As somewhat of a misunderstood sacrament, Confirmation is often viewed in one of two ways: At best, Confirmation is seen as something we do ourselves—a public proclamation of our belief in Christ and His Church. At worst, it’s seen as a final “graduation” from Church Catechesis classes, a nice ceremony in which we’re given Chrism instead of a diploma.
But Confirmation is much more than that. As Pope Francis recently tweeted:
Confirmation is important for Christians; it strengthens us to defend the faith and to spread the Gospel courageously.
— Pope Francis (@Pontifex) February 21, 2014
When we study the Sacraments, we learn that Confirmation is a sort of “stirring up” of the gifts of the Holy Spirit we were given in Baptism. In fact, Confirmation is linked so closely with Baptism that originally (and still today in certain rites of Catholicism), infants received the Sacrament of Confirmation immediately after they were baptized. This is not so today only because of the happy problem that there are simply too many baptisms for the bishop (the proper minister of Confirmation) to attend.
Today, preparation for the Sacrament of Confirmation has become essentially the parish’s last-ditch effort to instill in teens and young adults the truth, beauty, and goodness of the Catholic faith. And it’s important that we make this effort in our parishes, because too many of our brothers and sisters are falling away.
But I think the Pope’s recent tweet is a good reminder for all of us that Confirmation isn’t something we do ourselves. Like all of the Sacraments, Confirmation is a grace we’re given. And, much like baptism, it gives us graces that we need in order to carry out our universal call as Christians. As Our Holy Father says, Confirmation gives us strength “to defend the faith and to spread the Gospel courageously.”
So maybe you missed your chance to get confirmed in high school. You missed too many classes…Church wasn’t a priority to you at the time…you wanted to wait until you were “more mature” in your faith, etc. Well guess what?! Confirmation is what will give you the graces to build and grow in that mature faith! While it’s admirable to want to avoid committing sacrilege by receiving a Sacrament you don’t believe in, if your reason for avoiding Confirmation is simply because you are not yet bold, or confident enough in your faith, then you should know that Confirmation is what will actually give you the graces to have that boldness and that confidence!
If you’re reading this and thinking, “well my confirmation must not have taken, because I don’t feel any of that strength, courage, or boldness that Mary and the Pope are talking about,” rest assured that you didn’t receive a “faulty” sacrament. You just need to “tap into” the graces you were most definitely given at your Confirmation. We all do.
Do you know what we were given in Baptism and Confirmation? Everything that God the Father has:
…When he comes, the Spirit of truth, he will guide you to all truth. He will not speak on his own, but he will speak what he hears, and will declare to you the things that are coming. He will glorify me, because he will take from what is mine and declare it to you. Everything that the Father has is mine; for this reason I told you that he will take from what is mine and declare it to you. (John 16:13-15)
Confirmation is important, because God wants to shower us with His gifts. So for the confirmed among us, let’s not be so insecure in our faith in the Spirit we were given at Baptism and Confirmation. Let’s not be so foolish as to let the gifts God has given us remain locked up in the shackles of our sins.
Come Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of your faithful and kindle in them the fire of your love. Send forth your Spirit and they shall be created. And You shall renew the face of the earth.
O, God, who by the light of the Holy Spirit, did instruct the hearts of the faithful, grant that by the same Holy Spirit we may be truly wise and ever enjoy His consolations, Through Christ Our Lord, Amen.