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 Communion, not after.
Practically speaking, this means that the two
sacraments are received at the First Communion
Mass, with Confirmation being celebrated after
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.
Following the lead of official documents that
were issued by the Church after the Second Vatican
Council, more and more places are restoring this
original order to the celebration of the sacraments
of Christian initiation.
Isn't Confirmation a sacrament of maturity that should come after First Communion as a child grows older?
Not really. Confirmation is actually the completion
of Baptism (by the full gift of the Holy Spirit).
To celebrate Confirmation requires nothing more
by way of age-appropriate maturity than to receive
the Eucharist. Remember, there is a legitimate,
parallel practice in Eastern churches of fully
initiating even infants with all three sacraments.
The maturity that is required for receiving any
of the sacraments of Christian initiation is only
what is age-appropriate. The Church expects interior
dispositions of readiness, such as understanding
freedom, that are realistic at any given age,
When we are used to a different practice after more than a thousand years, why is the Church now going back to the original sequence?
Restored order is more than just a fascination
with the way it used to be. In fact, there are
some very significant theological and liturgical
reasons for restoring the integrity of the three
sacraments of Christian initiation--all celebrated
in proper order, even at the same time.
The RCIA (Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults)
requires that children and adults in the catechumenate
receive all three sacraments together, even if
the children are younger than the age at which
the Catholic children of the parish are routinely
Putting the celebration of Confirmation between
Baptism and Eucharist better expresses its role
as the completion of Baptism. As a matter of fact,
the sacrament that is the culmination of a person's
Christian initiation is the Eucharist, not Confirmation.
Theologically, it is the gift of the Holy Spirit
given in all its fullness at Confirmation that
best prepares one to receive Eucharist, and thus
to be most fully joined to the Body of Christ.
Is it wrong, then, to be confirmed after receiving Eucharist?
Of course not. The Church has many ways of celebrating
the mysteries of God's love in the sacraments.
But because Rome so strongly encourages restoring
the order of celebrating the sacraments of Christian
initiation, don't be surprised if more and more
communities restore the original sequence of the
three sacraments of Christian initiation.