Saturday, October 23, 2010

The Sacrament of Confirmation

The Catechism of the Catholic Church says:
Baptism, the Eucharist, and the Sacrament of Confirmation together constitute the "sacraments of Christian initiation," whose unity must be safeguarded. It must be explained to the faithful that the reception of the Sacrament of Confirmation is necessary for the completion of baptismal grace. For by the Sacrament of Confirmation, the baptized are more perfectly bound to the Church and are enriched with the 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. #1285)
This Sacrament strengthens baptismal grace, enabling the newly confirmed to defend and to proclaim the faith. The Holy Spirit gives us the power to be truly good examples of living Christ. The consecrated oil, with which the bishop anoints the person, is called chrism which reminds us of our Christian vocation -- that we are fully in Christ.

This Sacrament, like Baptism, imparts an indelible seal, meaning that one is sealed in Christ forever. This is why Confirmation can be administered only once to each person. The ordinary minister of Confirmation is the bishop. Under certain circumstances the bishop can delegate a priest to confirm.

In Catholic churches of the Eastern rites, Confirmation is administered at the time of Baptism. As a Sacrament, it is the action of God upon the individual who is expected to respond to His gift. We are most familiar with the celebration of Confirmation for those who are twelve years of age or older. The reason is that it is hoped that, as the child matures and learns more, he will understand what this Sacrament is about and cooperate with grace.

When a child stops going to religious education classes after receiving first Holy Communion, it is unfortunate. In this case there is a failure to understand the gift of the Sacrament of Confirmation. This gift is the Holy Spirit involved with every aspect of the person's life for as long as he lives. May each of us appreciate this and thank God for his bestowal.

In two weeks, this Pastor's Desk will continue with the Sacraments, specifically the Holy Eucharist. Next week, the topic will be the Saints in Heaven and the holy souls in purgatory.

Father Stanley