The Sacrament of Confirmation was instituted by Jesus on Pentecost Sunday when He sent the Holy Spirit, as He promised upon the Apostles gathered in the Upper Room in Jerusalem. (Acts 2: 1-42).
‘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.
For ‘by the sacrament of Confirmation, (the baptised) 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.’ (CCC 1326)
In this Sacrament which the Bishop confers we:
· Are sealed with the gift of the Holy Spirit
· Receive the Seven Gifts of the Holy Spirit: Wisdom, Understanding, Knowledge, Counsel, Fortitude, Piety and Fear of the Lord
· Are made soldiers of Christ to defend the Faith
· Are made witnesses to spread the Good News to all the earth.
Traditionally when one reaches the age of 13 or 14 (Year 9 or above at Secondary School) one enrolls on a Catechesis course, after which they will be able to make a more informed decision whether they wish to confirm their faith. In the Latin rite of the Church, Confirmation is received after reaching the age of reason when a person is able to renew his/her Baptismal vows in order to illustrate that Confirmation is a completion of our Baptism. Receiving this sacrament should not be taken lightly. Baptism and Confirmation happen only once in our lives and it is a very sacred moment. The Confirmation candidate makes a public confirmation to God through the Bishop of the acceptance of these promises and all the implications of following Christ. A candidate for Confirmation must be prepared well for the Sacrament and given every opportunity to review these promises and the Church’s teachings and freely proclaim to God that they accept them as their own.
When one is confirmed one chooses a sponsor who can support the candidate in their faith (the sponsor is a confirmed Catholic). The candidate also chooses a confirmation name derived from a Christian role model (a Saint).
Here at St James’ the Confirmation programme normally begins in Febuary. The first half of the programme concentrates on the Baptismal promises. The second half of the preparation course is designed to equip the candidates to witness to Christ in a world in which their Catholic faith will be constantly challenged.
In general it is observed that the first victims of the spiritual and cultural crisis gripping the world are the young (General Directory for Catechesis 181).
Sessions are held on Monday evenings; each catechetical session includes prayer, catechesis and social time. The programme includes a service project, which is an act of charity. The service projects are organised by the parish but candidates are encouraged to organise their own projects.
Those who have received instruction and are suitably prepared receive Confirmation and are thus considered responsible and committed members of the Church. They are expected to be active in Church ministries and Parish programmes.
Parents, as the primary educators of their children, also have their part to play. They are expected and encouraged to attend the parent’s sessions during the year. This involvement of the parents’ in the catechesis, and in witnessing to the place of the sacraments in the life of Catholics, is regarded as a critically important element in the parish-based preparation for Confirmation.
Confirmation is celebrated in June and the young people are their families are encouraged to fully participate in the planning and celebration of the sacrament.
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