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Confirming Kate

There’s news articles about Kate Middleton’s confirmation in a number of places. Quotes here start from the Guardian newspaper (mainly because that was the first one sent to me). Some other sources are referred to as we go along.

Clarence House has announced that Kate Middleton was confirmed last month by the bishop of London into full membership of the Church of England.

So the Church of England has membership?
This is a church, as far as I understand it, that marries anyone who applies who lives in the parish boundaries – Hindus, Scientologists, atheists,…
What is “full membership”?
What is partial membership?

Middleton’s confirmation at a private service

What is confirmation if it is not a public affirmation as an adult, of one’s baptism as an infant?
If that is so, what is a private confirmation?

[Time goes further and says the confirmation service was “secret”. cf here and elsewhere]

she had already been christened into the CofE as a child

So we get christened into a particular denomination?
We are not baptised “into” the church catholic?

[Giving away my position: baptism is baptism is baptism. An iPod is an iPod is an iPod – doesn’t matter if you procure it at the Warehouse, Noel Leeming, or the Apple Mac shop… It’s the same iPod. It’s the same baptism.]

Further comments and questions about confirmation, beyond this article:

If a person is baptised as an adult, why would you confirm him/her?

NZ’s Anglican Church has no “membership” – anyone baptised in any denomination is part of the church catholic and welcome to fully participate in Anglican life.
Except… you can’t be ordained.
In order to be ordained, you must be episcopally confirmed. If you were, for example, confirmed in a Presbyterian Church and want to be ordained, tough! Your confirmation doesn’t count. You must be confirmed by a bishop first. Why?
If you were baptised as an adult and want to be ordained, tough! You must be confirmed by a bishop first. Why?

If all this discussion doesn’t interest you, there’s always the wedding preview:

Similar Posts:

34 thoughts on “Confirming Kate”

  1. Greg the Explorer

    this is a great discussion and shows how out of touch with anything real the Royal family are…to imagine that the head of the church, the Queen(and that is another discussion worth having…who is the head of the church if not Jesus?) hasn’t the basest of understandings regarding the practice and meaning behind baptism and confirmation, to allow it to be private and secret Now in reality the lacknof theological understanding around the idea that confirmation equates to membership is far more likely to be that of the reporters.

    1. Does the title “Defender of the Faith and Supreme Governor of the Church of England” leave some “wiggle room”? I supposed “supreme governor” could be taken to mean what it says on its face, but it is not the same as calling the monarch “head of the church.” Being a Presbyterian in the U.S.A., I don’t really have a dog in this hunt (as some say), but it might be a distinction worth making — supreme governor of one denomination as opposed to Head of the Church Universal.

  2. If a Presbyterian pastor wants to serve as rector/vicar/grand poobah in an Anglican (Episcopal) parish, that pastor must be ordained first by a bishop in Apostolic Succession and received by the Bishop Diocesan of that diocese.

    Why should it be any different for a layperson being a aspirant/postulant/candidate for ordination? That person needs to be confirmed by a bishop before ordination.

    What is so hard about that?

    (Let’s not get into some cases with anyone coming from an Orthodox denomination, or if a Roman priest was authorized to confirm by his bishop. Then we get confusion.)

  3. From the Nicene Creed

    I confess one baptism for the forgiveness of sins.

    I don’t see any denomination attached to that.

    You can be a member of a Parish, you maybe a Member of the Church Militant, or you may not be. Only the Lord knows for sure whose are his.

  4. To me, confirmation is a mature profession of faith although baptism may not be. One may be baptized as an adult, but may not yet have mature faith. Confirmation is an appropriate time to proclaim that faith… but not in private. I’m as disappointed in that as in all the private baptisms that take place. If you’re joining the church at baptism as we say you are, I think it’s appropriate that the rest of the church is represented.

  5. Hi, Bosco. Reporters’ religious illiteracy is always annoying/amusing. We can take comfort in knowing that they mangle every other subject just as badly (developments in the sciences are reported with considerable inaccuracy). What’s worrying is when we hear the same mistakes from our own people “in the pews”, who don’t get a lot of “continuing education” in the basics of Christian belief and practice. If your confirmation instructor (or comparable well-intentioned leader) presents the facts poorly — or if you’re paying attention (my wife says she used to sneak out to go for a smoke!) — then you may end up holding very “interesting” ideas about your faith for the rest of your life, and then wonder why your children think this religion thing is a nonsense.

