The Sacrament of Confirmation
By a signing with the gift of the Spirit, confirmation enriches the baptized with the Holy Spirit, binding them more perfectly to the Church, and strengthening them in their witness to Christ by word and deed and in their work to bring to its fullness the Body of Christ.
Confirmation is one of the sacraments of initiation, along with Baptism and Eucharist. While baptism is the sacrament of rebirth to a new and supernatural life, confirmation is the sacrament of maturity and coming of age. It is conferred by the anointing of Chrism oil and the laying on of hands by the Bishop. The Sacrament of Confirmation draws us into a greater awareness of the Holy Spirit, which we received at Baptism. Through this sacrament, we confirm the presence of the baptismal gifts we have already received; we are sealed with the undeserved and unearned gift of the Holy Spirit.
The Archdiocese of Boston requires a two year preparation program. Typically, this coincides with the 9th and 10th grade (Year I and Year II). However, candidates can begin their preparation in the latter years of high school as well. The program at St. Peter’s is comprised of four areas; liturgical, service, spiritual and educational.
Liturgical: We expect that candidates preparing for this sacrament attend Sunday Eucharist regularly. On certain Sundays candidates and parents and/or sponsors are asked to attend the 5 p.m. Sunday Mass as noted in the Confirmation schedule. We also expect each candidate to attend specific liturgies during Lent and Holy Week as noted in the schedule.
Service: We expect candidates to complete fifteen hours of service per year. Candidates who are performing service as a part of school or social group requirements can most certainly us that service time to satisfy this requirement. Summer months prior to Confirmation may be used to fulfill this requirement. In March, we ask for a one page reflection paper telling us about your service work.
Spiritual: Candidates for Confirmation are expected to grow in prayer. Some consistent form of prayer each day is expected. Attendance is required at the Evening of Reflection retreat for Year I Candidates. Year II candidates are required to attend the Confirmation retreat.
Each candidate preparing for Confirmation must receive the Sacrament of Reconciliation during this preparation time. There will be ample opportunities each Saturday and during the season of Lent and Advent, please see bulletin for dates and times.
Educational: Once a month we will hold class on Sunday evenings. The sessions begin after 5 p.m. Mass, from 6:00 p.m. to 7:15 p.m. Each session begins with a pizza dinner. We ask the candidate’s sponsor or a parent to attend the sessions with the Confirmation candidate.
If the candidate is a student at a Catholic high school, we consider their religion classes as sufficient for the educational requirement in the first year of the program only. These candidates do not need to pay a registration fee for the first year of the program.
For more information about the Confirmation program, please contact Robert Flaherty at 617-547-4235 x16 or send an email to [email protected].
The Catechism of the Catholic Church on Confirmation (1315-1321):
“Now when the apostles at Jerusalem heard that Samaria had received the word of God, they sent to them Peter and John, who came down and prayed for them that they might receive the Holy Spirit; for it had not yet fallen on any of them, but they had only been baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. Then they laid their hands on them and they received the Holy Spirit” (Acts 8:14-17).
Confirmation perfects Baptismal grace; it is the sacrament which gives the Holy Spirit in order to root us more deeply in the divine filiation, incorporate us more firmly into Christ, strengthen our bond with the Church, associate us more closely with her mission, and help us bear witness to the Christian faith in words accompanied by deeds.
Confirmation, like Baptism, imprints a spiritual mark or indelible character on the Christian’s soul; for this reason one can receive this sacrament only once in one’s life.
In the East this sacrament is administered immediately after Baptism and is followed by participation in the Eucharist; this tradition highlights the unity of the three sacraments of Christian initiation. In the Latin Church this sacrament is administered when the age of reason has been reached, and its celebration is ordinarily reserved to the bishop, thus signifying that this sacrament strengthens the ecclesial bond.
A candidate for Confirmation who has attained the age of reason must profess the faith, be in the state of grace, have the intention of receiving the sacrament, and be prepared to assume the role of disciple and witness to Christ, both within the ecclesial community and in temporal affairs.
The essential rite of Confirmation is anointing the forehead of the baptized with sacred chrism (in the East other sense-organs as well), together with the laying on of the minister’s hand and the words: “Accipe signaculum doni Spiritus Sancti” (Be sealed with the Gift of the Holy Spirit) in the Roman rite, or “Signaculum doni Spiritus Sancti “(the seal of the gift of the Holy Spirit) in the Byzantine rite.
When Confirmation is celebrated separately from Baptism, its connection with Baptism is expressed, among other ways, by the renewal of baptismal promises. The celebration of Confirmation during the Eucharist helps underline the unity of the sacraments of Christian initiation.