Confirmation is one of the least understood sacraments of the Church. The best way to understand Confirmation is to look at Baptism. Originally the three Sacraments of Initiation -- Baptism, Confirmation and Eucharist (in that order) -- were conferred by the Bishop at the Easter Vigil. They formed one rite. Most persons entering the Christian community were adults during the first three centuries of the Church. They were cleansed in the water of Baptism, empowered by the Spirit and celebrated at the Eucharistic table with the community.
By the Fourth Century infant Baptism was the norm and the Latin Rite Church separated the three sacraments. Priests baptized, but bishops confirmed and there was often a delay before Confirmation could take place. The Eastern Rites of the Catholic Church still maintain the unity of the three sacraments to this day and all are conferred on an infant at one time.
In the twentieth century, Pope Pius X broke the original sequence by introducing the practice of children receiving the Eucharist at age seven.
Sacraments are often seen as a personal interaction with God. We must not forget that they are also a celebration of the community. “The sacrament of Confirmation is not and ‘on-demand’ appearance of the Holy Spirit separated from the other activities of the Spirit in people’s lives,” according to the Archdiocesan directives on Confirmation.
It is the sacrament that confirms the action of God at Baptism. It is the “completion” of Baptism, the time to incorporate the candidate into the Eucharistic community – a community that should involve itself in the formation of these candidates.
When we prepare our young people for Confirmation we need
to do the following as a community:
1. Offer instruction in the Sacraments of Initiation, the mission and ministry of the Church;
2. Help a person reflect on his or her relationship with God and the Christian community;
3. Provide opportunities for continued growth through prayer and the liturgy of the Church;
4. Help them understand the call to service and participation.
When we celebrate the sacrament itself, the focus is not on the candidates, but on
Confirmation is the celebration of a rite that symbolically expresses a process that is already going on in the community.