Confirmation

Summary of Catechism paragraphs 1285-1321:

  • As its name implies, Confirmation strengthens and completes the grace first received in Baptism, and empowers us in a special way through the Holy Spirit.
  • The rite of anointing with perfumed oil, or chrism, signifies the anointing by the Holy Spirit; hence the Eastern Churches refer to this sacrament as “Chrismation” or “myron” (another term for chrism).
  • Anointing plays a significant role in the Old Testament, consecrating kings, priests, and occasionally prophets; Messiah literally means “anointed” in Hebrew, and the equivalent in Greek is “Christ.”
  • The prophets foretold that the Spirit, Who anointed the Messiah, would ultimately be poured out upon all the people of God.
  • Jesus fulfills this promise, first at Easter and in a striking way at Pentecost, when the Holy Spirit descends upon the disciples and empowers them for mission.
  • The Holy Spirit comes upon us in a similar way in the sacrament of Confirmation, which therefore perpetuates the grace of Pentecost in the life of the Church.
  • As recounted in the New Testament, the apostles bestowed the Spirit through the laying on of hands; for this reason, the original ministers of Confirmation are the bishops, the successors of the apostles.
  • The bishop (or his designated priest) anoints the confirmand and pronounces, “Be sealed with the gift of the Holy Spirit,” a seal that marks us irrevocably for Christ; because this imprints an indelible character, like Baptism, we receive it only once.
  • Through Confirmation, we are united even more firmly to Christ and His Church, equipped to carry out our responsibilities as members of the faithful, and commissioned to go forth and witness to Christ.
  • Confirmation is so closely related to Baptism that it was historically administered at the same time; the Eastern Churches have preserved this ancient custom, and still confirm infants, underscoring that the sacrament is about God’s gift of grace.

Live Your Faith

Confirmation is not a religious graduation, or a coming-of-age ritual. While it is excellent to prepare for this sacrament, so that we may be better disposed to receive the gift of the Holy Spirit, we must not lose sight of the fact that God is freely bestowing His grace – we are not earning it.

And He fills us with His grace not merely for our own benefit, but for the building up of His Body, the Church. Have we used the gifts that God gave us in our Confirmation, or have we let them lie dormant?

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