Who May Receive Confirmation and What Is the Proper Age?
(Taken from Book IV Chapter III of the Code of Canon Law)
THE PERSONS TO BE CONFIRMED
Can. 889 #1 Every baptized person who is not confirmed, and only such a person, is
capable of receiving confirmation.
#2 Apart from the danger of death, to receive confirmation lawfully a person who has
the use of reason must be suitably instructed, properly disposed and able to renew the
Can. 890 The faithful are bound to receive this sacrament at the proper time. Parents
and pastors of souls, especially parish priests, are to see that the faithful are properly
instructed to receive the sacrament and come to it at the opportune time.
Can. 891 The sacrament of confirmation is to be conferred on the faithful at about the
age of discretion, unless the Episcopal Conference has decided on a different age, or
there is a danger of death or, in the judgment of the minister, a grave reason suggests
(Taken from the "Catechism of the Catholic Church" )
IV. WHO CAN RECEIVE THIS SACRAMENT?
1306 Every baptized person not yet confirmed can and should receive the sacrament of
Confirmation.121 Since Baptism, Confirmation, and Eucharist form a unity, it follows
that "the faithful are Obliged to receive this sacrament at the appropriate time,"122 for
without Confirmation and Eucharist, Baptism is certainly valid and efficacious, but
Christian initiation remains incomplete.
1307 The Latin tradition gives "the age of discretion" as the reference point for receiving
Confirmation. But in danger of death children should be confirmed even if they have
not yet attained the age of discretion.123
1308 Although Confirmation is sometimes called the "sacrament of Christian maturity,"
we must not confuse adult faith with the adult age of natural growth, nor forget that
the baptismal grace is a grace of free, unmerited election and does not need
"ratification" to become effective. St. Thomas reminds us of this:
Age of body does not determine age of soul. Even in childhood man can attain spiritual
maturity: as the book of Wisdom says: "For old age is not honored for length of time, or
measured by number of years." Many children, through the strength of the Holy Spirit
they have received, have bravely fought for Christ even to the shedding of their
1309 Preparation for Confirmation should aim at leading the Christian toward a more
intimate union with Christ and a more lively familiarity with the Holy Spirit - his
actions, his gifts, and his biddings - in order to be more capable of assuming the
apostolic responsibilities of Christian life. To this end catechesis for Confirmation
should strive to awaken a sense of belonging to the Church of Jesus Christ, the
universal Church as well as the parish community. The latter bears special
responsibility for the preparation of confirmands.125
1310 To receive Confirmation one must be in a state of grace. One should receive the
sacrament of Penance in order to be cleansed for the gift of the Holy Spirit. More
intense prayer should prepare one to receive the strength and graces of the Holy Spirit
with docility and readiness to act.126
1311 Candidates for Confirmation, as for Baptism, fittingly seek the spiritual help of a
. To emphasize the unity of the two sacrametns, it is appropriate that this be
one of the baptismal godpaernets.127
121 Cf. CIC, can. 889 #1.
122 CIC, can. 890.
123 Cf. CIC, cane. 891; 883, 3 .
124 St. Thomas Aquinas, STh III, 72, 8, ad 2; Cf. Wis. 4 8.
125 Cf. OC Introduction 3.
126 Cf. Acts 1:14.
127. Cf. OC Introduction 5; 6; CIC, can. 893 ##1-2.
(Taken from "The Administration of the Sacraments" by Nicholas Halligan, O.P.
published by Alba House 1963. Written using the old Code of Canon Law as reference.)
17. - A. - Outside the Danger of Death. - The ordinary and extraordinary ministers of c.
782 can administer Confirmation to infants and adults outside as well as within the
danger of death, unless the extraordinary minister designated by special indult is
18. - 1. - Qualifications for reception.
a) One who has not received the sacrament of Baptism cannot be validly confirmed;
moreover, for the Confirmation to be lawful and fruitful, the recipient must be in the
state of grace, and, if he has reached the use of reason, sufficiently instructed.45 An
implicit habitual intention suffices for adults. The sacrament revives when an obstacle
of serious sin impeding its effect is removed.
b) Those to be confirmed should first be properly instructed in the nature, dignity and
effects of this sacrament, and the dispositions necessary to receive it worthily.43 Those
who due to age or lack of intelligence cannot remember or follow the instruction may
still be confirmed. Heretics and schismatics may not be confirmed unless they have
abjured their errors and been reconciled to the Church.
