When the words “controversy” and “the Episcopal Church” are combined, they almost inevitably lead to the topic of human sexuality. While this is understandable, it obscures the fact that there are other, less headline-grabbing debates going on within our beloved church. One that keeps popping up among my friends, particularly those with young children, is the issue of infant communion. Having served in a number of different parishes now, it is striking to me how wildly different our practices can be when it comes to admitting young children to the Eucharist.

When I was a Presbyterian, this debate was waged under the rubric of “paedocommunion.” To make their case, proponents relied on scriptural exegesis and a particular brand of covenant theology. The opponents’ strategy, while not entirely devoid of biblical argument, was to affirm the authority of the Westminster standards. The Westminster Larger Catechism §177, for example, states that “[T]he Lord’s Supper is to be administered … only to such as are of years and ability to examine themselves.” This particular dispute actually reflected a deeper division between those who aligned themselves with a movement called the “Federal Vision” and those who identified with “Classical Reformed Theology.” While I was somewhat hesitant to identify with the former camp, I was persuaded by their arguments for admitting baptized children to the table. The gist of their reasoning was that the logic of infant baptism entails infant communion. We don’t require a certain degree of “cognitive ability” or intellectual consent for baptism, and there is no good reason why we should do so for communion. So went the argument.

What’s interesting to me is that this isn’t an esoteric topic that’s only of interest to theologians. It’s as practical as it gets. I can recall a sincere parishioner raising the question on more than one occasion in adult education classes: “So, why do we baptize babies, yet we don’t let children receive communion?” As an Episcopal priest, I have received the question numerous times in adult enquirers’ classes as well. Many parishioners have never thought about the issue of infant communion, but when they are presented the logic of infant baptism, this is often one of the first questions that comes to their minds.

Of course, the Anglican context of this debate is different in important respects from the Presbyterian context. Most importantly, Anglicans practice confirmation, which historically has been tied to (or at least loosely connected to) the reception of the Eucharist. In many Episcopal churches, it has been the custom to postpone reception of the Eucharist until after confirmation, which, until recently, most often occurred in the early teen years. Growing sensitivity to the fact that many children desired to receive communion led some churches to revise their practices. Some simply pushed confirmation to an early age, while others allowed children (around seven or eight years old) to receive communion while still waiting to be confirmed until they became teenagers.

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One might be tempted to think that the practice of confirmation should provide a fruitful point of comparison with Roman Catholicism and Eastern Orthodoxy. Sadly, this is not the case, at least not on the question of infant communion. In the Catholic Church, reception of the Eucharist is no longer tied to confirmation. The most current Code of Canon Law allows for reception before confirmation (which is most common in practice), but still requires that children “have sufficient knowledge and careful preparation” before their first communion (CIC 913 §1). It defines, somewhat ambiguously, age seven as the time that children have “the use of reason” (CIC 11), although apparently leaving it to the discretion of parents and priests to determine whether children have attained the use of reason at a later age (or perhaps even an earlier age; see CIC 913 §2). The practice of the Eastern Church is considerably different: infants receive the sacrament of confirmation immediately following the rite of baptism (well, sort of). This has never been the practice in the Anglican tradition, nor do we have a well-defined concept of the “age of reason,” as Roman Catholics do. It seems that we Anglican are on our own to figure this one out.

Even if one were to ignore the actual practices of Anglicans on the ground and simply look to our formularies, nothing is conclusive. The Thirty-Nine Articles of Religion are silent on the issue of age or cognitive ability as a prerequisite for communion. Current canons in the Episcopal Church state, “No unbaptized person shall be eligible to receive Holy Communion in this Church” (I.17.7),but this is merely a negative provision. Elsewhere the canons state, “[C]ommunicants sixteen years of age and over are to be considered adult communicants” (I.17.2b), but this only clarifies who is to be considered an adult communicant for the purposes of record-keeping. The Catechism of the Episcopal Church teaches, “It is required [when we come to the Eucharist] that we should examine our lives, repent of our sins, and be in love and charity with all people” (BCP, 860), but there is no suggestion that this implies a certain age or maturity level, and I have never seen it cited as such. It appears, then, that the question of infant communion is left to the prudential judgment of the Church, at least in the United States.

The canonical issues are rather different (and more complicated) in the Church of England. The general canon (B 15A) permits communion only to the confirmed. However, an exception was made relatively recently in the “Admission of baptized children to Holy Communion Regulations 2006.” It is currently unclear to me how many diocesan bishops (and parishes) have taken advantage of the new regulations, which prevents a further exploration of the issue.

