I just received, in the Nov. 22 edition of Origins, Bishop Alvaro Corrada's reflection on Confirmation, Sacrament of Initiation
. Bishop Corrada of Tyler, Texas, a Jesuit religious, is officially moving confirmation before
first Eucharist in the Diocese of Tyler.
"Confirmation strengthens a person to bear witness rather than expresses the person's determination to bear witness."
That about sums it up. This approach is clearly more reflective of the ancient tradition of the Church, her biblical witness and sacramental theology.
The customary approach, where confirmation comes after first Eucharist, always seemed more or less of a Protestant approach to me. Growing up Evangelical, there was always a time in your teenage years when you were expected to 'make it your own', and make a personal commitment to Christ. Before this, it was assumed, you had neither the ability nor the responsibility to make a faith commitment. Something of this seems to have snuck into the Catholic sacramental praxis, as some seem to imagine that 'confirmation' means 'me confirming myself in the faith', rather than the Spirit confirming me in the faith.
Read the Pentecost account in the New Testament and tell me it reflected a mature, coming-of-age of the apostles, when they were able to make a determined commitment to the Christian faith. More than Protestantism, such an approach smacks of pure Pelagianism.