Saturday, December 12, 2009

Restored Order of Sacraments

8. What is the Restored Order of the Sacraments?
An increasing number of dioceses and parishes in the United States are adopting a Restored Order policy for the celebration of the sacraments of Confirmation and Eucharist. This means, quite simply, that it becomes standard policy for Catholics who were baptized in infancy to receive Confirmation before First Eucharist, not after. Practically speaking, this means that the two sacraments are received at the First Eucharist Mass, with Confirmation being celebrated after the homily.
9. Why do they call it Restored Order?
During the first five hundred years or so of the history of the Roman Catholic Church (and still today in the Christian churches of the East), it was always the case that the sacraments of Christian initiation were celebrated in an invariable sequence: Baptism, Confirmation, and Eucharist. And it was almost always the case that all three sacraments were celebrated together at the same time, even with infants.
http://www.ewtn.com/library/BISHOPS/ordsacinit.htm

13 comments:

  1. Fr. Robert Taft, S.J. has written about the history of infant Communion in the Church:

    "The practice began to be called into question in the 12th century not because of any argument about the need to have attained the “age of reason” (aetus discretionis) to communicate. Rather, the fear of profanation of the Host if the child could not swallow it led to giving the Precious Blood only. And then the forbidding of the chalice to the laity in the West led automatically to the disappearance of infant Communion, too. This was not the result of any pastoral or theological reasoning. When the Fourth Lateran Council (1215) ordered yearly confession and Communion for those who have reached the “age of reason” (annos discretionis), it was not affirming this age as a requirement for reception of the Eucharist.

    "Nevertheless, the notion eventually took hold that Communion could not be received until the age of reason, even though infant Communion in the Latin rite continued in some parts of the West until the 16th century. Though the Fathers of Trent (Session XXI,4) denied the necessity of infant Communion, they refused to agree with those who said it was useless and inefficacious — realizing undoubtedly that the exact same arguments used against infant Communion could also be used against infant baptism, because for over ten centuries in the West, the same theology was used to justify both! For the Byzantine rite, on December 23, 1534, Paul III explicitly confirmed the Italo-Albanian custom of administering Communion to infants....So the plain facts of history show that for 1200 years the universal practice of the entire Church of East and West was to communicate infants. Hence, to advance doctrinal arguments against infant Communion is to assert that the sacramental teaching and practice of the Roman Church was in error for 1200 years. Infant Communion was not only permitted in the Roman Church, at one time the supreme magisterium taught that it was necessary for salvation. In the Latin Church the practice was not suppressed by any doctrinal or pastoral decision, but simply died out. Only later, in the 13th century, was the ‘age of reason’ theory advanced to support the innovation of baptizing infants without also giving them Communion. So the “age of reason” requirement for Communion is a medieval Western pastoral innovation, not a doctrinal argument. And the true ancient tradition of the whole Catholic Church is to give Communion to infants. Present Latin usage is a medieval innovation."

    from: http://www.byzcath.org/forums/ubbthreads.php/topics/337555/3

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  2. I understand what you're saying, but you've missed the boat on this one orthocath. Having the Sacrament of Confirmation at age 12-13 (not the age of reason - that's 6-7, and that is also the age they're talking about moving Confirmation to, and some Latin diocese already have) aligns with the even more ancient Jewish practice of the Bar/Bat Mitzvah - wherein the Jewish "child" is initiated into "adulthood" and more mature responsibilities in the church, family and community. If you want to go accusing a group of "innovation" - it is Christendom in general then which moved this rite of passage to infancy. Sure, it still passes on the grace of the Sacrament, but does so at a time when the child cannot appreciate, grow and learn from the whole experience and preparation for the Sacrament.

    I have mixed feelings about this. It sure seems to be an ancient tradition (however I see NO primary sources backing this up, only 20th-21st century commentaries asserting it is so) and you know how much I appreciate ancient and Sacred Tradition, however, I fail to see a good REASON for moving it back to a younger age. Just because it is asserted that that's the way we did it 1000 years ago is not sufficient enough REASON.

    In JMJ,
    Scott<<<

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  3. The "innovation" comment was Fr. Taft's characterization, not mine. How Catholics want to order the Sacraments is not something I want to criticize. I was just pointing out the ancient tradition which both East and West held to for the first thousand years of Christian history. Why should this ancient and united tradition of the Fathers be criticized? Eastern Catholic Churches (those in union with Rome) are now restoring infant Communion, with various levels of success. ("First communion" traditions die hard in some areas.) Restoring infant Communion in the Eastern Churches has been mandated by Rome since the 1990s. See: http://www.vatican.va/roman_curia/congregations/orientchurch/Istruzione/pdf/istruzione_inglese.pdf (section 51) It is also mentioned in the CCC: "In the Eastern rites the Christian initiation of infants also begins with Baptism followed immediately by Confirmation and the Eucharist..." See: http://www.vatican.va/archive/ENG0015/__P3J.HTM (Section 1233).

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  4. Orthocath,
    I still see the advantage of having the Sacrament of Confirmation, and more importantly - the preparation FOR the Sacrament - coming just before the child enters the teenage years which are full of trials, tribulations and temptations against the Faith. Don't you see that as a "good" move? Infants are baptized, therefore having Sanctifying Grace restored. As they reach an age of reason (6-7 years old) they learn of the Sacraments of Eucharist and Confession. So, as they are conscious of right and wrong, they learn to confess the wrong and learn the consequences of not confessing, not the least of which is prohibition from Eucharist until restored to the state of Grace. Then after several years of living and practicing the Catholic Faith the Sacrament of Confirmation allows them to "confirm" the baptismal vows made in their behalf by their godparents. This sacrament of passage, so to speak, reinforces the Catholic Faith and may just help get them through some tough times as teenagers.

