As Msgr. James B. Songy writes: "The theology of the sacrament of confirmation is rather vague, especially when it separates from the other `sacraments of initiation,' namely baptism and Eucharist. To some it represents the maturing of an individual in the faith; to others it is the personal commitment of the individual to active membership in the faith; to others it is the personal ratification or acceptance of the commitment made for one by one's parents at baptism; for others it represents the so-called `baptism in the Spirit.'"
Through our lived experience of sacramental ministry, we at St. Patrick have come to the realization that Confirmation is all of these things. More specifically, Confirmation…
Confirms Baptism: When we were baptized, our parents and our god-parents made a commitment to raise us in such a way that our lives would reflect the life of Christ. In and through the sacrament of Confirmation, we confirm this commitment and assume full responsibility for living out the call to be the presence of Christ in our world today.
Completes the Sacraments of Initiation: The Sacraments of Initiation are Baptism, Confirmation and Eucharist (in that order). Originally in our Christian Tradition, these sacraments were celebrated together at one time by young adults and adults who "came to believe." This part of our Tradition has been changed in the Western Church. The three Sacraments of Initiation have been separated; consequently, Confirmation for most dioceses is celebrated after first Eucharist. Since this is currently the tradition of our diocese, Confirmation is the completion of the Sacraments of Initiation. In other words, once one is confirmed in our diocese, one has full membership in the faith community. It should be noted that although Confirmation technically completes the Sacraments of Initiation in our diocese, our daily or weekly celebration of Eucharist (Mass) is the culmination of all sacraments and brings us all to fullness or "completion." It should also be noted that the original Tradition of celebrating all three sacraments together in the proper order is the norm for adult converts participating in the RCIA process and for young people in the Children’s Catechumenate.
Bestows Upon us the Gift of the Holy Spirit: Fr. Michael Himes, a noted speaker and professor of theology at Boston College, writes that “a sacrament recognizes, acknowledges and celebrates that which has always been the case sometime, somewhere.” In and through the sacrament of Confirmation, one formally (at long last) recognizes, acknowledges and celebrates the fact that one has been gifted by the Holy Spirit one’s whole life. So, it is not that the Holy Spirit “all of a sudden” appears at Confirmation. Rather, it is we who “all of a sudden” recognize, acknowledge and celebrate the gift of the ever-present Spirit in the midst of the parish community.
Is a Commitment to Embrace Christianity: Christianity is our Faith. It is who we are. To embrace Christianity is to share oneself unconditionally with others the way one shares a loaf of bread with friends. Thusly, Confirmation is a commitment to love the way Jesus, the Bread of Life, loved.
Is a Commitment to Accept and Practice Roman Catholicism: Roman Catholicism is our religion. It is the Tradition through which we choose to express who we are. Thusly, Confirmation is a commitment to recognize, acknowledge and celebrate who we are in and through the Roman Catholic Religious Tradition.
Is a Commitment to Share the Gift of Ourselves With Our Parish Family of St. Patrick: We, the Church, believe that all of us make up the Body of Christ. As a parish community, we believe that when we gather around the Table (the Altar), we do not gather as individuals as one would gather at a ball game, but rather, we gather as One Body. We commit to share life with one another in order to build up the Body of Christ. When one of us is missing, we are incomplete. Confirmation is a commitment to embrace this belief.
Is a Beginning: In our highly academic society, it is easy for us to mistake Confirmation as a “graduation from the parish.” It is very tempting for us to see it as an end. But Confirmation is a beginning. Newly confirmed individuals can be likened to rookies in the Major League. They made it to “the show,” but they are still rookies. There is a lot more to learn. Confirmation marks the beginning of a new chapter in one's faith journey.