Opinions abound about the appropriate age of candidates for the sacraments of initiation and the sequence of their reception. Ages of Initiation makes accessible in a CD-ROM format those texts from New Testament times to the present that document and comment on the reception of these sacraments. It also tracks the circumstances which caused patterns of tradition to form and shift. Ages of Initiation enlightens those who form sacramental policies as well as those who live by them.
Catechumens, who range in age from schoolchildren to seniors, celebrate baptism, then confirmation, and then Eucharist in the same ceremony. But children born of Catholic parents may be baptized as infants and celebrate confirmation and Eucharist in different ceremonies over a period of eighteen years or more; in many cases their confirmation follows the first reception of Communion. Still, the Church today calls these three rites "sacraments of initiation."
The Ages of Initiation CD-ROM divides the twenty centuries of Christianity into twelve sections. Each section is subdivided into units which pair introductory material with a collection of citations, and then concludes with a bulleted summary. Those who wish to consult original references will find direction in the bibliography.
An accompanying booklet provides a summary of the information contained on the CD-ROM version of Ages of Initiation. Convenient cross-references in the book direct you to the exact area on the CD for more information.
Contents include "The New Testament Church (1-100)," "Emerging Ritual Patterns (101-300)," "The Golden Age (301-500)," "Liturgical Development (501-700)," "The Era of Charlemagne (701-828)," "Regulating Initiation (892-964)," "Pastoral Concerns (965-1214)," "The Age of Discretion (1215-1519)," "Reformation (1520-1592)," "The Ritualization of First Communion (1593-1773)," "Sequence (1774-1909)," "The Diversification of Tradition (1910-2000)," and "Conclusions."
Paul Turner is pastor of St. John Francis Regis Parish in Kansas City and has written several books on the sacraments of initiation.