-it roots us more deeply in the divine filiation which makes us cry, ‘Abba, Father’
-it unites us more firmly to Christ;
-it increases the gifts of the Holy Spirit in us;
-it renders our bond with the Church more perfect;
-it gives us a special strength of the Holy Spirit to spread and defend the faith…”(CCC #1303)
These effects make clear the graces of God that enter our life through confirmation. I want to look at three in particular. The first is the sense that confirmation imprints an indelible spiritual mark on our souls. This indelible spiritual mark happens in three sacraments: Baptism, Confirmation and Holy Orders. A seal is something which marks something out as belonging to someone. In history, official documents would have a bit of candle wax dipped on them and then a seal of some sort (often times a ring with a coat of arms, etc.) would be placed in the wax – it was that seal which verified that the document was official, that the words or the decrees in that document were the real words or decrees of the one who issued it. We see this even today in the use of notary publics as well as various seals that are imprinted on official documents. If we look at the seal of the Holy Spirit which we receive in confirmation we see that this indelible seal is the very seal of God and marks us out as belonging to Him in a particular way. This seal can never be lost, it is always present.
The second effect to look at is the role that the person confirmed has in defending the Faith. Our age and culture challenges the very notion of truth, and yet Christ is the Truth and He has revealed Himself to us in the Incarnation and that revelation of the sacred mysteries has been handed over to the Church to be kept intact and passed on through the generations and to every corner of the globe. At confirmation, we are called on an even deeper level to know our faith, to know these truths and then to have the fortitude to defend them when they are challenged or dismissed. Confirmation calls us, in the old terminology of the Church, to truly be ‘soldiers of Christ’ – ready to defend and promote the Faith at every turn.
The final effect that we can take a look at are the gifts of the Holy Spirit. The gifts of the Holy Spirit are wisdom and understanding, right judgment and courage, knowledge and reverence, wonder and awe. These gifts are present to us even prior to confirmation, but in confirmation they are strengthened in the heart of the person confirmed and we are given the assistance we need to grow in them. We see at Pentecost that the Apostles who are cowering in fear in the Upper Room are transformed in a radical way by the reception of the Holy Spirit who descends in tongues of fire upon them. All of a sudden these weak and fearful men become bold in their proclamation of the Gospel and are willing to preach it to the ends of the known world and to suffer martyrdom in witness to and defense of that Gospel. Like them, the Sacrament of Confirmation transforms us in a fundamental way and gives us the strength to walk in their footsteps.
(This article is part of a series of articles on The Sacraments which will appear in the bulletin over the course of this year.)