What is Confirmation?
Confirmation, Affirmation, Reception is a church practice of what the Anglican Catechism calls “rites and sacraments.”
This practice (rite) is deeply charged “sites” of God’s grace. They are sacraments because they are visible signs that confirm an invisible grace, but we distinguish them from the two primary sacraments of Baptism and Eucharist.
There are then three reasons to be confirmed. First, if you wish to affirm or reaffirm your commitment to Christ. Second, if you wish to receive empowerment from the Holy Spirit. And third, if you wish to be recognized within the global Anglican communion, joining more than 85 million people around the world.
For adults, confirmation is usually about deciding that the Anglican Church is where they belong and Luminous is where they hang their hat. Those confirmed in other liturgical denominations, would be received into the Anglican Church. While some shy away from calling Confirmation a sacrament, the witness of the church throughout the ages, especially in the Episcopal / Anglican world, has seen fit to uphold them as a vital means through which God mediates grace to us.
Where did Confirmation come from?
Confirmation arose out of the early church’s reflection on Scripture in connection to how one became a Christian. It was first used to describe what happened when a bishop would lay hands upon, pray for, and anoint the forehead of the newly baptized with oil, signifying the gift of the Holy Spirit. The newly baptized/confirmed would then proceed to receive their first Eucharist.
Gradually, in the western churches (Eastern Orthodox churches still confirm infants immediately upon Baptism), Confirmation became separable from Baptism. For Anglican churches, the normal course would be that you were baptized as an infant, and then as a teenager undergo instruction (catechesis), which prepared you for Confirmation.
Confirmation as growth, belonging, & mission
At its most basic, Confirmation refers to the rite in which, after a believer has been baptized, they make a mature commitment to the faith, and receive an increased gifting of the Holy Spirit through the bishop’s prayer, laying on of hands, and anointing. Once again, the Catechism puts it beautifully. When asked, “What grace does God give you in confirmation?” the response is, “In confirmation, God strengthens the work of the Holy Spirit in me for his daily increase in my Christian life and ministry.”
In both Baptism and Confirmation, the Holy Spirit is present. (It’s a standard rule of Trinitarian theology that wherever there’s one person of the Trinity. In Baptism, the Spirit regenerates us into new life, marked as Christ’s own forever. In Confirmation, on the other hand, the Spirit deepens and strengthens life, so that we grow into more mature Christians.
Confirmation is the sacrament of mission. By this, I mean that Confirmation “marks” a person for undertaking the vocation to which he or she has been called.
This is also why Confirmation is linked to the bishop’s presence. As Ordination into the priesthood requires the bishop’s presence, so too, in Confirmation, the bishop’s presence signifies that the person being confirmed is now charged with the duty of carrying on the apostolic mission.
It means to be be sent out into life, as witnesses of the Good News. It means further equipping for the work of the Kingdom. It means a rising generation of Christians who have dedicated their lives to the glory of God in every area of life, people of The Way.
Why should teenagers / young adults be Confirmed?
In the course of their spiritual development, those baptized at an early age are invited, when they are ready and have been duly prepared, to make a mature public affirmation of their faith and commitment to the responsibilities of their Baptism and to receive the laying on of hands by the bishop (BCP pg. 412)
In other words, for young adults, confirmation is usually about taking ownership of their baptismal covenant and professing what they believe.
Fr. Chad walks Students through three-four Catechism classes each year. This invites them into Confirmation when appropriate.
Interested in Confirmation?
Sign up below for more info or to join our next class