Confirmation is also called Christmation because the essential action in this sacrament is anointing of the forehead with Chrism (special oil mixed with balsam and consecrated by the Bishop) together with the ancient symbol of the ‘laying on of hands’. This sacrament continues initiation into the Church, building on what was begun at baptism.
Confirmation is a special outpouring of the Holy Spirit like that of Pentecost. This outpouring changes a person permanently and so, like baptism, can never be repeated or taken away. Confirmation roots the Christian more deeply in Jesus’ divine Sonship, binds him or her more firmly to Jesus and the Church, and reinvigorates the gifts of the Holy Spirit. It gives special strength to bear witness to the Christian faith.
In order to receive this sacrament, the candidate must renew the promises made at his or her baptism. While most people are baptised as infants and so the baptism promises were made by parents and God parents on their behalf, most people in the Latin Rite of the Catholic Church are adolescents or adults for Confirmation and so renew these promises in their own voice.
Who can be Confirmed?
Any baptised person can be admitted for Confirmation preparation. Generally in the Diocese of Bathurst, candidates for Confirmation will have already celebrated their First Holy Communion and should be in at least Year 6 at school. Year 5 students who are judged ready by the parish priest on a case-by-case basis can also receive this sacrament.
The local Parish Priest determines what preparation a candidate must undertake before being recommended for Confirmation. This preparation has five aspects: Liturgical Prayer (celebrating the Mass and the sacraments), The Word of God (Sacred Scripture and Church Teachings), Renewal of Baptismal Promises, Works of Service, and Personal Prayer. This five-fold preparation is a joint responsibility between parents, the Catholic School, the local Parish, and most importantly the candidate him or herself. The culmination of the preparation period is the teacher or parish priest publicly presenting the candidates during the Liturgy and attesting that they are ready for the sacrament.
Choosing a Confirmation name has never been an official part of the sacrament, although it has been a popular custom in many places. Candidates for Confirmation may choose a saint’s name after research and reflection. This saint should inspire the candidate in a special way and connect him/her to the greater Christian story. Alternatively, candidates may use the name given at baptism for their Confirmation, since this sacrament builds on baptism.
Who should I choose as a sponsor?
Confirmation is a reaffirmation of the promises made at Baptism, therefore the Church recommends that a child’s godparent take on the role of sponsor for Confirmation. However, another sponsor can be chosen.
Sponsors should be at least 16 years old, not the child’s parent, a Catholic who has been Confirmed, receives Communion and who lives a life of faith. Careful thought should be given to choosing a sponsor who is a good example of lived Christian Faith rather than simply as an honour to a valued family member or friend.
What is the responsibility of the sponsor?
Since a sponsor has such a significant role to play in the development of the candidate for Confirmation, it is important that this person be one who is a living example of faith, one whose actions reflect the actions of Jesus. A Confirmation sponsor offers support and encouragement during the Confirmation preparation process.
During the Confirmation ceremony, sponsors bring the candidates forward and present them to the bishop.