The Catholic Sacrament of 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.
What the Catholic sacrament of Confirmation means
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 (love) of the Lord.
Once Confirmed, you are now an adult in the eyes of the Church.
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.
Eight Things You Need to Know About Confirmation
Baptism marked the start of your relationship with Christ. Your soul changed permanently and you were filled with grace from God. Through Confirmation, the Holy Spirit strengthens these graces, gives you more of them, and seals them all inside you – like a carefully wrapped present! This brings you closer to Christ and better prepares you to face the daily challenges of Christian life.
Want to know more about these graces sealed inside of you? They are called the Gifts of the Holy Spirit. Pope Francis has actually done a homily on each of them: wisdom, understanding, knowledge, fortitude, piety, counsel, and fear of the Lord. You’ve had these gifts since your Baptism, but Confirmation deepens and strengthens them since it draws you even closer to Christ and the greater Catholic community.
Did you know that when you receive the sacrament of Confirmation you accept a mission from God? In the Gospel of Matthew, Jesus tells His disciples to baptize all nations in the name of the Father, Son, and the Holy Spirit. Later on, the Holy Spirit descends upon the disciples at Pentecost and they receive the courage to take on the mission Jesus gave them earlier. Confirmation is your own personal Pentecost. The Holy Spirit descends upon you and you accept the same challenge given by Jesus to the disciples.
Chrism, the perfumed oil that the bishops uses to make the sign of the cross on your forehead, signifies a lot more than just a shower in your future. It helps show a connection to your Baptism – the first time you were anointed with oil. It shows healing and cleansing too. Believe it or not, it also signifies preparation to do spiritual battle with the Devil. Why? Oil is slippery and, in ancient times, warriors would cover themselves in it before battle to make it difficult for their enemies to grab them. In other words, Chrism makes it hard for the Devil to grab you!
You probably wondered this as it dripped down your face during your Confirmation. St. Thomas Aquinas explained that this is because your forehead is part of your face – the first thing people see when they talk to you. Having the Chrism spread on your forehead proclaims to the world that the first thing people should notice about you is your faith in Christ.
Many Catholics adopt the name of a biblical figure or saint that they find inspiring at their Confirmation. This shows your intention to copy their dedication to God. It makes you a heavenly friend who will pray and intercede for you on your Christian journey. Other Catholics choose not to select a new name and stick with the one that they were baptized with to show Confirmation’s close connection with Baptism!
Faithful people have been receiving the Sacrament of Confirmation for almost 2,000 years. There are even examples of it recorded in the Bible! In Acts 19, Paul the Apostle lays his hands (just like the bishop does during Confirmation today) on a group of believers and the Holy Spirit descends upon them. So, when you are Confirmed, you are sharing in an ancient and rich tradition that millions of Catholics have participated in throughout history.
To be Confirmed, you must select a sponsor to help guide you through the process. This person is a great example of what it means to be a Catholic. They pray for you and provide a support system for your faith. Confirmation certainly makes you better equipped to handle life as a Christian, but that doesn’t mean things will always be easy. During these more difficult times, don’t forget about your sponsor.
Hopefully, these facts will help you on your journey to Confirmation. It might be a lot of work now, but it will all be worth it soon. The whole Church is rooting for you! And we look forward to you receiving this wonderful Sacrament at the cathedral in Portsmouth.