Q+A: Why do we do Confirmation and First Communion the way we do? Can we not have our children receive First Communion and later on receive Confirmation?

A: It has been about ten years since we have celebrated the Confirmation and First Communion of our children together in one celebration along with our bishop here in Cold Lake. Anyone older, like me, would have received First Communion prior to receiving Confirmation. This has caused a lot of confusion because this is not a universal practice.

Baptism, Confirmation, and Eucharist are the three Sacraments of Initiation with Eucharist being the high point, the summit. Confirmation is the completion of Baptism by a further sealing with the Holy Spirit that was begun at Baptism. It is not merely a graduation to becoming an adult Christian. Both Baptism and Confirmation are only received once in life but the Eucharist is meant to be received often, even daily. From the Early Church catechumens, those entering into the Church, received Baptism, Confirmation, and Eucharist, in that order, at the Easter Vigil when they were welcomed into the Church. We are in line with this ancient practice of the Church in our present celebration of Confirmation first and then First Communion/Eucharist, even if they are celebrated at the same Mass.

The source of all of this confusion began about 100 years ago when Pope Pius X lowered the age of First Communion from about 15 years old to 7 years old. He was concerned for the children and wanted them to receive Christ in the Eucharist. Confirmation however was not moved but was left at around 12 years old and the sacraments went out of order.

Today some bishops and their dioceses have restored the order of the Sacraments back to Baptism – Confirmation – Eucharist but this has not been a universal effort. Even Pope Benedict XVI spoke in favour of the theological reasons for restoring the order of the sacrament but he did not make mandate a change.

Fr. Andrew Schoenberger

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