The Church’s prudential judgment should of course include an examination of Scripture, as well as deploying whatever theological tools we have at our disposal. But it is difficult to see how even these resources can lead to a decisive conclusion. St. Paul tells us that we ought to examine ourselves and that “any one who eats and drinks without discerning the body eats and drinks judgment upon himself” (1 Cor. 11:18-29, RSV). The interpretation of this passage has been long debated, but it is far from clear that it necessarily rules out infant communion. On the other hand, supporters of the practice might point to Jesus’ words, “Let the children come to me, and do not hinder them; for to such belongs the kingdom of heaven” (Matt. 19:14). But one cannot read too much into this text, given that Jesus was not speaking directly about the Eucharist.

Rather than throwing our hands up in the air or simply clinging to the “tradition” (which is in fact a rather recent, Anglo-American phenomenon) of requiring confirmation before communion, I believe there other pressing considerations that need to be made. We need to take into account, for example, that church attendance is in rapid decline and that young people are increasingly leaving the church. I don’t want to be alarmist or reactionary. I’m not suggesting that our ecclesial practices should be determined solely by pragmatic considerations. Nor am I suggesting that there is any direct correlation between early admittance to the Eucharist and patterns in church attendance. But I do think we should stop and consider the possible implications of our current practices, especially those that are not clearly settled by Scripture or tradition.

I worry about the danger of possibly sending a message to our children that they are less than fully Christian. They, too, have been baptized as “Christ’s own forever.” Moreover, telling them that they must wait until they can “understand” the Eucharist misleadingly suggests that we adults do “understand” this sacred mystery. I worry that we have overly intellectualized the Sacrament.

Conversely, allowing baptized children to receive the Sacrament enables them to participate in the life of the Church in its fullness. Their earliest memories will always include the nourishment they have received from Christ’s body and blood. In fact, this should serve as an important reminder to the rest of us that the Eucharist is emphatically not a mere intellectual exercise. Every time I administer Christ’s body to one of our little ones at church, I am reminded of Christ’s words, “Truly, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven” (Matt. 18:2).

Infant communion is not a panacea or an instant fix. It needs to be coupled with robust engagement in the Church’s worship. Sending children away for the majority of the service and then sending them back in to receive communion is not ideal. And, of course, infant communion should not do away with catechesis in sacramental theology (otherwise we’d have the same problem with infant baptism). In a very helpful article on this subject in First Things, Anna Nussbaum Keating asks,

Is infant communion so different from infant baptism? We already teach children who have previously been baptized what their baptism means, and yet, baptism is a gift freely given. It is not dependent on one’s intelligence or comprehension. Formal instruction occurs after the sacrament has been experienced.

And I would add that, for churches that are intent on incorporating children into worship, it is much, much easier to do so when we can explain to them that they, too, are welcome at Christ’s altar.

The bottom line is that I have simply never encountered a good argument for requiring children to wait to be admitted to the Eucharist. Christians throughout history and across traditions have, admittedly, varied in their practices on this matter. It is not similar to, say, communion of the unbaptized, which would constitute a clear break from tradition. For Anglicans to admit baptized children to the altar is hardly an innovation. But I would suggest that it is a very good idea.

The featured image is “Komunio” by Philipp Schumacher in the Katholisches Religionsbüchlein für die unteren Klassen der Volksschule (1920)It is in the public domain. 

About The Author

The Rev. Dr. Stewart Clem is assistant professor of moral theology and director of the Ashley-O’Rourke Center for Health Ministry Leadership at Aquinas Institute of Theology in St. Louis, Missouri.

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21 Responses

  1. Caleb Congrove

    Stewart, The issue you raise is very important to me because as you mention there is a similar instability surrounding the sacraments of initiation in my own church (the Catholic Church). For the great majority of Catholics, the sacraments of initiation have been administered out of order for the last long while. Within the Latin Church, many dioceses have begun to correct the sequence, administering confirmation along with communion at an early age, or administering the sacraments of initiation in their integrity for children who are going to be baptized after infancy.

    As you seem to frame it, the debate within the Episcopal Church comes down to deciding between preserving the traditional requirement that confirmation precede communion on the one hand and admitting young children, even infants to communion, on the other. But shouldn’t the dilemma itself be rejected? As you note, the practice in the Eastern Churches (including Eastern churches in communion with Rome) does both, chrismating infants after their baptism.

