The Sacrament of Confirmation
Baptism, the Eucharist, and the sacrament of Confirmation together constitute the “sacraments of Christian initiation,” whose unity must be safeguarded. It must be explained to the faithful that the reception of the sacrament of Confirmation is necessary for the completion of baptismal grace. For “by the sacrament of Confirmation, [the baptized] are more perfectly bound to the Church and are enriched with a special strength of the Holy Spirit. Hence they are, as true witnesses of Christ, more strictly obliged to spread and defend the faith by word and deed.”
Cathechism of the Catholic Church #1285
The Effects of Confirmation
It is evident from its celebration that the effect of the sacrament of Confirmation is the special outpouring of the Holy Spirit as once granted to the apostles on the day of Pentecost.
From this fact, Confirmation brings an increase and deepening of baptismal grace:
- it roots us more deeply in the divine filiation which makes us cry, “Abba! Father!”;
- 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:
Recall then that you have received the spiritual seal, the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of right judgment and courage, the spirit of knowledge and reverence, the spirit of holy fear in God’s presence. Guard what you have received. God the Father has marked you with his sign; Christ the Lord has confirmed you and has placed his pledge, the Spirit, in your hearts.
Like Baptism which it completes, Confirmation is given only once, for it too imprints on the soul an indelible spiritual mark, the “character,” which is the sign that Jesus Christ has marked a Christian with the seal of his Spirit by clothing him with power from on high so that he may be his witness.
This “character” perfects the common priesthood of the faithful, received in Baptism, and “the confirmed person receives the power to profess faith in Christ publicly and as it were officially (quasi Ex officio).”
Cathechism of the Catholic Church #1302-1305
Who can receive this sacrament?
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.
For centuries, Latin custom has indicated “the age of discretion” as the reference point for receiving Confirmation. But in danger of death children should be confirmed even if they have not yet attained the age of discretion.
Although Confirmation is sometimes called the “sacrament of Christian maturity,” we must not confuse adult faith with the adult age of natural growth, nor forget that the baptismal grace is a grace of free, unmerited election and does not need “ratification” to become effective.
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. The latter bears special responsibility for the preparation of confirmands.
To receive Confirmation one must be in a state of grace. One should receive the sacrament of Penance in order to be cleansed for the gift of the Holy Spirit. More intense prayer should prepare one to receive the strength and graces of the Holy Spirit with docility and readiness to act.
Cathechism of the Catholic Church #1306-1310
Is your child seeking to receive
the Sacrament of Confirmation?
We offer Religious Education classes here at the Cathedral of St. Mary to prepare children to receive the Sacraments. It is a two-year preparation process for a child to receive his or her First Holy Communion (and First Confession). It is also a two-year preparation process for a child to receive the Sacrament of Confirmation.
Are you an adult or young adult
seeking to receive the Sacrament of Confirmation?
“RCIA” stands for the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults, the process by which an adult person can receive any or all of the initial sacraments Baptism, Confirmation, and First Holy Communion. RCIA is also the way for someone to enter and be initiated into the Catholic Church.
According to Canon Law 874
§1. To be admitted to undertake the office of sponsor, a person must:
- be appointed by the candidate for baptism, or by the parents or whoever stands in their place, or failing these, by the parish-priest or the minister; to be appointed the person must be suitable for this role and have the intention of fulfilling it;
- be not less than 16 years of age…;
- be a Catholic who has been confirmed and has received the blessed Eucharist and who lives a life of faith which befits the role to be undertaken;
- not labor under a canonical penalty, whether imposed or declared;
- not be either the father or the mother of the person to be baptised.
§2. A baptised person who belongs to a non-catholic ecclesial community may be admitted only in company with a catholic sponsor, and then simply as a witness to the baptism.
According to the Catechism of the Catholic Church #1311
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.