Hi, I was wondering if the practice of the Bishop slaping those confirmed or about to be confirmed is still practiced. In case you were wondering why the Bishop slaped them it’s to remind them of the persecution they will have to suffer for Christ.
The “soldier of Christ” imagery, which remains valid  but is downplayed if seen as part of the once common idea of confirmation as a “sacrament of maturity” , was used as far back as 350, by St Cyril of Jerusalem.  In this connection, the touch on the cheek that the bishop gave while saying “Pax tecum” (Peace be with you) to the person he had just confirmed was interpreted in the Roman Pontifical as a slap, a reminder to be brave in spreading and defending the faith: “Deinde leviter eum in maxilla caedit, dicens: Pax tecum” (Then he strikes him lightly on the cheek, saying: Peace be with you). When, in application of the Second Vatican Council’s Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy,  the confirmation rite was revised in 1971, mention of this gesture was omitted.
I was confirmed in 1983. I was not slapped by the bishop.
After anointing the person on the forehead saying the bishop gives the person a sign of peace, aka a handshake sayin Peace be with you."’ to which the person responds “and also with you.”
When I was confirmed, I was’t slapped either. The priest just anointed me, at which time I was to respond with “Amen.” Well, when it was actually done, I was so bothered with the oil (which I felt was totally gross) I had to be reminded to respond. But that was just a personal response.
I remember that we kids who were confirmed in the early 60s worried about that slap, which turned out to be nothing more than a caress of the cheek. This is no longer done in the new Rite of Confirmation.
No slap here.
The slap was, indeed, removed. Although Wikipedia’s mention of the “once common” idea of Confirmation as a sacrament of maturity seems kind of fishy. It is only in the last century or two that the sacrament began to be seen in such a way, and that attitude has reached its climax in the last few decades; “once common,” then, should read “novel and now common.”
Nowadays, Confirmation is usually given around the age of 14. Prior to Pope St. Pius X, First Communion was usually not given until that age. Back when Communion was given at an older age, was Confirmation given at the same time?
It’s my understanding that Confirmation was either before or at the same time. The order toppled when children started making their first Communion at the age of 6 or 7. I don’t know how it was anywhere else, but in my diocese until sometime in the 70s, the children were confirmed the first time the Bishop came to town after they’d received their First Communion. I made my First Communion at the end of grade 1 (I was 6) and was confirmed a year later.
In our diocese there also existed ‘Solemn Communion’ which occurred around the age of 14. That preparation was done by the pastor, during the summer. Solemn Communion was your graduation from Catechism classes. When they started pushing Confirmation to the teen years, Solemn Communion disappeared.
So in the old days (prior to Pope St. Pius X), Confirmation probably really was a “Sacrament of maturity”, along with Communion and Confession. Back then, 14 probably was considered “mature”. I am sure that many people even married or served in the military at the age of 14 prior to the early 20th century.
“First Solemn Communion” was actually invented after Pius X encouraged First Communion at the centuries-old canonical age - the age of reason. Churches didn’t want to give up what they had turned into a coming of age (First Communion), so despite complying with the pope’s wishes they just added a new “First” Communion celebration to keep up their tradition of adolescent First Communion. Other areas simply moved First Communion without moving Confirmation, thus screwing up the order of the sacraments. It had been customary to confirm whenever the bishop came through the parish, which would usually catch the children from ages 7-11 or so.
In the early Middle Ages, parents were required to have their children confirmed within the first few years of baptism (which occurred as soon as possible). Because of noncompliance, this eventually got extended to “by the age of reason.” But people continued to neglect the sacrament of Confirmation (they didn’t bother to do it until after the “deadline” if they did it at all), such that eventually, by the mid to late Middle Ages, people said, well, since we don’t confirm anyone until the age of reason or later, that must mean we shouldn’t confirm infants. So instead of “by the age of reason” the law turned into “at (or after) the age of reason.” At this point, the “batch” method was firmly in place whereby the bishop would confirm all those of age when he came to (or near) a town, resulting in the roughly 7-11 spread mentioned above. After that Confirmation, the custom grew up in France in the 1800s of delaying First Communion to adolescence as a rite of maturity. When Pius X reinforced that the best age for First Communion was the age of reason (not even mentioning Confirmation, which, it went without saying, should precede Communion), the French turned Confirmation into their coming of age (or else used the new First Solemn Communion). As you can see, the idea that Confirmation is a rite of maturity is no older than the 1800s, and even then it remained fairly localized until the 1970s, when that suddenly became the dominant idea of the sacrament.
I have heard that my previous bishop did lightly pat the cheek when saying “Peace be with you”. I was confirmed the year after his departure, and was quite prepared to be tapped but the ‘new’ bishop didn’t.
I read once - can’t remember where- a Council ordering that the slap be given so that those confirmed would remember it and the sacrament would never be repeated accidentally. That sounded quite logical to me!
I wasn’t slapped, and I wasn’t confirmed by the Bishop.
My RCIA instructor and pastor didn’t remember exactly when slapping ended, but placed it in about 1971.
My mother said that when she was confirmed, the kids were terrified that one of the sisters or the Bishop would ask them some question out of the Catechism in front of everyone.
The Bishop here is basically suspending the dispensation for priests to confirm. By next year (or 2010) he wants to do all the Confirmations, which from what I have seen, has almost universal support.
No - it is not an old practice - and no- it has not been abolished.
The slap on the face given by the bishop…and if not the bishop by the priest…still exists- and is done at every Confirmation at my parish…then again we are exclusively an Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite parish- where the slap is a must in conformance with the rubrics of administering this sacrament.
I just got confirmed this Easter (2008) and I was “slapped” lol
more like a gentle pat but the priest called it a “slap” lol
I was confirmed in the early 60s and I was worried about the “slap”…LOL…it turned out to be just a pat.
I was confirmed in 1962 at age 10, and I remember the slap and the questions – one of which pertained to the reason for the slap, which was "to remind you that you must be ready to suffer for Christ – all too well. My dad said you could hear the slaps all the way in the back of the church. The slap was accompanied by a speech in Latin and a sign of the cross.
Fast forward to 1985. I was my niece’s sponsor. She was 15. I don’t remember questions and answers during the confirmation service. I do remember the bishop patting her cheek and saying in English, “Jesus loves you, honey.”
O tempora! O mores!
Our bishop doesn’t slap, but he will question candidates. Questions are sent out to parish confirmation instructors and children are expected to be able to answer them if asked.
I did see the bishop of another diocese “slap” the confirmandi, but it was no more than a pat on the cheek.
When I was confirmed I was not “slapped”, but some that were confirmed a few years ago with our old priest were.