    I strongly support communicating infants. Nevertheless, I believe that preserving (or restoring) the proper order and sequence of the sacraments of initiation is very important. Accordingly, I think your question really should implicate this one: is it canonically possible in the Anglican tradition to confer sacramental confirmation on infants and children?

    Reply
    • Stewart Clem

      Thanks for your comment, Caleb. You’re right that chrismation/confirmation immediately after baptism would eliminate the problem I discuss here… in theory. Aside from the fact that there is no precedent for such a practice in the Anglican tradition, the problem is that the reasons for postponing communion and confirmation are one and the same, i.e. that children need to “come of age” before receiving them. In other words, it’s inconceivable to me that those who object to infant communion would come around to the idea if only we would start administering confirmation earlier. It seems that they would want to hold off confirmation till children are older, precisely because it is (perceived as) a barrier to communion.

      Now, as for the normative question of whether Anglicans should conform their confirmation practices to something like that of the Eastern Church, I’m not sure. I’ll have to give that more thought. I admit that it just seems rather foreign to me. Clearly, we Anglicans need to develop and clarify our understanding of confirmation. As you probably know, this issue has been a mess in recent decades, with some even suggesting that we should do away with the rite (aka sacrament!) altogether.

      Reply
  2. Neil Dhingra

    From what I understand, the historical order and timing of the sacraments have been (and are) deeply affected by practical considerations. Thus, in the 19th century, in the Roman Catholic Church, Rome generally wanted confirmation to precede first communion. The First Vatican Council was to take up the question.

    As Paul Turner has noted, regional church councils reversed the order for practical reasons. Most bluntly, the Diocese of Mende in 1863: “It is often good and useful not to admit children to confirmation immediately after first communion, in order to keep them longer in catechism class and thus to complete their religious education.”

    When I wrote about the possibility of confirming and communing children elsewhere, a Roman Catholic deacon from Los Angeles wrote in, “What bishop wants to incur the ire of parents who will feel they have been robbed of the opportunity to dress up their second-graders in First Communion outfits and have the resulting photographs? Or the ability to use Confirmation as a way to keep their teenagers in religious education?”

    So, there seems to be a need, however theologically suspect, for sacraments to mark or prompt certain changes in life. What does one do with pragmatism?

    Reply
  3. Neil Dhingra

    The first sentence in my second paragraph should read, “”As Paul Turner has noted, regional church councils reversed the order or changed the timing for practical reasons.”

    Reply
  4. Bishop Daniel Martins

    In the spirit of “Baptism is but Eucharist begun; Eucharist is but Baptism continued,” I believe a Christian baptized as an infant should not be able to remember his or her first communion. If intellectual assent is not required for baptism, it should not be required for communion–at least, not if one believes in the objective efficacy of the sacraments.

    Reply
  5. Charlie Clauss

    The question of confirmation makes this a more interesting question than I first assume (“of course children should receive communion”).

    What if, instead of thinking of Confirmation as a requirement for Communion, we think of Communion as a requirement for Confirmation. Not a requirement in a logical or accounting sense, but in the same way good nutrition is necessary for any athlete. To be confirmed, the individual needs the nourishment that is provided in the sacrament.

    Reply
  6. Stewart Clem

    Neil, your observations about the pragmatism surrounding this issue are disheartening, but they ring true of my experience. All the more reason we need to flesh out the theology of confirmation and communion.

    Bishop Dan’s comments hit the nail on the head, I think. It ultimately comes down to the efficacy of the sacraments.

    Charlie, I really like that analogy! Makes perfect sense to me.

    Reply
  7. Christopher Yoder

    Stewart, good thoughts here. To complicate matters a bit, at least the first Prayer Book makes reference to the “age of discretion” (or as it puts it, “the yeres of discrecion”) in the rubrics to the Confirmation service, which is defined only by the ability to say in English the Creed, the Lord’s Prayer, and the Decalogue.

    The same Prayer Book also categorically denies admission to Holy Communion to anyone who is not first Confirmed; the 1662 BCP softened this by the addition of clause, “or be ready and desirous to be confirmed.”

    Reply
  8. Stewart Clem

    Thanks, Chris. These are kinds of things I had hoped to come across in my (admittedly very limited) research for this post. I admit that it’s significant that we have these kinds of restrictions in our prayer book tradition, even if *technically* there are not any current restrictions to infants or unconfirmed children receiving communion. I find it very interesting that the 1662 BCP changed the language to “ready and desirous to be confirmed.”

