Saturday, October 11, 2008

Temporal Separation Between Baptism & Confirmation

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MYTH
It is wrong to not celebrate confirmation right after infant baptism

Eastern Orthodox polemicists object to the fact that in the Latin Rite of the Catholic Church, infants are not confirmed immediately after being baptized. They say this represents a barbaric innovation and deviation from orthopraxis. On the contrary, the Latin practice has the same validity and legitimacy as the Eastern practice. It often became necessary as the flock of the Church grew to separate Baptism and Confirmation into two distinct celebrations. The reasons for this include, according to the Catechism of the Catholic Church, "the multiplication of infant baptisms all through the year, the increase of rural parishes, and the growth of dioceses" which "often prevented the bishop from being present at all baptismal celebrations."{1} The Latins wanted "to reserve the completion of Baptism to the bishop."{2} The Church is Catholic. Therefore, we are going to see diverse rites. These rites are complementary, not contradictory, for the difference between them consists in difference of emphasis and not in belief.{3} The Eastern rite "gives greater emphasis to the unity of Christian initiation," while the Latin rite "more clearly expresses the communion of the new Christian with the bishop as guarantor and servant of the unity, catholicity, and apostolicity of his Church, and hence the connection with the apostolic origins of Christ's Church."{4} In other words, the Eastern rite "highlights the unity of the three sacraments of Christian initiation," while the Latin rite, in which the "celebration is ordinarily reserved to the bishop" after "the age of reason has been reached," signifies that Confirmation "strengthens the ecclesial bond."{5}

Notes and References
{1} CCC 1290.
{2} Ibid.
{3} Cf. the Filioque issue. The Eastern formula "through the Son" and the Western formula "and the Son" address the same truth but differ in emphasis.
{4} CCC 1292.
{5} CCC 1318.

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