Sisters and brothers,
This Tuesday evening, 92 of our children will be Confirmed by Archbishop Coleridge. It is another step along the way to the completion of their Christian Initiation — a journey that began at the font as infants for most. Many of us have memories of being confirmed at the beginning of our teenage years; a moment that was often described as us making an adult decision in faith. It can seem strange to many that the order of the sacraments have changed. Perhaps the best description is not that the order has changed, but they have been restored to their most ancient order.
In the early Church, Christian initiation was celebrated in one event — Baptism, Confirmation and First Eucharist were part of one liturgy of initiation. Over time, Baptism began to be celebrated at infancy, with Confirmation and First Communion being celebrated with a bishop later in life. The question then became: What was the best age to celebrate Confirmation and First Communion. The age of reason became the standard answer.
But the problem was that the age of reason varied from culture to culture. For some, the age of reason was around 7 years old, for others around 12, and for others again, even older. The Anglo-Celtic culture settled for about twelve, and so, Confirmation and First Communion was celebrated at 12 years of age or so.
Pope Pius X didn’t think that delaying First Communion was such a great idea. In 1910, he set the standard age of reason at about 7 years old. What happened for most of the 20th century, then, was that First Communion was celebrated at about age 7, while Confirmation tended to stay where it was — celebrated around 12 years of age. Because the link with Baptism had been lost, Confirmation needed to been given a meaning, so people began to speak of Confirmation as our adult decision for faith. After the Second Vatican Council in the 1960s, the Church rediscovered some of the ancient practices of our faith. With this in mind, the ancient order of Baptism, Confirmation and Eucharist was restored. Not all dioceses around Australia or around the world follow the restored order, but this order has been the policy of the Archdiocese of Brisbane for at least 15 years. Last year, a new policy was introduced to separate Confirmation from First Communion by about a year. These children will celebrate First Communion next year, allowing them more time to prepare.
As these families celebrate one ancient practice this week, let us remember another ancient practice throughout this week — please pray for these children as they receive the fullness of God’s Spirit and pray that these the gifts that will carry throughout their lives.
|Jun 24, 2016||10th Sunday in Ordinary Time 05.06.2016||Listen||Download|