The Sacrament of Confirmation is one of the three sacraments of initiation into the Catholic Church (together with Baptism and Holy Communion). Confirmation is the sacrament by which Catholics receive a special outpouring of the Holy Spirit. Through Confirmation, the Holy Spirit gives an individual the increased ability to practice their Catholic faith in every aspect of their lives and to witness Christ in every situation. In the Sacrament of Confirmation, the baptized person is “sealed with the gift of the Holy Spirit” and is strengthened for service to the Body of Christ.
The Sacrament of Confirmation completes the Sacrament of Baptism. If baptism is the sacrament of re-birth to a new and supernatural life, Confirmation is the sacrament of maturity and coming of age. This confirmation in the power of the Holy Spirit leading to a firm profession of faith has always been the particular effect which Catholic tradition has ascribed to the sacrament.
Confirmation is administered by laying-on of hands and anointing with chrism accompanied by prayer. The chrism is blessed by the bishop and the bishop administers the sacrament. All baptized persons can and should be confirmed. The effect of the sacrament of confirmation is to give strength in faith and for the confession of faith and to impress an indelible character. This special anointing given by the bishop has the effect of increasing, deepening, and strengthening the sanctifying grace of God given to us at our baptism; while baptism removes from our souls the stain of original sin, Confirmation pours into our souls the power of the Holy Spirit and his seven gifts – just like the Apostles received at Pentecost. Confirmation is, therefore, the sacrament most closely identified with the special outpouring of the Holy Spirit.
If baptism is like a seed of Divine life in the soul, then Confirmation makes that seed come to full bloom. According to the Catechism of the Catholic Church (1303) below are the five real spiritual effects that happen to Christians through the anointing of the Sacrament of Confirmation.
- Roots us more deeply in the divine filiation.
- Unites us more firmly to Jesus Christ.
- Increases the gifts of the Holy Spirit in us.
- Renders our bond with the Church [the Body of Christ] more perfect.
- Gives us a special strength of the Holy Spirit to spread and defend the faith by word and action as true witnesses of Christ, to confess the name of Christ boldly, and never to be ashamed of the Cross.