Confirmation: Completion of Baptism
Confirmation is the second Sacrament of Christian Initiation, and it has an important relationship with the sacrament of Baptism. The Church teaches that Confirmation completes Baptism because it tightens the bonds between its recipients and the Church. At Confirmation, the confirmed receive the Holy Spirit more fully, and “they are, as true witnesses of Christ, more strictly obliged to spread and defend the faith by word and deed” (
After Pentecost, the apostles were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to proclaim the mighty works of God. Those who accepted the Gospel and were baptized also received the Holy Spirit through what was referred to as the “laying on of hands.” The laying on of hands led to the ceremony of Confirmation, which carries the grace of Pentecost through the Church. The confirmed were again anointed with perfumed oil (chrism), in imitation of Christ, who was anointed by God with the Holy Spirit.
Anointing with oil signifies and imprints a spiritual seal; it is a sign of consecration. Those who are anointed take a greater part in the mission of Jesus Christ and the fullness of the Holy Spirit. The seal of the Holy Spirit is on them, symbolizing an affiliation or belonging. The Church teaches that the seal of the Holy Spirit marks the Christian's total belonging to Christ, his enrollment in his service forever, and the promise of divine protection.The Confirmation Ceremony
In the Catholic Church, the liturgy of Confirmation contains the renewal of baptismal promises and the profession of faith. When adults are baptized, it is usual for them to receive Confirmation and participate in the Eucharist immediately. When confirming adults who have just been baptized, the bishop extends his hands over the whole group and invokes the Holy Spirit: “Send your Holy Spirit upon them to be their helper and guide.” Next is the laying on of hands, the anointing of the forehead with chrism, and the words “Be sealed with the Gift of the Holy Spirit.” The sign of peace concludes the sacrament.
Acording to Canon 891 of the 2000 National Conference of Catholic Bishops, Confirmation should be performed before Catholic children are age sixteen. Most Catholic children are confirmed in their early high school years. Although this sacrament is sometimes referred to as the sacrament of Christian maturity, the Church acknowledges that maturity does not have that much to do with age. Many children are spiritually mature and have been martyrs for Christ.
Before Confirmation, most people study the actions, mission, and gifts of the Holy Spirit. They gain an awareness that they belong not just to their parish but also to the universal church. Those who are about to be confirmed receive the sacrament of Penance and seek the spiritual guidance of a sponsor. It is suggested that the sponsor be one of the godparents.
In the Catholic Church, the bishop is the usual minister of Confirmation, though he may also delegate it to priests. If someone is in danger of death without having been confirmed, any priest may confer Confirmation.
The sacrament of Confirmation affects the Catholic in the following ways:
It increases baptismal grace.
It unites the recipient more firmly to Christ.
It increases the gifts of the Holy Spirit.
It perfects the bond with the Church.
It brings the strength of the Holy Spirit to spread and defend the faith, to openly admit to and never be ashamed of being a Christian.
It imprints an indelible spiritual mark, giving the confirmed person the power and the authority to profess faith in Christ to all who would hear.