Confirmation occurs when a young person confirms the promises made on his or her behalf during baptism. Confirmation marks the final sacrament of Christian initiation and further links a person to the Church and his or her faith. A key aspect of confirmation is the presence of the Holy Spirit.
Although the Holy Spirit acts in each of the sacraments, it is perhaps during confirmation when the greatest connection is made. According to the Catechism of the Catholic Church, “the effect of the sacrament of confirmation is the special outpouring of the Holy Spirit as once granted to the apostles on the day of Pentecost.” The Holy Spirit serves as a guide and helper to all.
What gifts does the Holy Spirit bring? Various theologians describe them as such.
1. Wisdom: This is a person’s ability to value spiritual things over worldly possessions. It helps one desire items that bring people closer to God.
2. Understanding: A gift of comprehension, understanding is the ability to absorb the meanings and teachings of the Church. This gift also helps people to be more tolerant of and sympathetic toward others. Having understanding means being able to recognize when others need compassion or assistance.
3. Right judgement/Council: A person who has received this gift knows the difference between right and wrong. This is essential for avoiding sin and leading a life that mirrors that of Christ. The gift of council also inspires people to encourage others to do what is right.
4. Courage: Being faithful requires courage, especially when a person’s beliefs may not be accepted, and may even be feared, by others. Courage allows one to stand up and defend his or her faith and be firm in decisions as they pertain to religion.
5. Knowledge: The gift of knowledge guides a person on the path that will lead to God. Knowledge assists as the faithful look to avoid any obstacles that would derail their efforts.
6. Reverence: Also known as piety, this gift is confidence and obedience in God. It also makes a person want to serve God and others. Reverence fosters a greater respect for the Church and its teachings.
7. Wonder and awe: This gift makes the magnificence of God that much more apparent. A portion of this gift is fear; not a fear in God, but a fear of offending him through sin.
Confirmation is marked by the sealing of one’s faith through the power of the Holy Spirit, further strengthening the seven gifts bestowed upon believers at baptism.