Last week I made an unusual request of my pastor. Our second child will be preparing to receive First Communion next year, and I asked our pastor if he (and the bishop) would be open to having him Confirmed first.*
The order of the Sacraments of Initiation for children in parishes is a hot topic in catechetical circles. As you may know, the “correct” order is Baptism-Confirmation-Eucharist. For a variety of historical and pastoral reasons, in the United States we typically Baptize children as infants, give them First Communion, and only later confirm them as teens. Some dioceses have begun to revert to the more traditional sequence. I don’t pretend to know all the arguments for and against “restored order,” but as I’ve reflected on it I’ve come up with several reasons why I think it’s a good idea.
One reason, ironically, has come from our bishop. Since his installation nearly a year ago, the bishop has been speaking regularly about the call to holiness and the struggle against sin and temptation. This is an important message, and he has encouraged a variety of practices designed to call people to repentance, to strengthen is against evil, and lead more holy lives, even going so far as to authorize parishes to recite the Prayer to St. Michael after Mass on Sundays.
But if sanctification is of such importance, why do we deny the grace to this sacrament to young people just at the moment in their lives when they need it the most? We have all heard it said that being a teenager today is harder than in the past. If we truly believe in the efficacy of Confirmation — if we really believe that it seals us in the Holy Spirit — why would we seek to push back the time when teens can make use of those gifts?
That’s one of the reasons I’ve asked my pastor to consider this request. I’ll share two more reasons over the next couple days. If you have experience with restored order, or have thoughts on this reason, I’d love to hear about them in the comments.
* For those interested, my pastor said he would talk over my request with the bishop and get back to me in a few months — which is exactly what I hoped and expected.