    A commentary on the 1959 revision of the Canadian Book of Common Prayer by Roland F. Palmer, SSJE, has a good answer for several of the misconceptions you note in these articles:

    Confirmation is not “Joining the Church”. You were already a member of the Church by Baptism before you were confirmed. the Anglican Communion is not a separate Church, but an integral portion of the one Body of Christ, the Catholic Church, which you joined at Baptism. Confirmation is a further blessing. It is not like joining a society or denomination. The Church requires instruction in the Catechism and Confirmation before Communion, but Confirmation is something much more than being admitted to communicant status.

    From His Worthy Praise: On Worship According to the Book of Common Prayer, Canada 1959, rev. 3rd printing (Toronto, 1963), p. 120.

    Of course, some things have changed since then (in Canada we no longer require confirmation before admission to communion), but he’s pretty clear in answering some of your questions regarding Miss Middleton’s confirmation!

    But your further question is the real biggie: If a person is baptised as an adult, why would you confirm him/her?

    I am no expert in the current theological disputes about what Confirmation is and does, beyond the summary in the current edition of the Oxford Dictionary of the Christian Church (which is very helpful in laying out the long and complex history of the question — this is by no means a recent theological issue). The Roman answer to your question would be, I suppose, that confirmation confers an indelible “character” separate from that of baptism (and is as such unrepeatable). But as a slowly-reconstructing Prayer Book sort, I have found much of use in a sermon on confirmation by the Tractarian dean of Chichester Cathedral, Walter Farquhar Hook (1798-1875), published posthumously in The Church and Its Ordinances, vol. 1 (London, 1876), pp. 339-59. Looking at the scriptural references to “laying on of hands”, Hook outlines a middle-of-the-raod Anglican position that sees confirmation as an “apostolic ordinance”. By “ordinance” he means something that the Church, rather than Christ, has instituted and that the Church has the authority to change or abolish. Because it is the Church that institutes it, such an ordinance may be relied upon as an effective means of grace, whereas to expect to receive grace through ceremonies not ordained by the Church (i.e. the Church of England in this case — he gives Extreme Unction as an example of a non-authorized ceremony) would be superstitious.

    We may or may not agree with that view of the Church’s power of binding and loosing. But he goes on to explain how the Anglican practice prevailing in his day (Confirmation of teenagers after a period of instruction) ought to be understood. In his explanation, he is well within a medieval theological strand that held Confirmation to be the “sacrament of warriors” (St. Bonaventure), that is, conferring added strength for the Christian’s daily battle against evil. Baptism confers “regenerating grace”, confirmation confers “strengthening grace” (Hook makes no suggestion about confirmation “completing” baptism, though many early and medieval authors made that contention, nor does he blunder by saying that only in confirmation does the Christian receive the Holy Spirit.) Permit me an extended passage from Hook:

    The persons to be confirmed are generally [in the 19th-century C. of E.] those who are just commencing the career of life, just passing from parental control; going forth into that world, which is to the Christian a field of battle, wherein, under the great Captain of his salvation, he is to fight the good fight of faith, against the world, the flesh, and the devil.

    There, many an ambush is laid for their destruction, unless their eyes be opened by grace to perceive the pitfall: within are passions, at that age in their vigour, ready to betray them; and the temptations which allure them from without assail their inexperience with more of fascination or of power than at any other period of life.

    Now, more, therefore, than at any other period of life, they stand in need of that strengthening grace which this ordinance has been instituted to convey. Now do they need to take unto themselves the whole armour of God, — the breastplate of salvation, the sword of the Spirit.

    This, indeed, is the idea of Confirmation. It is the arming of the young Christian against the wiles of Satan; it is the strengthening of the feeble hands; the sending forth of him who has already been sworn in when he was baptized: he does not at Confirmation make new vows; he only, before receiving the grace which he seeks, repeats the vows which are already upon him. (pp. 347-8)

    Of course, we could legitimately ask, in view of the varied practices (and non-practice) of Confirmation across the churches throughout history, whether any of this is has universal applicability (for example, Hook’s argument, as presented here, can hardly apply to Orthodox chrismation of infants — or indeed to the confirmation of Elizabeth I at Archbishop Cranmer’s hands when she was three days old — since they will not immediately face the temptations of adolescence). But I wonder if this is precisely the strength of Hook’s account: confirmation is an ordinance of the Church and therefore subject to change; but it nevertheless confers the grace that the Church, following what it believes to be the example of the apostles, asks of God for the recipient.

