Our local custom Confirms fourth grade children. I firmly believe this is TOO YOUNG. My bishop will not change this practice, do I have any options?
According to the Code of Canon Law,:
Can. 889 - §1. Every baptized person who is not confirmed, and only such person, is capable of receiving confirmation.
§2.Apart from the danger of death, to receive confirmation lawfully a person who has the use of reason must be suitably instructed, properly disposed and able to renew the baptismal promises.
Can. 890 - The faithful are bound to receive the sacrament at the proper time. Parents and pastors of souls, especially parish priests, are to see that the faithful are properly instructed to receive the sacrament and come to it at the opportune time.
Can. 891 - The sacrament of confirmation is to be conferred on the faithful at about the age of discretion, unless the Bishops' Conference has decided on a different age, or there is a danger of death or, in the judgement of the minister, a grave reason suggests otherwise.
Based on these statements, the only age requirement is that the recipient should have reached the age of reason (usually considered about eight years old). Even then, the Bishops' Conference has the right to change this. I do not believe that any such ruling has been made in the United States.
A second, very important requirement is that the recipient be properly educated before reception of the sacrament. If it is believed that the education in the official program is lacking, it is the responsibility of the parents (see Can. 890 above) to educate their children.
In Eastern Rite Churches I believe it is the custom to give the sacraments of Baptism, Holy Communion and Confirmation all at the same time to infants. I believe that it is better for children to be confirmed young because the teenage years rarely provide an environment to make such an important spiritual decision and it is quite possible, especially in a society so hostile to the Church, that children will never be confirmed if given the option as teenagers. The teenage years are also when the gifts of the Holy Spirit given at Confirmation are most needed: "They are made strong and more firmly obliged by word and deed to witness to Christ and to spread and defend the faith." - Can. 879
The sacrament of Confirmation is one of the three sacraments of initiation and anyone considering delaying the reception of this sacrament should consider if his reason is serious enough to keep someone from being fully initiated into the Church.