Confirmation perfects Baptismal grace; it is the sacrament which gives the Holy Spirit in order to root us more deeply in the divine filiation, incorporate us more firmly into Christ, strengthen our bond with the Church, associate us more closely with her mission, and help us bear witness to the Christian faith in words accompanied by deeds.
Catechism of the Catholic Church, 1316
In the Diocese of Westminster the celebration of the sacrament of confirmation generally occurs in adolescence, completing the sacraments of initiation for our young people. The challenge is to help our young people to recognise and to fruitfully draw on the gifts of the Holy Spirit as they grow into adult Christians.
The current standard age for Confirmation in our Diocese is 13 years of age or older. Candidates will be expected to take part in a preparation course organised by the parish and be willing to commit themselves to being an active and very important part of the Church’s life.
Please note that it is never too late to be confirmed, so if you missed out as a teenager, you could still be confirmed as an adult. Please speak to Father about the opportunities that exist.
What is Confirmation?
First, what is Confirmation? What does Confirmation do? Confirmation:
- indelibly seals us to the Holy Spirit, hence its name, “Sacrament of the Seal.” Because this seal is indelible and leaves a permanent mark on the recipient’s soul, the Sacrament, like Baptism and Holy Orders, may be received only once.
- gives us the sanctifying grace to become perfect Christians and true soldiers of Christ, well-armed to defend Christ as King, His Mother as Queen, and the Church Militant as His Kingdom on earth. God confirms us (strengthens us) so we may do spiritual battle.
- imparts to us the 7 Gifts of the Holy Spirit, as in a “personal Pentecost”:
- Fear of the Lord
The Sacrament may only be received by one who is baptised, preferably while he is in a state of grace (i.e., not in a state of mortal sin). If it is received when the recipient is not in a state of grace, it is illicitly but still validly received; the fruits of the Sacrament will be delayed until he receives Penance.
The ordinary minister of Confirmation is the Bishop; priests are extraordinary ministers of the Sacrament and may offer the Sacrament if the Bishop authorises them to.
As in Baptism, a sponsor is chosen to stand for the confirmand. The sponsor should be a baptised and confirmed Catholic who is at least 16 years old, is of the same sex as the confirmand, and is well-instructed in the Faith. The Code of Canon Law recommends that the godparent should act as sponsor at Confirmation if at all possible in order to better tie Baptism and Confirmation together.
In any case, just as Abram became Abraham, as Jacob became Israel, as Simon became Peter, and as Saul became Paul, the confirmand takes on the name of a Saint when he is sealed to the Holy Ghost. This isn’t necessary for the sake of validity, but it is the traditional practice of the Church. Read the lives of the Saints and choose your patron well!
If one is raised a Catholic, one is usually confirmed around the age of 13 or so, though Confirmation may come earlier or later at the discretion of the priest and Bishop. If a child attends a Catholic school, he may be confirmed along with classmates in preparation for First Communion together as a class. If one enters the Church as an adult, he is usually baptised (if necessary), confirmed, and offered their First Communion all at the same time (usually at the Easter Vigil), but Confirmation may take place outside of the Easter Vigil, at the discretion of the Bishop and the priest.
If you would like to find out more about being confirmed, please speak to Father after Mass or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org