The sacrament of Confirmation in the Catholic Church

Confirmation

A Catholic’s catechetical formation does not end after Baptism, Reconciliation nor First Communion. Each year, thousands of people of all ages continue their Christian faith journey by preparing for the sacrament of Confirmation.

To be confirmed by your bishop is to receive a power and a divine light intended to help you bear witness to your Christian faith with strength and wisdom every day!

Did you know that each year in the Diocese of Montreal, thousands of young people and adults receive the sacrament of Confirmation? Why would that be, you might ask yourself? What purpose does this sacrament serve for the baptized person who receives it?

Confirmation is the final Sacrament of Christian Initiation (after Baptism and the Eucharist). This sacrament goes back to the earliest days of the Church. The New Testament tells us that after Jesus ascended into heaven, he released the Holy Spirit who descended upon the Apostles, known as the feast of Pentecost. Filled with the Holy Spirit, the Apostles, in turn, prayed through the laying of hands for the release of the Holy Spirit upon the baptized (cf. Acts 8, 15-17). Following their example, the early bishops of the Church did the same, and this continues today.  It is, therefore, the archbishop himself (or one of his delegates) who, as the direct successor of the Apostles, administers the sacrament of Confirmation to the baptized of his diocese.

For all disciples, past and present, to be confirmed is to receive a special outpouring of the Holy Spirit, whose real – and felt – presence is to help one develop, strengthen and manifest the spiritual gifts that were received through Baptism. Confirmation is intended to spark a true transformation of the person who receives it by conferring him or her with a divine power and light, enabling him or her to give witness to their Christian life with strength and wisdom in the world today.

To summarize, Confirmation opens the door that leads one to develop an adult faith (even if one is an adolescent), calling him or her to grow and cultivate a faith that is more mature and sound, strong and fearless.

To receive Confirmation is to be touched by the Holy Spirit, to be inspired and sent forth by Him, following Jesus and the first Apostles and disciples!

“We all take care that they are baptized and this is good, but perhaps we do not take so much care to ensure that they are confirmed. Thus they remain at a midpoint in their journey and do not receive the Holy Spirit, who is so important in the Christian life since He gives us the strength to go on. Let us think a little, each one of us: do we truly care whether our children, our young people, receive Confirmation?” — Pope Francis

 

Each year, thousands of parents enrol their children in catechetical programs, such as Faith First, at their local parish, wanting them to learn the basics of leading a Christian life.  This initial formation, over the course of a couple of years, helps prepare the child to receive First Communion, a sacrament of infinite beauty and spiritual depth, which is one of the sacraments of Christian Initiation (the first being Baptism).

After their First Communion, children are invited to continue their catechetical formation in order to receive the sacrament of Confirmation, the final Sacrament of Christian Initiation.

To be confirmed (by the bishop) is to receive a special outpouring of the Holy Spirit, whose real – and felt – presence is to help one develop, strengthen and manifest the spiritual gifts that were received at Baptism. Confirmation is intended to spark a true transformation of the person who receives it by conferring him or her with a divine power and light, enabling him or her to give witness to their Christian life with strength and wisdom in the world today.

Although Confirmation is the final Sacrament of Christian Initiation, once confirmed, your child can continue to participate in numerous activities organized by your parish (or another parish): youth groups, liturgical service (such as altar serving), choir, volunteering, celebrations, etc.  There, your child will find a Christian environment where he or she will learn what it means to live according to the ways and spirit of Jesus, and to have Him ever closer to their hearts.

This personal relationship with Jesus will allow him or her to discover the meaning of life, their vocation in the Church and in the world, while giving him or her inner strength to help them face the difficulties and challenges of life. The person who has Jesus with them is never alone; God lives with him and with her.

To receive Confirmation is to be filled with the Holy Spirit, to be inspired and sent forth by Him, just like the Apostles and disciples!

Find your parish here and let them help you out!

“When we welcome the Holy Spirit into our hearts and allow him to act, Christ makes himself present in us and takes shape in our lives; […] That is why it is important that children and young people receive the Sacrament of Confirmation.”Pope Francis

 

Christian parents want what is best for their children, including a life in full communion with Jesus, that they may come to understand his teachings and discover his infinite love for them. To help nurture this faith, children prepare for and receive the Sacraments of Christian Initiation (Baptism, First Communion, Confirmation) during their early childhood and often by adolescence. It has, however, become more common that, for one reason or another, some children reach adolescence without having yet been confirmed.

