(This event should be completed with a parent and/or Sponsor)
As you have been preparing for the Sacrament of Confirmation it may seem like there have been a lot of “hoops” to jump through thus far. You have been required to attend events, do acts of service, submit assignments, participate in a retreat, choose a sponsor, etc.
To top that off, the whole thing is culminating in one big ceremony (Confirmation) that celebrates your full initiation into the Catholic Church. It seems like a lot… especially right now. But don’t give up, it is worth it in the end!
Struggles and trials inevitable come throughout life. The enemy often attempts to use them to lead us away from God. So do not let this current pandemic (or any other trial or tribulation for that matter) stop you from following Jesus. Christ knows what we need and when we need it.
“I have told you this so that you might have peace in me. In the world you will have trouble, but take courage, I have conquered the world.” – John 16:33
Now lets get started.
Three Misconceptions About the Sacrament of Confirmation:
During this process you may have heard some misconceptions about the Sacrament of Confirmation (I have even said some of these. What can I say…? I make mistakes too).
If we really want to know what it means to receive this sacrament, it is important we clear up some of these misconceptions. Here are the top three:
- You become an “Adult” in the Church after the Sacrament of Confirmation.
False! In the early Church, the Sacrament of Confirmation was not a separated sacrament like we know it today. It was incorporated into the Sacrament of Baptism, which was largely done at infancy. As the centuries progressed, Confirmation was separated from Baptism. By the Middle Ages, it was generally administered at the age of discretion – around the time of someone’s First Holy Communion. This varied from diocese to diocese, but it was generally around the age of seven.
A decision was made to postpone Confirmation until the teenage years at the Council of Trent, and this was largely in response to certain sacramental heresies that the Protestant Reformation was teaching.
Today in the Roman Catholic Rite (that is us), the Sacrament of Confirmation is administered at different ages. It depends on the discretion of the bishop in each diocese. For the Diocese of San Bernardino that is general between the ages of 14 and 17.
The literal ability to receive the Sacrament of Confirmation has absolutely nothing to do with age though. Therefore, it has nothing to do with becoming an “adult” in the Church. While the sacrament of confirmation is considered the Sacrament of Christian maturity, you do not suddenly become an “adult” (from a worldly point of view) in the Church.
- The Sacrament of Confirmation is about “choosing” to be Catholic by you “confirming” your faith.
For most of us, our parents made baptismal promises on our behalf at our Baptism when we were just an infant. It seems logical to think that the Sacrament of Confirmation is our turn to “choose” the faith for ourselves.
This is also a major misconception! When we are baptized, we are initiated into this faith and the Catholic Church. Baptism bestows an indelible mark on our soul that cannot be removed. In other words, once you are baptized, you are Catholic. That is with or without the Sacrament of Confirmation.
We can choose to become fallen away Catholics, non-practicing Catholics, or even non-believing Catholics, but (once baptized) we are always Catholic. Therefore, the Sacrament of Confirmation is not about a candidate making a choice to be/become Catholic because, well… they are already Catholic according to their baptism.
The Sacrament of Confirmation is actually about strengthening and completing the grace you were given at your Baptism. While you must discern if you are ready for this gift, you are not “choosing” to become Catholic or making your faith your own. The faith has already been given to you, as God’s gift at baptism.
- Confirmation is “Graduation” from religious education and learning about your faith. You can now pick and choose what you believe as a Catholic.
This misconception easily made because the Sacrament of Confirmation ends with a big ritual celebration. It can certainly feel like a “graduation.” However, Confirmation is actually a Sacrament of Initiation. The word “initiation” marks the beginning of something – not the end.
WE NEVER GRADUATE FROM OUR FAITH! Jesus is always forming us, and there is always more that we can learn. There are plenty of ways to grow in being more intentionally and authentically “Catholic” after receiving the Sacrament of Confirmation.
