Confirmation is one of the three sacraments of initiation of the Catholic church.
In the first three centuries of the church those receiving initiation into the faith community were generally adults or whole families including infants.
The candidates, called catechumens, prepared over a lengthy period of time, sometimes years, to make their final commitment and receive the sacraments of initiation which included Baptism, Confirmation and Eucharist.
The entire church would pray for the candidates and share their own faith. Conversion to Christianity was a community responsibility. Baptisms were celebrated only once each year, at the Easter Vigil.
What we now call Confirmation originally took place within the baptism ceremony.
Our Journey doesn’t end at Baptism
At Confirmation, our faith and membership in the Body of Christ is confirmed, or strengthened. In the Rite of Baptism, we become new members of the Body of Christ, but our journey does not end there. The decision to be baptized is followed by continued growth, learning, and witness as members of the Body of Christ. Our desire to continue to grow and develop as Christians finds expression in Confirmation, when we renew our baptismal promises and receive in a new way the gift of the Holy Spirit, which strengthens our “bond” with the Church and its members (CCC, no. 1316, and Pope John Paul II, Redemptoris Missio [On the Permanent Validity of the Church’s Missionary Mandate], no. 26).
What happens at Confirmation
In the Sacrament of Confirmation, the baptised person is "sealed with the gift of the Holy Spirit" and is strengthened for service to the Body of Christ.
- Confirmation connects us to a larger community.
- At Confirmation, we receive the gifts of the Holy Spirit.
- The Spirit moves us to imitate the love and service of Christ and the saints.
- At Confirmation, we recommit to participate in the Church’s work and mission.
- The Holy Spirit inspires us to Gospel action that includes human development and work to end injustice.
- Confirmation calls us to share Christ’s mission to promote life and dignity.
‘I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Advocate to be with you forever’ (John 14:16).
‘The Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name,
will teach you everything, and remind you of all that I have said to you’ (John 14:26).
‘On the evening of his resurrection Jesus was with his disciples in the upper room.
He breathed on them and said to them: Receive the Holy Spirit’ (John 20:22).
Some Questions for Reflection
Membership in the community.
What does it mean to be part of the Body of Christ?
Gifts of the Spirit.
What gifts have you been given? How are you called to use those gifts to benefit others?
Listening to God’s call. Who are you called to be?
What are you called to do with your life?
Mission in the world.
What is the mission of the Church? What is your role in carrying it out? To what are you commissioned?
The witness of the saints.
How do the lives of the saints inspire you to be like Christ”?
More information on the Sacrament of Confirmation is available from:
- Archdiocese of Brisbane: Flame of Faith – What is Confirmation
- US Bishops Conference: Confirmation Strengthened by the Spirit, Called to Action