Catholic Confirmation Symbols & Saints |What is the Sacrament of Confirmation?

Sasha Blakeley, Amy Troolin, Jenna Clayton
  • Author
    Sasha Blakeley

    Sasha Blakeley has a Bachelor's in English Literature from McGill University and a TEFL certification. She has been teaching English in Canada and Taiwan for seven years.

  • Instructor
    Amy Troolin

    Amy has MA degrees in History, English, and Theology. She has taught college English and religious education classes and currently works as a freelance writer.

  • Expert Contributor
    Jenna Clayton

    Jenna received her BA in English from Iowa State University in 2015, and she has taught at the secondary level for three years.

What is Catholic confirmation? Learn the definition and what the Sacrament of Confirmation is, who performs the ceremony, and the age when someone can confirm. Updated: 04/23/2021

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Catholic Confirmation: Definition

What is the sacrament of confirmation? Confirmation is one of the seven Catholic sacraments. This means that it is one of the most important and sacred experiences that members of the Catholic religion can have. Catholic confirmation is usually the second or third sacrament that Catholics experience after baptism and sometimes communion. All Catholics must undergo confirmation, meaning that confirmation is actually the final step to becoming fully converted to Catholicism.

Becoming a 'Soldier for Christ'

What is confirmation for? The confirmation definition involves affirming the faith and devotion of an individual and fully bringing them into the church. It is thought to involve an outpouring of the Holy Spirit that leaves a mark on the soul. Unlike baptism, Catholics believe that those who have not been confirmed are able to reach Heaven when they die, but they believe that the journey to get there will be much more challenging. Some Catholics consider confirmation to be a way of making them into ''Soldiers for Christ.'' This means that they are willingly devoting their lives to Jesus and fully embracing their faith.

Receiving Confirmation

For those who grow up in the Catholic church, confirmation usually takes place around the age of 13 or 14, though there is no set Catholic confirmation age. For the most part, children younger than 7 years old are considered too young for the sacrament as they cannot meaningfully understand what they are agreeing to. Someone receiving confirmation is called a confirmand. Confirmands usually have sponsors who mentor the confirmand and act as a role model.

Bishops wear red vestments when performing confirmation rites
The sacrament of confirmation is usually bestowed by a Bishop

For those who convert to Catholicism later in life, there is also no set age. Those who have been baptized will normally talk to their priest to discuss the sacrament in detail and to decide when they will be ready to be confirmed. Individuals who have not been baptized in the Catholic church cannot receive the sacrament of confirmation.

Who Gives Confirmation?

In most cases, Bishops are the ones who perform the sacrament of confirmation for individuals. Bishops are the overseers of dioceses, meaning that they are quite important in the Catholic church and have a lot of responsibility to guide and teach their assigned parishes. During confirmation ceremonies, Bishops wear red vestments. Those who are being confirmed usually wear modest outfits in red or white. The ceremony itself can vary, but it usually involves the Bishop laying his hands on the confirmand, offering a blessing that includes the words ''Be sealed with the gift of the Holy Spirit,'' and anointing the individual with holy oil, called chrism.

For those who are confirmed as adults and in a few other select circumstances, it is permissible for a priest to deliver the sacrament, rather than a Bishop. In these cases, it is most common for people to be confirmed at Easter Mass.

How Many Times Can You Receive Confirmation?

Some Catholic sacraments, like communion, can be received multiple times. Confirmation is different: it can only be received one time. This is also the case with baptism. The idea behind confirmation is that it leaves an indelible mark on the soul that never expires and never needs to be repeated; once someone has been confirmed, their soul has been marked by God permanently.

Saints for Confirmation

One other important part of confirmation is choosing the name of a saint. Confirmands choose a saint with whom they feel a particular affinity and adopt that name as a kind of secondary name. Choosing saints for confirmation is not necessary in all Catholic churches, but it is a common tradition that many people take part in.

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  • 0:03 Confirmation
  • 1:10 Who Can Receive Confirmation?
  • 2:16 The Rite of Confirmation
  • 4:05 Symbols of Confirmation
  • 4:45 Lesson Summary
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Other Sacraments

Besides confirmation, there are six other sacraments in the Catholic church. Not everyone experiences all of these sacraments, even if they remain Catholic for a lifetime. All of the Catholic sacraments, according to Catholic belief, are experiences that create an outward connection between an individual and God. They are sacred experiences that fundamentally and often permanently alter a person's soul.

Baptism

Baptism is the first sacrament that all Catholics experience. This is the fundamental process during which an individual's soul is saved, bringing them into the church. Those who are raised Catholic are usually baptized shortly after birth, but adults can also be baptized. Baptism involves anointing an individual with water and, while it is usually done by a priest, Catholic doctrine states that baptisms can be performed even by non-Christians in emergency situations.

Communion

Communion, also called the Eucharist, is a sacrament that unites people with Jesus Christ. Typically, communion is taken each week during Mass, or in some churches, more than once a week. Communion involves drinking sacramental wine and eating a small wafer. In Catholic doctrine, the eucharist is transubstantiated, meaning that it literally becomes the blood and body of Christ.

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Additional Activities

Sacrament of Confirmation Questions

Discussion/Comprehension Questions

For this activity, respond thoroughly to the following questions. Make sure to write in complete sentences and to answer as specifically as possible. Some of these questions may also depend on further research to answer adequately.

Questions:

  1. Besides choosing a 'confirmation name,' what else does a confirmand need to do to prepare for this holy sacrament? Explain thoroughly with specific examples.
  2. What is the sponsor's role during the confirmation ceremony? What is expected of this sponsor after the ceremony is over?
  3. What is the connection between baptism and confirmation?
  4. What is a sacrament, and what are the other Catholic sacraments?
  5. What is expected of a confirmand after he or she has received the sacrament of confirmation?

Possible answers

  1. Confirmation candidates also need to attend special religious classes where they learn about the sacrament, the Catholic faith, and their responsibilities as Christian adults. They may also participate in different activities, such as food drives, mission trips, and volunteering time to help others, in order to prepare for the sacrament.
  2. During the ceremony, the sponsor goes up with the confirmand as the bishop or priest performs the sacrament. The sponsor places his or her hand on the confirmand's shoulder and is there for spiritual support. After the ceremony, the sponsor is expected to remain a positive spiritual influence on the confirmand.
  3. Before receiving the sacrament of confirmation, the person must first be baptized.
  4. Through sacraments, God shows his love and helps those who believe in him reach salvation. They are also celebrations that show one's desire to grow closer to God. The other Catholic sacraments include baptism, eucharist, penance, anointing the sick, marriage, and holy orders. In total, there are seven Catholic sacraments.
  5. After confirmation, a confirmand is expected to continue strengthening his or her faith. A confirmand is also expected to take on a more mature role in the church.

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