The Sacraments of the Church are rich in sign and symbol. They visibly express deeper meanings behind the celebration. Signs and symbols capture the essence of each sacrament by raising our awareness of the Presence of Jesus. The signs and symbols within the Rite of the Sacrament of Confirmation express the special strengthening of the Holy Spirit.
The ceremony begins after the Gospel when the candidate/s are presented to the Bishop or Priest-Celebrant, and to the members of the Church community, who acknowledge and pray for them. The Bishop or Celebrant then gives a homily, based on the readings, explaining to the candidates and to all present the effect the Sacrament of Confirmation can have on those who respond to the Gifts God gives through His Holy Spirit.
The candidates are called to renew their Baptismal promises and in their re-affirmation they publicly profess they will strive to live as true followers of Christ. The Bishop or Celebrant then extends his hands over the candidates, calling on the power of the Holy Spirit to descend upon them.
Each sponsor presents his/her candidate individually to the Bishop or Celebrant giving their candidate's chosen new name for Confirmation. The Bishop or Celebrant makes the Sign of the cross on the forehead of the candidate with the Oil of Chrism, while saying the words:
"Name.....be sealed with the gift of the Holy Spirit."
These words, together with the anointing with the Oil of Chrism, is the Sign by which we know those who have been confirmed have been sealed with the Holy Spirit. The Oil of Chrism, used to anoint the candidate, is a symbol of the strengthening power given and received through the Sacrament for the challenges the candidate will face through life.
The Bishop or Celebrant then administers to the newly confirmed candidate a symbol-sign of peace by the tapping of his hand to the candidate's cheek.
The Rite of Confirmation concludes with the Prayer of General Intercessions, asking the Holy Spirit to guide and strengthen the Church and all its members.
God, our Father
Made you His children by water and the Holy Spirit.
May He bless you
and watch over you with His Fatherly love.
Jesus Christ, the Son of God
Promised that the Spirit of Truth
would be with His Church forever.
May He bless you and give you courage
In professing the true faith.
The Holy Spirit
Came down upon the disciples
and set their hearts on fire with love.
May He bless you,
keep you one in faith and love
and bring you to the joy of God's Kingdom.
During the Confirmation there are many symbols to help us to understand more deeply the meaning of the Sacrament.
1. Oil of Chrism.
Athletes are massaged with oil so that they are in peak condition for the challenges they are to face. The Oil of Chrism is used to symbolise the strengthening given to us by the Holy Spirit for the challenges we face in our daily lives.
2. "Name.....be sealed with the gift of the Holy Spirit."
The word 'sealed' is used because official seals solemnise important legal contracts. When we are confirmed we are 'sealed with the gifts of the Holy Spirit' which will remain with us always, never to be taken away.
3. the Laying on of Hands
a) The special symbol used to emphasise the meaning of this celebration is the 'Laying on of hands' when the Bishop or Celebrant extends his hands over those to be confirmed. He prays that those to be confirmed will receive the abundant Gifts of the Holy Spirit. b) At Pentecost the Apostles knew they had received the Holy Spirit when they saw the tongues of fire. Today, we know we have received the Holy Spirit when the Celebrant places his hand on the top of the candidate's head and anoints the forehead with the Oil of Chrism, saying, "be sealed with the gift of the Holy Spirit."
(To repeat much of what has already been said.)
The Rite of Confirmation is usually celebrated within the Mass.
The Bishop is usually the minister of Confirmation which shows the relationship of the Sacrament to the Apostles at Pentecost. However, when the Bishop is not able to be present, he may delegate a priest to act on his behalf as Celebrant.
1. Presentation of the Candidates
Those receiving the Sacrament are presented to the Bishop or Celebrant.
The Bishop or Celebrant gives a homily to the candidates, their sponsors and parents in which he leads them to a deeper understanding of the Sacrament of Confirmation.
3. Renewal of the Baptismal Promises
The candidates are called to renew the promises that were made on their behalf at their Baptism. They reaffirm their Baptismal promises publicly as they respond to the questions asked by the Bishop or Celebrant.
4. The Laying on of Hands
Before each candidate is anointed, the Bishop or Celebrant extends his hands over those to be confirmed and prays that God will fill them with the 7 Gifts of the Holy Spirit.
5. The Anointing with Chrism
Each candidate approaches the Bishop or Celebrant with their sponsor. The sponsor places his right hand on the candidate's shoulder and presents the candidate by the (Saint's) name which the candidate has chosen as a Confirmation name.
The candidate kneels before the Bishop or Celebrant who anoints him/her by placing his hand upon their head, and making the Sign of the Cross on their forehead with the Oil of Chrism while saying,
"Chosen Saint's name... be sealed with the Gift of the Holy Spirit."
The newly confirmed responds: "Amen."
6. The Sign of Peace After the anointing, the Bishop or Celebrant says to each person, "Peace be with you", and gives them a symbol-sign of peace by the tapping of his hand to the candidate's cheek. The newly confirmed candidate responds: "And also with you."
7. The General Intercessions Through the prayers of General Intercession, the Church community prays for the newly confirmed; their parents and godparents; the Church and its leaders; and asks that the Holy Spirit may grow in the hearts of all who believe.
Come Holy Spirit...
Fill the hearts of the faithful
and enkindle in them
the fire of your love.
Send forth Your Spirit
and they shall be created
and You shall renew the face of the earth.
O Jesus, Who for love of me,
Didst bear Thy Cross to Calvary
In Thy sweet mercy grant to me,
To suffer and to die with Thee.