I am sorry I have not been writing for a while. I was researching Mother Mary and Scripture (which hurt my head!) and then I got busy and was hardly home.
Mary is one of two months consecrated to Mary (the other is October), so I will be writing more about Mary. But today I will be talking about the sacrament of Confirmation because my son was confirmed a little over a week ago. Before the day arrived, I was talking to my sister-in-law, who is not Catholic, about the fact that my son was being confirmed. She asked, of course, what confirmation is. As I was trying to come up with a short answer that did not get too heavily into theology, she asked if this is when you enter the church. I explained that no, Catholics become members of the Catholic Church at Baptism, but that at confirmation, one receives the gifts of the Holy Spirit, but I feel like you are also making the decision that you want to BE a Catholic. While out of the approximately 100 young people confirmed on the day that my son was, most of the kids were teenagers, there were a few younger kids, fifth, sixth grade maybe. The Council of Trent said that a child could be confirmed after baptism, but needed to have achieved the use of reason. The person needs to understand what the sacrament is.
So, what is confirmation? The Catechism of the Catholic Church (First Image Books Edition, April, 1995) says that it is a sacrament of Christian initiation whose unity (with Baptism) must be preserved. It goes on further to say that Confirmation must be administered in order to complete baptismal grace. The catechism goes on to quote the “Roman Ritual”, saying, “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. Hence they are, as true witnesses of Christ, more strictly obliged to spread and defend the faith by word and deed.” So, the confirmed receive the Holy Spirit, thereby receiving more grace and therefore are more able to spread and defend the Word. Pretty tall order. However, let’s look at the “first” confirmation,
“When the time for Pentecost was fulfilled, they were all in one place together. And suddenly there came from the sky a noise like a strong driving wind, and it filled the entire house in which they were. Then there appeared to them tongues as of fire, which parted and came to rest on each one of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in different tongues, as the Spirit enabled them to proclaim. Now there were devout Jews from every nation under heaven staying in Jerusalem. At this sound, they gathered in a large crowd, but they were confused because each one heard them speaking in his own language.” (Acts 2:1-6 NAB)
Peter then goes on to quote from the Prophet Joel, “No, this is what was spoken through the prophet Joel: ‘It will come to pass in the last days,’ God says, ‘ that I will pour out a portion of my spirit upon all flesh. Your sons and daughters shall prophesy, your young men shall see visions, your old men shall dream dreams. Indeed, upon my servants and my handmaids I will pour out a portion of my spirit in those days, and they shall prophesy. (Acts 2:14-18 NAB) While confirmands do not generally start speaking in tongues, they still receive grace that helps them to go out spread the Word.
And when the Bishop (this sacrament is administered by a bishop unless it is Easter Vigil and a priest is bringing new adults into the church) prays over and lays hands on these young people and anoints them with chrism, how are they different if they are not “speaking in tongues” as the apostles did? They receive the gifts of the Holy Spirit, which are wisdom, understanding, counsel, strength, knowledge and fear of the Lord & piety. They also receive the fruits of the Holy Spirit, which are charity, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, long-suffering, humility or gentleness, fidelity or faithfulness, modesty, continence or self-control and chastity. How much more do you need to spread the Word of God?
So when one is confirmed, this person becomes a Catholic because they make the decision that they want to follow Jesus and live life as a follower who is spreading the word of God.