Chapter 5: Confirmed in the Spirit-For You, For the Church, For the World
“Are you unwilling to be anointed with the oil of God? It is on this account that we are called Christians: because we are anointed with the oil of God”-Theophilus of Antioch (A.D. 181)
“It is necessary for him that has been baptized also to be anointed, so that by his having received chrism, that is, the anointing, he can be the anointed of God and have in him the grace of Christ”-Cyprian of Carthage (A.D. 253)
“When the time for Pentecost was fulfilled, they were all in one place together. And suddenly there came from the sky a noise like a strong driving wind, and it filled the entire house in which they were. Then there appeared to them tongues as of fire, which parted and came to rest on each one of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in different tongues, as the Spirit enabled them to proclaim.”-Acts 2:1-4
“And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, in whom you were sealed for the day of redemption”-Ephesians 3:30
Confirmation is one of the three Sacraments of Initiation (the other two being Baptism and Eucharist). Through Confirmation, we are sealed with the full application of the Holy Spirit, completing our reception into full communion with Jesus Christ. The Catechism says that “the reception of the sacrament of Confirmation is necessary for the completion of baptismal grace” (CCC 1285).
Confirmation is intimately related with baptism; it completes and seals the work which was begun by baptism. In ancient times, after people were finished washing, they would then cover themselves in oil to “seal” themselves clean, and to protect against becoming dirty again. Just the same, we are cleansed of sin in baptism, and then sealed with the gifts of the Holy Spirit to help protect us from falling into sin again.
One tradition associated with the sacrament of Confirmation is the selection of a Confirmation Saint. This act allows you to choose a patron, someone whose life you can look to for inspiration, someone you can emulate, and someone you can always turn to in prayer. It’s amazing the stories I have heard from people about the relationship they have with their confirmation saint. Even if they didn’t put much thought into it at the time, later in life they often find an amazing number of connections with their patron. I encourage you to prayerfully examine the amazing individuals our Church has canonized and to look for someone who inspires you to lead a life for Christ. Maybe it’s a saint who is the patron of a cause you hold dear, or someone who exemplified a virtue you hope to live. Whoever you chose, know that you always have an advocate in Heaven. I always close my prayers at the end of Mass or Adoration with a simple “Maximillian Kolbe, pray for me.”
In the West, this sacrament is usually given on or around Pentecost, since the descent of the Holy Spirit onto the Apostles in the Upper Room is typically associated with the sacrament of Confirmation. “And there appeared to them tongues as of fire, distributed and resting on each one of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit…” (Acts 2:3).
It is at this moment that the apostles receive the fullness of the Holy Spirit, and are therefore prepared to go out and begin their ministry.
In the same way, Confirmation should prepare us to go out into the world for Jesus Christ. The other sacraments of initiation, baptism and Eucharist, are in a sense oriented inwards, towards our own rebirth and growth. Confirmation is oriented outward. These gifts of the Holy Spirit are not our own to keep, they are meant to be shared with the world. In the past, Confirmation was often called the “sacrament of maturity”, not in the sense of physical maturity but of spiritual fullness. Confirmation completes the sacramental initiation of a Christian, giving a special outpouring of the Holy Spirit. It is this free gift of God that allows us to go out with confidence into the world to spread the Gospel message.
Confirmation isn’t simply a rite of passage, the Catholic equivalent of a Bar Mitzvah. It’s your commission into the Army of God (Fun Fact: The Christians on Earth are referred to as the “Church Militant”. Those in Purgatory are the “Church Suffering”, and those in Heaven are the “Church Triumphant”). It’s when you stop being passive and start becoming active. For most Catholics, Confirmation marks the end of official catechesis (education), but it shouldn’t mean you stop learning about and growing in your faith. Confirmation should be a new beginning. Take ownership of your faith, make it your own, and share it with the world.
St. Catherine of Sienna once said, “Be who God meant you to be and you will set the world on fire.” The Holy Spirit first descended upon the Apostles as tongues of fire. When you are confirmed, you have everything that you need to share Christ with the world. You don’t need to have a degree in theology, or have a hundred Bible verses memorized. All you need is a deep, abiding love for Jesus Christ, and the desire to become the person God made you to be.
I don’t know everything that God made you to be, whether it’s a teacher, a priest, a doctor, a mother or father, or anything else. The one thing I do know that God made you to be is a saint. God loves you so much that He wants to spend all of eternity with you.
Confirmation is a step towards becoming who God made you to be. With the Holy Spirit, you will set the world on fire.
“If God is for us, who can be against us?”-Romans 8:31
Please read the following (in this order):
- John 6:27
Acts 2 (The whole chapter)