Sacraments - Confirmation

Sacraments - Confirmation

Just as bodies and minds grow, Catholics believe that the soul also needs to grow in the life of grace. The sacrament of Confirmation builds on the sacraments of Baptism, Penance, and Holy Communion, completing the process of initiation into the Catholic community. The Byzantine Church confirms at Baptism and gives Holy Eucharist as well, thus initiating the new Christian all at the same time.

Confirmation, a sacrament of initiation, establishes young adults as full-fledged members of the faith. This sacrament is called Confirmation because the faith given in Baptism is now confirmed and made strong. During your Baptism, your parents and godparents make promises to renounce Satan and believe in God and the Church on your behalf. At Confirmation, you renew those same promises, this time speaking for yourself.

During Confirmation, the focus is on the Holy Spirit, who confirmed the apostles on Pentecost and gave them courage to practice their faith. Catholics believe that the same Holy Spirit confirms Catholics during the Sacrament of Confirmation and gives them the same gifts.

Traditionally, the seven gifts of the Holy Spirit are wisdom, understanding, counsel, fortitude (courage), knowledge, piety, and fear of the Lord. These gifts are supernatural graces given to the soul. The 12 fruits of the Holy Spirit are charity, joy, peace, patience, benignity, goodness, long-suffering, mildness, faith, modesty, continency, and chastity - human qualities that can be activated by the Holy Spirit.

The Confirmation ceremony may take place at Mass or outside of Mass, and the presiding bishop wears red vestments to symbolize the red tongues of fire seen hovering over the heads of the apostles at Pentecost. Each person wishing to be confirmed comes forward with his or her sponsor, who may or may not be one of the godparents chosen for Baptism.

When you're confirmed, you get to choose a Confirmation name to add to your first and middle names - or you can just use the names given to you at Baptism. However, your new name must be a Christian name such as one of the canonized saints or a hero from the Bible.

Here's what happens at the actual ritual of Confirmation:

  1. You stand or kneel before the bishop.
  2. Your sponsor lays one hand on your shoulder and speaks your confirmation name.
  3. The bishop anoints you by using oil of Chrism (a consecrated oil) to make the Sign of the Cross on your forehead while saying your Confirmation name and "Be sealed with the gift of the Holy Spirit. "
  4. You respond , "Amen. "
  5. The bishop then says, "Peace be with you. "
  6. You respond , "And with your spirit" or "And also with you. "

And you are now an adult in the eyes of the Church.

Confirmation imparts:

  • an increase of sanctifying grace
  • a special sacramental grace consisting in the seven gifts of the Holy Ghost and notably in the strength and courage to confess boldly the name of Christ
  • an indelible character by reason of which the sacrament cannot be received again

A further consequence is the spiritual relationship which the person confirming and the sponsor contract with the recipient and with the recipient's parents. This relationship constitutes a diriment impediment to marriage.

Regarding the obligation of receiving the sacrament, it is admitted that confirmation is not necessary as an indispensable means of salvation. On the other hand , its reception is obligatory "for all those who are able to understand and fulfill the Commandments of God and of the Church. " As to the gravity of the obligation, some theologians hold that an unconfirmed person would commit mortal sin if he refused the sacrament. The importance of confirmation as a means of grace is so obvious that no earnest Catholic will neglect it, and in particular that Catholic parents will not fail to see that their children are confirmed.

Being confirmed in the Church means accepting responsibility for your faith and destiny. Adulthood, even young adulthood, means that you must do what's right on your own, not for the recognition or reward but merely because it's the right thing to do.

- Based on "Catolicism for Dummies"