Alan Pierce wrote:

Hi, guys —

What is Confirmation and what is Confirmation class?


  { What is Confirmation and what is Confirmation class? }

Mike replied:

Hi Alan,

Thanks for the question.

Our Lord before he ascended into Heaven instituted seven sacraments within the Church for the Apostles/Bishops to administer.

Three of them are referred to as the sacraments of initiation:

  • Baptism
  • Eucharist and
  • Confirmation.

This is what the Catechism states about these sacraments:

1212 The sacraments of Christian Initiation — Baptism, Confirmation, and the Eucharist — lay the foundations of every Christian life.

"The sharing in the divine nature given to men through the grace of Christ bears a certain likeness to the origin, development, and nourishing of natural life. The faithful are born anew by Baptism, strengthened by the sacrament of Confirmation, and receive in the Eucharist the food of eternal life. By means of these sacraments of Christian initiation, they thus receive in increasing measure the treasures of the divine life and advance toward the perfection of charity."

Paul VI, Apostolic Constitution, Divinae Consortium Naturae: Acta Apostolicae Sedis 63 (1971) 657; cf. RCIA Introduction 1-2.

Your specific question is address in these paragraphs:

The Sacrament of Confirmation

1285 Baptism, the Eucharist, and the sacrament of Confirmation together constitute the "sacraments of Christian initiation," whose unity must be safeguarded. It must be explained to the faithful that the reception of the sacrament of Confirmation is necessary for the completion of baptismal grace. (cf. Roman Ritual, Rite of Confirmation (OC), Introduction 1.) For

"by the sacrament of 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."

(Vatican II, Lumen Gentium 11; cf. Ordo Confirmarionis, Introduction 2.)

I. Confirmation in the Economy of Salvation

1286 In the Old Testament the prophets announced that the Spirit of the Lord would rest on the hoped-for Messiah for his saving mission. (cf. Isaiah 11:2; 61:1; Luke 4:16-22) The descent of the Holy Spirit on Jesus at his baptism by John was the sign that this was he who was to come, the Messiah, the Son of God. (cf. Matthew 3:13-17; John 1:33-34) He was conceived of the Holy Spirit; his whole life and his whole mission are carried out in total communion with the Holy Spirit whom the Father gives him without measure. (John 3:34)

1287 This fullness of the Spirit was not to remain uniquely the Messiah's, but was to be communicated to the whole messianic people. (cf. Ezekiel 36:25-27; Joel 3:1-2) On several occasions Christ promised this outpouring of the Spirit, (cf. Luke 12:12; John 3:5-8; 7:37-39; 16:7-15; Acts 1:8) a promise which he fulfilled first on Easter Sunday and then more strikingly at Pentecost. (cf. John 20:22; Acts 2:1-14) Filled with the Holy Spirit the apostles began to proclaim the mighty works of God, and Peter declared this outpouring of the Spirit to be the sign of the messianic age. (Acts 2:11; cf. 2:17-18) Those who believed in the apostolic preaching and were baptized received the gift of the Holy Spirit in their turn. (cf. Acts 2:38)

1288 "From that time on the apostles, in fulfillment of Christ's will, imparted to the newly baptized 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 recognized 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."

(Paul VI, Divinae Consortium Naturae, 659; cf. Acts 8:15-17; 19:5-6; Hebrews 6:2)

1289 Very early, the better to signify the gift of the Holy Spirit, an anointing with perfumed oil (chrism) was added to the laying on of hands. This anointing highlights the name "Christian," which means anointed and derives from that of Christ himself whom God anointed with the Holy Spirit. (Acts 10:38) This rite of anointing has continued ever since, in both East and West. For this reason the Eastern Churches call this sacrament Chrismation, anointing with chrism, or myron which means chrism. In the West, the term Confirmation suggests that this sacrament both confirms and strengthens baptismal grace.

Two traditions: East and West

1290 In the first centuries Confirmation generally comprised one single celebration with Baptism, forming with it a double sacrament, according to the expression of St. Cyprian. Among other reasons, the multiplication of infant baptisms all through the year, the increase of rural parishes, and the growth of dioceses often prevented the bishop from being present at all baptismal celebrations. In the West the desire to reserve the completion of Baptism to the bishop caused the temporal separation of the two sacraments. The East has kept them united, so that Confirmation is conferred by the priest who baptizes. But he can do so only with the "myron" consecrated by a bishop. (cf. Corpus Canonum Ecclesiarum Orientalium, Canon 695 § 1; 696 § 1)

1291 A custom of the Roman Church facilitated the development of the Western practice: a double anointing with sacred chrism after Baptism. The first anointing of the neophyte on coming out of the baptismal bath was performed by the priest; it was completed by a second anointing on the forehead of the newly baptized by the bishop. (cf. St. Hippolytus, Trad. Ap. 21: SCh 11,80-95) The first anointing with sacred chrism, by the priest, has remained attached to the baptismal rite; it signifies the participation of the one baptized in the prophetic, priestly, and kingly offices of Christ. If Baptism is conferred on an adult, there is only one post-baptismal anointing, that of Confirmation.

1292 The practice of the Eastern Churches gives greater emphasis to the unity of Christian initiation. That of the Latin Church more clearly expresses the communion of the new Christian with the bishop as guarantor and servant of the unity, catholicity and apostolicity of his Church, and hence the connection with the apostolic origins of Christ's Church.

Confirmation class explains and elaborates on this sacrament to the those who are preparing to receive it so they are well-informed on the sacrament and the responsibilities that go with it.

As in Baptism, those who are confirmed usually have sponsors to assist them in being a good Catholic witness.

Hope this answers your question.

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