Confirmation of Baptism
In the earliest days of the Church, the sacraments of initiation — Confirmation, Baptism, and the Eucharist — were all administered together to converts. Today, the same practice is applied to adult converts. However, while communion may be administered by a priest, only bishops can carry out the final anointing of Confirmation (literally, a confirmation that the person has been baptized). As the practice of infant baptism grew and contact with the bishop became more limited, Confirmation of young children came to be postponed to a later stage in their lives.Appropriate Age for Confirmation
Today, a Catholic child is usually confirmed around about the age of fifteen, during early high school. Fowler explains that as young people move beyond their families, they begin to experience new cultures, behaviors, and beliefs, along with different lifestyles and loyalties. At this time, as adolescents learn to drive, face new groups, feel their sexuality more intensely, and begin some employment, they need a strong inner core and philosophy that will help them make sense of their changing lives.
At about thirteen, the child is leaving the second stage of faith development, mythic literal faith, and entering stage three, synthetic-conventional faith. Adolescents in stage three are looking for a faith center in the form of a philosophy that will ground them and give them a sturdy inner platform from which to deal with life.
While teens may explore, discuss, and question various issues around faith, they often choose as their center the faith they have been raised in. The faith will be very deeply felt, and it gives a real sense of meaning and purpose to their life.
During the catechetical studies leading up to Confirmation, the adolescent can review important articles of faith and can raise questions and discuss issues with a supportive teacher and a group of interested peers. It's a good time for concepts to be solidified and for the students to ask questions, determine how they feel, and define their point of view. It's a time of synthesis before jumping off into full-fledged adolescence.The Benefits and Gifts of Confirmation
From the point of view of the Church, adolescence is also a good time for Confirmation. Confirmation is a reaffirmation of Baptism and baptismal grace. There is an outpouring of the Holy Spirit, as there is in Baptism. Confirmation completes initiation into the Church community. It is a sacrament of maturity, in that it strengthens the recipient to grow into his faith, to live it more fully and actively, and to never be ashamed to tell the world that he believes in the Gospel of Christ.
The lessons leading up to Confirmation teach that the grace of Confirmation can strengthen recipients to resist any peer pressure that might lead them into sin. On the other hand, Confirmation catechesis teaches that a devout Catholic should never bully or pressure another into accepting his beliefs. As a sacrament of maturity, Confirmation requires and supports good judgment in the Catholic.
Gifts of the Holy Spirit at Confirmation help strengthen the Catholic's faith. They include the following:
Knowledge, wisdom, and understanding, which help Catholics to set their store by God, virtue, and prayer, to gain an insight into the mysteries of faith, and to be able to explain their faith to others
Counsel in helping Catholics follow God's plan for their lives by making correct decisions
Fortitude to be faithful Christians even when it's difficult to do so
Piety, which inspires Catholics to love God and to worship him through prayer, liturgy, good works, and ministries
Fear of the Lord, which means an awareness of the evil of sin and a sense of awe and wonder at God's greatness
As a milestone or marker in the life of a Catholic, Confirmation dovetails nicely with the coming of age of a child. It supports and reaffirms the maturation process and the development of faith.
The confirmed also receive the fruits of the Holy Spirit manifest in relationships with God and with others. These include the following:
Charity. Love for God and fellowmen
Joy. Happiness that comes from living a Christian life
Peace. Inner calm despite life's difficulties and trials
Kindness. Concern and empathy for others
Goodness. Living justly as an example for all
Continence. Restraint and moderation in the pursuit of pleasure
Mildness. Gentleness in words and demeanor
Fidelity. Loyalty to God, spouse, family, and friends
Long-suffering. Patience in enduring suffering of any nature
Modesty. Respect for one's own body and the bodies of others in dress, conversation, and behavior
Chastity. Control over sexual impulses and a respectful attitude toward others