What to Expect at a Confirmation ceremony in the Catholic Church

So, you’ve been invited to a Catholic confirmation? Here’s what to expect:

What is Confirmation?

First of all, Catholics believe that this sacrament of initiation into the Catholic Church is a way for the person to be confirmed (the confirmand) to declare that they want to be an adult member of the Catholic Church. It is in this sacrament that the gifts of the Holy Spirit are given by God to those who are confirmed. These gifts are: wisdom, understanding, right judgment, fortitude (courage), knowledge, reverence, and wonder and awe. The dove is a symbol of confirmation because this is the form in which the Holy Spirit descended in the bible.

Who takes part in a Catholic Confirmation?

All of  those present, along with the confirmand (the individual being Confirmed), take part. If you are a guest, your participation is in the form of prayer for your friend or family member. Often, those attending the Confirmation are the parents of the confirmand, the godparents of the confirmand, the confirmand’s sponsor, the priest or bishop, anyone who is in attendance from the church community, along with family and friends of the confirmand. 

What is a Confirmation Sponsor?

In order to be a sponsor, the person must be willing to guide and share the Faith with the confirmand. A sponsor may be one of the baptismal godparents. In doing this, the sacraments of baptism and confirmation are connected in a way that seems appropriate. However, some candidates for confirmation elect to choose another person to be their sponsor. 

In order to be a sponsor, the person must be: 

  •  a confirmed Catholic
  • at least sixteen years old
  • a practicing member of the Church
  • not the confirmand’s parent. 

 

Sponsors should be a model of the faith – someone who has a strong commitment to Christian values and living, and who is willing to be an example to the person who is to be confirmed in the Catholic faith.

Do I bring a Gift to a Catholic Confirmation?

It is customary to give gifts, to the person who is being confirmed, that will aid him or her in the pursuit of holiness. Such gifts are crosses, crucifixes, bibles, figurines or statues, books, medals, frames or rosaries.

What is Considered an Appropriate Confirmation Gift?

The cross/crucifix is a symbol of the death of Jesus Christ, by which we are saved. Wearing a cross/crucifix, or hanging one on the wall, is a great way for the confirmed to remember the new life that has been received in Christ through baptism, the mercy received in the sacrament of reconciliation, and the gifts received through confirmation.

Bibles or religious books are great educational tools for the confirmed to use. Some teen bibles have additional articles and highlights that serve to educate and engage the teen about matters of faith. Some adult bibles may have additional articles and highlights, just as the teen bibles do. These bibles are usually called “Study Bibles” and are a great gift idea for someone who is interested in engaging scripture to better understand the new faith they have found.

Other bibles that may be chosen as a gift idea are keepsake bibles, which may be more deluxe than a study bible in appearance and content. Often these bibles are bound in leather, have gilded edges, and have a family record section which the person may keep record of sacraments they have received as well as the names of their immediate family.

Other religious books teach lessons about faith and values, or may tell the stories of the saints. Saints are individuals who have lived before us and led holy lives dedicated to God. Catholics honor saints as people who have made it to heaven and now are able to intercede to God for us in our needs. Learning about the saints is a great way for a newly confirmed person to connect with other Catholics who have gone through similar joys, sufferings, and life events.

Figurines or statues that may be present at a confirmation are: statues of Jesus, Mary, a chosen saint, or an angel. These statues may serve as reminders of the holy. Statues of Jesus, Mary, or a saint may provide someone for the confirmand to look to for guidance, support, or aid in leading a Christian life. A statue of an angel may serve as a reminder that the confirmed person has a guardian angel who is with them, guiding them and helping them through their life.

Medals that may be given for a confirmed will vary depending on the purpose for which it is being chosen. In order to be confirmed, the confirmand must choose a saint to be their patron. This saint is to be their guide. Many times the confirmand will receive a medal with the saint that they have chosen on it. The purpose of wearing a saint medal is to remind the person who wears it that they are being guided and protected by God, and that the saint that they are wearing is interceding for them before the throne of God. A patron saint is a particular saint selected to be an intercessor for a particular person, cause, or country. A person may choose a patron saint because of the saint’s life story, or because of the patronage which has been assigned to him or her. Selecting a patron saint for an activity, occupation, or sport that the confirmand engages in may be a good choice.

In addition, a picture frame to commemorate the event may be a great gift idea. The newly confirmed person could place a picture of them with those present at the confirmation in the frame to remind themselves of the family of faith into which they have been invited and welcomed.

A rosary is a great gift idea for someone who is being confirmed. The rosary is Catholic tradition of praying a series of prayers. Sometimes the rosary is prayed for a specific intention, though this is not necessary. Many people find the rosary to be a prayer that they connect with, and make it a part of their personal prayer time. It may be confusing when choosing a rosary for someone else because of the varied styles that rosaries come in. Two things to consider are: is this rosary meant to be carried in the pocket or is it more of a keepsake? If it is meant to be carried with the person, choosing a sturdy rosary is important, as well as a rosary case, to keep the rosary in, to prevent breakage. If it is meant to be a keepsake, perhaps a more deluxe rosary with distinctive beads or color would be appropriate.