Confirmation

At confirmation we receive the gifts of the Holy Spirit and confirm our baptismal promises. Greater awareness of the grace of the Holy Spirit is conferred through the anointing of chrism oil and the laying on of hands by the Bishop.

Confirmation perfects Baptismal grace; it is the sacrament which gives the Holy Spirit in order to root us more deeply in the divine filiation, incorporate us more firmly into Christ, strengthen our bond with the Church, associate us more closely with her mission, and help us bear witness to the Christian faith in words accompanied by deeds. (CCC 1316)

Through the Sacrament of Confirmation we renew our baptismal promises and commit to living a life of maturity in the Christian faith. As we read in the Lumen Gentium (the Dogmatic Constitution of the Church) from the Second Vatican Council:

Bound more intimately to the Church by the sacrament of confirmation, [the baptized] are endowed by the Holy Spirit with special strength; hence they are more strictly obliged to spread and defend the faith both by word and by deed as true witnesses of Christ. (no. 11)

Scriptural Foundation for Confirmation
In the Acts of the Apostles we read of the coming of the Holy Spirit on Pentecost. While baptism is the sacrament of new life, confirmation gives birth to that life. Baptism initiates us into the Church and names us as children of God, whereas confirmation calls us forth as God’s children and unites us more fully to the active messianic mission of Christ in the world.

After receiving the power of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost, the Apostles went out and confirmed others, showing confirmation to be an individual and separate sacrament: Peter and John at Samaria (Acts 8:5-6, 14-17) and Paul at Ephesus (Acts 19:5-6). Also the Holy Spirit came down on Jews and Gentiles alike in Caesarea, prior to their baptisms. Recognizing this as a confirmation by the Holy Spirit, Peter commanded that they be baptized (cf. Acts 10:47).

 

For on him the Father, God, has set his seal. (John 6:27)
 

The Sacrament of Confirmation is just what it sounds like: we confirm our Baptism into the Holy Spirit of Christ and into His community, the Church. The grace we receive through Baptism is confirmed, indeed magnified and made more a part of our daily life, through Confirmation.

We might say that in Baptism, we go gently into the arms of the Spirit, while in Confirmation, we find the strength and commitment to strongly embrace the Spirit. Though a separate Sacrament, Confirmation is an extension and a strengthening of Baptism.

Confirmation also prepares us to be stronger Christians. We are no longer merely infants in faith; we are now confirmed members of the faith, committed to the mission of witnessing for Jesus Christ and living our lives according to His teachings and the Spirit He sends upon us.

The apostle brothers, James and John, help illuminate this definition of Confirmation. When Jesus calls them, they leave their father to follow Jesus. They really don't know precisely what they're getting into, but they are moved to follow the Lord. This is a bit like their Baptism into the way of Jesus.

Almost three years later, after Jesus has told the apostles He is going to suffer and be crucified so that He may rise, the mother of James and John asks Jesus if her two sons may sit on His right and left when they enter the Kingdom of God. Jesus turns to the two brothers and asks, "Are you able to drink of the cup that I am about to drink?" Now by this time the brothers have been with Jesus for nearly three years, mostly listening to Him describe the excruciating death which awaits Him, and they do know what they've gotten into. Without hesitation, they answer, "We are able."

That is what we say when we are confirmed. "We are able." We know who and what the Spirit is, and we know the commitment that will be required of us at Confirmation. We are asked to live out, in the joys and sufferings of our daily life, the witness to Jesus as expressed in our faith. And through Confirmation, we answer, "We are able."