The Sacrament of Confirmation
Confirmation is one of the seven Sacrament of the Catholic Church. It is one of three sacraments of initiation into the Catholic Church, the other two being Baptism and First Holy Communion.
SACRAMENTS OF INITIATION:
- Your child’s spiritual journey began at Baptism when your son or daughter became a child of God and member of the Catholic faith community. At Baptism we begin our initiation into the Catholic Church and we receive the Holy Spirit.
- As Christian parents you wanted your child to know about God’s love for them, you taught them to pray and brought them to receive Jesus in the Eucharist, thus they were further initiated and able to participate more fully in the Catholic Faith Community. Through the Eucharist our relationship with Jesus takes on a deeper intimacy.
- Now your daughter or son is about to receive Confirmation, the last of the sacraments of initiation whereby they will receive the gifts of the Holy Spirit to help them live out their life as followers of Jesus.
The Sacrament of Confirmation confirms and strengthens the gift of the Spirit received at Baptism, draws us deeper into the life of the Trinity and completes one’s initiation into the Catholic Church.
Confirmation allows your children to connect with the power of the Holy Spirit within them as they face the challenges – human and spiritual on the threshold of adolescence. It enables them to ponder what ‘being alive for God’ means now as they become more convinced about God’s enduring love on their journey and their responsibility to be involved in the life of the Christian Community and engage in the mission of Jesus.
God gives to us, with our life, with Jesus, with the Holy Spirit – God gives us these gifts because God loves us, God wants to help us in our needs. That is why God calls us to faith in him.
At Confirmation we are given THE SEVEN GIFTS OF THE HOLY SPIRIT to assist us in many areas of our life:
- Wisdom: To accept my life from God, to follow God’s ways and learn to grow through all that happens.
- Understanding: To listen, to think things through, to see things as God sees them, to be able to put myself in others’ shoes.
- Right Judgement: To recognize what is good and what is bad according to God’s law, using the great gift of free will to be able to act as we know God would want us to do.
- Courage: To accept challenges and difficulties cheerfully, trusting in God’s love.
- Knowledge: To recognize the goodness of God and to willingly learn about and develop my relationship with God and other people.
- Reverence: To show God the honour and respect God deserves and to have respect and care for myself, all people and the environment.
- Wonder and Awe: To be in awe of the wonders of God and what God has done for me, including an appreciation of nature, our world and the universe.
Gifts need to be received and accepted, used and appreciated. If we accept and use these Confirmation gifts of the Spirit, then we too produce fruit. In his letter to the Galatians (5:23) St Paul states:
“What the spirit brings is very different: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, trustfulness, gentleness and self-control. … since the spirit is our life, let us be directed by the spirit.”
SIGNS USED IN THE CONFIRMATION CEREMONY include:
- Anointing with Oil: It has been the custom of the church dating back to its very early years to use oil for anointing to bless, to consecrate and to heal. Oil of Chrism – olive oil mixed with balsam to give it fragrance, is used in the sacraments of Baptism, Confirmation and Holy Orders. The Oil of Chrism has a deep symbolic meaning. Olive Oil reminds us of the continuous presence of the spirit of God in our lives. Oil penetrates to the very heart of a thing, and spreads over it. It gives strength and suppleness to athletes’ limbs. It is a reminder to us of the spiritual strength we need to be disciples of Jesus. The fragrance of balsam is a symbol of the sweetness of Christian living, “We are Christ’s fragrance rising up to God” (2 Cor. 2:15).
- Laying on of Hands: The Bishop and Priests will extend their hands over the entire group (instead of laying hands on each candidate individually) as the bishop prays that the Holy Spirit will come to the candidates with the sevenfold gifts. The Gifts of the Holy Spirit are being “transferred” to them in this ritual. (During the ceremony the candidate kneels beside the bishop, and the sponsor places his/her right hand on the candidate’s right shoulder. Parents and siblings may also accompany.)