A Theological Case for Restored Order Confirmation
How important is the order of the Sacraments of Initiation? What are the implications for catechesis in restoring the traditional order, placing Confirmation before the Eucharist? Jared Staudt explores the key issues.
The Second Vatican Council called for a “ressourcement” (a return to the sources) for the sacraments of initiation, particularly in its call for the restoration of the baptismal catechumenate, carried out in the RCIA process.[i] Part of this renewal includes the return to the traditional order for the conferring of the sacraments of initiation: Baptism, Confirmation, and then the Eucharist. Though this original order of conferring was restored within RCIA, the order that arose later on of Baptism, Eucharist, and then Confirmation continued to be practiced within the regular process for the initiation of children.[ii] Attention has recently and very prominently been placed on the movement to restore the ancient order for the reception of the sacraments of initiation during an ad limina visit of US Bishops with the Holy Father. After meeting with Pope Benedict XVI, Archbishop Samuel Aquila expressed the Holy Father’s personal approval of Aquila’s restoration of the order of the sacraments of initiation: “I was very surprised in what the Pope said to me, in terms of how happy he was that the sacraments of initiation have been restored to their proper order of baptism, confirmation then first Eucharist.” The Holy Father also asked if he had “begun to speak to other bishops about this.”[iii] These comments by the Holy Father indicate that the time may be ripe for a ressourcement for Confirmation, specifically in the reordering of the sacraments on initiation, and the way in which Confirmation preparation is practiced. I will offer some theological reflections on reasons why this change is important for the Church.