19. - 2. - Obligation of reception. Although this sacrament is not a necessary means of
salvation, yet no one is allowed to neglect it when an opportunity to receive it is
offered; on the contrary, pastors must take care that the faithful come to be confirmed at
a suitable time.47 Confirmation must be received before entering the novitiate of
religious 43 or the clerical state,49 and, if possible, before marriage.50
20. - 3. - Ask for Confirmation.
a) In the Latin Church Confirmation should not be conferred until about the seventh
year, although it may be conferred sooner if the infant is in danger of death, or if its
administration seems to the minister justified for good and serious reasons.51 No other
situations are admitted for the administration of the sacrament at an age earlier than
about seven.52 On the other hand, the bishop may not forbid the reception of the
sacrament before the age of ten years.53 The delay prescribed until the attainment of
the use of reason is to provide for proper instruction and more fruitful dispositions.
b) It is preferable that Confirmation be received before First Holy Communion. If First
Communion was received before Confirmation could be opportunely received, then
frequent reception of Holy Communion may not be prevented.54
21. - 4.-New name. It is customary for the recipient of Confirmation to receive a new
name.55 Even when Confirmation immediately follows Baptism, this request for a new
name must be granted. The new name is recorded in the proper place in the
22.B. - IN DANGER OF DEATH. - The general indult Spiritus Sancti munera" makes
Confirmation more available than does canon 782 for those who are in danger of dying
without having received it. In addition to the presence of valid baptism, minimum
intention and opportune instruction, the recipient of the sacrament in virtue of this
indult must possess other requirements.
23. - 1. - Territory. To receive Confirmation validly the recipient must be "actually
staying in the territory of these ministers" empowered to confirm.
24. - 2. - Danger of death. It is also required "that the faithful in question are in true
danger of death from grave illness from which it may be foreseen they will die." In
practice, the prudent (even though not necessarily certain) judgment of the existence of
a real and grave danger of death must be made by the minister56 and according to the
norms used in Extreme Unction. It has already been noted that the "Spiritus Sancti
munera," as extended to missionary priests, does not seem to restrict the danger of
death to an internal source.
25. - 3. - Persons.
a) Both infants and adults are included. "Those to be confirmed who have attained the
use of reason require from canon 786, in addition to being in a state of grace, the
dispositions and knowledge necessary for receiving this sacrament fruitfully. It is for
the minister, therefore, to give the necessary instruction to sick people according to
their capabilities, and to arouse in them an adequate intention of receiving this
sacrament for the strengthening of their souls. If later they are restored to health, those
whose duty it is must provide opportune instructions for them in the mysteries of the
faith, and on the nature and effects of this sacrament."
b) Since both "Spiritus Sancti munera" and the terms of its extension to missionary
priests speak only of the "faithful" as the recipients of this benefit, Confirmation may
not be validly conferred on heretics or schismatics before they are reconciled to the
Church. Some commentators hold that such an administration would be valid but
gravely unlawful. It seems that an infant of non-Catholic parents, who is being lawfully
baptized in danger of death when there seems to be no possibility of survival, may be
confirmed, if scandal is avoided.57
45. C. 786.
46. Appendix ii, N. 7.
47. C. 787.
48. C. 544, 1.
49. CC. 974, 1, 1; 993, 1.
50 C. 1021, 2.
51. C. 788.
52. PCI 16 iun. 1931. Contrary customs are sometimes tolerated for a time, but there is
to be instruction given and effort made to bring about normal conditions.
53. PCI 26 mart. 1952. The custom of delaying Confirmation until twelve or fourteen
years is not approved by the Church (S. C. Sac. 30 iun. 1932).
54 S. C. Sac. 30 iun. 1932; cf. also 20 maii 1934.
55. S. C. Rit. 20 sept. 1749, ad 7. A name which is indecent or unfitting a Christian
should be changed in Confirmation. (S.C.P.F. 4 mai 1774)
56. Cf. S. C. Sac. 6 mart. 1947.
57. Cf. cc. 750; 751.
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