The Sacrament of Confirmation
Confirmation is the second sacrament of initiation. The original and normative order for celebrating the sacraments of initiation is Baptism, Confirmation and Eucharist. Originally and for many centuries the sacraments of initiation were celebrated in that order: baptism followed immediately by confirmation, followed by sharing in Holy Communion within the celebration of Eucharist. Adults, infants and children were initiated into the Church in this manner. The normal minister to preside during the celebration was the bishop.
We are baptized and confirmed so that we are made able to participate fully in the Eucharist. Participating fully in the celebration of Eucharist includes being nourished on the Word of God and receiving the Body and Blood of Christ and being sent to live as the Body of Christ in the world. Our full sharing in the Eucharist is the event that draws us into communion of life in God.
Confirmation is not a sacrament of maturity; it is a sacrament of initiation. Those who seek to be confirmed are asking to deepen their relationship with Christ and the believing community. Those to be confirmed are anointed with sacred chrism. The anointing seals their baptism. The candidate is confirmed using his or her baptismal name and is accompanied by a sponsor.
The sponsor is to be:
- a Roman Catholic, at least 16 years of age,
- a fully initiated member of the Church
- a faithful active participant at the Sunday eucharist. (Canons 893, 874)
Being a sponsor is not an honourary role. The sponsor is a guide, witness, and companion for the candidate. A parent may not be a sponsor. The sponsor does not need to be a relative nor the same gender as the candidate. Confirmation is the sacrament, which empowers us to celebrate the Eucharist in a new and more dynamic way through the gift of the Holy Spirit. We are sent out from the Sunday Eucharist as people whose mission it is to witness to Christ in the world. The Spirit given us in confirmation enables us to give a powerful and effective witness to Christ’s presence.