...he saved us through the bath of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit, whom he richly poured out on us through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that we might be justified by his grace and be come heirs in hope of eternal life.
Titus 3:5-6

For most of your life, you have spent time observing the application of the Catholic Faith. However, today marks the turning point in your life because today you take up the mantle of apostleship in declaring yourself an adult member of the Body of Christ. The Sacraments of Baptism, Confirmation, and the Eucharist comprise the sacraments of Christian initiation. In saying "yes" to the Sacrament of Confirmation, you are taking the next important step on your journey to eternal salvation since confirmation is necessary for the completion of baptismal grace (cf. Roman Ritual, Rite of Confirmation (OC), Introduction I, CCC 1285). Jesus declared the Sacrament of Baptism was necessary for one's salvation when He commissioned the Apostles who were the Chruch's first bishops, saying, "Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved; whoever does not believe will be condemned" (Mark 16:16). You are giving your personal, free-will consent to completing the Sacrament of Baptism in which you are choosing Heaven over Hell. You are also choosing to follow Jesus Christ over selfish desires and self-glorification. You are making the life-altering choice to follow Jesus on the "narrow path" to salvation.

The Church teaches in Vatican Council II that, by the Sacrament of Confirmation, the baptized are "more perfectly bound to the Church," and they receive the "special strength of the Holy Spirit." As a result of the deeper infusion of the life of the Holy Spirit, the Church teaches that those who receive the Sacrament of Confirmation, "are, as true witnesses of Christ, more strictly obliged to spread and defend the faith by word and deed" (Dogmatic Constitution on the Church, Lumen Gentium, 11).

That Christ instituted the Sacrament of Confirmation demonstrates the importance of the sacrament which the early Church celebrated as a distinct sacrament from baptism. The promise of Confirmation goes back to the Old Testament prophets who, inspired by God, declared the Messiah would be invested with the Spirit of God for carrying out His mission. Old Testament prophets like Joel, Isaiah, and Ezekiel testified that one of the characteristics of the Messianic Age would be the pouring out of God's Spirit over the whole of humanity (Joel 3:1-2; Isaiah 11:2; 44:3-35; 61:1; Ezekiel 36:25-27; 39:29).

The New Testament and the teachings of the Church identify the intimate relationship between Christ and His connection to God the Holy Spirit:

  1. Jesus was conceived by the Holy Spirit (Luke 1:26-35).
  2. The descent of the Holy Spirit at Jesus' baptism was the sign that He was the promised Messiah and Son of God (Matthew 3:13-17; Mark 1:9-11; Luke 3:21-22; John 1:32-33).
  3. Jesus' entire life and mission was carried out in perfect communion with the Holy Spirit when God the Father gave Him the Holy Spirit "without measure" (John 3:34).
  4. Jesus foretold the coming of the Holy Spirit to the Church, and promised the Holy Spirit's divine assistance to the Apostles (Luke 12:12; 24:49; John 3:5-8; 14:16-26; 16:7-15; Acts 1:5, 8) and all His faithful disciples in every age (John 7:37-39).
  5. Jesus gave the gift of the Spirit to the Apostles on Resurrection Sunday and fifty days later to the entire assembly of disciples on Pentecost Sunday (Jn 20:22-23; Acts 2:1-4).

The Apostles continued to carry the gift of the Holy Spirit to the Church through the "laying on of hands" to complete the grace of Baptism (Acts 2:28; 8:14). And after his commissioning as an apostle of Christ, St. Paul, as a representative of the Church, continued to communicate the Holy Spirit through the "laying on of hands" (Acts 19:6).

The Church teaches that "The imposing of hands is rightly recognized by the traditions of the Church as the origin of the Sacrament of Confirmation, which in a certain way perpetuates the grace of Pentecost in every new generation of the Church" (Apostolic Constitution, Divinae Consortium Naturae, 1971). The early leaders of the Church added the anointing with the perfumed oil of sacred chrism to the laying on of hands. This anointing highlights the name "Christian," from the Hebrew word for Messiah, translated into Greek as "christos," our word for "Christ," which means "anointed one" and refers to Christ Himself who God anointed with the Holy Spirit (Acts 10:38, CCC 438, 1289). The oil used in Confirmation is consecrated by the bishop for use in his diocese as the sacred chrism. The Bishop lays his hands over the confirmand and says the words prescribed by liturgical law as he anoints the forehead and confers the sacrament (Canon Law 880.1).

Confirmation, like Baptism and Holy Orders, impresses an indelible character or mark that is the "seal" of the Holy Spirit upon the soul of the person receiving the sacrament. The sacrament also ensures that the person shares completely in the mission of Jesus Christ and the fullness of the Holy Spirit so their lives may give off "the aroma of Christ" (2 Corinthians 2:15; CCC 1294). The seal of the Holy Spirit marks a Christian's total belonging to Christ, the enrollment as an apostle in His service forever, and the promise of divine protection in the great eschatological (end time) trial before Christ returns to judge the living and the dead (Matthew 24:31-46, CCC 1038, 1295-96).

The seal of the Holy Spirit in the Sacrament of Confirmation gives you all the graces you will need to assume the responsibilities associated with the priesthood of believers (CCC 1546-47). Christ calls us to be a holy people and to continue His earthly mission. In that mission, we comfort the sick, see to the needs of the poor and oppressed, and we love others as Jesus loves us. We also take up the mission Christ gave His Church to carry the Gospel of salvation to the ends of the earth. Jesus asks you, just as He asked His first disciples, to demonstrate His love and to have the assurance that He is with you as you "Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations...teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, until the end of the age" (Matthew 28:19-20).

Michal Hunt, Copyright © 2017 Agape Bible Study. Permissions All Rights Reserved.