The sacrament of Confirmation completes the baptismal grace by more perfectly binding the baptized person to the Church and strengthening him or her with the gifts of the Holy Spirit.
ACTS 2: 1-12 Imagine you are sitting in a room on Pentecost morning. You are sitting with Mary and the apostles. Suddenly, you hear a noise like a train coming. It’s wind roaring throughout the whole house and shaking it. Flames appear in the room. You gasp. The tongues of fire separate and settle, one over each person’s head. Everyone starts speaking in different languages. The Holy Spirit has come and filled the Church.
CONFIRMATION The same Holy Spirit who came down upon Mary and the apostles comes to us in the sacrament of Confirmation. It is not as dramatic as it was on Pentecost … instead of wind and fire, the Holy Spirit now comes in the signs of laying hands, anointing with oil, and the words, “Be sealed with the Gift of the Holy Spirit.” We already receive the Holy Spirit in Baptism. In Confirmation, the Holy Spirit comes to ‘confirm’ and strengthen what Baptism did for us.
MORE GRACE, MORE RESPONSIBILITY In Confirmation we are more closely bound to the Church and receive greater strength to live as Christians. The other side of the coin is that we bear more responsibility for being a witness to Christ. Empowered by the Holy Spirit, the apostles no longer hid in fear, but burst forth from the room to preach about Jesus. After Confirmation we too have an obligation to spread and defend the faith by word and action.
DID YOU KNOW? Bishops consecrate chrism and the other holy oils for their dioceses at a Chrism Mass on Holy Thursday. There are three holy oils: Holy Chrism, Oil of the Catechumens, and Oil of the Sick. They are kept in a special place in the church called an ambry.
BACKGROUND OF CONFIRMATION Jesus was filled with the Holy Spirit, and he promised this Holy Spirit to his Church. After Pentecost, the apostles in turn passed this special gift of the Holy Spirit to the baptized through the laying of hands. This act was soon combined with the anointing with chrism, a fragrant oil. This sign is related to Christ, who was anointed by the Holy Spirit. Once we are anointed with oil, we are consecrated to share more in the mission of Christ. Oil is a great symbol for Confirmation. It is a sign of abundance and joy. Moreover, oil is used to cleanse and heal, soothe and strengthen, and the make beautiful.
WHO RECEIVES CONFIRMATION? All people who are baptized can and should receive Confirmation. We prepare by studying the faith more and by praying more intensely. We learn about Jesus, the Holy Spirit, and what it means to belong to the Church as a whole and as a parish. This preparation makes us better able to carry out our responsibilities as Christians. To be confirmed, people must be in the state of grace. For this reason, candidates prepare for this sacrament by receiving the sacrament of Reconciliation in which sins are forgiven.
THE RITE OF CONFIRMATION Except when Confirmation occurs right after Baptism, it begins with a renewal of baptismal promises and a profession of faith. Then the bishop extends his hands over the group to be confirmed and prays. He asks the Father to send the Holy Spirit upon them to be their helper and guide. He asks that they be given SEVEN GIFTS of the Holy Spirit. Then the Bishop confers the sacrament by anointing each person with chrism on the forehead (the laying of hands). He says, “Be sealed with the Gift of the Holy Spirit.” The Rite ends with the sign of peace.
THE MARK OF CONFIRMATION A seal makes a document official. Long ago soldiers were marked with their leader’s seal. The anointing with chrism marks us with the seal of the Holy Spirit. In means we belong to Christ and share his mission. Like Baptism, Confirmation gives us an indelible spiritual mark, or character. It can only be received ONCE.
THE GIFTS OF THE HOLY SPIRIT Wisdom I know God’s plan, put God first, and see things from his point of view.
Understanding I have insight into what God revealed.
Counsel I seek and am open to good advice. I possess right judgement.
Fortitude I have strength and courage to do what is right even when it’s difficult.
Knowledge I know God and what he expects of me.
Piety I love and worship God and respect all that God created.
Fear of the Lord Wonder and Awe I respond to God’s holiness with wonder, humility, and holy respect that keeps me from sinning.
SCRIPTURE LINK The Creating Spirit The Bible opens with the story of creation. When there was nothing but darkness, a mighty wind swept over the waters and God said, “Let there be light.” The Hebrew word for wind also means “spirit.” At the dawn of creation, we see the power of God bringing forth the universe and life. Today we celebrate the creation of new life in Baptism and Confirmation. When we receive these sacraments, the Holy Spirit comes and fills us with divine life. Genesis 1:1-3
FROM MY HEART Which of the seven gifts do you especially need? Ask the Holy Spirit to increase that gift in you.