Our faith is a lifelong journey (if you have not grasped that concept yet then we have failed). This is why we call the Saint Martha Confirmation Program “The Journey”. We can always experience deeper conversion in our faith. Jesus never stops inviting us into a more intimate relationship with Himself. Therefore, the Sacrament of Confirmation can never be seen as a graduation. In fact, it should mark a deeper involvement in the Church and a deepening of our devotion to God through Jesus Christ.
Grace Perfected (Sacrament of Confirmation):
So, what is the Sacrament of Confirmation? As we have mentioned before it is one of the Sacraments of Initiation. There are three total sacraments of Initiation: Baptism, Eucharist, and Confirmation.
OK, but what does Confirmation initiate us into? We must first consider the effects of the Sacrament of Baptism. (I know you may have heard this from me already but bear with me for a moment). In Baptism, we become an adopted son or daughter of God – a co- heir with Him and a partaker in the divine nature of God. We re-claim our inheritance (which was lost with the Original Sin of Adam and Eve). We are being made new, into a new creation through God. Therefore, the Sacrament of Confirmation initiates the completetion of that work of grace that began at our baptized
What we can learn from our Catholic liturgy…
We actually receive the Holy Spirit at our Baptism (not Confirmation). Within the liturgy there are many symbols that represent the Holy Spirit. The one most associated symbol with our Baptism is water while the symbol associated with our Confirmation is usually fire. How does this all relate?
Did you know that we receive a candle at our Baptism? This is lit from the Easter Candle, which is first lit at the Easter Vigil.
The Easter candle is important. It is lit from the Easter fire on Holy Saturday, and when it is processed into the church it represents Christ’s victory over sin and death. It is a reminder that the light of Christ conquers the darkness of the world.
Later in the liturgy, prior to all those being baptized at Easter, the baptismal font is blessed with the Easter Candle. This is done to symbolize Christs light entering into the womb of the Church.
We are born again out of this womb through baptism, as Christ promised we would be born of water and the fire: aka the Spirit (John 3:3-5). Finally, after Baptism, a baptismal candle is lit from the flame of the Easter Candle, and this fire represents the Holy Spirit that will dwell within us forever.
We have already received the grace and gift of the Holy Spirit at our Baptism and the flame from our baptismal candle represented this. Our initiation into, and the grace given to us by the Holy Spirit, however, is not complete yet. The grace we received through our Baptism is confirmed and sealed in us through the Sacrament of Confirmation.
We do not receive more of the Holy Spirit at Confirmation – this would be impossible since the Holy Spirit is God and God is infinite. It is not possible to receive “more” of something that is infinite. Rather, we receive a greater outpouring of His grace through the Holy Spirit given to us at baptism. The purpose of this increase in grace is to spread the gospel and gift of salvation throughout the world. Think of it like a wildfire that spreads from person to person.
Pentecost and our mission in the church…
The apostles themselves experienced this wildfire at their very own confirmation. In scripture this event is called Pentecost. Pentecost happened on day that Jesus had ascended into heaven and sent the Holy Spirit to His disciples for the purpose of empowering them to spread the Gospel.
The Church was born on that day. The outpouring of God’s grace upon the first apostles, through the Holy Spirit, caused the disciples to burst into the streets, proclaiming the gospel message or the “Good News!” 3000 people were baptized that day (just read Acts 2). Throughout the entire book of Acts, we can see the people of God (the Church) over flow with this new found grace and strength given by the Holy Spirit.
It is this very same outpouring of the Holy Spirit that is given to us also in/through the Sacrament of Confirmation (our very own Pentecost). The gifts and grace of the Holy Spirit are bestowed on us so that we can be fully initiated into the mission of the Church (Matthew 28:16-20).
To continue watch the following video:
Next click on the following links and read the following material about the churches teachings on the Sacrament of Confirmation:
Vatican Resource (CCC): Click Here
USCCB Resource: Click Here
You will need to access the links above to answer some of the detailed response sections in the form below.