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Catechesis for the Confirmation of Adolescents
On May 9, 2001, the Congregation for Bishops granted recognitio to the action of the United States bishops regarding the Sacrament of Confirmation. This action was that the sacrament ‘shall be conferred between the age of discretion and about sixteen years of age, within the limits determined by the diocesan bishop and with regard for the legitimate exceptions given in canon 891.’[i] As a result, there is a diverse practice for the Sacrament of Confirmation in the United States, differing from diocese to diocese and, in some cases, parish to parish.[ii] Because of this diversity, the guidelines for catechesis for confirmation in the National Directory for Catechesis are not as thorough as that for the other sacraments. Many dioceses confer Confirmation during middle school, some have mandated Confirmation at the age of discretion for the whole diocese, and many leave the decision up to the pastor of the specific parish.[iii] In this article, I would like to address sacramental preparation/catechesis for Confirmation when conferred on adolescents. I will first look at the basic relevant Scriptural and theological principles of Confirmation. Then I would like to discuss some catechetical difficulties and abuses that are present in contemporary Confirmation preparation/catechesis and offer some possible solutions. Finally, I will offer several pastoral considerations in preparing adolescents for Confirmation.