The Meaning of Confirmation, A Super Simple Introduction

As the old Baltimore Catechism put it the meaning of Confirmation is that we receive the Holy Ghost to make us strong and perfect Christians and soldiers of Jesus Christ. The Sacrament of Confirmation is united to that of Baptism. In that, it completes the baptismal graces. In Confirmation, [the baptized] are more perfectly bound to the Church and are enriched with a special strength of the Holy Spirit. Hence they are, as true witnesses of Christ, more strictly obliged to spread and defend the faith by word and deed (C.C.C. 1285). Together with the Eucharist and Baptism, it completes the Sacraments of Initiation.

Meaning of Confirmation
The Sacrament of Confirmation, DUMONT, Jacques, Oil on canvas, 113 x 144 cm, Private collection

The Meaning of Confirmation, Particular Grace of the Sacrament

You receive the following graces in Confirmation (cf. CCC 1302 – 1305, 1316):

  1. An increase and deepening of baptismal graces.
    1. Particularly, the seven gifts of the Holy Spirit: Wisdom, Knowledge, Understanding, Counsel, Piety, Fortitude, and Fear of the Lord.
      1. Wisdom: The gift that enables us to see the world from God’s viewpoint, which can help us come to grasp the purpose and plan of God.
      2. Knowledge: The gift that directs us to contemplation or thoughtful reflection on the mystery of God – Father, Son, and Holy Spirit – as well as of the mysteries of the Catholic faith.
      3. Understanding: The gift that stimulates us to work on knowing ourselves as part of our growth in knowing God.
      4. Counsel: The gift that helps us sense the quiet teaching that the Holy Spirit gives us about our moral lives and the training of our consciences.
      5. Piety: The gift that leads us to reverence and devotion toward God. The Holy Spirit gives us this gift in the Mass and through popular devotions and piety.
      6. Fortitude: The gift that gives us the strength to stand up for Christ and the Gospel when challenged.
      7. Fear of the Lord: The gift that ensures wonder and awe before the majesty of God. It also imparts an attitude of grateful awe that God loves us and that we can share in His divine life.
  2. It roots the confirmand (person being confirmed) more deeply in his relationship with God the Father.
  3. It deepens one’s relationship with Christ.
  4. Strengthens one’s bond with the Church
  5. It gives you the strength of the Holy Spirit to spread and defend the faith by word and action, and as a witness of Christ to confess His name boldly, and never to be ashamed of the Cross.
  6. It confers an indelible character on the soul of the confirmand.

The Meaning of Confirmation, Where is it found in the Sacred Scriptures

There is a well-developed scriptural basis for the Sacrament of Confirmation. For example, the Lord himself promised on multiple occasions to send the Holy Spirit upon His disciples, powerfully fulfilled after the Resurrection and then on Pentecost. In the Acts of the Apostles, we hear the story of Peter and John being sent to the people of * Samaria had accepted the word of God.* Once there, they prayed for them and laid hands on them and they received the Holy Spirit (Acts 8:14-17). The Apostles were following the command of the Lord to perform the imposition of hands, with which the dispensation of grace (reception of the Holy Spirit) was connected.

Meaning of Confirmation 1
The Holy Spirit Window, St Peter’s Basilica, Rome

The Meaning of Confirmation, The Rite

Essentially, the act of Confirmation consists of the bishop or priest with the proper faculties (permission) placing his right hand on the head of the candidate. While doing so, he traces the sign of the cross with his thumb—having dipped it in the holy chrism (oil consecrated during Holy Week) – saying: “Be sealed with the Gifts of the Holy Spirit.” The person being confirmed responds, “Amen.”

Chrism is one of the three kinds of holy oil which a bishop blesses each year at his Mass on Holy Thursday. The others are the Oil of the Sick (used for Anointing of the Sick) and the Oil of Catechumens (used for Baptism).

Besides the unique blessing each holy oil receives, the chrism is mixed with balm. Taken from the balsam tree, it is a fragrant substance. In chrism it is meant to symbolize the “sweet odor” of virtue that should characterize the life of the newly confirmed.

If you found this super simple guide to the meaning of Confirmation helpful, check out our article on the 7 Sacrements for an introduction to the other Sacraments.

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