Christian life begun in baptism must grow and mature, The sacrament of confirmation serves to strengthen and complete baptism and is there to develop, strengthen, and complete what has been begun in baptism.
On the day of your child’s baptism you brought them to the church and began their journey of faith. You stood before the priest and the community of the Church, represented by your family and friends and promised to ‘keep the flame of faith alive in their hearts’. You promised ‘to be the first teachers of your child in the ways of faith’ and Catholic up-bringing ’. Over the last twelve years you have been responsible for teaching them their prayers, bringing them to Church, giving them the first lessons in right and wrong.
On the day of Confirmation it is time for children to take on the responsibility for their own faith. Before that day a Service of Light is held before the Confirmation ceremony. During this ritual, parents light again the candle that was first lit on the day of their child’s baptism and they then hand that candle to their son or daughter. The ritual symbolises the handing on the responsibility for their faith to the child. However, for parents and godparents it is not the end. Parents still have a great deal to do with the religious upbringing of their children, a responsibility which often remains throughout life. Parents will always pray for their children, and hopefully in a spirit of love and caring offer advice and encouragement from time to time.
Preparation for Confirmation
The first thing will be to fill in the Enrolment Form. This will be handed back at the Enrolment Mass which is normally at a Saturday Evening Mass 7pm in February. This is followed by the Ceremony of Light this will happen in your child’s school during school hours.
Who is present on the day of confirmation?
On the day of Confirmation the school is present with the teachers, the choir, the servers and all the others it takes to celebrate the Sacrament of Confirmation. The teachers that are present have prepared the young people in the last year for the Sacrament of Confirmation.
It is the special function of the school to ‘enable young people, while developing their own personality, to grow at the same time in that new life which has been given to them in baptism’.
Also on the day of Confirmation the Christian Community is present once again.
The community of the particular parish plays its part in the journey of faith of the young people who are about to be confirmed. By virtue of their own Confirmation, the members of the community ‘are more perfectly bound to the Church and are endowed with the special strength of the Holy Spirit. ‘The parish is, without doubt, the most important place in which the Christian community is formed and expressed. It is the place where faith is born and grows’ All who help in the preparation for the day of Confirmation have helped the faith of candidates.
Your family and friends. Your child will also need a sponsor. The sponsor is normally a Parent or God Parent – someone your child admires that will continue to nourish and support them in their faith.
Finally the Clergy are present – the Bishop and the Priests of the parish. The Bishop is the original Minister of Confirmation. The reason for this is to signify an obvious link with the coming of the Holy Spirit on the Apostles at Pentecost. As the leaders of the Church, the bishops are the successors to the Apostles. In certain circumstances the Bishop may delegate the parish priest or another priest as an extraordinary minister of the sacrament, most usually the parish priest of the parish where the sacrament is taking place.
What happens on the day
The ceremony of Confirmation is in four parts: Presentation of the Candidates; Renewal of Baptismal Promises; The Laying on of Hands; Anointing with Chrism.
Presentation of the Candidates
After the Gospel the bishops and the priests take their seats. The parish priest or his delegate will present the candidates for Confirmation. The candidates are asked to stand and present themselves for receipt of the sacrament. This presentation of candidates is also part of the rite of ordination for a priest and bishop. It marks the willingness of the candidates to go forward and receive the sacrament that is about to be conferred on them. They stand up by themselves in marked contrast to the day when they were carried to the Church on the occasion of their baptism.
Renewal of the Baptismal Promises
After a homily by the bishop, the young people are asked to stand to renew the promises made for them at Baptism by their parents and godparents. In Baptism we became children of God, followers of Jesus Christ, and members of the Church. In Confirmation we publicly profess our faith in God our Father and in Jesus Christ who sent us the Spirit to enable us to take part in the life and mission of the Church.
Laying on of Hands
The laying on of hands is the biblical gesture by which the Holy Spirit in invoked. The laying on of hands is used in Confirmation and in other sacraments. In Confirmation it evokes the invisible gift of the Holy Spirit given to us by God. The bishop accompanied by the priests present lay their hands on the children for Confirmation during the prayer:
Anointing with Chrism
The sacramental sign of Confirmation is the anointing with Chrism and the words ‘Be sealed with the gift of the Holy Spirit.’ This anointing is a sign that our whole being has been filled by the power of the Spirit. The oil used for this anointing is Chrism. Chrism is used in the sacraments of Baptism, Confirmation and Holy Orders: the head of the newly-baptised is anointed with chrism, the forehead of the person confirmed, the head and hands of a bishop at his consecration, and the hands of a priest at his ordination. It is used in the consecration of churches, chalices, patens, altars and altar-stones.