    Kate Middleton is, in a way, just like the confirmation candidates described by Hook, about to launch on the career of life. She is entering what would be to most of us a terrifying arena of responsibility and public scrutiny (as the bereft William already knows too well). Her life will never be her own again, and a great deal will hang on her conduct in this new office, even if (or especially since) it will be largely symbolic. I can think of no better reason to seek God’s strengthening grace, and I am heartened to think that her upcoming nuptials have been an occasion for her to reflect on the vows of her baptism and to strive to be, not just a good future queen, but a Christian one.

    Having said all that, let me confess that I, when I was confirmed at 22, thought of it (in part) as expressing allegiance, not just to Christ, but also to my new Anglican home! And my confirming bishop simply said, “Receive the Holy Spirit,” as if this would be a new thing… Much renewal is needed, that’s for sure.

  6. Thanks for all the wonderful, thoughtful comments! Very helpful. Jesse, especially, thanks for all your work.

    Just a few points:

    The Queen is not the head of the CofE, she is the “Supreme Governor”.

    I’m a bit confused by your point, Bob. You say, “If a Presbyterian [wants to be a priest in an Anglican Church s/he] must be ordained first by a bishop in Apostolic Succession and received by the Bishop Diocesan of that diocese.

    Why should it be any different for a layperson being a aspirant/postulant/candidate for ordination? That person needs to be confirmed by a bishop before ordination.” They are different – one is ordination, the other confirmation…

    I’m wondering now – has Kate previously received communion?

    In NZ Anglicanism, the formulary is clear we “receive the gift of the Holy Spirit” in baptism (p.384). The prayer at the laying on of hands is: “Creator Spirit, strengthen N with your gifts of grace, to love and serve as a disciple of Christ. Guide, protect uphold her/him that s/he may continue yours for ever.”

    I’ve just checked the CofE Common Worship text which is:

    “N, God has called you by name and made you his own.
    He then lays his hand on the head of each, saying
    Confirm, O Lord, your servant with your Holy Spirit.”

  7. At the risk of wearing out my welcome, Bosco, I’ll add something in reference to another of your questions: What is confirmation if it is not a public affirmation as an adult, of one’s baptism as an infant?

    What I’ve written already reveals my own position on that question, which is that confirmation (as such) is something independent of the public affirmation of baptismal vows (made long ago or recently). The ancient orders for confirmation (“sealing”, “anointing”, etc.) did not include a reaffirmation of baptismal vows, precisely because confirmation originated as an immediate sequel to baptism. This secondary aspect of confirmation was, I gather, an innovation of the Reformation. The old 1662 BCP, for instance, says that the requirement that confirmands first be catechized was added so that “Confirmation may be ministered to the more edifying of such as shall receive it”. In other words, confirmation might be administered without edification of the recipient (and indeed had been from apostolic times onwards, both to babies and the uninstructed), but it would still be confirmation.

    As Walter Hook notes, the 1662 BCP commits a solecism in providing a rite of baptism for “such as are of riper years”, and directing that such persons should be “confirmed by the Bishop so soon after [their] Baptism as conveniently may be”, when at their confirmation will be asked by the bishop to “renew the solemn promise and vow that was made in your name at your Baptism; ratifying and confirming the same in your own persons”. Hook suggests, however, that “no practical inconvenience is found to arise from this”.

    In the Anglican Church of Canada, the Book of Alternative Services (1985) provides a single episcopal rite for “Confirmation, Reception, and Reaffirmation of Baptismal Vows”, the only difference between the different functions coming in the words recited by the bishop at the laying on of hands (for Confirmation, a prayer addressed to the “Lord” asking for strengthening grace; for the others, words addressed to the candidate: “we recognize you…”, “may the Holy Spirit who has begun a good work in you…”). I can’t help but feel that this muddies the waters a bit. Does someone coming from a non-episcopal communion need both Confirmation and Reception? And does this equate Confirmation with Reaffirmation of Baptismal Vows (a possibility strengthened by the provision of only a single Eucharistic Collect for all three rites)?

