The seven sacraments: Confirmation

The Sun continues its series on the seven sacraments with the final Sacrament of Initiation: confirmation.

What is the Sacrament of Confirmation?
   Confirmation is one of the seven sacraments and is an integral part of the three Sacraments of Initiation, which also include baptism and Holy Eucharist. During baptism, a child is brought into the Catholic faith and the Holy Trinity — the Father, Son and Holy Spirit — is present during that celebration. At Holy Eucharist, the candidate is nourished and becomes part of the Body of Jesus Christ. The Sacrament of

Confirmation builds on and enriches the faith given at baptism and nourished by Holy Eucharist, completing the process of initiation into the faith and confirming the candidate as a follower of Christ.

What role does the Holy Spirit play in confirmation?
   At birth, God bestows spiritual gifts upon each person. Through the work of the Holy Spirit at confirmation, these gifts are activated along with seven supernatural graces: wisdom, understanding, counsel, fortitude, knowledge, piety and fear of the Lord.

What is expected from the confirmation candidate?
   The confirmation candidate is prepared to be an active disciple and true witness of Jesus Christ by reviewing the presence of God’s gifts in his/her life, studying and actively living the Gospel by serving others, and willingly embracing the presence of the Holy Spirit for the remainder of his/her lifetime. “Be a faithful follower. Rely on the Holy Spirit. Our faith is given to us freely and is meant to be shared with others,” Bishop Robert J. Cunningham said at the confirmation ceremony he celebrated  at Christ the King Church in Liverpool May 19.
   To receive the Sacrament of Confirmation, a candidate must also be in a state of grace, having received the Sacrament of Penance.

Who can receive the Sacrament of Confirmation?
   Generally, the sacrament is received when a person is a young adult, but once the other Sacraments of Initiation have been received, a person, regardless of age, can be confirmed.

What is the role of the sponsor during confirmation?
   If the candidate was baptized as an infant, godparents were selected, most likely by the candidate’s parents. At confirmation, the candidate has the opportunity to personally select a spiritual mentor or sponsor. The canonical requirements that apply for godparents also apply to sponsors of confirmation candidates: a sponsor must be a practicing Catholic over the age of 16 who has been confirmed and who regularly attends church.

Who officiates over the ceremony?
   Generally, the bishop confirms Catholics within his diocese, but during the Easter Vigil a priest can confirm adults who have attended the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults and are ready to be confirmed.

What happens during confirmation?
   The candidates for confirmation are presented to the bishop, who invokes the Holy Spirit. The candidates renew their baptismal promises and, together with their sponsors, approach the bishop. The sponsor lays one hand on the shoulder of the candidate. The candidate tells the bishop his/her chosen confirmation name and the bishop speaks the name aloud and places the sign of the cross with Chrism oil (perfumed oil) on the candidate’s forehead, saying, “Be sealed with the gift of the Holy Spirit.”

Why do candidates choose a confirmation name?
   At baptism, the candidate’s name was chosen without his/her consent, but at confirmation, the candidate can present an additional name, which generally is chosen from a saint’s name.

Why does the bishop anoint the candidate’s head with Chrism oil?
   The sacred Chrism is a spiritual sign of consecration and indicates the “seal of the Holy Spirit.” The mark indicates the candidate is filled with the Holy Spirit and agrees to share in the mission of Jesus Christ.

   The next sacrament to be featured will be Holy Orders. The Sun thanks Bishop Robert J. Cunningham and the confirmation class of Christ the King Church for helping to contribute to this article.

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