When should we confirm?

March 10, 2012

Is Pope Benedict a regular reader of Whosoever Desires?  Well, probably not.

But regular readers of our little blog might remember that a few months ago I wrote a short post on the decision of Fargo’s Bishop Samuel Aquila to restore the traditional order of the sacraments of initiation.  If you missed it, you can check it out here.  

Bishop Aquila was in Rome this week, and he was singled out for praise for his decision by that city’s bishop.  You can check out the article here.  So apparently I’m not the only one to find his argument about confirmation interesting.

On a practical level, I now find myself teaching courses for baptism, RCIA, RCIC, and confirmation, and I do find it somewhat difficult to explain the discrepancy between the standard practice for most cradle Catholics and that for those initiated through RCIA or RCIC.  The theology doesn’t quite make sense and, as is so often the case, shaky theology undermines actual Catholic practice, leading to the sacrament of confirmation functioning as a kind of graduation from church for many teenagers.

Also, I just love to see Fargo on theology’s cutting edge.

AL, SJ

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When should we confirm?

September 29, 2011

There’s an old joke about a newly ordained priest whose pastor gives him the task of ending a bat infestation plaguing the church.  The poor young priest tries everything—poison, traps, a call to pest control—but the bats refuse to give up their home among the church’s rafters.  In desperation, the young priest returns to the wise old pastor and says, “Father, I’ve tried everything, but the bats won’t leave the church.”

The old priest smiles, and says, “Oh, Father, the solution is much simpler than you think:  just confirm them!  Then you’ll never see them again.”

For those like myself, who have worked in several different confirmation programs over the years, the joke is more uncomfortable than funny because the proverbial grain of truth it contains is the size of a boulder.  Too often confirmation is treated like a sort of graduation from the Church—an attitude for which, I might add, parents often bear more guilt than teenagers.

While the question of when in one’s life the sacrament of confirmation should be celebrated is not the sort of issue likely to make it into the New York Times, it is theologically more intriguing than the hot-button attention-grabbers.  Fargo’s Bishop Samuel Aquila this summer offered a strong case for changing the order in which the sacraments of initiation are normally conferred.

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