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The Sacrament of confirmation

13 Mar 2015, by Rev. Fr. Joel Okojie OSA in Sacraments

The sacrament of Confirmation is what many Catholics do not really take very seriously, yet it remained a very important one in the Church. We see this lack of seriousness in the number of adults in the Church that are not confirmed and are not worried about it. This sacrament of confirmation is part of the sacrament of initiation; it brings our initiation into the Church to completion.confirmation1 The Church teaches that “for by the sacrament of confirmation, [the baptized] 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 1285. The sacrament of confirmation is a sacrament through which the baptized are empowered, especially by the Holy Spirit. It is a sacrament on its own yet not separated from the sacrament of baptism because it brings baptism to completion. John the Baptist baptized, yet he admitted that there was to be a baptism of the Holy Spirit (Mk. 1:8). He was talking about the confirmation of his baptism, the incompletion of his baptism that was to be completed by the baptism of the Holy Spirit through Jesus Christ.

When Jesus was baptized in the river Jordan, the Holy Spirit came down and rested on him, confirming his baptism and his Son-ship (Mk. 1:9-11). Paul talked about this confirmation of the Holy Spirit at Ephesus when he met some believers, baptized Christians but not confirmed. confirmation 2Paul asked them, “did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed {baptized}? And they said, no, we have never even heard that there is a Holy Spirit. And he said, into what then were you baptized? They said, into John’s baptism. And Paul said John, Baptized with the baptism of repentance, telling the people to believe in the one who was to come after him, that is, Jesus. On hearing this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. And when Paul had laid his hands upon them, the Holy Spirit came on them; and they spoke with tongues and prophesied. There were about twelve of them in all” (Acts. 19:1-7). The Holy Spirit confirmed Their baptism.

Peter was speaking to some unbelievers, and as they listened to him, God in his mercy sent the Holy Spirit upon them, and they were immediately baptized with water (Act. 10: 44:48). Though in this case, the Holy Spirit came first by God’s mercy, the baptism of the Holy Spirit and water are still linked.

The outpouring of the Holy Spirit is a fulfillment of the promise of Jesus Christ to send an advocate and “from that time on, the apostles, in fulfillment of Christ’s will, imparted to the newly baptized by the laying on of hands the gift of the Spirit that completes the grace of baptism…” CCC 1288.

The sacraments of Baptism and Confirmation were at a point in the Church’s history celebrated together by the bishop, but with time and the growing number of the Church, they were celebrated separately. Though, when adults are baptized, they are confirmed immediately and receive the Holy communion as well. That is the fullness of the sacrament of initiation (Baptism, Confirmation, and the Holy Eucharist).

In the celebration of this sacrament in the Roman Rite, the high point is the invocation of the Holy Spirit and the anointing of the foreheads of the candidates with Chrism (Oil blessed by the bishop). So, the sacrament of Confirmation in the Catholic Church is a sacrament of empowerment by the Holy Spirit that completes water baptism. If you are a catholic and not confirmed, please, be confirmed.

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