This weekend, we celebrate our fifteen Confirmation youth who have been preparing for and are now receiving the sacrament of Confirmation. Confirmation is one of the seven sacraments of the Catholic Church. What is a sacrament? The Catechism in article 1131 defines sacraments as “efficacious signs of grace, instituted by Christ and entrusted to the Church, by which divine life is dispensed to us.” In other words, the sacraments are visible signs of an invisible grace –the divine life of God—who is there to meet us in each of the sacraments.
Confirmation stems from when Jesus promised that he would send an advocate to be with his people always, and at Pentecost, a Jewish festival fifty days after Jesus’ resurrection at Easter, the Holy Spirit descended upon the Apostles who were hiding in fear of the Romans in the upper room.
The Holy Spirit descended as of tongues of fire upon the heads of the apostles, equipping them with the courage and conviction to bravely and boldly share the gospel and defend the faith. The Holy Spirit is our comforter, counselor, encourager, and cultivator of the fruits and gifts that enable us to grow in virtue. The apostles went out in the strength of the Holy Spirit to build up the Church, and thus became our first Bishops. Each Bishop is anointed within the apostolic succession of authority beginning with Christ who entrusted that authority to pastor and care for the church to his apostles; this entrusting has been passed down through the generations of Bishops to our present time. Those receiving Confirmation are also anointed with special chrism oil which signifies how priests, prophets, and kings in the Old and New Testament were anointed with oil as a sign that they were being set apart by God and given a special mission to build up the kingdom. The oil was the physical sign of this invisible grace they had received. In Confirmation, we too are anointed as priest, prophet, and king to confidently serve others, proclaim the gospel, and build up Christ’s kingdom here on earth using our gifts and talents to the benefit of all God’s people under the direction of the Holy Spirt.