Seeking Confirmation

Pentecost cover

All-powerful God, Father of our Lord Jesus Christ,
by water and the Holy Spirit
you freed your sons and daughters from sin
and gave them new life.
Send your Holy Spirit upon them
to be their helper and guide.
Give them the spirit of wisdom and understanding,
the spirit of right judgment and courage,
the spirit of knowledge and reverence.
Fill them with the spirit of wonder and awe in your presence.
We ask this through Christ our Lord.

Philip went down to the city of Samaria and proclaimed the Messiah to them. The crowds with one accord listened eagerly to what was said by Philip, hearing and seeing the signs that he did, for unclean spirits, crying with loud shrieks, came out of many who were possessed; and many others who were paralyzed or lame were cured. So there was great joy in that city. […] Now when the apostles at Jerusalem heard that Samaria had accepted the word of God, they sent Peter and John to them. The two went down and prayed for them that they might receive the Holy Spirit (for as yet the Spirit had not come upon any of them; they had only been baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus). Then Peter and John laid their hands on them, and they received the Holy Spirit. (Acts if the Apostles 8:5-8 & 14-17, NRSVCE)

Is it not interesting that those is Samaria heard the gospel and believed, but that wasn’t enough. They were baptized, but that also wasn’t enough. Only when Peter and John laid their hands on them did they received the Holy Spirit. Only then did those Samarian believers enter the Church established by Christ. Do we believe this today? Protestants (and non-protesting evangelicals) seem to deny the need for confirmation, and most even deny the need for baptism (other than as a merely symbolic act). We like to think that all it takes is that one believes. Believe in Jesus, ask Him into your heart, have good feelings about your commitment to whatever your Christian-sub-culture group likes to define as Christianity, or whatever you’ve decided the Bible says. But that is not the same thing as entering the Church.

I have been a Christian my entire life (born into a devout Baptist family, asking Jesus into my heart around 1970, baptized in 1977, etc.) and yet I have not been in the Church established by Christ. I was never confirmed and welcomed into the one, holy, catholic, and apostolic Church. At this point I don’t know how all this applies to my eternal salvation. I like to think that my salvation is not in question regardless of confirmation, but I’m still learning the theology and Church teaching on confirmation. One thing, however, I know I am not yet in the Church.

I too am seeking to have apostolic hands laid on me, to receive the Holy Spirit, to fully enter the Church. Believing is where it begins, true, which is then followed by being baptized for the forgiveness of sins. But both of these acts should be followed by confirmation (the laying on of hands and receiving the Holy Spirit). I was baptized as a youth in the Baptist church in which I grew up, and in which I heard the gospel proclaimed (forcefully and masterfully as good Baptist preachers do). I have been in our local parishes RCIA program for several months. Recently I did my first reconciliation (confession). Now I am looking forward to receiving confirmation and entering into full communion with the Church Christ Himself founded two thousand years ago. This is no little thing, especially for an old Baptist like me who was trained to be anti-Catholic. God works in mysterious ways.

From the Catechism of the Catholic Church:

1285 Baptism, the Eucharist, and the sacrament of Confirmation together constitute the “sacraments of Christian initiation,” whose unity must be safeguarded. It must be explained to the faithful that the reception of the sacrament of Confirmation is necessary for the completion of baptismal grace. For “by the sacrament of Confirmation, [the baptized] are more perfectly bound to the Church and are enriched with a special strength of the Holy Spirit. Hence they are, as true witnesses of Christ, more strictly obliged to spread and defend the faith by word and deed.”

1300 The essential rite of the sacrament follows. In the Latin rite, “the sacrament of Confirmation is conferred through the anointing with chrism on the forehead, which is done by the laying on of the hand, and through the words: ‘Accipe signaculum doni Spiritus Sancti’ [Be sealed with the Gift of the Holy Spirit.].” In the Eastern Churches, after a prayer of epiclesis the more significant parts of the body are anointed with myron: forehead, eyes, nose, ears, lips, breast, back, hands, and feet. Each anointing is accompanied by the formula: “The seal of the gift that is the Holy Spirit.”

1301 The sign of peace that concludes the rite of the sacrament signifies and demonstrates ecclesial communion with the bishop and with all the faithful.

I too want to be “more perfectly bound to the Church”.

2 Comments

Filed under Catholic Church, Sacraments

2 responses to “Seeking Confirmation

  1. Cam

    “One thing, however, I know I am not yet in the Church.”

    The Protestant reply would be that your “knowledge” here must be something closer to intuition rather than “justified true belief,” (or something in between the two), for Protestants who think deeply about this issue remain Protestants precisely because they can’t come to anything like certain knowledge (based on their study of the history of the Christian church and her doctrine) that Roman Catholicism is, in fact, the one holy, catholic, apostolic church; or, perhaps more importantly, that this description applies to an institutional hierarchy founded on apostolic succession rather than the communion of those who are of the Way, who are, by literal definition, the “ecclesia”: the “called-out ones.”

  2. Cam

    P.S. Congratulations on your impending confirmation!

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