What is Confirmation?

The Sacrament of Confirmation must be understood in continuity with Baptism, to which it is inseparably linked. These two Sacraments, together with the Eucharist, form the life-giving event called “Christian initiation” in which we are inserted into Jesus and become members of his Body, the Church.

Through the anointing with oil (called “sacred chrism”) the Sacrament of Confirmation brings an increase and deepening, or confirming, of the grace of Baptism: it unites us more firmly to Jesus, it strengthens our bond with the Church, and it gives us a special strength of the Holy Spirit to be the loving, transforming and courageous presence of Jesus in our world.

The Church speaks of this special strength of the Holy Spirit in terms of the seven gifts of the Holy Spirit (they are referred to in the Bible (Isaiah 11:2-3)): Wisdom, Understanding, Counsel, Fortitude, Knowledge, Piety and Awe. For more insight into the gifts of the Holy Spirit, check out this excellent short clip.

Pope Francis writes, “When we welcome the Holy Spirit into our hearts and allow him to act, Christ makes himself present in us and takes shape in our lives; through us, it will be he – Christ himself – who prays, forgives, gives hope and consolation, serves others, draws close to the needy and to the least, creates community and sows peace.”

The Sacrament of Confirmation consists of the renewal of baptismal promises, the laying of hands by the bishop (or his delegated representative) and the anointing of with the Oil of Chrism.

Why and how is a Confirmation name chosen?

Choosing a Confirmation name has never been an official part of the Sacrament of Confirmation, although it has been a popular custom in many places. Generally the name of a saint is chosen. It should be a saint whose life encourages and inspires the person being confirmed. Choosing a Confirmation name is a wonderful way of connecting with those women and men who dared to be the loving, transforming and courageous presence of Jesus in their times, and who are now praying for us in heaven.

Why and how is a Confirmation sponsor chosen?

Confirmation is a reaffirmation of the promises made at Baptism, so the Church suggests that a person’s Godparent take on the role of sponsor for Confirmation. Sponsors normally are at least 16 years old and, in the case of the confirmation of children, not the child’s parent. A sponsor is a Catholic who has been baptised, confirmed and receives Communion, and whose life and actions reflect those of Jesus.

A Confirmation sponsor offers prayerful support and encouragement during the Confirmation preparation process, and continues to pray and spiritually support the person after they have been confirmed. During the Confirmation ceremony the sponsor stands with the candidate as he or she is confirmed.

What should an adult do if he or she would like to be confirmed?

If the adult who would like to be confirmed has been baptised Catholic, the best thing would be for the person to have a chat with his or her parish priest.

If the adult who would like to be confirmed has been baptised in another Christian tradition, they may like to have a chat with their local Catholic parish priest. Alternatively, the person can contact the RCIA (Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults) Office.

I’d like to have my child confirmed. What should I do?

It’s wonderful that you’d like to have your child confirmed! To start the process, the best thing to do would be to contact your local parish priest.

How can I help my child prepare for his or her Confirmation?

Pope Francis said, “It is important to prepare those being confirmed well, leading them towards a personal commitment to faith in Christ and reawakening in them a sense of belonging to the Church.” So, how can this be done? Here are some ideas for preparing your child to receive the Sacrament of Confirmation.

  • Talk with your child about the preparation for the Sacrament of Confirmation they are doing at school or as part of their after-school catechesis program. You can just begin with, “So tell me what you did this week in religion/catechesis classes…” If you get a little bit stuck you’re not alone. There are plenty of resources on the internet. Just Google the Sacrament of Confirmation or preparing for the Sacrament of Confirmation and you’ll come up with plenty of resources and ideas.
  • Help your child to choose a Confirmation sponsor whom she or he admires. Your child might like to think about the gifts of the Holy Spirit and try to choose someone who demonstrates those gifts in their life. (This is, of course, if your child is choosing someone other than a Godparent for their sponsor.)
  • Encourage your child to choose a Confirmation saint who is very inspiring for them – a saint whose life they can get to know and who makes your child think, “I’d like to be like that.” This saint will be your child’s special patron saint for life!
  • In Australia, most young people will receive the Sacrament of Confirmation at a time in their life when they are about to begin the years of transition from childhood to adulthood. Try to integrate conversations about Confirmation with conversations about maturing. Encourage your child to realise that the gifts of the Holy Spirit will profoundly help them to become the women and men they have been created to be. All they have to do is ask for the Holy Spirit’s help!
  • You may like to share these wonderfully encouraging words from Pope Francis with your child. They are words he addressed to young people about to be confirmed: “Remain steadfast in the journey of faith, with firm hope in the Lord. This is the secret of our journey! He gives us the courage to swim against the tide. Pay attention, my young friends: to go against the current; this is good for the heart, but we need courage to swim against the tide. Jesus gives us this courage! There are no difficulties, trials or misunderstandings to fear, provided we remain united to God as branches to the vine, provided we do not lose our friendship with him, provided we make ever more room for him in our lives. This is especially so whenever we feel poor, weak and sinful, because God grants strength to our weakness, riches to our poverty, conversion and forgiveness to our sinfulness. The Lord is so rich in mercy: every time, if we go to him, he forgives us. Let us trust in God’s work! With him we can do great things; he will give us the joy of being his disciples, his witnesses. Commit yourselves to great ideals, to the most important things. We Christians were not chosen by the Lord for little things; push onwards toward the highest principles. Stake your lives on noble ideals, my dear young people!”
  • If you’ve let your own spiritual life slip, this stage in your child’s life is a really good time to renew your own commitment by returning to prayer, Reconciliation and Mass. What a powerful witness for your child!

My child has special needs. How can I help him or her prepare for Confirmation?

Loyola Press has produced a great resource called “Adaptive Confirmation Preparation Kit”, which offers lots of good ideas and activities for helping individuals with autism and other special needs to prepare for the Sacrament of Confirmation.

Where can I find more information about the Sacrament of Confirmation?

To find out more about the Sacrament of Confirmation, have a chat with your parish priest. You can also check out the Catechism of the Catholic Church, sections 1285-1321.

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