    I guess what I take from that is that, while we do have an acknowledgment of confirmation as a prerequisite for communion in the Anglican tradition, it sounds like that connection was severed (or at least weakened) very early on. Over time, that connection has all but vanished from our written resources, but it lives on as a “custom” in many TEC parishes.

    When we look outside of the Anglican Communion, we find similar ambiguity. One thing I tried to underscore in this post is that Christendom has never been of one mind on this issue. Augustine once wrote, “Yes, they’re infants, but they are his members. They’re infants, but they receive his sacraments. They are infants, but they share in his table, in order to have life in themselves” (quoted in Keating’s article, cited above). And this isn’t one of those instances where Augustine is expressing an opinion that was later contradicted by the consensus of the Church. I think it shows, rather, that even doctors of the Church have expressed differing opinions on this matter over time.

    While I would still ground my argument in the idea that the logic of the Eucharist should follow the logic of baptism (i.e. infants are eligible for both), I still think that those who are opposed to this should reconsider the appropriate age at which children should be admitted to the Eucharist. I’m thinking here of your observation about the early Confirmation rite requiring candidates to be able to recite the Creed, the Lord’s Prayer, and the Decalogue. I have friends with children (in the 5-10 age range) who could easily recite those, who are certainly “desirous” to receive the sacrament, yet are unable to receive because they haven’t yet reached the “appropriate” age for confirmation. I think that’s a problem. At the very least, those who strictly hold to confirmation as a prerequisite could lower the age requirement for confirmation.

    I should perhaps add this qualification: Since this a matter of the church’s discretion, I’m certainly not advocating that parents should go against the practice of their local church. I think it sets a bad example for kids when their parents are undermining their priests. Of course, parents can always voice their opinion to their priest (privately). If a church’s custom is to require confirmation first, however, then parents should explain that to their children the best they can.

    Reply
  9. Matthew Dallman

    Stewart Clem,

    How does the theology of the Exhortation (pp. 316-7) play into the conversation about the appropriate communion age for baptized persons?

    Reply
    • Stewart Clem

      Matthew, I would say that the Exhortation no more implies an “age of discretion” for communion than the baptismal vows (uttered by the godparents / parents, in the case of infants) imply an “age of discretion” for baptism. It’s something that we grow into. In the Exhortation, the officiant tells us, “I therefore call upon you to consider how Saint Paul exhorts all persons to prepare themselves carefully before eating of that Bread and drinking of that Cup.” We also instruct adult cathecumens to prepared themselves carefully for the sacrament of baptism. Yet we still baptize infants.

      Good question, though!

      Reply
  10. Craig Uffman

    Stewart, I can’t quite tell if you are arguing for a change in the ’79 BCP or not. A few points. The prayer book shifted the theology of initiation, it seems to me, by having the bishop or priest pray the prayer of confirmation (confirm means ‘to strengthen’) and then marking with a Cross and with chrism oil if desired. Confirmation happens in the baptismal rite. The rite (not a sacrament, but a sacramental rite) carried over due to objections by the House of Bishops, which we still call confirmation, adds nothing to this, except to the extent it is a means of grace. We retain it entirely for practical reasons. All cultures need a rite of passage marking the arrival at manhood and womanhood, so confirmation as a teen services an important social purpose. But in terms of one’s theological status in the Church, the rite is meaningless.

    We get into difficult terrain if we accept the argument that confirmation is necessarily prior to communion. The unspoken premise is that the prerequisite for full membership in the Church is a certain level of rationality and comprehension of a set of doctrinal claims. What then do we say about those who lose that rationality due to disease? What do we say about folks born with impairments which prevent them from ever attaining such rationality? And do we really believe that such things cause the personal communion with Jesus of Nazareth that is what such membership signifies? Such that their loss would signify termination of such communion? You might want to reflect on Sam Well’s discussion of Down Syndrome children? Has our understanding of them – and others like them – evolved since 1662? And, if so, is it not reasonable for our understanding of our rites of initiation to evolve in concert?