    This evoked a learned critique from the late Robert Crouse, in which he sought to deliver confirmation from its current limbo as “a rite in search of a theology” (he can be read here). Crouse’s assumptions about the BAS rite of Reaffirmation, namely that all present would affirm their baptismal vows and be blessed by the bishop, were ridiculous and were not borne out in practice. And (as you already know) I am no longer of Crouse’s opinion that Communion should continue to be delayed until after (adolescent) confirmation. But he addresses quite a few of the questions raised in this blog post, and gives a clear and useful summary of the early and medieval underpinnings of the Anglican understanding and practice of confirmation.

    1. People are generally not in danger of wearing out their welcome here, least of all you, Jesse. Your thoughtful comments are precisely the sort of dialogue that I hope this place encourages. Thanks.

  8. Since I am an Episcopalian in the US, I must be considered at best heterodox in the world of Anglicanism. After all, our first BCP was not based on 1662, and we have only officially acknowledged two Creeds. But, just because I must be an Anglican heterodox, that doesn’t mean I won’t express my opinion. After all, I am an American.

    You might forgive me for following in the tradition of the rule of prayer is the rule of faith. The 1928 BCP in the US (under which I was confirmed) has this at the beginning of the service (http://justus.anglican.org/resources/bcp/1928/Confirnation.htm#Confirmation ):

    “Hear the words of the Evangelist Saint Luke, in the eighth Chapter of the Acts of the Apostles.

    “WHEN the apostles which were at Jerusalem heard that Samaria had received the word of God, they sent unto them Peter and John: who, when they were come down, prayed for them, that they might receive the Holy Ghost: for as yet he was fallen upon none of them: only they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. Then laid they their hands on them, and they received the Holy Ghost.”

    When it comes time for the confirmation, it looks very much like a blessing and we are receiving strength.

    “Bishop. Our help is in the Name of the Lord;
    “Answer. Who hath made heaven and earth.
    “Bishop. Blessed be the Name of the Lord;
    “Answer. Henceforth, world without end.
    “Bishop. Lord, hear our prayer.
    “Answer. And let our cry come unto thee.

    “Bishop. Let us pray.

    “ALMIGHTY and everliving God, who hast vouchsafed to regenerate these thy servants by Water and the Holy Ghost, and hast given unto them forgiveness of all their sins; Strengthen them, we beseech thee, O Lord, with the Holy Ghost, the Comforter, and daily increase in them thy manifold gifts of grace: the spirit of wisdom and under-standing, the spirit of counsel and ghostly strength, the spirit of knowledge and true godliness; and fill them, O Lord, with the spirit of thy holy fear, now and for ever. Amen.

    Ҧ Then all of them in order kneeling before the Bishop, he shall lay his hand upon the head of every one severally, saying,

    “DEFEND, O Lord, this thy Child with thy heavenly grace; that he may continue thine for ever; and daily increase in thy Holy Spirit more and more, until he come unto thy everlasting kingdom. Amen.”

    In my case, the bishop confirming me was from Northern Ireland. He generally kept his brogue in check. That is, until he started with “Defend, O Lord…”. Considering what it sounded like, I probably also received the Gift of Blarney, too.

    As you can see, though, there is reason for this heterodox member of the Anglican communion to be confused as to what all the fuss is about confirmation. It is for strengthening grace to live our profession as Christians.

    And, as long as I am falling back on the rule of prayer business, what does the 1979 US BCP say about confirmation in the Catechism?

    “Q. What is Confirmation?
    “A. Confirmation is the rite in which we express a mature
    commitment to Christ, and receive strength from the
    Holy Spirit through prayer and the laying on of hands
    by a bishop.”

    More strength, I see.

    What about the actual prayer used by the bishop?

    “For Confirmation

    “The Bishop lays hands upon each one and says

    “Strengthen, O Lord, your servant N. With your Holy Spirit;
    empower him for your service; and sustain him all the days
    of his life. Amen.

    “or this

    “Defend, O Lord, your servant N. with your heavenly grace,
    that he may continue yours forever, and daily increase in
    your Holy Spirit more and more, until he comes to your
    everlasting kingdom. Amen.”

    Who are these people who say confirmation is in search of a meaning? Then again, we are heterodox in the US.

