The Restored Order of
the Sacraments of Initiation for Children
Q & A
A priest friend is found of saying the liturgy has been changing since Jesus celebrated the Last Supper. The same is true of 'how,' we celebrate our sacraments. In this slideshow common question about the restored order will be answered. If you have other questions that were not answered click on the button below and send your question in to be answered.
At this time in the history of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Prince Albert, the sacraments of initiation for children have been restored. This means that children who have reached the age of reason will receive confirmation prior to their reception of first communion.
Why was this done?
At Vatican II, in the first document promulgated on the liturgy, Sanctum Concilium, the two primary items addressed were the reform of the liturgy and the sacraments. Concerning the sacrament of confirmation, it was written, "The rite of confirmation is to be revised and the intimate connection which this sacrament has with the whole of Christian initiation is to be more clearly set forth; for this reason, it is fitting for candidates to renew their baptismal promises just before they are confirmed (71)." Together, baptism and confirmation prepare one to receive the Eucharist, the source and summit of our faith. Following on the inspiration from Vatican II, the order of the sacraments of initiation were restored to mirror the order of the sacraments of initiation for adults.
Since the reordering of the sacraments in the Diocese, there are five challenges that we need to overcome.
We need to move from a classroom style of preparing children to receive the sacraments to a journey model.
We need to see the journey as a family affair. Parents are the leaders of their domestic Church. Their growth in the faith is important, ongoing, and critical to the preparation of the children. They are partners with the clergy, the catechists, and where available the Catholic school in forming the child's faith. Their role is primary.
We need to take into account the context, the lives of those we are working with. See those who gather for our sessions as individual families, with a faith journey that has struggles and joys. Each person is on a unique journey of faith. There are no cookie-cutter Catholics.
We need to realize that knowledge is not the focus, it is one of the focuses but not the primary one. No knowledge taught in confirmation whether it was in Grade 2 or Grade 6 or Grade 10 is going to sustain a person's faith throughout life. Ongoing catechesis is what is needed. There is no graduation from catechesis.
We need to take into account the cultural reality and that as much as our families are living in a secular society, so are we and our institutions. We are as much impacted as our families are. What does that mean for all of us on the preparation journey?
As much as there are challenges, there have also been benefits.
Greater unity of the sacraments. Baptism and confirmation prepares one to receive the Eucharist. Confirmation was never meant as a sacrament of maturity nor is there any test for receiving a sacrament. It is not a carrot to keep children and families connected to the parish for a few more years.
Greater emphasis on God's grace. There is nothing we can do to earn the graces given in the sacraments. We are undeserving; yet, as God's adopted sons and daughters we are deserving because God has made it so. Nor can we ever have enough knowledge to be prepared to receive a sacrament. Know one can say that they understand the incredible gift and fullness of what the Eucharist is. In all the sacraments, we receive undeservedly the graces offered by God as adopted children.
Greater emphasis on the role of the parents and the domestic Church as a whole. As the family's faith is built up, this will help to build up our parish community.