Information and resources related to the sacrament of Confirmation
Information and resources related to the sacrament of Confirmation
The Cardinal has decided to lower the normal age of reception of the sacrament of Confirmation in the Archdiocese of Boston from around the age of 16 (or 10th or 11th grade) to around the ages of 13-14 (or 8th grade).
The text of the official decree implementing the change is forthcoming.
Pastors have the freedom to decide with their school and parish catechetical leaders if it would be preferable for preparation for Confirmation to take place in both the parish school and parish or primarily through the parish.
It is expected that it will be possible for parishes to request additional Confirmation dates with Episcopal Vicars and to request delegation for pastors to convey the sacrament of Confirmation to account for the need for additional Confirmations in the next several years. There will be more information on this topic soon.
Individual people and parishes will need to request permission from Bishop Cristiano to receive Confirmation at an earlier age than 13-14 or to maintain the 9th or 10th grade program they have currently. There will be more information on this topic soon.
The expected phase-in period is 3 years and pastors have discretion on how they may wish to manage the change over that period of time in their parishes.
Please come to these meetings prepared to discuss the following questions:
Days, Dates, Times, Locations, and Registration Links:
We are currently in the process of reviewing the various available curricula for preparation for the sacrament of Confirmation for those in grades 6-8. We welcome your suggestions and feedback, in particular regarding the following:
Full document at the link above and some notable excerpts from it below.
THE SACRAMENTS OF CHRISTIAN INITIATION
1212 The sacraments of Christian initiation – Baptism, Confirmation, and the Eucharist – lay the foundations of every Christian life. “The sharing in the divine nature given to men through the grace of Christ bears a certain likeness to the origin, development, and nourishing of natural life. the faithful are born anew by Baptism, strengthened by the sacrament of Confirmation, and receive in the Eucharist the food of eternal life. By means of these sacraments of Christian initiation, they thus receive in increasing measure the treasures of the divine life and advance toward the perfection of charity.”
THE SACRAMENT OF CONFIRMATION
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.”
I. Confirmation in the Economy of Salvation
1287 …On several occasions Christ promised this outpouring of the Spirit, a promise which he fulfilled first on Easter Sunday and then more strikingly at Pentecost. Filled with the Holy Spirit the apostles began to proclaim “the mighty works of God,” and Peter declared this outpouring of the Spirit to be the sign of the messianic age. Those who believed in the apostolic preaching and were baptized received the gift of the Holy Spirit in their turn.
1289 Very early, the better to signify the gift of the Holy Spirit, an anointing with perfumed oil (chrism) was added to the laying on of hands. This anointing highlights the name “Christian,” which means “anointed” and derives from that of Christ himself whom God “anointed with the Holy Spirit.” This rite of anointing has continued ever since, in both East and West. For this reason the Eastern Churches call this sacrament Chrismation, anointing with chrism, or myron which means “chrism.” In the West, Confirmation suggests both the ratification of Baptism, thus completing Christian initiation, and the strengthening of baptismal grace – both fruits of the Holy Spirit.
Two traditions: East and West
1290 In the first centuries Confirmation generally comprised one single celebration with Baptism, forming with it a “double sacrament,” according to the expression of St. Cyprian. Among other reasons, the multiplication of infant baptisms all through the year, the increase of rural parishes, and the growth of dioceses often prevented the bishop from being present at all baptismal celebrations. In the West the desire to reserve the completion of Baptism to the bishop caused the temporal separation of the two sacraments. the East has kept them united, so that Confirmation is conferred by the priest who baptizes. But he can do so only with the “myron” consecrated by a bishop.
1292 The practice of the Eastern Churches gives greater emphasis to the unity of Christian initiation. That of the Latin Church more clearly expresses the communion of the new Christian with the bishop as guarantor and servant of the unity, catholicity and apostolicity of his Church, and hence the connection with the apostolic origins of Christ’s Church.
II. The Signs and the Rite of Confirmation
1293 In treating the rite of Confirmation, it is fitting to consider the sign of anointing and what it signifies and imprints: a spiritual seal. Anointing, in Biblical and other ancient symbolism, is rich in meaning…
1294 Anointing with oil has all these meanings in the sacramental life. the pre-baptismal anointing with the oil of catechumens signifies cleansing and strengthening; the anointing of the sick expresses healing and comfort. the post-baptismal anointing with sacred chrism in Confirmation and ordination is the sign of consecration. By Confirmation Christians, that is, those who are anointed, share more completely in the mission of Jesus Christ and the fullness of the Holy Spirit with which he is filled, so that their lives may give off “the aroma of Christ.”
1295 By this anointing the confirmand receives the “mark,” the seal of the Holy Spirit. A seal is a symbol of a person, a sign of personal authority, or ownership of an oblect.Hence soldiers were marked with their leader’s seal and slaves with their master’s. A seal authenticates a juridical act or document and occasionally makes it secret.
