Along with Baptism and Holy Communion, the sacrament of Confirmation is one of the three initiation sacraments of the Catholic Church. This special anointing, given by the bishop or priest during the ceremony, pours into our soul the power of the Holy Spirit. To receive it, we have to be spiritually prepared. Let’s learn 5 basic facts about the sacrament of Confirmation that may increase our understanding of its profound and sacred meaning.
1. The relationship with Baptism
There is a close relationship between the sacraments of Baptism and the Confirmation. We might reasonably say, in fact, that Confirmation is an extension of Baptism, as it perfects the privileges gained by the latter sacrament. Just as Baptism removes the stain of original sin, Confirmation pours into our soul the power of the Holy Spirit. This brings us closer to Christ and prepares us to face the challenges of Christian life.
2. The power of Chrism
Chrism: this is the name of the perfumed oil used by the priest to trace the sign of the cross on our forehead. The holy oil is the main symbol of Confirmation and has several important meanings -- it shows the connection to Baptism, during which the priest uses another kind of holy oil, the oil of catechumens and it is a powerful instrument of healing and cleansing, too. In the end, it symbolically prepares us to spiritual battles against the Devil.
3. The Ceremony
As we may see in any Confirmation’s depiction, the essential part of the Confirmation rite is the following: the bishop or priest places his hand upon the person’s head, then anoints the forehead of the confirmand with Chrism, tracing the sign of the cross as he announces the formula: “Be sealed with the Gifts of the Holy Spirit”. According to St. Thomas Aquinas, having the Chrism on the forehead is a way to proclaim our faith and commitment to Jesus.
4. The 7 Gifts of Holy Spirit
The ceremony recalls the descent of the Holy Spirit that took place at Pentecost and marks the bestowal of 7 gifts of the Holy Spirit, which are the following:
VII. Fear of the Lord.
These are virtues and moral qualities that we cannot do without as Christians, and as human beings too.
5. The Mission
Typically, the sacrament of Confirmation falls in the early adolescence. At this age, a child begins to assume the responsibilities of adulthood and progressively learns to play an active role in the family and in the Christian community, too. That's why Confirmation can be termed a “spiritual growing up.”