December 15, 2004
 

Catechism Quiz
What Is the Sacrament of Confirmation?

by Friar Jim Van Vurst, O.F. M.

Our new catalog has gotten lots of positive comments. We think you’ll find it easier and more enjoyable to use, whether you’re searching for a particular product or just browsing.

Q U I C K S C A N

What is the Sacrament of Confirmation?
Why do we have Confirmation? What does it do for us?
What happens at the conferral of the sacrament?


Friar Jack’s Inbox:

Readers reflect on Friar Jack’s musings


What is the Sacrament of Confirmation?

Of the seven sacraments instituted by Christ, Confirmation is probably the one that is least known or appreciated. That’s understandable because it focuses on the working of the Holy Spirit who is often the forgotten person of the Trinity. The Sacrament of Confirmation can be described as the sacrament of spiritual maturity. It enriches the soul of the person with deep graces (helps and assistance) of the Spirit. Confirmation is the sacrament that calls recipients to witness courageously the gift of faith by word and, especially, by the example of their lives. The Vatican II’s Dogmatic Constitution on the Church states that Catholics “are more perfectly bound to the Church by the Sacrament of Confirmation and the Holy Spirit endows them with special strength so that they are more strictly obliged to spread and defend the faith, both by word and deed, as true witnesses
of Christ” (Par. 11).

This sacrament harkens back to the great Pentecost event
(Acts: 2) when the disciples were huddled in the upper room and the Holy Spirit, whom Jesus had promised them, came upon them in the form of a mighty wind and tongues of fire. The disciples gathered there had been commanded by Jesus to take the good news of his death and resurrection to the ends of the earth. Yet those gathered there, up to that point, lacked a real understanding of what Jesus’ life and death fully meant. But at the Last Supper Jesus assured them that the Holy Spirit would come upon them and teach them all they needed to know. They would be strengthened to go everywhere proclaiming Jesus as Lord and Savior. Pentecost was the moment of their confirmation.

Why do we have Confirmation? What does this sacrament do for us?

The basic effects of Confirmation are: a) It roots us more deeply in our relationship with God; b) it unites us more firmly with Christ and reminds us that every sacrament we receive is an encounter with Jesus himself; c) it increases in us the gifts of the Holy Spirit: wisdom, understanding, counsel, knowledge, piety, fortitude and fear of the Lord; d) it strengthens our bond to the Church; e) finally, it gives us strength to spread and defend the faith by word and deed.

If you consider what strengths we need simply to live our Christian, Catholic lives in our present society and to make moral decisions in the face of serious temptation, it is easy to see how we need wisdom and strength. For example, a married couple raising children need to be able to counsel and encourage them to live their lives not by following the way of least resistance, but by taking the basic gospel message (“Love God and your neighbor”) and making it a part of their lives. No matter what our vocation, married, religious, priesthood or single, we need the strength of the Spirit in our lives.

What happens at the conferral of the sacrament?

The Sacrament of Confirmation is conferred by the bishop and is usually given in the early teen years when youngsters are mature enough to realize that they face serious religious and moral issues in their lives. Those received into the Church at the Easter Vigil (through Baptism or the Profession of Faith) are confirmed as part of their entrance rite into the Church. Adults who have never received the sacrament for one reason or another should contact their pastor to see when the sacrament can be received in a ceremony with other unconfirmed adults in their diocese. However, the Sacrament of Confirmation is not a prerequisite to being married in the Church.

The oil used in the sacrament symbolizes strength given to profess one’s faith in difficulty. The laying on of hands by the bishop is the symbol of the coming of the Holy Spirit upon the person. Few, if any, of us may live in circumstances that demand we lay down our lives for our beliefs. Yet there is seldom a day when we are not faced with difficult choices that test the authenticity of our faith.


