The Yeses That Come Later in Life
I was 14 when I was confirmed. I knew it was an important decision in my life, but was too young to understand it completely.
I come from a Catholic community that will not confirm anyone before the age of 17. Most of my peers (as well as myself) received the sacrament at the end of our junior year of high school. Although Juniors and Seniors in high school may be more mature than 5th graders, it would still be fair to say that over half of those of us getting confirmed did not understand the significance of the event. Between the tremedous amount of pressure put on canidates by the Parish and their families, many people were confirmed almost against their will. Confirmation is a choice that a person should make when he or she is ready, not at any age we prescribe as "mature." Although I feel older is better, I have to admit that juniors and seniors in high school are so busy with their academic, extracirricular, and social lives, that they cannot place the same emphasis on confirmation as a younger child. Most of my confirmation class says they remember confirmation as one extra burden during a busy time in their lives
Combinng the sacraments will demnish the importance of them in people's minds. I was confirmed in the 5th grade, I feel in retrospect that I would have appreciated to sacrament more if I'd been a little older. First comumion was in the 2d grade and I think that that was about right because in conjunction we also were taught about what is now called the Sacrament of Reconciliation, and that was important at that age in teaching us about taking responsibility for our actions.
Liturgically it might make sense to combine the sacrament of initiation, but psychologically, young people and parents NEED rites of passage, which this culture sorely lacks. No, the getting of a driver's license doesn't cut it. The community needs to register a time when young men and women are ready to assume adult responsibility within the faith community.