In Ireland, Confirmation is most typically celebrated when a child is in Sixth Class OF Primary School. Parents, caring for the spiritual welfare of their children, typically present their children for Baptism as infants. When the child is old enough to decide, together with their parents, to live as Christians, they ask the bishop to receive the Sacrament of Confirmation. In being ‘confirmed’, they are asking the Lord to enrich them with the grace of the sacrament and to give them the seven gifts of the Holy Spirit.
What are the symbols of the Holy Spirit?
The symbols of the Holy Spirit are typically seen as wind, breath and fire.
What are the seven gifts of the Holy Spirit?
The gifts of the Holy Spirit are:
- Right Judgement
- Wonder and Awe in God’s Presence.
What are the fruits of the Holy Spirit?
The fruits of the Holy Spirit are:
- Self Control
Read more on the signs, gifts and fruits of the Holy Spirit here.
More information on the Sacrament
The Catechism of the Catholic Church and its shorter Compendium are a great starting point for further study.
Baptism, Confirmation and the Eucharist constitute the “sacraments of Christian initiation”. 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. [cf. Catechism of the Catholic Church, 1285].
Some questions and answers from The Compendium of the Catechism of the Catholic Church:
What place does Confirmation have in the divine plan of salvation?
In the Old Testament the prophets announced that the Spirit of the Lord would rest on the awaited Messiah and on the entire messianic people. The whole life and mission of Jesus were carried out in total communion with the Holy Spirit. The apostles received the Holy Spirit at Pentecost and proclaimed “the great works of God” (Acts 2:11). They gave the gift of the same Spirit to the newly baptized by the laying on of hands. Down through the centuries, the Church has continued to live by the Spirit and to impart him to her children.
Why is this sacrament called Chrismation or Confirmation?
It is called Chrismation (in the Eastern Churches: Anointing with holy myron or chrism) because the essential rite of the sacrament is anointing with chrism. It is called Confirmation because it confirms and strengthens baptismal grace.
What is the essential rite of Confirmation?
The essential rite of Confirmation is the anointing with Sacred Chrism (oil mixed with balsam and consecrated by the bishop), which is done by the laying on of the hand of the minister who pronounces the sacramental words proper to the rite. In the West this anointing is done on the forehead of the baptized with the words, “Be sealed with the gift of the Holy Spirit”. In the Eastern Churches of the Byzantine rite this anointing is also done on other parts of the body with the words, “The seal of the gift of the Holy Spirit”.
What is the effect of Confirmation?
The effect of Confirmation is a special outpouring of the Holy Spirit like that of Pentecost. This outpouring impresses on the soul an indelible character and produces a growth in the grace of Baptism. It roots the recipient more deeply in divine sonship, binds him more firmly to Christ and to the Church and reinvigorates the gifts of the Holy Spirit in his soul. It gives a special strength to witness to the Christian faith.
Who can receive this sacrament?
Only those already baptized can and should receive this sacrament which can be received only once. To receive Confirmation efficaciously the candidate must be in the state of grace.
Who is the minister of Confirmation?
The original minister of Confirmation is the bishop. In this way the link between the confirmed and the Church in her apostolic dimension is made manifest. When a priest confers this sacrament, as ordinarily happens in the East and in special cases in the West, the link with the bishop and with the Church is expressed by the priest who is the collaborator of the bishop and by the Sacred Chrism, consecrated by the bishop himself.