    1. Thanks, Bob – heterodox or (I’m a bit frightened to write the opposite of “hetero” here – my spam filter may not allow it) not, you and I are in full communion 😉

  9. That being said, what about the private service? It isn’t the first time something like this was done in private. It may not now be considered good practice, but there is precedence.

    That being said, if she would have been confirmed in a public service, the paparazzi would have had a field day. Maybe a little privacy was a good thing?

  10. “NZ’s Anglican Church has no ‘membership’ – anyone baptised in any denomination is part of the church catholic and welcome to fully participate in Anglican life.”

    Participate in the sacramental life of a parish is one thing. Participate in the legal life of a parish is something else.

    In the US, without examining all the canons of the several dioceses, I’d venture a guess that most parishes in the US are non-profit corporations, as chartered by law in the state where it is formed. Who can vote for the Vestry? That requires a voters’ role of some sort. Where law permits, the national canons of the Episcopal Church allows any baptized member 16 years old and older to vote in parish elections. Maintaining a membership roll has this role in parish life.

    (Mission congregations are not usually incorporated separately. They are completely owned by the diocese. Technically, when it comes to elections, the mission congregation recommends officers to the Bishop, who then typically appoints each to office on the Bishop’s Committee. There have been exceptions to the appointment part of the equation, most typically in troubled congregations. And, the members of the Bishop’s Committee serve at the Bishop’s pleasure, most often enforced in troubled congregations.)

  11. Hermano David | Brother Dah•veed

    Is it not all just a certain amount of legalism and “playing church”? The legalism being the laws of the United Kingdom regarding the religion of its future King and his wife. The “playing Church” because how much does it really mean to a couple reported by the press to have been cohabiting for a number of years without benefit of marriage?

    This is not meant to be a judgement against them, but legitimate questions to be asked.

  12. Are we to judge a member of the Royal Family based on whether or not there has been sexual relations outside of marriage? When did that standard start?

    For that matter, how many of us would survive that standard?

  13. Hermano David | Brother Dah•veed

    When did that standard start?
    For the Royal Family, or for everyone?

    For that matter, how many of us would survive that standard?
    Perhaps more than you think. Many still value that standard. I was not aware that there were Anglican churches that had dropped that standard!

    1. Officially, no, I don’t suppose any Anglican provinces or national churches have altered the traditional teachings on chastity. But it is very much up for discussion as we discover that how we’ve done things for the last couple of centuries is (a) not how things always were, and (b) may be unhelpful as a plan for how we continue. Theology is forever trying to catch up to “lived” Christianity!

      We don’t need to derail a thread on Confirmation with this question, but I’ll just point to an example of recent thought: Adrian Thatcher, Living Together and Christian Ethics (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2002), proposes a return, with adaptations, to the more ancient concept of formal betrothal, in which conjugal relations are licit in advance of a marriage that is intended but may not actually happen. This, the author contends, would “strengthen the churches’ commendation of marriage at a time when it is increasingly trivialized and disregarded” (p. 72) and would provide a sounder basis for marriage preparation, removing shallow admonitions about “fornication” in favour of actually probing intentions, thus extending the Church’s pastoral reach to include the great many couples for whom cohabitation is a natural progression in their relationship. Thatcher notes that this is actually how things have normally operated in non-European cultures, as well as in much earlier European practice.

      As for the “play-acting” charge, I can’t form any opinion. There’s no way for us (or indeed the Bishop of London) to know what Miss Middleton really thought she was doing. And if one must have perfect intention and understanding when approaching the sacraments, then I despair of all our salvations! As Father Palmer writes:

      The Bishop’s hand is there for a moment, a pledge to assure us that our Father’s hand is ever over us to bless and shelter us. We live upon the grace of past sacraments. At the time of Confirmation I may have been too nervous or careless to make full use of the blessing, but I still have that blessing and can use it day by day. (His Worthy Praise, p. 120)

      1. Hermano David | Brother Dah•veed

        I am pretty clear that if Father Bosco thought that I was derailing his thread, he would have rejected my comments and explained why to me in private email. So far he has not done either.

        I do not see this as a generic conversation about confirmation. Bosco posted it as regarding the newspaper account of a specific, and now very publicly well known individual’s confirmation. And he offered his own critique’s regarding the confirmation.

        Anyone may disagree with my assessment, but then your task is to respond to my critique, not try to shame me into silence or shut me down, which in my view is what both my interlocutors have done.