Friar Jack’s Inbox

Readers respond to Friar Jack’s musings on “Heralds of the King”

Dear Friar Jack: Thank you for sharing St. Francis’ thoughts on the Incarnation and all of nature. Sometimes environmental concerns get written off as the worries of “those crazy greenies.” But I just wonder how much healthier the planet—and we!—would be if we shared St. Francis’ understanding. Thank you again, and Happy Adventing. Pat

Dear Friar Jack: “For each of us—in our own way—is called to announce the arrival of Christ’s saving presence in our own world,” you wrote in your last column “Heralds of the King.” How true! How challenging! My Christian vocation is a call to receive God's free gift of grace, the gift of his self-emptying love for me. It will be most wicked of me not to help others to receive that gift, too. To share in the mission of John the Baptist, i.e., to announce the arrival of the King, is therefore my privilege and duty! A blessed Advent, Friar Jack! Henry (Nairobi, Kenya)

Dear Henry: Letters like yours remind me of the global reach of Internet efforts like Friar Jack’s E-spirations. It’s wonderful to see that the spirit of St. Francis and the message of Christ are embraced with joy in far off nations such as Kenya in Africa. Thanks for your own hope-filled words! Friar Jack

 

Send your feedback to friarjack@franciscanmedia.org.

 
Friar Jack's E-spirations
Catholic Greetings Premiere
Saint of the Day
Catholic Sampler
Your E-mail Address:


 
 
A Message From Friar Jack
Welcome! I hope you’ll enjoy all of the news about what’s happening at AmericanCatholic.org, as well as my “musings.” By the way, I am a real Franciscan friar, as is my coworker, Friar Jim. You can find out more about us here.

 
What’s a “Catholic SAMPler”?

Sample book chapters, audio clips and video clips before purchasing items from St. Anthony Messenger Press. Click here to find new and best-selling items for RCIA and Catholic identity.


 
Christmas Blessings

Show family, friends and co-workers how much you care with beautiful Christmas e-greetings. Greetings for many other occasions are also available. Click here for details.


 
Faith Formation Update

A free monthly e-newsletter for catechetical leaders. The focus is parish catechesis beyond textbooks and classrooms.
Click here to find the latest issue.


 
Ask a Franciscan

American Catholic Radio is seeking questioners for its taped call-in radio show. Ask Fr. Greg your Catholic question by calling 1-800-488-0488, ext. 271 or by emailing.
Visit FranciscanRadio.org.


 
Can You Find Followers of Jesus?
Introducing Your Child to Disciples
Book by Philip D. Gallery

This delightful, beautifully illustrated book makes a great Christmas gift for children 5-9.
Click here for details.


 
Basic Spiritual Workout
A Guide to Christian Growth for Catholic Youth
Book by Bob Rice

A great supplemental resource for Confirmation preparation and a wonderful gift for the newly confirmed. A Servant Book.

Click here for details .

 
Enkindled
Holy Spirit, Holy Gifts
Book by Albert Haase O.F.M., and Bridget Haase, O.S.U.

The authors bring the Spirit, through anecdote and example, into the lives of ordinary people.
Click here for details .


 
Your Child’s Confirmation
Handing on the Faith series
Book by Carol Luebering

This little book will help you “sort things through” while you and your child prepare for the sacrament.
Click here for details.


 
Eternal Seasons
A Liturgical Journey With Henri J.M. Nouwen
Audiobook edited by Michael Ford; read by Paul Smith

Eternal Seasons gathers, for the first time, selections for an entire liturgical year from 40 of Nouwen’s books. Click here for details.


 
When You Are a Confirmation Sponsor
Handing on the Faith series
Book by Julie Lytle

Julie Lytle reflects on the responsibility and significance of being chosen to share your faith and personal experience with someone less familiar with the path than you.
Click here for details.


 
Charismatic Spirituality
The Work of the Holy Spirit in Scripture and Practice
Book by Stephen B. Clark

Clark presents a carefully written explanation of the way the Holy Spirit works in redeeming human beings. A Servant Book.
Click here for a free sample chapter online.


 
Catholic Movie Reviews

Just in time for the holiday movie releases! Here’s a collection of movie reviews from St. Anthony Messenger Press and Catholic News Service
Click here for details.


 

If you want to know more, try our St. Anthony search engines.


St. Anthony, Help Me Find...
Articles
Products
 
       
 

Check out the entire St. Anthony Messenger Press
family of e-newsletters:

 

   
CatholicSAMPler.com -- Free samples, news and special offers from St. Anthony Messenger Press Friar Jack's E-spirations Faith Formation Update: Ideas and Resources for Catechetical Leaders Saint of the Day Web Catholic: Links and News for Catholic Webmasters Catholic Greetings Premiere