Frequently Asked Questions

Why would we start confirming children at a younger age?

First, it’s important to note that we are not starting something new. Aside from fairly recent history, it has always been the church’s practice to first confirm new members and then welcome them to receive Communion. This practice held for adults and children, alike, and it has continued to the practice of RCIA. In fact, the Catechism of the Catholic Church clearly affirms the proper sequence in paragraph 1322: “The holy Eucharist completes Christian initiation.”

The current approach of inverting the sequence of first Eucharist and confirmation first appeared in France in the middle of the 19th century, as the bishops sought a longer formation period for confirmandi. In 1879, Pope Leo XIII rebuked the French practice and ordered the original sequence to be restored, but the bishops failed to make the change. The practice spread subsequently to the American church as well.

So, the real question is not why we would lower the age of confirmation, but rather what have we gained by deferring it to a later age? The facts in this regard are eye-opening. Consider that nearly 80 percent of all fallen away Catholics were never confirmed, and the average age of Catholics falling away from the faith is 13 years old. By deferring the age of confirmation, we have deprived these children of the gifts of the Holy Spirit, which are strengthened by the sacrament of confirmation. We will never know what might have otherwise happened for them.

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