Confirmation IS NOT:
- Uniquely a sacrament of the Holy Spirit. It shares this honor with baptism. Indeed, the two sacraments are not really separate. Confirmation continues what baptism started. Confirmation is never independent of baptism; rather it is a completion of baptism. With the reception of the sacraments of baptism, first Eucharist, and confirmation, one’s baptism is complete and one is a fullmember of the Catholic Church.
- A rite of passage into adulthood, nor merely a renewal of Christian commitment. When confirmation is administered to those who are older, these confirmation candidates must be given a choice in the matter. This choice, though, while perhaps quite significant, is not the main point of the sacrament. In fact, some legitimate and ancient Catholic liturgical traditions prescribe the confirmation of infants immediately after their baptism and immediately before their first Eucharist.
- Required for marriage in the Catholic Church. The Church encourages confirmation before marriage but does not require the sacrament. If confirmation is not possible before marriage, then the Church encourages one to seek confirmaton soon after the wedding.
- A way to keep teens in religious education classes, nor is it a graduation from religious education. Religious education is a life long process. Parishes do well to have religious education classes for all four grades of high school, as well as adult education programs
Confirmation seals the recipient of the sacrament with the Holy Spirit. What exactly does this mean?
In ancient times, wax seals were used to ensure security. Wax was melted and poured onto a scroll. The wax held the scroll closed in such a way that if someone would read the scroll, the seal would be broken and it would be obvious that someone other than the intended recipient had read it.
This, however, is not very secure by itself. All the spy has to do is replace the seal with new wax and no one will know that he has read the proprietary material.
A step up in security, then, is a sealing ring. The ring has a unique design that, when pressed into the hot wax, cannot be easily reproduced by someone else (someone who does not have that unique ring).
This method of sealing has the additional effect, then, of being like a return address label, letting the recipient know who sent you the scroll, in case there was any question.
Being sealed with the Holy Spirit, then, is being marked for the Holy Spirit. Essentially, confirmation says, “This person is the property of the Holy Spirit.”
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