Just as Baptism gives new life, the Eucharist nourishes life, and Reconciliation restores life when it is broken, Confirmation strengthens that life by the gifts of the Holy Spirit. It is about strengthening what God has given, and continues to give, to his sons and daughters. The Sacrament of Confirmation is not a “coming of age” celebration. The Sacrament of Confirmation is not a graduation from religion class as we never outgrow a need for a deeper knowledge and appreciation of our faith, nor a ratification of a personal faith choice. Rather, the Sacrament of Confirmation is about what God is doing for his beloved children.
And what is God doing? He is strengthening the divine life which He gave at Baptism, He is strengthening the divine life which He nourishes in the Eucharist, and He is strengthening the divine life which He heals or restores during Reconciliation. God imparts this strength in the Sacrament of Confirmation so that the individual can better defend and give witness to the faith through the gifts and workings of the Holy Spirit. And there are—and will be—many situations where we are called upon to defend and give witness to our faith. And we need all the help we can get!
In the Sacrament of Confirmation, the Holy Spirit completes the grace of baptism and offers the newly confirmed strength as a true witness of Christ. Thus, the newly confirmed is “more strictly obliged to spread and defend the faith by word and deed”. Thus, the Holy Spirit completes what was begun at baptism. The Sacrament of Confirmation gives the recipient the courage and strength to witness and serve—two responsibilities implied in baptism—which are the grace and focus of the sacrament. Confirmation is to be viewed, as are all of the sacraments, as a distinctive working of God in a person’s life.
The Sacrament of Confirmation helps a person remain faithful to his or her baptismal commitment to witness to Christ and to serve others. The gifts of the Holy Spirit associated with Confirmation are strengths (or virtues) that Christian living requires if it is to be fruitful and complete. Thus wisdom, understanding, knowledge, counsel, fortitude, piety, and fear of the Lord, are divine aids to Christian living without which fulfilling one’s baptismal calling would be far more difficult, if not impossible.
Hopefully these gifts of strength will become part of our Christian living and will appear quite natural. If they do, it will affirm how closely the Holy Spirit is working within us. A blessed and life-changing Confirmation to all our Confirmation Students this year!