07 January 2016

Restored Order of Sacraments

Baptism, Confirmation, and Holy Communion – those are the Sacraments of Initiation, and that is the traditional order of reception. Unfortunately (and unintentionally) the order of receiving them got changed in most of the Western Church, so that Confirmation is seen more as a kind of “rite of passage” for those in their teenage years. What this came to mean in practical terms is that many people “slip through the cracks” and aren’t confirmed until much later (if at all). Sadly, very often teenagers use the occasion of Confirmation as a kind of “farewell” to regular Mass attendance.

In 2006 we instituted the "restored order of the Sacraments," returning Confirmation to its proper and historic place, before receiving Holy Communion. Children who have reached the age of discretion -- in canon law, considered to be the age of seven -- are eligible to receive the Sacrament of Confirmation, followed by First Holy Communion, their First Confessions having been made sometime during the previous days.

This restored order is now the ordinary practice in some dioceses, and we are pleased to have returned to this venerable tradition in our parish. Postponing the reception of Confirmation until the teenage years (when young people need its grace the most) comes at the time when they are least likely to present themselves for it. Better to arm them with the grace early. It won’t go bad, it won’t run out, and they’ll have it to use throughout those “growing up” years.

This year the archbishop will be with us on February 4th to administer the Sacrament of Confirmation, and most of those being confirmed will receive First Holy Communion at that Mass.