Dear People of St. Andrew the Apostle:
We continue our reflection on the Sacraments today. A sacrament is an external sign, instituted by Christ, to give grace.
Today we look at the Sacrament of Confirmation – the external signs, its institution in Scripture, and how it gives grace to
In Scripture...Jesus told his disciples that he had to return to the Father so that the Holy Spirit could be poured
out upon them – an Advocate who would lead them in all truth. After his resurrection Jesus breathed the Holy
Spirit upon the apostles and passed on the divine power of forgiveness. After Jesus ascended into heaven the
apostles waited for a more complete outpouring of the Holy Spirit who came upon them as a mighty wind and
tongues of fire – the first Pentecost. In the Book of Acts the apostles hear of people who have been baptized but
who have not received the Holy Spirit, and they hurry to them to confer the Spirit upon them and thus complete their
Baptism with a celebration of Pentecost.
The Biblical Church and the Early Church fathers understood Jesus' actions as instituting a distinct sacrament that both
completed Baptism and conferred the Holy Spirit upon the believer. It was, and continues to be, a celebration of Pentecost.
In practice...The early Church baptized and confirmed in the same ceremony. Running water was preferred, so
most baptisms took place outdoors in streams, rivers or lakes. Following the Baptism the new Christian was
dressed in a white garment and lead into Church where the Bishop was waiting to confirm them. When infants
were baptized, the same process was used, and the infant was baptized and confirmed in the same ceremony.
The Church very early divided into two major groups: the Latin Rite, headquartered in Rome, and the
Eastern Rite, headquartered in the new Roman capital of Constantinople. The Latin Rite church reserved
the celebration of Confirmation to the Bishop, while the Eastern Rite gave the parish priest the power to
celebrate Confirmation at the same time as Baptism. Thus in the Latin Rite (we are Latin rite).
Confirmation became separated from Baptism. Bishops by and large had huge territories and were able to
get to their parishes every few years. The practice was that everyone who had been baptized, regardless of age, was confirmed
when the Bishop visited the parish. The Eastern Rite churches did not wait for the Bishop and confirmed immediately
following Baptism. Gradually the age in the Latin Rite was moved later and later, although the Canon Law of the Church
called for it to be at or around the "age of reason" or about 7 years old. Unless permission was granted, Confirmation was to
take place BEFORE
Just over 100 years ago in 1910, Pope Pius X lowered the age for 1st
Eucharist to the "age of reason". This presented a
dilemma. What was to be celebrated first, Confirmation or 1
Eucharist? Confirmation was gradually moved older despite
the provisions of Canon Law, and was celebrated somewhere between 5th
grade and high school. In the Diocese of Phoenix
we have restored the order of the Sacraments to the order they were received in the Biblical Church – Baptism, then
Confirmation, then 1st
Importance of the Order
Confirmation is the sacrament by which the Holy Spirit is conferred and the 7 gifts of the Holy Spirit are given. It prepares
the newly Baptized to "worship in spirit and truth". Like Baptism it is a gift from God. No particular information is required
to receive the gift – it is not a sacrament of Christian maturity, nor is it a sacrament of Commitment. It is the gift of the
Father – an external sign instituted by Christ that give us grace.
In the Sacrament of Baptism, the parents are asked if they understand that they are taking responsibility to raise their child in
the faith. There are several dimensions to this:
- Teaching the child to pray
- Ensuring the child receives ongoing instruction and formation in their faith
- Ensuring the child is prepared for and celebrates the Sacraments
- Engaging the child in service to others
- Working with the child to discern God's will in their lives
Any parent who thinks that the child is fully formed and ready to live as a Christian after a 3
grade study of the faith is not
living up to the promises made in Baptism. Confirmation is not an END – it is an initiation that BEGINS the child's
Effects of Confirmation
This unique Sacrament roots us more deeply in our relationship with Christ, unites us more completely to Christ and helps
us encounter the Lord through the sacraments in an intimate way, strengthens the gifts of the Holy Spirit with us, and give us
strength to engage in the mission of Jesus to spread the Gospel and defend the faith.
Conferral of Confirmation
In the Latin Rite, the usual celebrant of Confirmation is the Bishop. However, in large dioceses such as Phoenix, the Bishop
may delegate to priests the faculty to celebrate Confirmation. When an adult is received into the Church, the priest who has
worked with their formation may celebrate Confirmation along with Baptism. In the Easter Rite, priests who baptize automatically
There are three elements to the celebration of Confirmation:
- Renewal of Baptismal Vows – a restatement of one's faith
- Laying on of Hands – signifying the Holy Spirit being outpoured upon them
- Anointing with Chrism – signifying God gifting them with the power of the 7 Gifts to express their faith in times of difficulty and when challenged by temptation.
Should an unconfirmed adult seek Confirmation?.......Yes – as soon as possible! There are so many challenges and intense
moral temptations, in our world today. Confirmation equips one to seek God's will in all circumstances.
May we be of support to one another as we live our Baptism and Confirmation fully and without compromise. Let us be
proud to be Catholic!
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, 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.
from the Rite of Confirmation
The 7 Gifts of the Holy Spirit
(Names in Parentheses are older names our parents may have learned.)
Wisdom: Helps us see God and God's goodness in all things. The Spirit's gift of Wisdom enables us to see things with God's eyes.
The gift of Wisdom helps us interpret life through the lens of Jesus Christ and his vision and teachings.
Understanding: Gives us insight into our faith and helps us teach others by word and action. The Spirit's gift of Understanding
enables us to understand God's plan for our life and our world. The gift of Understanding helps us to interpret God's plan for us in the daily events of our lives.
Right Judgment (Counsel): Helps us make the right choices in life. The Spirit's gift of Right Judgment helps us to make good
choices—to make God's choices and to seek God's counsel, God's advice. Right judgments are made in light of God's laws.
Courage (Fortitude): Strengthens us to do what is right and to be faithful despite difficulties. The Spirit's Gift of Courage enables
us to see where our real strength lies: God is our strength. The gift of Courage enables us to face danger and overcome fear with
Knowledge: Helps us know God and God's saving plan for us; what is important and what is not. The Spirit's Gift of Knowledge
helps us to know the right things. The gift of Knowledge helps us to know which things are important and which are not. It helps us to know Jesus and what he teaches us.
Reverence (Piety): Calls us to love God and to respect God and all creation; we obey out love, not fear. The Spirit's Gift of
Reverence helps us show our gratitude for all that God has done for us. It moves us to worship God, to offer God praise, to pray always in confidence.
Wonder and Awe (Fear of the Lord): Inspires us to marvel at the power and beauty of God's creation. The Spirit's Gift of
Wonder and Awe enables us to see the beauty of God's creation and the beauty in each person we meet.