Confirmation compliments baptism by sealing and strengthening the believer to live as a child of God, through the power of the Holy Spirit.
The ordinary minister of the sacrament is a bishop who - through the “laying on of hands” and “anointing with chrism oil” - invokes the presence of the Holy Spirit on the baptized person. In this powerful encounter with God, we experience again the grace of Pentecost when the Holy Spirit descended upon Mary and the Apostles!
This sacrament has two primary signs: the laying on of hands by the bishop and the anointing with perfumed oil called chrism. Since the earliest days of the Church, the apostles conferred this sacrament upon the newly baptized. For example:
Now when the apostles at Jerusalem heard that Sama'ria had received the word of God, they sent to them Peter and John, who came down and prayed for them that they might receive the Holy Spirit; for it had not yet fallen on any of them, but they had only been baptized...
In the Early Church, we find witness of this sacrament, such as when Theophilus of Antioch (181 AD) wrote:
Are you unwilling to be anointed with the oil of God? It is on this account that we are called Christians: because we are anointed with the oil of God.
Another example is when Hippolytus (215 AD) wrote:
The bishop, imposing his hand on them, shall make an invocation, saying, ‘O Lord God, who made them worthy of the remission of sins through the Holy Spirit’s washing unto rebirth, send into them your grace so that they may serve you according to your will, for there is glory to you, to the Father and the Son with the Holy Spirit, in the holy Church, both now and through the ages of ages. Amen.’ Then, pouring the consecrated oil into his hand and imposing it on the head of the baptized, he shall say, ‘I anoint you with holy oil in the Lord, the Father Almighty, and Christ Jesus and the Holy Spirit.’ Signing them on the forehead, he shall kiss them and say, ‘The Lord be with you.’ He that has been signed shall say, ‘And with your spirit.’ Thus shall he do to each.
The Apostolic Tradition
Over time, two traditions developed in the administration of Confirmation in the Catholic Church. In the Eastern Rites of the Catholic Church, the sacrament is given at the time of baptism whether one is child or adult... even to newborn infants! Often this is done by a priest using the oil consecrated by the bishop.
In the West, (in the Latin Rite of the Catholic Church), the sacrament is ordinarily administered by the Bishop sometime after the age of reason. When children are baptized as infants they receive confirmation at a later time. Adults who participate in the "Right of Christian Inititation of Adults" always receive confirmation immediately following baptism by their pastor. In the case of a baptism when one is in danger of death any priest has the authority to confer Confirmation following baptism provided that he has the proper oil of chrism available at the time of the baptism. This is the case with both adults and infants.
This sacrament provides an increase and deepening of the grace of Baptism which increase the gifts of the Holy Spirit received in Baptism.
The Catechism provides a clear list of these specific graces in #1303:
- Roots us more deeply in the divine filiation which makes us cry, “Abba! Father!”
- Unites us more firmly to Christ
- Increases the gifts of the Holy Spirit in us
- Renders our bod with the Church more perfect
- Gives us the special strength of the Holy Spirit to spread and defend the faith by word and action as true witnesses of Christ, to confess the name of Christ boldly, and never to be ashamed of the Cross.
Confirmation at St John The Baptist
- Children receive Confirmation after completing at least two years (7th and 8th grades) of Religious Education (RE) instruction. Students are required to perform 10 hours of community service and attend a one-day retreat. Confirmation is scheduled by the Bishop’s Office for sometime in the spring.
- There are a few options available to high school students who have been baptized in the Roman Catholic faith, have been catechized, and have received First Eucharist. Please call our office to discuss which avenue is best suited to support your teen’s spiritual progress and instructional needs.
Requirements to be a Godparent or Sponsor for Confirmation:
- There should be a godparent for the person to be baptized as far as this is possible. In adult baptism, the godparent assists in Christian initiation. In infant baptism, the godparent, with the parents, presents the child for baptism and helps the baptized to lead the Christian life in harmony with baptism and to fulfill faithfully the obligations inherent to it (can. 872). There may be one godfather, one godmother, or one of each (can. 873).
- If there are two godparents, one must be male and the other female. A single godparent may be of either sex. It may happen that parents want two person of the same sex to be godparents and they have good reasons for this. A possible solution to such a case is to register one as the official godparent, while the other would assume only the cultural and familial customs connected with the role.
- Qualifications of godparents - The qualifications of godparents at baptism given here also apply to the godparent (sponsor) for confirmation: The godparents are to be chosen by the adult who is to be baptized or, at infant baptism, by the parents or the person who takes their place. When this is not possible, the pastor or other minister should choose the godparent or godparents.
- The godparents must have the qualifications for and intention of carrying out this duty.
- The godparents’ duty is not only to be present for the celebration of the sacrament, but it is a lifelong responsibility to help the baptized lead a Christian life in harmony with baptism, and to fulfill faithfully the obligations connected with it (can. 872).
- They are to be a least sixteen years of age, unless the diocesan bishop has established another age or unless, in an exceptional case, it seem to the pastor or minister that there is just cause to admit a younger person.
- They must be Catholics who are already confirmed and have received the holy Eucharist.
- They should be leading a life of faith in harmony with the duty they are undertaking.
- They may not be under a lawfully imposed or declared canonical penalty.
- They may not be the father or mother of the one to be baptized (cc. 874 , 1, 893).
- If married, they must be married in the church or have the proper ecclesiastical dispensation (cc. 874 1, 894).
- We do not recommend 2 non-Catholic witnesses.
- A baptized Catholic cannot be considered a Christian witness if he or she is not confirmed.