THE SACRAMENT OF CONFIRMATION
“From that time on the apostles, in fulfilment of Christ's will, imparted to the newly baptised by the laying on of hands, the gift of the Spirit that completes the grace of Baptism. For this reason in the Letter to the Hebrews, the doctrine concerning Baptism and the laying on of hands is listed among the first elements of Christian instruction. The imposition of hands is rightly recognised by the Catholic tradition as the origin of the sacrament of Confirmation, which in a certain way perpetuates the grace of Pentecost in the Church” (Catechism of the Catholic Church 1288).
The Confirmation programme at our Church is for all young people from year 8 and above in the Parish of Abingdon. The programme consists of a day’s retreat and 12 to 15 sessions, currently on Sunday tea-times in the Abingdon Parish Centre. At present, it starts in September, with a meeting before this in July, with the actual Confirmation taking place around June. There is also a programme of events for parents, which is greatly appreciated. We also aim to offer activities for these young people in the year after their Confirmation, and encourage them to grow in their faith in a variety of ways.
Confirmation compliments baptism by sealing and strengthening the believer to live as a child of God, through the power of the Holy Spirit.
The ordinary minister of the sacrament is a bishop who, through the ‘laying on of hands’ and ‘anointing with chrism oil’ - invokes the presence of the Holy Spirit on the baptised person. In this powerful encounter with God, we experience again the grace of Pentecost when the Holy Spirit descended upon Mary and the Apostles!
When children are baptised as infants, they receive confirmation at a later time. Adults who participate in the ‘Right of Christian Initiation of Adults’ (RCIA) always receive confirmation immediately following baptism by their priest. In the case of a baptism when one is in danger of death any priest has the authority to confer Confirmation following baptism provided that he has the proper oil of chrism available at the time of the baptism. This is the case with both adults and infants.
The sacrament of Confirmation provides an increase and deepening of the grace of Baptism which increase the gifts of the Holy Spirit received in Baptism.
The Catechism provides a clear list of these specific graces in no.1303:
Roots us more deeply in the divine filiation which makes us cry, “Abba! Father!”.
Unites us more firmly to Christ.
Increases the gifts of the Holy Spirit in us.
Renders our bond with the Church more perfect.
Gives us the special strength of the Holy Spirit to spread and defend the faith by word and action as true witnesses of Christ, to confess the name of Christ boldly, and never to be ashamed of the Cross.
“By this power of the Spirit, God’s children can bear much fruit. He who has grafted us onto the true vine will make us bear ‘the fruit of the Spirit: … love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control’” (Gal 5:22-23; CCC 736).
THE SEVEN GIFTS OF THE HOLY SPIRIT
WISDOM helps us recognise the importance of others and the importance of keeping God central in our lives.
UNDERSTANDING is the ability to comprehend the meaning of God's message.
KNOWLEDGE is the ability to think about and explore God's revelation, and also to recognize there are mysteries of faith beyond us.
COUNSEL is the ability to see the best way to follow God's plan when we have choices that relate to him.
FORTITUDE is the courage to do what one knows is right.
PIETY helps us pray to God in true devotion.
FEAR OF THE LORD is the feeling of amazement before God, who is all-present, and whose friendship we do not want to lose.