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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.