The Sacrament of Confirmation
Be Sealed with the Holy Spirit
Confirmation is one of the Sacraments of Initiation, along with Baptism and Eucharist. While Baptism is the sacrament of rebirth to a new and supernatural life, Confirmation is the sacrament of maturity and coming of age. It is conferred by the anointing of Chrism oil and the laying on of hands by the Bishop.
The Sacrament of Confirmation draws us into a greater awareness of the Holy Spirit, which we received at Baptism. Through this sacrament, we confirm the presence of the baptismal gifts we have already received; we are sealed with the undeserved and unearned gift of the Holy Spirit. By a signing with the gift of the Spirit, confirmation enriches the baptized with the Holy Spirit, binding them more perfectly to the Church, and strengthening them in their witness to Christ by word and deed and in their work to bring to its fullness the Body of Christ. Sealing with the gift of the Spirit at Confirmation strengthens us for ongoing service in the Body of Christ in the Church and in the world. It prepares us to be active participants in the Church’s mission and to bear witness to the Christian Faith in words accompanied by deeds. Finally, the Spirit sends us as workers in the vineyard and instruments of the Holy Spirit in renewing the earth and promoting God’s Kingdom of justice and peace. Thus, Confirmation is not only an anointing, but also a commissioning to live out our Faith in the world. We are already called to mission by virtue of our Baptism, but at Confirmation we are endowed with gifts of the Spirit (like the Apostles in Acts 2) to be ever greater witnesses to the Gospel in the world.
Effects of Confirmation
The Sacrament of Confirmation confers special graces of the Holy Spirit upon the person being confirmed, just as such graces were granted to the Apostles on Pentecost. Like Baptism, therefore, it can only be performed once, and Confirmation increases and deepens all of the graces granted at Baptism. The Catechism of the Catholic Church lists five effects of Confirmation:
- Confirmation roots us more deeply as sons and daughters of God
- it unites us more firmly to Christ;
- it increases the gifts of the Holy Spirit in us;
- it renders our bond with the Church more perfect;
- it gives us a special strength of the Holy Spirit to spread and defend the Faith by word and action as true witnesses of Christ, to confess the name of Christ boldly, and never to be ashamed of the Cross.
Preparing for Confirmation
Every baptized person not yet confirmed can and should receive the Sacrament of Confirmation. Since Baptism, Confirmation, and Eucharist form a unity, it follows that the faithful are obliged to receive this sacrament at the appropriate time, for without Confirmation and Eucharist, Baptism is certainly valid and efficacious, but Christian initiation remains incomplete.
Preparation for Confirmation should aim at leading the Christian toward a more intimate union with Christ and a more lively familiarity with the Holy Spirit - His actions, His gifts, and His biddings - in order to be more capable of assuming the apostolic responsibilities of Christian life. To this end catechesis for Confirmation should strive to awaken a sense of belonging to the Church of Jesus Christ, the universal Church as well as the parish community. A candidate for Confirmation who has attained the age of reason must profess the Faith, be in the state of grace, have the intention of receiving the sacrament and be prepared to assume the role of disciple and witness to Christ, both within the ecclesial community and in temporal affairs. Candidates for Confirmation, as for Baptism, fittingly seek the spiritual help of a sponsor. To emphasize the unity of the two sacraments, it is appropriate that this be one of the baptismal Godparents.
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