why do people want to receive the sacrament of confirmation
As somewhat of a misunderstood sacrament, Confirmation is often viewed in one of two ways: áAt best, Confirmation is seen as something we do ourselvesÁa public proclamation of our belief in Christ and His Church. á At worst, itÁs seen as a final ÁgraduationÁ from Church Catechesis classes, a nice ceremony in which weÁre given Chrism instead of a diploma. But Confirmation is much more than that. á As Pope Francis recently tweeted:
Confirmation is important for Christians; it strengthens us to defend the faith and to spread the Gospel courageously. Á Pope Francis (@Pontifex) When we study the Sacraments, we learn that Confirmation is a sort of Ástirring upÁ of the gifts of the Holy Spirit we were given in Baptism. á In fact, Confirmation is linked so closely with Baptism that originally (and still today in certain rites of Catholicism), infants received the Sacrament of Confirmation immediately after they were baptized. á This is not so today only because of the happy problem that there are simply too many baptisms for the bishop (the proper minister of Confirmation) to attend. Today, preparation for the Sacrament of Confirmation has become essentially the parishÁs last-ditch effort to instill in teens and young adults the truth, beauty, and goodness of the Catholic faith. á And itÁs important that we make this effort in our parishes, because too many of our brothers and sisters are falling away.
But I think the PopeÁs recent tweet is a good reminder for all of us that Confirmation isnÁt something we do ourselves. á Like all of the Sacraments, Confirmation is a grace weÁre given. á And, much like baptism, it gives us graces that we need in order to carry out our universal call as Christians. á As Our Holy Father says, Confirmation gives us strength Áto defend the faith and to spread the Gospel courageously. Á So maybe you missed your chance to get confirmed in high school. á You missed too many classesÁChurch wasnÁt a priority to you at the timeÁyou wanted to wait until you were Ámore matureÁ in your faith, etc. á Well guess what?! á Confirmation is what will give you the graces to build and grow in that mature faith! á While itÁs admirable to want to avoid committing sacrilege by receiving a Sacrament you donÁt believe in, if your reason for avoiding Confirmation is simply because you are not yet bold, or confident enough in your faith, then you should know that Confirmation is what will actually give you the graces to have that boldness and that confidence! If youÁre reading this and thinking, Áwell my confirmation must not have taken, because I donÁt feel any of that strength, courage, or boldness that Mary and the Pope are talking about,Á rest assured that you didnÁt receive a ÁfaultyÁ sacrament. á You just need to Átap intoÁ the graces you were most definitely given at your Confirmation. á We all do.
Do you know what we were given in Baptism and Confirmation? á Everything that God the Father has: ÁWhen he comes, the Spirit of truth, he will guide you to all truth. á He will not speak on his own, but he will speak what he hears, and will declare to you the things that are coming. He will glorify me, because he will take from what is mine and declare it to you. Everything that the Father has is mine; for this reason I told you that he will take from what is mine and declare it to you. (John 16:13-15) Confirmation is important, because God wants to shower us with His gifts. á So for the confirmed among us, letÁs not be so insecure in our faith in the Spirit we were given at Baptism and Confirmation. á LetÁs not be so foolish as to let the gifts God has given us remain locked up in the shackles of our sins. Come Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of your faithful and kindle in them the fire of your love. Send forth your Spiritá and they shall be created. And You shall renew the face of the earth. O, God, who by the light of the Holy Spirit, did instruct the hearts of the faithful, grant that by the same Holy Spiritá we may be truly wise and ever enjoy His consolations, Throughá Christá Our Lord, Amen.
The main reason for the importance of Confirmation in the modern Roman Catholic Church has to do with the practice of infant baptism. The earliest Christians were adult converts who were baptized as adults. In antiquity, it was common for people to hold off on baptism until they were close to death, due to the the heinousness of post-baptismal sin. However, medieval theologians believed that infants who died before being baptized would end up in Limbo and that people who died after the death of Jesus without having been baptized could not go to Heaven. This made parents, anxious about the salvation of their children in a period of high infant mortality, begin to baptize children as infants, a tradition strengthened by baptismal records starting to serve as proof of domicile, citizenship, etc. absent the later development of civil bureaucracy. Infant baptism, however, cannot involve an actual affirmation by the infant of Christianity. Thus Confirmation, although not portrayed as a Sacrament in the Bible, developed as a way for those baptized as infants, once they reached maturity, to affirm those things sworn on their behalf when they were initially baptized. Among Christians, therefore, the practice of infant, but not adult, baptism is associated with confirmation. Â
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