1296 Christ himself declared that he was marked with his Father’s seal. Christians are also marked with a seal: “It is God who establishes us with you in Christ and has commissioned us; he has put his seal on us and given us his Spirit in our hearts as a guarantee.” This seal of the Holy Spirit marks our total belonging to Christ, our enrollment in his service for ever, as well as the promise of divine protection in the great eschatological trial.
The celebration of Confirmation
1298 When Confirmation is celebrated separately from Baptism, as is the case in the Roman Rite, the Liturgy of Confirmation begins with the renewal of baptismal promises and the profession of faith by the confirmands. This clearly shows that Confirmation follows Baptism. When adults are baptized, they immediately receive Confirmation and participate in the Eucharist.
1299 In the Roman Rite the bishop extends his hands over the whole group of the confirmands. Since the time of the apostles this gesture has signified the gift of the Spirit. the bishop invokes the outpouring of the Spirit in these words:
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.
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.]…”
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.
III. The Effects of Confirmation
1302 It is evident from its celebration that the effect of the sacrament of Confirmation is the full outpouring of the Holy Spirit as once granted to the apostles on the day of Pentecost.
1303 From this fact, Confirmation brings an increase and deepening of baptismal grace:
– it roots us more deeply in the divine filiation which makes us cry, “Abba! Father!”;
– it unites us more firmly to Christ;
– it increases the gifts of the Holy Spirit in us;
– it renders our bond with the Church more perfect;
– it gives us a special strength of the Holy Spirit to spread and defend the faith by word and action as true witnesses of Christ, to confess the name of Christ boldly, and never to be ashamed of the Cross:
Recall then that you have received the spiritual seal, the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of right judgment and courage, the spirit of knowledge and reverence, the spirit of holy fear in God’s presence. Guard what you have received. God the Father has marked you with his sign; Christ the Lord has confirmed you and has placed his pledge, the Spirit, in your hearts.
1304 Like Baptism which it completes, Confirmation is given only once, for it too imprints on the soul an indelible spiritual mark, the “character,” which is the sign that Jesus Christ has marked a Christian with the seal of his Spirit by clothing him with power from on high so that he may be his witness.
1305 This “character” perfects the common priesthood of the faithful, received in Baptism, and “the confirmed person receives the power to profess faith in Christ publicly and as it were officially (quasi ex officio).”
IV. Who can Receive This Sacrament?
1306 Every baptized person not yet confirmed can and should receive the sacrament of Confirmation. Since Baptism, Confirmation, and Eucharist form a unity, it follows that “the faithful are obliged to receive this sacrament at the appropriate time,” for without Confirmation and Eucharist, Baptism is certainly valid and efficacious, but Christian initiation remains incomplete.
1307 The Latin tradition gives “the age of discretion” as the reference point for receiving Confirmation. But in danger of death children should be confirmed even if they have not yet attained the age of discretion.
1308 Although Confirmation is sometimes called the “sacrament of Christian maturity,” we must not confuse adult faith with the adult age of natural growth, nor forget that the baptismal grace is a grace of free, unmerited election and does not need “ratification” to become effective. St. Thomas reminds us of this:
Age of body does not determine age of soul. Even in childhood man can attain spiritual maturity: as the book of Wisdom says: “For old age is not honored for length of time, or measured by number of years. “Many children, through the strength of the Holy Spirit they have received, have bravely fought for Christ even to the shedding of their blood.
1309 Preparation for Confirmation should aim at leading the Christian toward a more intimate union with Christ and a more lively familiarity with the Holy Spirit – his actions, his gifts, and his biddings – in order to be more capable of assuming the apostolic responsibilities of Christian life. To this end catechesis for Confirmation should strive to awaken a sense of belonging to the Church of Jesus Christ, the universal Church as well as the parish community. the latter bears special responsibility for the preparation of confirmands.
1310 To receive Confirmation one must be in a state of grace. One should receive the sacrament of Penance in order to be cleansed for the gift of the Holy Spirit. More intense prayer should prepare one to receive the strength and graces of the Holy Spirit with docility and readiness to act.
1311 Candidates for Confirmation, as for Baptism, fittingly seek the spiritual help of a sponsor. To emphasize the unity of the two sacraments, it is appropriate that this be one of the baptismal godparents.
1316 Confirmation perfects Baptismal grace; it is the sacrament which gives the Holy Spirit in order to root us more deeply in the divine filiation, incorporate us more firmly into Christ, strengthen our bond with the Church, associate us more closely with her mission, and help us bear witness to the Christian faith in words accompanied by deeds.
1317 Confirmation, like Baptism, imprints a spiritual mark or indelible character on the Christian’s soul; for this reason one can receive this sacrament only once in one’s life.
