CONFIRMATION (Christian Initiation)
Confirmed as Disciples of Christ
The reception of the sacrament of Confirmation is necessary for the completion of baptismal grace. For 'by the sacrament of Confirmation, [the baptized] are more perfectly bound to the Church and are enriched with a special strength of the Holy Spirit. Hence they are, as true witnesses of Christ, more strictly obliged to spread and defend the faith by word and deed'" (Catechism 1285).
The Holy Spirit came upon Jesus at his baptism by John indicating that Jesus was the One who was to come, the Messiah, the Son of God. He was conceived of the Holy Spirit; his whole life and his whole mission are carried out in total communion with the Holy Spirit whom the Father gives him "without measure." On several occasions Christ promised this outpouring of the Spirit, a promise which he fulfilled first on Easter Sunday and then more strikingly at Pentecost. The imposition of hands is rightly recognized by the Catholic tradition as the origin of the sacrament of Confirmation, which in a certain way perpetuates the grace of Pentecost in the Church" (Catechism 1286-88).
The Importance of Confirmation
Your child's First Holy Communion was the beginning of their sacramental life in the Catholic Church. Your child has been receiving the graces of Holy Eucharist for some time and should have an understanding of God's personal call for a sanctified life. Confirmation is the time for them to affirm their faith in Christ and proclaim their role in the mission of the Church. They do this with the help and the seal of the Holy Spirit. This is a critical stage in the development of their faith where they will need the support and guidance of their parents, family, and parish community.
As your children prepare for Confirmation, take a moment to reflect on what the sign of anointing signifies:
- The post-baptismal anointing with sacred chrism in Confirmation and ordination is the sign of consecration.
- By this anointing the confirmand receives the "mark," the seal of the Holy Spirit.
- Christ himself declared that he was marked with his Father's seal. Christians are also marked with a seal: "It is God who establishes us with you in Christ and has commissioned us; he has put his seal on us and given us his Spirit in our hearts as a guarantee." This seal of the Holy Spirit marks our total belonging to Christ, our enrollment in his service for ever, as well as the promise of divine protection in the great eschatological trial (Catechism 1293-96).
The Effects of Confirmation
It is evident from its celebration that the effect of the sacrament of Confirmation is the special outpouring of the Holy Spirit as once granted to the apostles on the day of Pentecost. From this fact, Confirmation brings an increase and deepening of baptismal grace:
- it roots us more deeply in the divine filiation which makes us cry, "Abba! Father!";
- it unites us more firmly to Christ;
- it increases the gifts of the Holy Spirit in us;
- it renders our bond with the Church more perfect;it gives us a special strength of the Holy Spirit to spread and defend the faith by word and action as true witnesses of Christ, to confess the name of Christ boldly, and never to be ashamed of the Cross
The Gifts of the Holy Spirit
Confirmation deepens our baptismal life that calls us to be missionary witnesses of Jesus Christ in our families, neighborhoods, society, and the world. Through Confirmation, our personal relationship with Christ is strengthened.
The Holy Spirit bestows seven gifts—wisdom, understanding, knowledge, fortitude, counsel, piety, and fear of the Lord—to assist us in our mission and witness. The impact of these gifts accompanies us in the various stages of our spiritual development.
The Gift of Wisdom
Piously considered the first and greatest of the gifts, according to Saint Bernard it is the “supernatural Gift of the Holy Spirit which enables us to know God and to rejoice in perfect love.” The gift includes not only illumines the mind, but the heart as well, directing it to a purer and deeper love for God.
The Gift of Understanding
The gift of understanding differs from wisdom – the desire to contemplate the things of God – in that understanding allows us to “penetrate to the very core of revealed truths.” It enables us to relate all truths to one’s supernatural purpose and further illuminates our understanding of Scripture.
The Gift of Counsel
The gift of counsel instills in us a supernatural prudence, enabling us to judge right and wrong and choose correctly what will help us in our salvation and glorifying God.
“Enter through the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the road broad that leads to destruction, and those who enter through it are many. How narrow the gate and constricted the road that leads to life. And those who find it are few.” – Matthew 7:13-14
The Gift of Fortitude
The gift of fortitude instills in us the courage to overcome obstacles and difficulties that come with the practice of our Faith and religious duties. Aquinas says the” principal act of fortitude is endurance, that is to stand immovable in the midst of dangers rather than to attack them.”
The Gift of Knowledge
The gift of knowledge enables to us to as far as humanly possible see things from God’s point of view, pointing to us the path to follow and what danger to avoid in order to obtain Salvation and go to Heaven.
“For I know well the plans I have in mind for you—oracle of the LORD—plans for your welfare and not for woe, so as to give you a future of hope.” – Jeremiah 29:11
The Gift of Piety
The gift of piety accords with reverence, inspiring a filial relationship with God so we may come to recognize our total reliance on Him and come before God with humility, trust, and love. Pope Francis said that is piety “is not mere outward religiosity; it is that genuine religious spirit which makes us turn to the Father as his children and to grow in our love for others, seeing them as our brothers and sisters.”
“I no longer call you slaves, because a slave does not know what his master is doing. I have called you friends, because I have told you everything I have heard from my Father.” – John 15:15
The Gift of Fear of the Lord
Commonly misunderstood as a fear of a God ready to smite us, the gift of the fear of Lord instills in us an awe and wonder at the glory and majesty of God – a fear of separating ourselves from God and offending Him as the same as a child fears offending his father. Pope Francis said that it is “is no servile fear, but rather a joyful awareness of God’s grandeur and a grateful realization that only in him do our hearts find true peace.”