Q: Hello! I continue to follow and learn from your blog and the variety of questions and responses! THANKS!!
I was interested to read your response to the questions about Confirmation and Eucharist for uncatechized Catholics. Our diocese, and others that I know of, “reserve” Easter Vigil for Elect being fully initiated (Baptism, Confirmation and Eucharist) and, if they are ready, candidates for Reception into Full Communion. We discern another time for First Communion for adult Catholics and of course, adult Catholics for Confirmation, as approved by the Bishop (in our Diocese, by himself at Pentecost).
If the candidates for Reception are not ready for Reception at the Vigil, we discern another time for them to be received. If they are received at the Easter Vigil, it is so important that we have earlier ritually honored their Christian baptism, and they are distinct from the Elect at the Vigil, so that the concern expressed in the Rite (confusion) is taken care of.
It seems from your response that you have Catholics who are ready complete their initiation at the Vigil as well. Did I read that right? I am often reminded of Jim Dunning’s comment: “It’s messy” but it is also glorious!
A: Thanks for your comments and question.
There are several categories to keep in mind (“sorting fish” in the old expression used by the North American Forum on the Catechumenate).
- Unbaptized adults (including children of catechetical age)
- Adults (including children of catechetical age) validly baptized in another Christian denomination
- Adults who were baptized Catholic but did not receive preparation or celebration of confirmation AND first communion
- Adults who were baptized Catholics and confirmed, but never made first communion
- Adults who were baptized Catholics and made their first communion, but were never confirmed
The ideal time to offer the three initiation sacraments for group 1 is the Vigil. But circumstances may permit another time of year.
The ideal time to offer reception, confirmation and communion for group 2 is not the Vigil, though many people do it then. Ideally, they are received when they are ready throughout the year.
Paragraph 409 envisions that group 3 will indeed receive both confirmation and first communion at the Easter Vigil. I question the wisdom of this, but that is what it says.
Groups 4 and 5 should be handled separately. The RCIA does not deal with them. They receive their sacraments when they are ready.