        Sorry to be the fuddy-duddy here, but I am perhaps more Orthodox and traditional/conservative in my Christian beliefs than some may have expected. And while I do not profess to know the mind of Kate, or her personal approach to her confirmation, I firmly believe that the legalism playing out here was because the wedding would not take place if this confirmation had not taken place. The confirmation’s purpose is to fulfill matters of British law regarding the UK’s monarchs and their spouses. Had Kate been Roman Catholic, and had William both wished to marry her and still become the King of the United Kingdom* some day, then what would have happened rather than the confirmation, is that the Bishop of London would have been receiving her into the Church of England.

        So it very much strikes me as playing church, and a tad hypocritical, when two people who, to this moment, have very publicly felt no obligation to honor their church’s beliefs regarding cohabiting, are now jumping through hoops to be able to marry.

        And yes, Jesse, if you look below the surface, you will see that through the last “2000 years” Christians have done a lot of strange things in order to have sex with someone and not incur the church’s condemnation. And they do not have the market on the strangeness. Islamists in some countries have marriages with one day expiration dates, so that a couple can “legally” have a night of sexual escapades and then go their merry way come the marrow.

        *There may well be similar legal requirements regarding the marriages of the British monarchs in others of some 18 nations of which they are also monarch.

        1. I hadn’t anticipated this direction of conversation – but then, that’s the nature of conversations. On being the sovereign here – it sometimes confuses people when I refer to Eizabeth as the 2nd and 1st. She is, clearly, only the first Elizabeth to be queen of New Zealand. All of you in this conversation are people I respect. I read your (plural) comments in the most positive light and know that you (plural) can dialogue well & presume you will continue to do so. Easter Season blessings.

          1. For that matter, she’s the first Queen Elizabeth of *every* kingdom over which she is monarch. Elizabeth I was queen of England, which kingdom no longer exists. The United Kingdom as such has never had an Elizabeth before her.

            The rather fascinating case of MacCormick v Lord Advocate dealt with this issue as it applied to Scotland (since Scotland had, of course, never had an Elizabeth before the current one): http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/MacCormick_v_Lord_Advocate

        2. Good heavens, David! I apologize for offending you. It was certainly not my intent. My suggestion about not needing to get “derailed” was not at all designed to silence you, but was my way of apologizing for adding a whole paragraph on a subject that might prove unpleasantly controversial (as it now has).

          If we can move beyond that miscommunication, I hope you will find that the material I included, derived from the writings of authorities on two of the subjects you raised in your post (cohabitation and liturgical hypocrisy), was a benign, and hopefully useful, “response to your critique”. What I thought I was saying was as follows:

          I agreed with you about cohabitation, i.e. that there haven’t been any official changes in Church teaching. I noted, without expressing an opinion, that there is much discussion (in Anglicanism) about revising this teaching. (These revisionist ideas have, by the way, become pretty mainstream in pastoral practice, and the historical scholarship behind them has nothing to do with chronicling dubious evasions of ecclesiastical condemnation. And you are evidently better informed than I about Kate and William’s sleeping arrangements.)

          I then said I could form no judgement on the “hypocrisy” question with the information available to me. Instead, I raised the wider question of how we can benefit from a grace like that conferred in Confirmation even when our intention/attention falls short at the moment we receive it.

          Now, on to new material! You suggest that Miss Middleton has been confirmed merely “to fulfill matters of British law regarding the UK’s monarchs and their spouses”. I am not a constitutional lawyer, but so far as I know the relevant legislation here is the 1701 Act of Settlement, which limits the royal succession to Protestant descendants of Electress Sophia of Hanover who have not married Roman Catholics. It further requires that the monarch shall “join in communion with the Church of England”. So, the only religious requirement for a Queen Consort of which I am aware is that she be a Protestant — not necessarily CofE and not necessarily confirmed. Can anyone correct me on this? As for the Commonwealth, in my own country (Canada), the Act of Settlement has been patriated as part of our constitution. The few Canadians who know about it find its exclusion of Roman Catholics to be either ridiculous or offensive.

          It is nevertheless quite possible that this is purely for show, as you “firmly believe”. A matter of “good form”. But, since Kate is not (I think) a Roman Catholic (I wonder what the Act would make of an Eastern Orthodox!), the show would have no legal basis. If there are any “hoops” to jump through, they are being imposed privately by the two families (well, one of those families in particular :)) — and we know what families can be like when there’s a wedding to plan.

