Administering the sacrament of Confirmation to teenagers, which is the present practice in our Church, has both advantages and disadvantages. On the plus side, it is a wonderful way of engaging young people in the discovery of Christ’s Spirit. Youth live life so intensely: when they discover the reality of the Lord and His message it can often have a profound, permanent impact. Religious formation for teens is a priority ministry of the Church, for we want young men and women to discover Christ!
On the minus side, it’s contradictory to pretend that the grace of Confirmation somehow is not appropriate for all baptized persons who have reached the age of reason. You might be surprised at this, but the Catechism of the Catholic Church (in nos. 1308-1309) criticizes somewhat the notion which characterizes Confirmation as a “sacrament of maturity.” Neither is it to be administered only to those who qualify, say to those who “pass” some program of testing. The Church emphasizes that God’s grace is “free … and does not need ratification to become effective.” Confirmation preparation should emphasize “belonging” to the Church, and so being more intimately united with Christ and spiritual gifts.
I wish most teenagers didn’t feel that the chance to discover and deepen the wonders of the Lord was so much of a burden. Yet I am also rather sympathetic when the content of or motives for the catechesis offered them is poor or misleading. At the least we grownups need to redouble our efforts to offer sound religious formation to younger Christians. The more credible the life of religion that we lead, the more others will want to share it.