On May 21st The Most Reverend Joseph F. Marino (Bishop Emerius of Scranton) will visit MDP to confer the Sacrament of Confirmation on students in grade 6 who have completed their sacramental preparation. These young Christians will receive the Holy Spirit, whom the Lord sent upon the Apostles on Pentecost, and become more fully conformed to Christ. By the grace of the Holy Spirit their lives will be strengthened to enable them to bear witness to Christ as they build up his Body in faith and love.
While the initiation of children into the sacramental life is primarily the responsibility and concern of Christian parents, we as a worshiping community express the faith the Holy Spirit has produced in us by joining their parents through our participation in the celebration of the sacrament.
It is appropriate for each person being confirmed to have a sponsor for the sacrament. In addition to presenting the candidate to the Bishop the sponsor helps the newly confirmed fulfill their baptismal promises faithfully under the guidance of the Holy Spirit whom they have received. For this reason it is desirable that the godparent at baptism, if available, also be the sponsor at confirmation.
Confirmation takes place within the celebration of Mass. This makes clear the importance of confirmation by which the faithful are incorporated into Christ and configured to him through the bond of the three sacraments of initiation: baptism, confirmation and the Eucharist. Celebrating the rite of Confirmation at Mass affirms the fundamental connection of the sacrament with the other Rites of Christian Initiation and allows this connection to be clearly seen and understood. Through the sacrament of confirmation those who have been born anew in baptism receive the inexpressible gift of the Holy Spirit and are further strengthened by the reception of the Eucharist.
During the celebration of the sacrament great emphasis is placed on the word of God that introduces the rite of confirmation. It is in hearing the word of God that the many-sided work of the Holy Spirit flows out upon his church and upon each one of the baptized and confirmed. Through this hearing of his Word, God’s will is made known in the life of Christians everywhere. During this celebration we move from listening to the word of God to the sacramental experience of the Eucharist.
The diocesan bishop is the ordinary minister of the sacrament of confirmation. As a successor to the apostles, his presence as the sacramental minister creates a clear connection to the first pouring forth of the Holy Spirit on the apostles at Pentecost. The apostles were so filled with the Holy Spirit that by divine inspiration they began to proclaim “the mighty works of God.” They then gave the Spirit to the faithful through the laying on of hands. Thus the reception of the Spirit through the ministry of the bishop shows the close bond that joins the confirmed to the Church with the mandate received from Christ to bear witness to him before all.
The sacrament of confirmation is conferred through the anointing with sacred chrism on the forehead, which is done by the laying on of the hand, and through the words: “Be sealed with the gift of the Holy Spirit.” The laying of hands on the candidate by the bishop, along with the anointing with chrism and the accompanying words clearly express the effect of the giving of the Holy Spirit. Signed with the perfumed oil of chrism, the baptized receive the indelible character, or seal, of the Lord. This, together with the Gift of the Spirit conforms them more closely to Christ and gives them the grace to spread the “sweet fragrance of Christ” in the world.
The sacrament of Confirmation draws us into God’s glory as we are consecrated to him and share in his three fold ministry of Priest, Prophet and King. Our priestly ministry is witnessed in our adoration of God and through our prayerful intercession for the needs of his people. As his current-day prophet we witness to God’s kingdom here on earth by glorifying the Lord by our lives. And we share in his kingship by humbling ourselves and becoming servant to all through the works of charity inspired by the Spirit.
Let us pray for those to be confirmed and for all already confirmed in his love:
“Come Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of your faithful and kindle 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.”