1318 …In the Latin Church this sacrament is administered when the age of reason has been reached, and its celebration is ordinarily reserved to the bishop, thus signifying that this sacrament strengthens the ecclesial bond.
1319 A candidate for Confirmation who has attained the age of reason must profess the faith, be in the state of grace, have the intention of receiving the sacrament, and be prepared to assume the role of disciple and witness to Christ, both within the ecclesial community and in temporal affairs.
1320 The essential rite of Confirmation is anointing the forehead of the baptized with sacred chrism (in the East other sense-organs as well), together with the laying on of the minister’s hand and the words: “Accipe signaculum doni Spiritus Sancti” (Be sealed with the Gift of the Holy Spirit.) in the Roman Rite, or “The seal of the gift that is the Holy Spirit” in the Byzantine rite.
1321 When Confirmation is celebrated separately from Baptism, its connection with Baptism is expressed, among other ways, by the renewal of baptismal promises. the celebration of Confirmation during the Eucharist helps underline the unity of the sacraments of Christian initiation
Full document at the link above and some notable excerpts from it below.
Can. 879 The sacrament of confirmation strengthens the baptized and obliges them more firmly to be witnesses of Christ by word and deed and to spread and defend the faith. It imprints a character, enriches by the gift of the Holy Spirit the baptized continuing on the path of Christian initiation, and binds them more perfectly to the Church.
THOSE TO BE CONFIRMED
Can. 889 §1. Every baptized person not yet confirmed and only such a person is capable of receiving confirmation.
§2. To receive confirmation licitly outside the danger of death requires that a person who has the use of reason be suitably instructed, properly disposed, and able to renew the baptismal promises.
Can. 890 The faithful are obliged to receive this sacrament at the proper time. Parents and pastors of souls, especially pastors of parishes, are to take care that the faithful are properly instructed to receive the sacrament and come to it at the appropriate time.
Can. 891 The sacrament of confirmation is to be conferred on the faithful at about the age of discretion unless the conference of bishops has determined another age, or there is danger of death, or in the judgment of the minister a grave cause suggests otherwise.
Can. 892 Insofar as possible, there is to be a sponsor for the person to be confirmed; the sponsor is to take care that the confirmed person behaves as a true witness of Christ and faithfully fulfills the obligations inherent in this sacrament.
Can. 893 §1. To perform the function of sponsor, a person must fulfill the conditions mentioned in can. 874.
§2. It is desirable to choose as sponsor the one who undertook the same function in baptism
Full document at the link above and some notable excerpts from it below.
The Church continues to affirm the dignity of every human being, and to grow in knowledge and understanding of the gifts and needs of her members who live with disabilities. Likewise, the Church recognizes that every parish community includes members with disabilities, and earnestly desires their active participation. All members of the Body of Christ are uniquely called by God by virtue of their Baptism. In light of this call, the Church seeks to support all in their growth in holiness, and to encourage all in their vocations. Participating in, and being nourished by, the grace of the sacraments is essential to this growth in holiness. Catholic adults and children with disabilities, and their families, earnestly desire full and meaningful participation in the sacramental life of the Church…
2. Catholics with disabilities have a right to participate in the sacraments as fully as other members of the local ecclesial community. “Sacred ministers cannot deny the sacraments to those who seek them at appropriate times, are properly disposed, and are not prohibited by law from receiving them.”
3. Parish sacramental celebrations should be accessible to persons with disabilities and open to their full, active, and conscious participation, according to their capacity. Pastoral ministers should not presume to know the needs of persons with disabilities, but should rather—before all else—consult with them or their advocates before making determinations about the accessibility of a parish’s facilities and the availability of its programs, policies, and ministries. Full accessibility should be the goal for every parish, and these adaptations are to be an ordinary part of the liturgical life of the parish.
5. Pastors are responsible to provide evangelization, catechetical formation, and sacramental preparation for parishioners with disabilities, and dioceses are encouraged to establish appropriate support services to assist pastors in this duty. Persons with disabilities, their advocates and their families, as well as those knowledgeable in serving those with disabilities can make a most valuable contribution to these efforts. Parish catechetical and sacramental preparation programs may need to be adapted for some parishioners with disabilities, though, as much as possible, persons with disabilities should be integrated into the ordinary programs. They should not be segregated for specialized catechesis unless their disabilities make it impossible for them to participate in the basic catechetical program. Even in those cases, participation in parish life is encouraged in all ways possible.
15. “Those who have been baptized continue on the path of Christian Initiation through the Sacrament of Confirmation.” In this way, they receive the Holy Spirit, conforming them more perfectly to Christ and strengthening them so that they may “bear witness to Christ for the building up of his Body in faith and charity.”
