CONFIRMATION IS THE PERFECTION OF BAPTISM
Confirmation is usually received as a teenager, several years after the First Communion, usually in Std XI. This is the second Sacrament of Initiation and is the perfection of Baptism, because, as the introduction to the Rite of Confirmation states: "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."
THE MINISTER OF THE SACRAMENT OF CONFIRMATION IS THE BISHOP
The first Confirmation took place at Pentecost when the Holy Spirit descended on the Apostles. The Acts of the Apostles mentions the apostles imparting the Holy Spirit to believers by the laying on of hands (Acts 8:15-17 and 19:6). Thus, as successors of the Apostles the Bishops in the Church minister the Sacrament to the faithful.
All those who have been baptized are eligible to be confirmed. A confirmand must be in a state of grace. If the sacrament is not received immediately after Baptism, the confirmand must participate in the Sacrament of Confession before Confirmation.
THE FORM OF THE SACRAMENT OF CONFIRMATION
The laying on of hands, which signifies the descent of the Holy Spirit, is the central act in the Sacrament. The essential element, however, is the anointing of the confirmand with chrism (an aromatic oil that has been consecrated by a bishop), accompanied by the words "Be sealed with the Gift of the Holy Spirit". This seal is a consecration, representing the safeguarding by the Holy Spirit of the graces conferred at Baptism.
THE EFFECTS OF THE SACRAMENT OF CONFIRMATION
The Sacrament confers special graces of the Holy Spirit upon the confirmand, similar to the graces granted to the Apostles on Pentecost. Like Baptism, it can only be performed once. Confirmation increases and deepens all the graces granted at Baptism.
The Catechism of the Catholic Church lists five effects of Confirmation:
It roots us more deeply as sons of God which makes us cry, "Abba! Father!";
It unites us more firmly to Christ;
It increases the gifts of the Holy Spirit in us viz. wisdom, understanding, counsel, fortitude or courage, knowledge, piety and fear of the Lord as well as the fruits of the Holy Spirit: charity or love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, modesty, faith, chastity, gentleness;
It perfects our bond with the Church;
It 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.
Since Confirmation perfects our baptism, we are obliged to receive it sometime in life. Any Catholic who did not receive Confirmation as part of his religious education during grade school or high school should contact a priest and arrange to receive the Sacrament of Confirmation.
The Rite of Initiation brings the confirmand, parents and the parish together, in the Church, in a covenant / promise where each do their part to help the candidate reach his goal - Confirmation. During this rite the candidate's name is called out and together with his / her parents approaches the altar where the parents bless him / her with holy oil and renew the Baptismal vows. To help the candidate prayer guardians or sponsors are chosen from the various Small Christian Communities to pray for the Confirmandi from their respective communities and to guide them. Besides the Rite of Enrolment, there are two other occasions when the entire community comes together to pray with the confirmand.
These occasions are:
(i) The Our Father - the perfect prayer taught to us by Jesus himself
(ii) The Creed - professing the belief of the Church and given to us by the Apostles.
To help the candidates in their journey towards receiving the Sacrament of Confirmation prayer services viz. the Our Father and the Creed, will be held within the different Small Christian Communities. The prayer services will be arranged by the animators at a suitable time and place when the confirmand accompanied by parents will be present. Attendance at these prayer services is compulsory and important.
Another important requirement is to receive the Sacrament of Reconciliation. This could be in the form of a dialogue with the confessor or priest. During this meeting with the priest the candidate, besides confessing his sins, also discusses with the priest various issues of life, especially those that affect him / her.
Whilst undergoing instructions for receiving the Sacrament, the confirmandi undergoes a Day of Recollection or a one day retreat. This Day of Recollection helps the candidates to understand and experience the various ways in which the Holy Spirit helps them and guides them through life. This day of recollection or retreat is held at the beginning of their training and before receiving the Sacrament. It helps the candidate to know him / her self better and to have a better communication with God.
Saints have always played an important role in the Catholic Church and have influenced and guided many persons, some of whom have, in turn, also become saints. Confirmandi are asked to choose a particular saint whom they would like to have as their role model and ask for their intercession with God during their life time. Give a report on the life of the saint so chosen.
Service was a part of Jesus' life, and He stressed this point very explicitly on Maundy Thursday when He instructed the Apostles, after washing their feet, "As I have done, so you must do". In the life of the Catholic service to others, in various forms, plays a very important part. Therefore, during formation our confirmand is trained to be of service to the Parish, Neighbourhood Youth Group, Small Christian Communities, and various Associations like Legion of Mary, SVP, and others. The candidates are encouraged to render some service within the parish and community. There are various ways in which this service can be done. To mention a few:
Ushering and helping at Sunday collections
Cleaning and decorating the church and altar
Taking part in the liturgy through the choir and as lectors
Contributing to the parish newsletter/bulletin
Visiting homes for the aged, orphanages, etc.
Helping in the Centre for Community Organization and reaching out to the homeless and those below the poverty line
Participating and attending programmes organized by the Parish Youth, Parish Council, Small Christian Communities
There is a written test conducted by the catechists to assess the confirmand's understanding of their knowledge of the basic principles of the Catholic Faith. Children have to clear the test to be eligible to receive the Sacrament. Children with special needs will be given special consideration.
Primary importance for a child's religious formation is the parents' good example. It is recommended that the family should attend Sunday Mass together as far as possible. Other contributory factors in the child's religious formation are praying together as a family, reading the Bible with the child, blessing the child every day, and the like.
There will be a rehearsal before the Confirmation when the candidates will be acquainted with the rituals performed during the actual ceremony. During the Mass the Sacrament is conferred on the candidate through the "Laying On of Hands" and Anointing with sacred chrism / holy oil by the bishop. During the Mass the Parish Priest will call and present the candidates to the Bishop, following a recommendation from the Director of the Confirmation Programme. It is through these rites that the gifts of the Holy Spirit are imparted to them.
No photography will be allowed during the service. Individual photographers will be allowed before and after the mass. Similarly, videography is not allowed, unless it can be done from a seated position in the person's assigned pew.
The dress should not be strapless, sleeveless or short. It should also not be very showy as for a fashion parade. Here a word for our female parishioners. At all times while in church and especially at Mass strapless, spaghetti straps, very fitting, sleeveless or very short dresses are not to be worn. These are signs of disrespect in the House of God. If required a shawl or other covering / garment maybe worn as long as one is in the church. These requirements regarding dress are to be observed by both male and female members of the family and guests of the Confirmand. Sports shoes should not be used during the Confirmation ceremony.
Confirmation is usually received as a teenager, several years after the First Communion, usually in Std XI.
Candidate for Confirmation or confirmand is required to willingly express his desire to receive the Sacrament, attend and participate in the Rite of Enrolment either through a letter or in the prescribed format of the parish.
Attendance at 8.30 a.m. Mass and classes for the candidates is compulsory.
Failure to meet the attendance, the Rites, Community Service, Faith formation, and Mass requirements will result in their being non-eligible to receive the Sacrament.