    The theological premise buried deep beneath the arguments which would order rites of initiation on the basis of a desired state of rationality is that what causes our relation to Jesus Christ is our subjective and rational act. Here I join with Bp Dan’s objection – that denies the objective nature of Christ’s real presence. As a Dukie, I would think you would be disposed to Hays’ 1981 arguments regarding the meaning of pistis Christou. It is Christ’s faith, and not our own, that determines that relation. An implication of that, it seems to me, is that we ought to be liberated from notions like those mentioned above – that it is our rational appropriation of dogmatic statements that is decisive in moving us to our inheritance as sons and daughters. Perhaps the only rational state needed is the same rationality that causes a babe to move instinctively to her mother’s breast to receive trustingly, faithfully, the offered milk. Our minds at birth are an empty book, as Hooker says. Yet even that empty book says Yes to the gift. Why do we presume that any more rationality is needed to accept God’s Yes to us in Christ and thereby to accept that which Christ has already declared – because of pistis Christou – that the babe already is -eternally – Christ’s child? And if child, invited to sit at the Table the Lord has set?

    Reply
    • Stewart Clem

      Craig, while I’m grateful that you took the time to comment, I’m not quite sure what to say. You seem to be reading into my position the very thing I’m arguing against. This piece was in favor of infant communion. You mentioned “Bp Dan’s objection,” but his comment actually concurs with the tenor of my original post.

      Maybe I said something in the comments that was poorly worded? If so, I’d be grateful if you could point it out to me!

      Reply
  11. Craig Uffman

    Sorry, Stewart. I read all of the comments, too, and perhaps conflated the arguments. I did get that you favored infant communion. However, it seemed to me that the arguments given for it were mostly pragmatic (“it works!”). In Hauerwasian fashion, I worry about pragmatic arguments, and so wanted to ask you to consider the theological and ethical arguments, also. I think those generative commitments lead to the same conclusion. The ethical argument help us to see that. One other point: resourcement leads us to consider, as you did, what historic practices and their justifications were. But, the ethical concerns I mention help us to see that evolution in the way we see the world (i.e., Down Syndrome children), may reasonably lead us to depart from prior practices and justifications. So 1662 is interesting, but not compelling for following generations.

    Also, I sought to clarify that confirmation is now in the baptismal rite. Though we retain the old sacramental rite, as well, it is largely redundant. So it is confusing to me to read about people who are still refusing to commune children until the latter rite. If they use our baptismal rite, the children are already confirmed (technically). So who exactly is it who ever communes without being confirmed? I think that population is zero, unless priests are refusing to follow the rite as published, and skipping that prayer, sign of the cross, and chrismation.

    Reply
  12. Zac Koons

    Stewart: I’ve always been confused about this myself, but I’ve never known where to go to think about it more carefully. I’m glad to have your (as always) clear treatment on the subject. I’ve noticed two things in my own experience at the rail (not offered as proof one way or the other, but I take them as interesting nonetheless): 1.) some of my sweetest interactions at the rail are with children. I don’t just mean that they are cuter than the adults (of course, they are), but that often they are the ones who seem to take communion most seriously, who feel the weight of the bread most profoundly in their hands. 2.) Some of my most frustrating experiences at the rail have been with children. Whether it’s repeatedly dropping the wafer, or who require their parents to constantly and in-the-moment remind them what and how to do it, I can’t help but wonder: Is this really doing anyone any good?” (As horrible as that is to wonder out loud.) As I said, these are experiential observations, not theological reflections. But they were in my mind as I was reading, and just wanted to share with you and the other 5 folks who read this blog :-)