          Preferring, as I do, to think the best (a preference that’s gotten me into trouble here today), I wonder if Kate isn’t simply going through the same feelings that countless people have when their culture’s “folk religion” intrudes into their otherwise secular lives (getting married, having a child baptized, burying a relative, etc.). These are the moments when the thought crosses your mind that maybe religion has a claim on your life after all, and you take a few more steps of exploration.

          Often it comes to nothing — it is sufficiently common for people of all stations to adopt the religious affiliations of their future spouses that we may doubt whether religious conviction informs many such conversions — but it’s an opportunity that any conscientious pastor will try to seize. As one CofE parish priest said to me about ministering in a national church, “It can be frustrating to baptize, marry, and bury so many people who will probably never come back on a Sunday. But then I remember that a wedding may be the only chance I ever get to share God’s love with the people there that day, and I try not to be too proud to waste it.”

          Unlike most confirmands of convenience (if that is what she is), Kate will, we hope, live out her days married to the Supreme Governor of the Church of England. She’s going to have to sit through a lot of “church”. My prayer is that she will be provided with rich opportunities, not only to do her duty and to serve the Church, but to stir up the gift of God that is in her through Baptism, Confirmation, and Matrimony (not to mention Royal Anointing!), and that she will bear much spiritual fruit.

          1. In paragraph 8, clearly I should have typed either “too proud to seize it” or “so proud that I waste it”. (Or was that what the priest really said to me…?)

          2. “It can be frustrating to baptize, marry, and bury so many people who will probably never come back on a Sunday.”

            I was worrying for a moment about expecting the people he buries to come back the next Sunday, but it’s Easter Sunday after all. 🙂

  14. As I appeared to have been an unintentional troublemaker here, let me point out that my comment was based upon reflections around the time near the end of Lent. That is, no human has ever reached the standards set for us.

    And, royalty has had some famous breaches of those rules regarding sexual relations.

    And we all need to be thankful that each of us is not held to a standard of perfection, but we are loved anyway.

    Christ is risen!

  15. It is important to remember that at the reformation Anglian Confirmation was deliberately severed from the Roman sacrament of Confirmation. The reformation understanding was that the Bishop has the responsibility for teaching within his diocese; and thus he comes to examine those who have been taught the catechism and confirm them in their faith.

    The BCP1662, in the preface to confirmation, states:

    none hereafter shall be Confirmed, but such as can say the Creed, the Lord’s Prayer, and the Ten Commandments; and can also answer to such other Questions, as in the short Catechism are contained; which order is very convenient to be observed; to the end, that children, being now come to the years of discretion, and having learned what their Godfathers and Godmothers promised for them in Baptism, they may themselves, with their own mouth and consent, openly before the Church, ratify and confirm the same

    Thus – the subject matter is defined – Creed, Lord’s Prayer, Decalogue, and Catechism. Other denominations examine other (and sometimes contrary) things at the time of confirmation; which means it is proper that confirmation not be automatically ‘portable’.

    I do agree that it is better before a congregation, preferably that with which one regularly worships – however – trusting that the the lady in question has been properly examined, I see no reason for calling the act into question because of the lack of a congregation.

    It is arguably an act of charity to a person so heavily in the public eye to avoid such public events as may be possible. Given that it is quite possible the confirmation is in order that the Lord’s Supper might follow the forthcoming wedding without the awkwardness of the bride not being permitted to communicate, charity is probably the order of the day.

    1. I think your highlighting of the (previous) catechetical function of confirmation is important, Vincent. A couple of things spring to mind from what you write. NZ Anglicanism went out of its way to not have Godparents make any promises or declarations on behalf of the infant baptismal candidate. It underscores another example where, when we declare we are bound by the BCP doctrine, we have explicitly departed from it in practice. Another point: will the wedding be a Eucharist?

      1. I suspect the answer is “no Eucharist”: The ceremony starts at 11 and ends at 12. That includes walking down the aisle and back as well as signing the marriage book (or something) and likely some hymns and a short message or sermon. While I cannot be certain of the answer, this leaves very little time for a Eucharist, Bosco. The whole thing is supposed to be run like clockwork and the queen will be presenting the couple on a balcony by 12:30, I believe, so even the carriage ride through London will be brief.