    I seriously do not see the need to go back to something with LESS meaning. Certainly the graces are still there, but nearly if not wholly inconceivable by those receiving such prior to the age of reason (6-7 years old).

    In JMJ,
    Scott<<<

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  5. I guess the reason I like the Eastern approach is because it follows what the Fathers practiced. I can't imagine what the Fathers practiced would have LESS meaning at all. "If it was good enough for the Fathers, it's good enough for me."

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  6. Orthocath,
    First point, it is asserted that the Fathers on both East and West did this - but that does not make it necessarily "good enough." I'm not saying it is "bad" - but if you're simply going on the historical value, then we should be waiting until 12-13 years old as the Jews still do for the bar/bat mitzvah - that is an older tradition.

    Second point, does "good enough" really cut it when the logic behind the latter tradition actually makes more sense? This is not to say the way the Fathers allegedly did it was bad or wrong, but some innovations are good things.

    Third point, I've seen this asserted in several places that the Fathers both East and West taught infant communion and confirmation - but I have yet to see a single primary source making such a statement to support the assertion. How sure are we that this is indeed a tradition of the Fathers?

    In JMJ,
    Scott<<<

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  7. Thanks for the feedback. I'm working on an article to show the historicity of Chrismation and Communion as being united with Baptism in the first millennium in both East and West. Do you have any quotes from the Fathers or when the idea of a later Confirmation developed that connects it to the Jewish tradition of Bar/Bat Mitzvah? My first impression is this has no historical connection to the development of the later tradition. Do you have any sources that show the continuity of this Jewish tradition somehow influencing the development of a later Confirmation? As to it making more sense, I think that only is true if one believes that the early Church tradition was somehow wrong to give the Eucharist to all the baptized. To me, it makes more sense that infants who are baptized into Christ should also receive Him in the Eucharist.

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  8. I'm not really opposed to infant communion - this topic was more geared toward infant confirmation. It makes much more sense to "confirm" your faith yourself. Baptism and Eucharist, along with Confession when the age of reason is reached prior to Confirmation makes much more sense. The danger in infant communion is not for the infants, but as a child reaches the age of reason - if they have not yet participated in the Sacrament of Confession (Reconciliation/Penance) then they may be partaking in the Eucharist unworthily and actually be doing harm to their soul rather than good through the Eucharist. That's St. Paul's teaching, prior to any of the Early Church Fathers. Again, my focus is more on the Sacrament of Confirmation, and if one is not "confirming" their own faith, then why even the name "confirmation?" Of course in the East it's called "Crismation" which includes both - but again it seems to me to make more sense to receive this Sacrament at an age when you actually confirm and accept it yourself.

    I also emphasize my statement that I am not saying any of the Fathers have this "wrong" - only that it makes more sense to do it later, as the West has been doing for quite some time now.

    In JMJ,
    Scott<<<

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  9. I believe the term "confirmation" developed later (perhaps because of the changed tradition), but I'd have to check on that. I don't think it was the original term used in the West. You are correct that catechesis would be involved to teach children about Confession and this is usually done. As to it "making more sense," I guess I would disagree. It makes more sense to me to follow the tradition of the Fathers on this. The Sacraments of Initiation are meant to be celebrated together. Children who receive all 3 sacraments and continue to receive the Eucharist as they grow up always know that they are part of the Church and experience a closeness to Christ. There is never a time that they are excluded from Him. It's one of their memories from childhood that He has always been close to them in the Sacraments.

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  10. I like this explanation (see link) better than any I've heard so far except that I've never considered Confirmation a "graduation" or a "end," but as the article emphasizes, it is the beginning of a lay "ministry."

    In JMJ,
    Scott<<<

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  11. From the CE:
    We read in the Acts of the Apostles (8:14-17) that after the Samaritan converts had been baptized by Philip the deacon, the Apostles "sent unto them Peter and John, who, when they were come, prayed for them, that they might receive the Holy Ghost; for he was not yet come upon any of them, but they were only baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus; then they laid their hands upon them, and they received the Holy Ghost".

    Again (19:1-6): St. Paul "came to Ephesus, and found certain disciples; and he said to them: Have you received the Holy Ghost since ye believed? But they said to him: We have not so much as heard whether there be a Holy Ghost. And he said: In what then were you baptized? Who said: In John's baptism. Then Paul said: John baptized the people with the baptism of penance . . . Having heard these things, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. And when Paul had imposed his hands on them, the Holy Ghost came upon them, and they spoke with tongues and prophesied".

    From these two passages we learn that in the earliest ages of the Church there was a rite, distinct from baptism, in which the Holy Ghost was conferred by the imposition of hands (dia tes epitheseos ton cheiron ton Apostolon), and that the power to perform this ceremony was not implied in the power to baptize.

    (end quote)

    The CE goes on to talk about the fact that for the first four centuries the word "confirmation" is not used - and attributes that to (fact?) that baptism and confirmation were given at the same time - though not always true. We also cannot overlook that in Scripture we are given examples of those who were baptized then later confirmed.

    Of note as well is the fact that originally it was only bishops which baptized and confirmed, then as civilization expanded the roles were disseminated to presbyters (priests).

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