort of “rite of passage” or commissioning for ministry in the Church when it’s actually about completing baptism.
As others have already initiated, in the last decade or so there’s been a move towards restoring the original order - not that I’m trying to stir up that particular hornets nest but, personally, I think confirmation should come immediately after baptism like it used to… :
Confirmation means accepting responsibility for your faith and destiny. Childhood is a time when you’re told what to do, and you react positively to reward and negatively to punishment. Adulthood, even young adulthood, means that you must do what’s right on your own, not for the recognition or reward but merely because it’s the right thing to do. The focus is on the Holy Spirit, who confirmed the apostles on Pentecost (Acts 2:1–4) and gave them courage to practice their faith. Catholics believe that the same Holy Spirit confirms Catholics during the Sacrament of Confirmation and gives them the same gifts and fruits.
Any thoughts? I have never been confirmed, but I always thought this was the correct way to interpret it.
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