What We Believe: Part 28 – The Sacrament of Confirmation
The Sacrament of Confirmation follows Baptism as a strengthening by the Holy Spirit. In that sense it is understood as part of the initiation into the Church along with the Sacrament of the Eucharist as spiritual nourishment of the new member. Hence they are as true witnesses of Christ, more strictly obliged to spread ad defend the faith by word and deed. The future of the Church is more likely to be assured in successive generations.
The anointing with oil is a sign of abundance and joy. It cleanses before and after a bath and limbers the muscles and is a sign of healing, since it is soothing to bruises and wounds. The effect is to render the recipient to radiateth beauty, health and strength. Massaging with oil was more in use in the early days of the Church than it is now. (1293).
We can learn about the effects of the sacrament in the prayer recited before the actual anointing by the celebrant.
“All powerful God, Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, by water and the Holy Spirit you freed your sons and daughters from sin and gave them new life. Send your Holy Spirit upon them to be their helper and guide. Give them the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of right judgment and courage, the spirit of knowledge and reverence. Fill them with the spirit of wonder and awe in your presence. ,We ask this through Christ our Lord.”
Then follows the individual anointing with chrism on the forehead with the laying on of the hand accompanied by the words “Be sealed with the Gift of the Holy Spirit.”
It is evident from its celebration that the effect of the armament of Confirmation is the full outpouring of the Holy Spirit as once granted to the apostles on the day of Pentecost. May we be reminded that this sacrament can be received only once in a lifetime. It orients the person in a relationship eith God once and for all.
To receive Confirmation one must be in the state of grace through the sacrament of Reconciliation if necessary. The recipient is also attended by a sponsor who if possible is the same as one’s baptismal godparents. Everyone who has been baptised should be confirmed, even the youngest, and anyone in danger of death. And in such an emergency, any priest can confer the sacrament which is the gift of Christ’s fullness.