Earlier Sacraments - Is Confirmation in Elementary School A Good Thing?

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This photos melts my heart. It’s my sweet Adam entering into new life through Baptism. As much as anything else, I think, I enjoy the interested looks from his oldest two siblings. New life is exciting stuff!

Just tonight, that same “baby” took a shower by himself, declaring he doesn’t like night showers because then he has to sleep with wet hair. I told him about the towel trick — to put a towel on his pillow to at least soak up some of the moisture. He’s an information guy like I’m an information gal and he seemed pleased to have this new option.

He’s 9 now, and still as precious to me as that day. Adam is our child whose basic disposition is calmer, more thoughtful and thought-filled than most of the Salonens — in general, anyway. He’s always been a bundle of sweetness and even though all our kids have special qualities about them, I’ve always felt an abundance of grace emanating from this little guy.

This weekend he’ll take the next step in his Christian journey.  He’ll be our fourth child to receive First Holy Eucharist and be confirmed in the Catholic faith as a third-grader. Our firstborn, Christian, was among the very first crop of younger confirmants in our diocese.

There are all sorts of opinions as to whether children should receive these Sacraments this early. Bottom line, Confirmation is a Sacrament of Initiation, not a graduation. And in the early church, the two were very close together, initially one after the other, and only separated more and more as time went on. Our current bishop wanted to get closer to the original intent, so here we are.

The other thing that needs to be understood, perhaps above all else, is that a Sacrament is a grace that helps the person be strengthened in his or her Christian journey. If you knew you could be strengthened to put on the armor of Christ at an early age but also had the choice to wait years later, what would the purpose be? Why not have access to them earlier if they’re being offered? I realize different denominations approach this differently, but for Catholics, this isn’t much different than the idea of infant Baptism. Grace is grace, and even an infant can feel and respond to its effects.

For those reasons, I like this earlier Confirmation deal. And I’m looking forward to this weekend’s celebration. Our son has a wonderful sponsor, his godfather, and has chosen the name “Joseph” as his Confirmation name.

Q4U: What are your thoughts about offering these Sacraments earlier rather than later? I’d love to discuss, even if your thoughts are different than mine.

Copyright 2012 Roxane Salonen

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About Author

Roxane B. Salonen, a wife and mother of five from Fargo, N.D., is an award-winning children’s author and freelance writer who also enjoys Catholic radio hosting and speaking. Roxane co-authored former Planned Parenthood manager Ramona Trevino’s memoir, Redeemed by Grace. Her work is featured on "Peace Garden Passage" at her website, roxanesalonen.com

6 Comments

  1. We have some Eastern Rite friends who would argue that Confirmation should preceed reception of the Eucharist. And then, because we don’t want to keep children from our Lord, they do all the Sacraments of Initiation together. Personally, I like it, though I’m Latin Rite myself.

    • Roxane B. Salonen on

      I remember learning about this, and how small children receive the Eucharist when it’s done this way. It’s an interesting idea. And why not, really, if you believe this is Jesus. “Let the little children come to me.” As long as there is followup instruction as they grow, as there should be, I don’t see the harm. Thanks for sharing your thoughts!

  2. I see benefits both ways. Of course receiving the graces the sooner the better! My son will be confirmed this Sunday, he just turned 16. He has spent two years in the confirmation process at our parish with over 100 others his age. I have been very happy that he had this process to go through during this time in his life in particular. He entered high school, and all the things that go along with that he has been confronted with. Having his confirmation group to attend each month as well as a weekly youth group, I believe has been great to enrich his life now. It is a time of growth, change, and questioning, as he grows into a man and starts to wonder what he will do with his life after high school. I think the confirmation process has come at a great time for him and keeps him so close to the Church and in particular his parish, making him feel more confident as a member and participant. He has been able to become friends with other kids from other high schools, many he might not have met otherwise. At their last meeting the confirmation class was given a ministry fair for the parish so they could find out where they could volunteer there talents in the parish now. I think that is so great. Of course I’m sure if he had been confirmed younger, I would make sure he was given many opportunities to stay involved in the parish (he does volunteer in many areas already), but the confirmation program allowed this to be his “own” thing with his friends, and for my independent teenage son, that is important. I’m glad it came at this time of life for him.

    • Roxane B. Salonen on

      Susan, I’m glad your son had such a good experience. That’s so important that we find ways to connect our kids with their faith, and at their respective ages. There are certainly many ways to look at this. Thanks for sharing yours.

  3. Thank you for this article from the viewpoint of a Mom explaining the Sacraments of Initiation and especially Confirmation for a third-grader. Here in the Archdiocese of Liverpool UK we are introducing the Restored Order in September. Children age 8-9 will be prepared via Family Catechesis for Confirmation and later in the same Mass for Eucharist between the Feasts of Ascension and Corpus Christi. They will celebrate their first Confession in Advent of the same year. If sacraments are truly gifts from God, and we have a lifelong call to holiness they why delay receiving the grace of Confirmation?
    I am looking forward to the Confirmations of my youngest, twin girls, who will be 8 next year. What a blessing to enter the teenage years with the grace of Confirmation! http://www.withyoualways.org.uk

  4. Roxane B. Salonen on

    Eleanor, thanks for contributing your thoughts! Our outgoing bishop will be installed as archbishop on July 18 for the Diocese of Denver. Recently he was commended by the pope for having made this move to earlier Confirmation. I think more and more people are coming to see that it’s closer to the initial intention of the Sacrament. And yes to what you said: “What a blessing to enter the teenage years with the grace of Confirmation!” I agree!

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