”[vc_column][vc_column_text]Baptism was the sacrament of the initial gift of the Spirit, while Confirmation was the sacrament of the fullness of the Spirit with his seven gifts. When in the Middle Ages it became the practice to confirm close to adolescence instead of infancy, theologians began to teach that Confirmation was the sacrament of maturity. Those who received it were regarded as old enough and ready to live active, responsible Christian lives. The Christian was sealed as a witness for Christ in Confirmation and fortified by an increase of the Spirit’s gifts to fight, suffer, and die for the faith. The notion of the sacrament making a person a soldier of Christ prevailed. The sign of peace in the rite was even replaced by a gentle slap on the face to indicate readiness for life’s battles.
Some people today still look on Confirmation as the sacrament of maturity. But this sacrament does not imply that the candidate is completely mature in the faith. Nor does the signing with chrism instantaneously produce maturity in the candidate. Conversion to Christ is a gradual process to which Confirmation gives added strength. Through it the confirmed person is strengthened for this lifelong journey.
Current thinking of Confirmation has been given direction by recent Church documents that see Confirmation as integrally related to Baptism and Eucharist. Together these sacraments constitute a process by which the Spirit brings the believer to full union with the community. Confirmation does not complete Baptism in the sense that Baptism left something incomplete. Rather, the two sacraments are united in the initiation process. The Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy states, “The Rite of Confirmation is to be revised also so that the intimate connection of this sacrament with the whole of Christian initiation may more clearly appear” (71). The Catechism of the Catholic Church, quoting theDogmatic Constitution on the Church, says, “by the sacrament of Confirmation, [the baptized] are more perfectly bound to the Church and are enriched with a special strength of the Holy Spirit.” (1285)
Confirmation is also associated with the Eucharist, where the People of God unite to celebrate the death and resurrection of Christ. When Confirmation preceded First Holy Communion, it was easily seen as a preparation to full celebration with the community. Then in 1910, when Pope Pius X made it possible for seven-year-old children to receive Communion, Confirmation became the last Sacrament of Initiation to be celebrated. Now Confirmation’s role of leading to the Eucharist must be emphasized in ways other than chronological. The church accomplishes this through catechesis, the words of the rite, and celebrating Confirmation within Mass.
Confirmation celebrates the fullness of the Holy Spirit in the Church. The Spirit of Jesus, the same Spirit that transformed the apostles, comes upon the members of the Church. According to the Dogmatic Constitution on the Church, through Confirmation Catholics are “more perfectly bound to the Church” and are “as true witnesses of Christ, more strictly obliged to spread the faith by word and deed.” Confirmation seals believers in the Spirit, anointing them and empowering them to carry on the mission of Christ.[/vc_column_text][vc_single_image image=”413″ alignment=”center”][/vc_column][/vc_row]