What is the Sacrament of Confirmation?

By the Sacrament of Confirmation, the baptised are more perfectly bound to the Church and enriched with the Holy Spirit's special strength. Hence, they are, as true witnesses of Christ, more strictly obliged to spread and defend the faith by word and deed.

At Baptism, we begin a life-long journey and a way of life. At Confirmation, the graces received in Baptism are sealed with the reception of the seven Gifts of the Holy Spirit. The words that Jesus shared with his disciples at Pentecost apply to each of us at Confirmation, you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you will be my witnesses (Acts 1:8).

So, Confirmation establishes young adults as full-fledged members of the Catholic faith. This sacrament is called Confirmation because the faith given in Baptism is now confirmed and made stronger. In Baptism, parents and godparents make promises to renounce Satan and pledge belief in God and the Church on your behalf. At Confirmation, you renew those same promises, this time speaking for yourself.

During Confirmation, the focus is on the Holy Spirit, who confirmed the apostles on Pentecost and gave them the courage to practice their faith. We believe that the Holy Spirit confirms us during the Sacrament of Confirmation and gives us the same gifts the apostles received in the upper room in Jerusalem.

In the Diocese of Middlesbrough, the Sacrament of Confirmation is typically received by those who are at least twelve years of age, baptised, and prepared with the help of the parish community and remotely through our Catholic secondary schools. Confirmation is administered by the Bishop and, on occasions, by a priest delegated by the Bishop.

What Happens?

The prophets of the Old Testament foretold that God's Spirit would rest upon the Messiah to sustain his mission. Their prophecy was fulfilled when Jesus, the Messiah (Christ), was conceived by the Spirit and born of the Virgin Mary.

The Holy Spirit descended on Jesus on the occasion of his baptism by John. Jesus' entire mission occurred in communion with the Spirit. Before he died, Jesus promised that the Spirit would be given to the Apostles and to the entire Church.  After his death, he was raised by the Father in the power of the Spirit.

The Sacrament of Confirmation confers ‘the full outpouring of the Holy Spirit as once granted to the apostles on the day of Pentecost’. Confirmation deepens our baptismal life and calls us to be missionary witnesses of Jesus Christ in our families, neighbourhoods, society, and the world. Confirmation is ordinarily administered by the bishop, the apostles' successor.

In the Sacrament of Confirmation, we receive the gifts of the Holy Spirit: wisdom, knowledge, right judgment, understanding, courage, piety, and fear of the Lord. In this way, the Sacrament of Confirmation completes the Sacrament of Baptism.

We also gain the 12 fruits of the Holy Spirit: charity, joy, peace, patience, benignity, goodness, long-suffering, mildness, faith, modesty, continency, and chastity — human qualities which the Holy Spirit strengthens.

Importantly, the Sacrament of Confirmation is a gift. Like all gifts given to us, it is down to us to accept, embrace and use.

Do I Choose a New Name?

It is true that we get to choose a new name after a Saint whom we wish to be a role model in our life. But we gain much more than this! We also gain the seven gifts of the Holy Spirit at Confirmation. 

Being confirmed in the Church means accepting responsibility for your faith and ultimately your destiny. Confirmation is the recognition that you must do what is right, not for recognition or reward, but merely because it is the right thing to do.

What Happens at the Conformation Service?

The Confirmation ceremony usually takes place during Mass with the Bishop present. The Bishop wears red vestments to symbolize the red tongues of fire seen hovering over the heads of the apostles at Pentecost.

Each person wishing to be confirmed comes forward with his or her sponsor. The bishop will then anoint you with the oil of Chrism and make the Sign of the Cross on your forehead while saying your chosen Confirmation name and “Be sealed with the gift of the Holy Spirit.” 

This recalls Christ’s title as ‘the Anointed’. In the Old Testament, we also read about the anointing of priests, prophets, and kings:

Then Samuel took the horn of oil, and anointed him in the presence of his brothers; and the spirit of the Lord came mightily upon David from that day forward (1 Samuel 16:13)

In Baptism, we receive an anointing (which cleanses and strengthens us for the Christian life), the anointing then received in Confirmation acts as a consecration, a setting apart for mission.

How Do I Get Confirmed?

At the Cathedral, the confirmation programme begins in the early spring.

those who wish to be confirmed should speak to one of the priests after Sunday Mass