If you are a parent and would like your teenager to consider Confirmation, your first step would be to discuss it with him or her. Your teenager, at this stage of his or her life, is learning to think more independently and is making more personal decisions. If your teenager is interested in joining a catechetical program, the journey will be easier. If, on the other hand, he or she wants “nothing to do with it,” it would be wiser to respect their freedom, just as God does with each one of us. We cannot force the heart to be open, even toward God!

If, however, your teenager wants to be confirmed or shows an interest in this sacrament, please contact your parish as soon as possible (Find your parish here). The pastoral team will be able to answer your questions and will propose a plan for your teenager that is adapted to his or her situation.

The length of the catechetical formation that he or she attends will depend on several factors: his or her knowledge and prior catechetical experiences, his or her personal development, the intensity of his or her commitment, etc. Regarding the content of this formation, we will invite your teen to catechetical meetings (teachings) and accompaniment in a group or one-on-one; there will be individual and group prayer time, as well as opportunities to be of service to others in the Church.

The Christian environment in which your child will be immersed will allow him or her to develop and strengthen his/her faith, and personal relationship with Jesus, while helping him or her to discover how Christian values are a gateway toward happiness and a fulfilling life. In summary, this time of preparation for Confirmation will be devoted to the discovery of self, of others, and… of God.

This learning experience can be so engaging that many teens, once confirmed, want to participate in one or several activities organized by the parish such as youth groups, liturgical services (altar serving), choir, community volunteering, recreational activities, etc. While respecting their individuality, this participation can help keep them in good spirits and prepare them to become responsible adults, active in the service of the Church and in society.

This time of personal and spiritual growth can transform your teenager into a new person, happier, beaming and more helpful than ever. The Church is a place where each person can find happiness and a place of belonging, because Jesus Christ is at the heart of it.

“Confirmation, like every Sacrament, is not the work of men but of God, who cares for our lives in such a manner as to mould us in the image of his Son, to make us capable of loving like Him.” (Pope Francis)

 

There are many good reasons why a person may want to be confirmed: Perhaps you are a baptized adult and you have been asked to become godparent to someone’s child at an upcoming baptism; or perhaps you are a baptized adult who hopes to soon be married in the Catholic Church. In both of these cases, receiving the sacrament of Confirmation will help you meet requirements that the Church outlines for each particular situation.

Perhaps, however, you are a baptized adult who, for one reason or another, did not receive the sacrament of Confirmation and you now wish to deepen your Christian faith and your relationship with Jesus.

Whatever your situation or your personal reasons, rest assured that being confirmed as an adult is an option available to you. Moreover, you are not alone; each year, about a thousand adults in the Diocese of Montreal embark on this next step of their faith journey, learning more about leading a Christian life and preparing for Confirmation.

If your heart is calling you to take steps in this direction, the first thing to do is to contact your parish as soon as possible (find your parish here), usually it is the church that is closest to where you live, where someone will gladly answer your questions and propose a plan of preparation for Confirmation.

This process takes place only once or twice a year and begins at a set date. Why is that? The answer is simple: according to Church tradition, the sacrament of Confirmation is conferred (given) to confirmands by the archbishop of Montreal himself (or one of his delegates). In order to accommodate the over 200 parishes and missions in the Diocese of Montreal, special ceremonies are scheduled to take place annually or biannually within each community. Without this type of coordination, the archbishop would not be able to accomplish his sacramental mission within a timely manner each year.

Getting started as soon as possible allows you to be ready for the date of your upcoming sacrament, be it a baptism or… your marriage.

Preparation for Confirmation consists of meetings dedicated to catechetical formation and individual accompaniment. This program is catered to the pace at which each candidate can work, and is usually over a period of several months (up to one full year).

Anything that is beautiful and important cannot be done without devoting time to it. The wisdom of the Church has shown that this somewhat lengthy period of preparation is truly necessary for the process to bear fruit.  In fact, a person is not confirmed simply as a step toward receiving a certificate allowing him or her to become a godparent or to be married in the Church. One asks to be confirmed as a step towards becoming nothing less than a new person. Once confirmed, the special outpouring of the Holy Spirit is its real presence felt – to help grow, deepen, and bring to life the spiritual gifts that were received at Baptism. The confirmed person can be truly transformed: he or she receives courage and divine grace that will allow him or her to give witness to their Christian faith with strength and wisdom in the world today.

To summarize, Confirmation is the sacrament that brings a person into the adulthood of their faith, a faith that is mature and sound, strong and fearless.

Preparation for Confirmation was designed with this spiritual end in mind. Rest assured, the time that you devote to this formation will not only enrich you personally, but will also allow you to develop or deepen your personal relationship with the most extraordinary person in human history: Jesus of Nazareth. This relationship will enrich your life and fill your heart well beyond your greatest hopes… this promise is made to you by Jesus Christ Himself!