Why should a person be confirmed?
While not absolutely necessary for salvation, Confirmation is strongly recommended by the Church for all Catholics. First, it concludes the sacraments of initiation — Baptism, Communion, and, of course, Confirmation.
Second, the sacrament couldn’t come at a better time. While it’s true that we receive the seven gifts of the Holy Spirit at Baptism, they’re strengthened at Confirmation. It’s like receiving a Vitamin B12 shot in order to boost one’s immune system to fight off disease.
Baptism inoculates us from original sin, but we still deal with the residue of that sin known as concupiscence — a state of a weakened will, a darkened intellect, and capitulation to the passions. It sometimes takes a lifetime to overcome, or at least subdue, concupiscence. We have to study and learn in order to grow from ignorance and prejudice.
We have to constantly conform our wills to God’s will, for it’s in following God’s will that we are most happy. Sometimes it takes a lifetime to realize this. We conform our will to God’s by practicing the virtues; it takes a lot of work to keep our passions and vices in check.
At the age of puberty, everything seems to go weak in the knees. We sometimes rebel against our parents, God, and the Church. We have to deal with new temptations. Confirmation then strengthens the gifts of the Holy Spirit we received at Baptism. Like at any sacrament, God gives us grace. Yet we have to cooperate with these graces in order for the sacrament to work in our lives. Think of the gifts of the Holy Spirit as wrapped presents. In order for us to enjoy the gifts and use them, we have to unwrap the box and open it.
Wisdom gives a person common sense in the natural world in order to figure out right from wrong. Understanding is a gift that helps us in the supernatural world in areas of faith and morals. Counsel creates unity of mind and heart, while fortitude gives us courage in times of trial. Knowledge in the areas of God and what he wants for us helps us to follow his will. Piety, our outlook on life, prepares us to be with God for all eternity.
Finally, fear of the Lord is a gift of holy reverence to revere God as creator, redeemer and sanctifier. These gifts all need a special boost during puberty — as well as when we become adults. There are many temptations, false prophets, and misleading voices. The gifts of the Holy Spirit give us a discerning spirit.
FATHER JOHN TRIGILIO JR. is an author, theologian and president of the Confraternity of Catholic Clergy. This article is reprinted with permission from The Catholicism Answer Book: The 300 Most Frequently Asked Questions, which he authored with Fr. Kenneth D. Brighenti.
Like Baptism which it completes, Confirmation is given only once, for it too imprints on the soul an indelible spiritual mark, the “character,” which is the sign that Jesus Christ has marked a Christian with the seal of his Spirit by clothing him with power from on high so that he may be his witness. This “character” perfects the common priesthood of the faithful, received in Baptism, and the confirmed person receives the power to profess faith in Christ publicly and, as it were, officially (quasi ex officio).
Catechism of the Catholic Church, #1304-1305