    Reply
  13. Caleb Congrove

    Stewart, your post has produced a great conversation.
    I agree completely with Craig’s central claim that we get into trouble when we accept “the prerequisite for full membership in the Church is a certain level of rationality and comprehension of a set of doctrinal claims.” With him and most of the commenters, it seems, I believe that we come to belong to the Church through the sacraments, which (objectively) incorporate the disciple into Jesus Christ. Despite that agreement, however, or maybe because of it, I can’t agree at all with Craig’s conclusion: “We get into difficult terrain if we accept the argument that confirmation is necessarily prior to communion.” That claim would only be true if we accept that confirmation really does mean some kind of rational ratification of baptism by the confirmand once come of age. But that is precisely the misplaced meaning that we seem to agree in rejecting.
    Charlie’s proposal is straightforward: why not just switch them? And you seem to agree. And, as Neil notes, church authorities have exercised flexibility in the last century and change doing just that. But I believe that this flexibility represents a serious departure from the universal tradition of the undivided Church. Simply put, I don’t think we really can just switch them. For one thing, confirmation has always and everywhere preceded communion, at least until very recently. Moreover, confirmation simply doesn’t mean what many have come to make of it. In the ancient and medieval Church, both East and West, confirmation or chrismation was a post-baptismal anointing with chrism by which the baptized were sealed with the Holy Spirit, that oil of gladness himself. Even in the West, where confirmation became separated from baptism early on, the baptized were often confirmed in childhood and even infancy. Changing recent practice is always bound to incur opposition, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t necessary or desirable.
    Since the 1978 BCP includes within the rubrics for baptism a post-baptismal chrismation, I can certainly understand why Craig says the separate ‘rite of confirmation’ as it is presently included in the BCP is redundant. But it seems to me that it would be best to start cutting confirmation certificates along with the baptismal ones. (I suppose this point may apply equally to the Roman Catholic Church.)
    Finally, if it is not possible to confer the ‘rite of confirmation’ on infants in the Episcopal Church in the post-baptismal chrismation itself, I endorse Stewart’s suggestion: “At the very least, those who strictly hold to confirmation as a prerequisite could lower the age requirement for confirmation.” That seems to be the general movement in the Roman Catholic Church, where many dioceses have begun (again) coupling confirmation with first communion, so that most kids complete their initiation at about seven years, having been both confirmed and then communicated, in the traditional order. That was the arrangement proposed by the priest in my old Roman Catholic parish when my oldest kid was about to make her first communion. But I was the only other person who favored it, and so we stuck with doing it as the other adults remembered having done it themselves. But when my family and I moved away we ended up in an Eastern Catholic parish, and my younger kids have completed their initiations there. At their respective six years and fifteen months, the boys have already been fully incorporated into the Lord’s Body. They are as much members of the Church as their sister is or I am. They have received the Spirit of adoption unto a divine rebirth; they eat the Flesh of the Son of Man and drink his Blood unto life eternal. I do not believe that I have deprived them of anything.

    Reply
  14. Craig Uffman

    Caleb, I welcome your qualification of my comment about difficult terrain. Certainly that only is logical if we carry on with the concept that confirmation “really does mean some kind of rational ratification of baptism.” Thanks for clarifying my point.

    Reply
  15. Bishop Daniel Martins

    Let me attempt to be as direct as I was on my own Facebook page in the discussion of this post: In their ideal world, the compilers/framers/editors of BCP 1979 would have altogether eliminated Confirmation as a distinct liturgical occasion, adopting what they perceived to be ancient, and still continuing in the East, practice of a unified initiatory rite with segments–one segment involving water, and another involving chrismation and laying-on of hands in conjunction with an invocation of the Holy Spirit in and for and through the life of the baptizand. Of course, this would, in normal (if not normative) practice, be delegated to the local presbyter. This was the proposal in the 1970 “Green Book” trial liturgy (under which my eldest child was baptized). But the bishops caught wind of this, and some were reactive that what they perceived as their only significant pastoral contact with laity was about to be taken away. So, as a preemptive countermeasure, the Standing Liturgical Commission preserved the baptismal rite as they envisioned it, but created, more or less out of whole cloth left over from the Reformation, a new liturgy that bore the name “Confirmation” as preserved many of the familiar ritual and ceremonial elements, and, while they were at it, also devised a rationale for the new rite that evoked the “rite of passage” and “coming of age” and “mature profession of faith” themes. This apparently mollified the bishops (though most probably didn’t realize they were having a semantic shell game played on them). But it’s clear that, for sacramental initiation purposes, it’s all in the liturgy for Holy Baptism. There are still some pastoral and canonical inconsistencies and ambiguities in how it all works, chief among which is the widespread perception that Confirmation is how someone baptized in another tradition becomes an Episcopalian, which is ludicrous. For pastoral reasons (well-founded ones, I think) there is a canonical expectation that everyone in TEC at some point come under the hands of a bishop with prayer for strength from the Holy Spirit. But this is in no way initiatory or the *completion* of an initiatory sequence, and it could be done away with without doing any violence to the tradition of Catholic order in which Anglicanism has its being.

    Reply
  16. Charlie Clauss

    I am not sure I want to “just switch them.”

    It doesn’t appear we have any consensus about what Confirmation *is* (and there appears to be dispute about the timing of Confirmation and Communion).

    I must now reflect on my Lutheran roots and how those roots condition my thoughts on Confirmation, for I tend to think of Confirmation in “Protestant” categories; i.e. Confirmation is a public profession of faith, where I make the promises made at my baptism my own (no bishop needed!).

    Reply

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