(continued from the Parish Bulletin June 8, 2014 Issue)
What does Sacred Scripture say about the sacrament of Confirmation?
In the Old Testament, the People of God expected the outpouring of the Holy Spirit upon the Messiah. Jesus lived his life in a special Spirit of love and of perfect unity with his Father in heaven. This Spirit of Jesus was the “Holy Spirit” for whom the people of Israel longed; this was the same Spirit whom Jesus promised to his disciples, the same Spirit who descended upon the disciples fifty days after Easter, on the feast of Pentecost. And it is again this same Holy Spirit of Jesus who descends upon everyone who receives the sacrament of Confirmation.
In the Acts of the Apostles, which were written a few decades after the death of Jesus, we see Peter and John traveling about to confirm new Christians by imposing hands on those who previously “had only been baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus,” so that their hearts might be filled with the Holy Spirit.
What happens in Confirmation?
In Confirmation the soul of a baptized Christian is imprinted with a permanent seal that can be received only once and marks this individual forever as a Christian. The gift of the Holy Spirit is the strength from above in which this individual puts the grace of his Baptism into practice through his life and acts as a “witness” for Christ.
To be confirmed means to make a “covenant” with God. The confirmand says, “Yes, I believe in you, my God; give me your Holy Spirit, so that I might belong entirely to you and never be separated from you and may witness to you throughout my whole life, body and soul, in my words and deeds, on good days and bad.” And God says, “Yes, I believe in you, too, my child and I will give you my Spirit, my very self. I will belong entirely to you. I will never separate myself from you, in this life or eternally in the next. I will be in your body and your soul, in your words and deeds. Even if you forget me, I will still be thereon good days and bad.”
Who can be confirmed, and what is required of a candidate for Confirmation?
Any Catholic Christian who has received the sacrament of Baptism and is in the “state of grace” can be admitted to Confirmation.
To be “in the state of grace” means not to have committed any serious sin (mortal sin).
By a serious sin a person separates himself from God and can be reconciled with God only by making a good confession. A (young) Christian who is preparing for Confirmation finds himself in one of the most important phases of his life. He will do everything possible to grasp the faith with his heart and his understanding; he will pray alone and with others for the Holy Spirit; he will reconcile himself in every way with himself, with the people around him, and with God. Confession is part of this, since it
brings one closer to God even if one has not committed a mortal sin.
Who may confirm?
The Sacrament of Confirmation is normally administered by the bishop. For weighty reasons when necessary, the bishop can also delegate a priest to do it. In danger of death, any priest can administer Confirmation.