Why is Confirmation Changing?

Why is Confirmation Changing?

The Sacrament of Confirmation is NOT changing, but Archbishop Samuel Aquila is restoring the  sacraments of Christian Initiation to their original order of Baptism, Confirmation and 1st Communion.  Following are some excerpts from Archbishop  Aquila’s pastoral letter, “Saints Among Us”.

 “Since I have been charged by Christ with guiding each of you on your journey to heaven.  I am writing this letter to explain one of the ways I want to help you with that voyage.

The world needs saints.  Even as our society becomes more distant from faith and more forgetful of God, it still hungers for joyful witnesses who have been transformed by Christ.  At the same time, new generations of Catholics need grace to sustain them in a non-Cristian environment.

To answer these needs, I have decided to restore the Sacraments of Initiation to their original order, that is, Baptism, Confirmation and Eucharist.  

This will make available every sacramental grace the Church has to offer to children who have reached the age of reason.”  “Grace, the Catechism teaches us, is the free gift that ‘God makes to us of his own life, infused by the Holy Spirit into our soul to heal it of sin and to sanctify it.’”  “The last century has made it clear that innovations do not save humanity.  We still have wars, sickness, corruption and injustice.  What will save us is not the next ‘thing’, but rather, the flood of grace and love that the Holy Trinity desires to pour out upon us.  This is what restoring the sacraments of Christian initiation to their original order is all about.  The ancient order begins with life in Christ through Baptism.  This is followed by Confirmation, which perfects the grace Confirmation redof Baptism, fills us with the gifts of the Holy Spirit, prepares us to receive Jesus in the Eucharist, and helps us commit ourselves to be his lifelong disciples.  As the Catechism explains, ‘The holy Eucharist completes Christian initiation.  Those who have been raised to the dignity of the royal priesthood by Baptism and configured more deeply to Christ by Confirmation participate with the whole community in the Lord’s own sacrifice by means of the Eucharist.’  It also beautifully teaches that the other sacraments ’are bound up with the Eucharist and are oriented toward it.  For in the blessed Eucharist is contained the whole spiritual good of the Church, namely Christ himself…’”

Why Restore the Order Now?  The New Spiritual Landscape

In 2009, a landmark survey of American teens’ religious beliefs and practice, titled: Soul Searching: the Religious and Spiritual Lives of American Teenagers was published.  The majority of American teens, regardless of faith, believe:  • God exists, that he created the world and watches over it but rarely intervenes; •God wants people to be good, nice and fair; •The main goal in life is to be happy and feel good about oneself; •Good people go to heaven

 What’s missing in this belief system for Catholics?

•No personal relationship with God; •One’s criteria for “good”, “nice” and “fair” is self-determined; •One’s definition of “happy”, “feeling good about oneself” and “what makes a “good” person also is self-determined.

“This kind of self-help faith cannot stand, since it is not based on the truth of the human person.  The truth is that heaven is not earned; it is a gift of life and intimacy with the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.  The truth is that real, lasting happiness only comes from living in accord with how we were created, which was revealed in a divine person – Jesus Christ.”  …  Only he ‘can lead us to the love of the Father in the Spirit and make us share in the life of the Holy Trinity.’”  (quoting Pope John Paul II, Caechiesi Tradendae (CT). 5.)

And After Confirmation?

“… parents will have the chance to prepare their children for  … Confirmation at a time when they are more naturally receptive to the formation and the graces being given.”  “St. Thomas Aquinas reminds us that ‘age of body does not determine age of soul.’    Many times, their [children’s] ability to see the truth and to trust God completely surpasses our own, and this allows them to receive the graces of the sacrament more deeply.” 

Restoring the Order necessitates a long-needed restoration of lifelong faith formation in parishes. 

Confirmation can no longer be misused as a “sacrament of farewell”, spoken of by Pope Francis.  As Pope Pius X  spoke of in 1910, “After celebration of 1st Communion,  the child is obliged to learn gradually the entire Catechism.”

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