Thursday, May 21, 2015

The Sacrament of Confirmation

The second sacrament of initiation is the Sacrament of Confirmation. The Sacrament of Confirmation is necessary to complete the grace we receive at our baptisms. The confirmed are more perfectly bound to the Church and enriched with the special strength of the Holy Spirit. They fully take on their roles as priest, prophet, and king and are more strictly obliged to spread and defend the faith by word, by deed, and by example.

The word “Christ” is the English translation of the Greek word “Christos”, which is the Greek translation of the Hebrew word “Messiah” meaning “anointed”. We have come to know “Christians” as followers of Christ, but a more accurate meaning is “an anointed people”. Anointing imprints a spiritual seal. Oil is rich in meaning and symbolism. It is a sign of abundance and joy. It cleanses, limbers, heals and is used for beauty. Chrism oil is used to anoint those being confirmed and is the sign of consecration. Once anointed, they share more completely in the mission of Jesus and their lives are to give off “the aroma of Christ.”

To consecrate means to “set aside” and to be sealed is a mark of ownership. When someone receives the Sacrament of Confirmation they are anointed, consecrated and sealed to the Lord. They become His property and their lives are no longer their own. It is a time when those who were baptized as infants assume the responsibility of their baptismal oaths their parents and god parents took for them. The responsibility then falls squarely on those who are confirmed.

Confirmation is a sacrament and carries with it the ancient meaning of an oath to the death. When someone is confirmed they swear an oath to take on more fully their role as priest, prophet, and king and share in Jesus’ mission to bear witness to the glory of God. They are to evangelize, spread the Gospel and live in such a way that it is apparent to anyone who looks upon them that they are children of God and brothers and sisters of Jesus. They are freely accepting the life that Jesus calls them to, even if that is a life of hardship or even death.

What confirmation is not is a rite of passage, a ticket to be punched, or a reason to have a photo opportunity in the Church with the old guy in funny ancient Roman robes with a party to follow. It is not something deserved or something owed. It is something given. It is an oath given to live as Christ in the world and die for Christ if required. God gives the confirmed the special grace they need to fulfill this task. To get confirmed and then not darken the doorstep of a Church again until you get married is perjury at best and condemnation at the extreme. An oath is often easy to take but hard to live up to. Unless someone is willing to pick up the cross and follow Christ they are better off not swearing the oath or receiving the Sacrament of Confirmation.

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