What is Catholic Confirmation?
Confirmation is a Sacrament in the Catholic Church in which the one who is confirmed (confirmandi) receives the gifts of the Holy Spirit through the imposition of hand and anointing with oils by the bishop. It’s considered a sacrament of initiation which means that it brings you deeper into communion with the Church.
Although in the West the sacrament of confirmation is usually received by Catholics as teenagers, several years after making their first Holy Communion, the Roman Catholic Church considers confirmation to be the second of the three sacraments of initiation (baptism being the first and Holy Communion the third). Confirmation is regarded as the perfection of baptism, because, as the introduction to the Rite of Confirmation states:
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.
The Form of the Sacrament of Confirmation
Many people think of the laying on of hands, which signifies the descent of the Holy Spirit, as the central act in the sacrament of confirmation. The essential element, however, is the anointing of the confirmand (the person being confirmed) with chrism (an aromatic oil that has been consecrated by a bishop). The anointing is accompanied by the words “Be sealed with the Gift of the Holy Spirit” (or, in the Eastern Catholic Churches, “The seal of the gift of the Holy Spirit”). This seal is a consecration, representing the safeguarding by the Holy Spirit of the graces conferred on the Christian at baptism.
The Effects of the Sacrament 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 be performed only once, and confirmation increases and deepens all of the graces granted at baptism.
The catechism of the Catholic Church lists five effects of confirmation:
- It roots us more deeply in the divine filiation [as children of God] 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.
Because confirmation perfects our baptism, we are obliged to receive it “in due time.” Any Catholic who did not receive confirmation at baptism or as part of his religious education during grade school or high school should contact a priest and arrange to receive the sacrament of confirmation.
Who can receive Confirmation?
In the Catholic Church, anyone that has been baptized properly can and should be confirmed.
To learn more about Confirmation Prep classes, CLICK HERE. For RCIA, click HERE.