We have six parishioners who are preparing to receive the Sacrament of Confirmation along with others from our region on October 23rd. Here at Immaculate Conception I help lead the preparation sessions so I have been thinking about this sacrament and would like to offer some thoughts on it.
Confirmation is one of the three Sacraments of Initiation with the others being Baptism and Eucharist. It is impossible to understand Confirmation without viewing it in light of Baptism. In Baptism we receive the Holy Spirit and are sealed with it in Confirmation. At Baptism, baptismal promises are made and those same promises are renewed at Confirmation. At Baptism we are anointed with the Sacred Chrism and at Confirmation we are again anointed with the Sacred Chrism.
St. Thomas Aquinas described Confirmation as a ‘sacrament of maturity.’ Hearing the word ‘maturity’ many came to see Confirmation as making a person an adult in the Church. Since children as young as seven years old may be confirmed, it is not ‘maturity’ as an adult that we are talking about. The maturity that St. Thomas Aquinas speaks of has to do with one’s individual awareness of faith. Most Catholics are baptized as little babies, brought to the Sacrament by our parents. At Confirmation, we should aware ourselves of what is going on in the Sacrament.
Another phrase I have heard associated with Confirmation is that it makes one a ‘soldier for Christ.’ By our Baptism and strengthened in our Confirmation we are indeed called to stand up for our faith in Jesus. I think of the challenge to religious freedom that goes on even in our own country today. But we are not to start wars as ‘soldiers of Christ.’ The Sacred Chrism we are anointed with serves as a symbol of how God strengthens to stand up for our faith.
The seven gifts of the Holy Spirit are knowledge, wisdom, understanding, right judgment, courage, reverence, and awe (fear) of the Lord. May we always have this gifts that we might know how we are called to live our faith in our world today and the courage we need to do just that.