        However the bells will ring for 3 hours! 😉

  16. Is there really a “severing” rather than an enrichment? I come back to Walter Hook, who, after surveying the historical process whereby confirmation became detached from baptism (since in the West it continued to be reserved to bishops, often in large missionary dioceses), says: “The principle admitted, that Confirmation might be delayed, regard was had to edification, and it was delayed until persons baptized in infancy were able to take upon themselves the vows and promises made in their name at Baptism” (p. 347). That is, once you admit that confirmation can be separated from baptism, then it makes sense to delay it until it can be combined with a teaching/edification aspect. But that doesn’t automatically mean that the catechetical emphasis has replaced the sacramental element. Does anyone know if Cranmer himself commented on this?

    So far as I know, the Roman Catholic Church would in theory admit the validity of the BCP confirmation rite — the problem is just that they don’t think we have any real bishops to perform it!

    I didn’t know that about the NZ baptismal rite for infants, Bosco. The BCP baptismal office introduced some real problems by having the vows made on behalf of the infant (“this Infant must also faithfully, for his part, promise by you that are his sureties…” “Dost thou, in the name of this Child, renounce…”). In the medieval rite, the questions are posed directly to the infant. Of course, the sponsor makes the reply, but not in any sense “on behalf of” the child. (The 1604 supplement to the BCP catechism would seem also to hold that it is the infants themselves “promise [repentance and faith] by their sureties”.)

    The Gelasian version of the vows, which addressed to and “answered by” the child, is translated in Documents of the Baptismal Liturgy, ed. by E. C. Whitaker and M. E. Johnson, 3rd edn, Alcuin Club Collections 79 (London: SPCK, 2003), p. 230. Or, more accessibly (and if one doesn’t mind the accompanying violence), one can just watch the traditional Roman baptism in The Godfather, where Michael Corleone responds to the questions addressed directly to his godson and nephew, Michael Rizzi.

    1. Thanks, Jesse, for your helpful information. I cannot get my head around, “Of course, the sponsor makes the reply, but not in any sense “on behalf of” the child.” – how one replies in the name of the child, but not on the child’s behalf. In the NZ Anglican rite parents and godparents make their own promises etc. but that is about them, what they will do etc. It is the parents and godparents who renounce evil – in their own lives. Which connects to part of the thread above – I am not aware of anyone refusing baptism here for a child of parents who are without benefit of marriage, hence, either the church is devaluing what is said or does not regard living together unmarried as something needing to be renounced.

      1. Agreed, it’s hard to get one’s head round it, especially these days, when we make a dogma out of absolute personal autonomy. Ordo Romanus XI pushes this to the extreme, since the infant catechumens are put through weeks of catechetical scrutinies, including being “taught” the Creed (in their preference of Latin or Greek). But come to think of it, you may have pointed to the answer in your original post: baptism is baptism is baptism, whether you’re an infant or an adult convert. So, under this theory, if the ancient baptismal rite requires the candidate to make vows, then it’s the candidate who makes them, since nobody else can make them or is asked to make them. Whatever rationale we come up with, I’d be happier if the questions were addressed by the officiant directly to the candidate, regardless of age. Baptism is baptism is baptism.

        I confess, I don’t “get” the NZ rite as you describe it. By all means, let’s ask parents to make vows to be good Christian parents (even if we have to cross our fingers behind our backs as we do it — no point in punishing the child for the “sins of the fathers”). But as far as I can tell this has nothing to do with baptism: it’s extraneous to the sacrament. Are we not commanded to “repent and be baptized” (liturgically expressed as vows/renunciation plus water)? This NZ rite seems instead to say “repent and get your child baptized”. We’re back to the difficulty of how an infant “repents”. I can do no better than Newman: “Ten thousand difficulties do not make one doubt.” This is why we should never change our liturgies. Just run with what you’ve got, I say! 🙂

        1. Jesse, (unlike you) I’m probably not allowed to fully “not get” our baptismal rite as I vow that I hold to the doctrine our formularies embody 🙂 The original NZPB rite had another idiosyncratic feature: you poured water over the candidate and only after that checked what they believed! I moved a motion at General Synod which resulted in at least allowing the orthodox order of declaration of faith prior to baptism as an alternative.

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