“The sacraments of Christian initiation – Baptism, Confirmation and the Eucharist – lay the foundations of every Christian life.” (CCC 1212)
By these three sacraments we become one with Jesus in his passage through death to life in the Kingdom. Our humanity is caught up in Christ’s glorified humanity in the here and now. By Baptism, we share in his death and resurrection. By Confirmation, we share in the gift of Pentecost. In Eucharist, we share in the food of heaven. This is why they are called sacraments of initiation – we are initiated into the community that holds the paschal mystery as its very life.
Originally, the three sacraments formed one single celebration, the Easter Vigil. For children of catechetical age and for adults, this is still the preferred way.
If in the case of infants we separate the celebration of the sacraments, we need to keep in mind the order and the unity of these sacraments. The current practice does not express this as clearly. So, the plan to restore the order of the sacraments is an effort towards consistency between teaching and practice.
From earliest times, the sacraments of Christian initiation were only a beginning – the new members continued to study and deepen their commitment for the rest of their lives. How will we also apply this understanding and practice? We need to find ways to foster lifelong catechesis for all our members.