The Sacrament of Confirmation
The Sacrament of Confirmation
We welcome His Grace, Most Rev. Alfred Adewale Martins, Metropolitan Archbishop of the Catholic Archdiocese of Lagos; who has come for a one day pastoral visit to St. Dominic’s to carry out the episcopal function of administering the Sacrament of Confirmation on our children (750 from the parish as well as other parishes in the archdiocese of Lagos).
Sacrament of Confirmation: Its Definition and Its Effects
Confirmation is the sacrament by which Catholics receive a special outpouring of the Holy Spirit. Through Confirmation, the Holy Spirit gives them the increased ability to practice their Catholic faith in every aspect of their lives and to witness Christ in every situation.
The effects of Confirmation are as follows:
An increased portion of the gifts of the Holy Spirit: wisdom, knowledge, right judgment, understanding, courage, piety, and fear of the Lord**A deepening and strengthening of the grace received at Baptism, which is considered the presence of God in the soul**A more intimate relationship with Jesus Christ**A closer bond with the Catholic Church**The ability to take a greater, more mature role in the Church’s mission of living the Christian faith daily and witnessing to Christ everywhere**A special mark, or character, on the soul that can never be erased**Each person’s ability to embrace these effects depends on his or her openness to the sacrament and willingness to accept it as God’s personal gift.
Who Can Receive Confirmation?
In the Roman Catholic Church, Confirmation is usually administered to young people and they assume a more active role in the Church. These candidates for Confirmation, or confirmandi, as they are called, were usually baptized as infants and must now accept the Catholic faith as their own and make a commitment to live it out with God’s help. Most confirmandi participate in one or two years of preparation classes before receiving the sacrament. As part of that preparation, each confirmand chooses a ‘Confirmation name’ (usually that of a favorite saint), which indicates that he or she is ready to assume a new position in the community.
Adults joining the Catholic Church also receive the sacrament of Confirmation after baptism and a period of instruction. They, too, must freely accept the Catholic faith and commit themselves to practicing it at all times.
Any baptized person, even an infant, may receive Confirmation, and the outpouring of the Holy Spirit that it provides, if he or she is in danger of death.
The Rite of Confirmation
A bishop (Archbishop) typically administers the sacrament although priests can also give this sacrament in certain circumstances, especially to adults entering the Church (RCIA).
The rite of Confirmation, which often takes place during Mass, begins when the bishop extends his hands over the confirmandi and prays, ‘All powerful God, Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, by water and the Holy Spirit You freed Your sons and daughters from sin and gave them new life. Send Your Holy Spirit upon them to be their helper and guide. Give them the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of right judgment and courage, the spirit of knowledge and reverence. Fill them with the spirit of wonder and awe in Your presence. We ask this through Christ our Lord. Amen.’
Each confirmand then comes forward individually to receive the sacrament from the bishop. The confirmand is accompanied by his or her sponsor (an adult Catholic who serves as a mentor and provides an example of a faith-filled life). As the sponsor places his or her hand on the confirmand’s shoulder, the bishop first anoints the confirmand on the forehead with chrism (holy oil that has been blessed by the bishop). Then he lays his hands on the confirmand. Finally, calling the confirmand by his or her Confirmation name, the bishop says, ‘Be sealed with the gift of the Holy Spirit.’ This is the essential rite of the sacrament.
In my years of pastoral ministry, the sacrament of confirmation is one of the least attended to by most Catholics. That is, many Catholics after First Holy Communion would not bother attending classes to be confirmed. Yet according to the teaching of the Catholic Church, it is at confirmation that Catholics receive the fullness of the Holy Spirit. It is disturbing the indifference of many Catholics towards this sacrament of grace and fullness of the Holy Spirit.
It is my prayer that the Holy Spirit will enlighten us all in matters that pertain to the salvation of our souls through Christ our Lord. Amen.
We are most grateful to His Grace Archbishop Alfred Adewale Martins for coming to our parish to administer the sacrament of confirmation on our children and many other young adults (confirmandi) from other parishes in the Archdiocese. May the good Lord continue to bless, direct and strengthen our chief shepherd with his mercies and graces. Amen.
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