Confirmation celebrates the coming of the Holy Spirit. In the Acts of the Apostles chapter 2, verses 1 to 13, we read of the Apostles receiving the Holy Spirit. They had been hiding after Jesus’ death, afraid and uncertain. The coming of the Holy Spirit with his gifts inspired them and enabled them to take the step of preaching the good news.
We are made members of God’s family at Baptism. At Confirmation, our Baptism is completed or “sealed” by the Holy Spirit and we are called to be Christian witnesses, just like the apostles. The whole of our Christian living and the life of the Church, too, are sustained by the same Spirit.
Who Can Receive?
Any Baptised person wishing to advance on the path of developing their faith. For young people, this is usually part of the 5th/6th class primary school programme. For adults, it means taking part in the Rite of the Christian Initiation of Adults (R.C.I.A.)
There is a tradition of having a sponsor who stands behind the candidate for Confirmation and places their hand on the shoulder of the candidate as a sign that they will support them in living out their baptismal promises. A person qualifies as a sponsor by being a reasonably mature adult, who is at least 16 years old, and has already received the ‘Sacraments of Initiation’, (Baptism, Confirmation and Eucharist) themselves.The Confirmation sponsor may be one of the people who was a sponsor at Baptism.
The tradition of taking a new name at Confirmation emphasises the new identity of a Christian being called to witness to their faith. People are encouraged to take the name of a saint or a person from the Bible who inspires them in some way.
The oil used is called the Oil of Chrism. It is olive oil mixed with balsam that is blessed by the bishop and priests of the diocese in the Cathedral at the ‘Chrism Mass’ on Holy Thursday. The Sacrament is conferred with the anointing with this ‘Oil of Chrism’ on the forehead as the Bishop says ‘Be sealed with the gifts of the Holy Spirit’.