16. Parents, those who care for persons with disabilities, and shepherds of souls—especially pastors—are to see to it that the faithful who have been baptized receive the formation needed for the Sacrament of Confirmation and approach it at the appropriate time. “The diocesan bishop is obliged to take care that the Sacrament of Confirmation is conferred on subjects who properly and reasonably seek it.”
17. Confirmation is to be conferred on the faithful between the age of discretion (which is about the age of seven) and about sixteen years of age, within the limits determined by the diocesan bishop, or when there is a danger of death, or in the judgment of the minister a grave cause urges otherwise.
18. All baptized Catholics who possess the use of reason may receive the Sacrament of Confirmation if they are “suitably instructed, properly disposed and able to renew the baptismal promises.” Persons who because of intellectual or developmental disabilities may never attain the use of reason can receive the Sacrament of Confirmation and should be encouraged either directly or, if necessary, through their parents, to receive it. It is important that they receive the pastoral guidance needed, along with the welcome and embrace of the whole community of faith. To the degree possible, those with disabilities should be included along with others during the preparation and celebration of the sacrament. At times, pastoral need may necessitate an accommodated setting and a simpler manner.
19. A sponsor for the one to be confirmed should be present. The sponsor assists the confirmed person on the continuing path of Christian Initiation. For this reason, it is desirable that one of the godparents chosen for Baptism be the sponsor for Confirmation.
20. When those with disabilities who are already baptized Christians desire to become Catholic, they should participate in the Rite of Reception of Baptized Christians into the Full Communion of the Catholic Church, which normally includes the reception of the Sacraments of Confirmation and Eucharist.
AGE OF CONFIRMATION: When Local and Universal Law Conflict
Congregation for Divine Worship
Prot. N. 2607/98/L
December 18, 1999
This Congregation for Divine Worship expresses its appreciation for your kind reply concerning the request of a child of 11 years resident in your Diocese along with her parents, for reception of the Sacrament of Confirmation in anticipation of the local policy of conferring the Sacrament no sooner than the sophomore year of high school.
In light of Your Excellencys considered response, this Dicastery considers it necessary to respond in some detail to the considerations you raise, and so the case was submitted to a renewed and attentive examination. The Congregation was anxious to communicate the results of this study as soon as possible asking you to note the authoritative nature of the conclusions contained therein.
At the same time this Dicastery has considered it important to respond to the considerations raised by Your Excellency in declining to dispense the girl from the Diocesan Policy in order that she might anticipate her reception of the Sacrament of Confirmation. This Congregation wishes, however, to preface its further comments with the observation that Your Excellency’s refusal to grant this dispensation must be seen as having the juridic value of an administrative act denying an anticipated conferral of the Sacrament. Among the responsibilities entrusted to this Dicastery is the authoritative examination of appeals against such administrative actions (cf. Apostolic Constitution, Pastor Bonus, arts. 19, ï¿½ 1, 63).
In reply to this Congregation’s decision that appropriate steps be taken to provide for the girl’s confirmation in the near future, Your Excellency had proposed essentially two arguments:
1. Though willingly admitting that the girl is well instructed and that her parents are very good Catholics, you point out that “instruction is not the sole criterion for recognizing the opportune time for confirmation … The evaluation is a pastoral one which involves much more than just being instructed”.
2. Your Excellency indicates that the Diocesan Policy establishing that conferral of the Sacrament is to be no earlier than the sophomore year of high school is within the right inherent in the law in light of the legislation complementary to can. 891 for the Conference of Bishops to which you belong.
With respect to Your Excellency’s first point, it is no doubt true that there is a pastoral judgment to be made in such cases, provided that by “pastoral judgment” one is speaking of the obligation of the Sacred Pastors to determine whether those elements required by the revised Code of Canon Law are indeed present, namely, that the person be baptized, have the use of reason, be suitably instructed, and be properly disposed and able to renew the baptismal promises (cf. cann. 843, ï¿½1; 889, ï¿½2). This Dicastery notes from the testimony submitted by the family, as well as that provided by Your Excellency, that it is clear this young girl has satisfied each of the canonical requisites for reception of the Sacrament.
In regard to Your Excellency’s second point, while it is clear that the Diocesan Policy is within the right inherent in the law in light of the complementary legislation for the Conference of Bishops to which you belong for can. 891, it is also clear that any such complementary legislation must always be interpreted in accord with the general norm of law. As has been stated before, the Code of Canon Law legislates that Sacred Ministers may not deny the Sacraments to those who opportunely ask for them, are properly disposed and are not prohibited by law from receiving them (cf. can. 843 ï¿½1). Since it has been demonstrated that the girl possesses these requisite qualities, any other considerations, even those contained in the Diocesan Policy, need to be understood in subordination to the general norms governing the reception of the Sacraments.
The Congregation considers it useful to point out that it is the role of the parents as the primary educators of their children and then of the Sacred Pastors to see that candidates for the reception of the Sacrament of Confirmation are properly instructed to receive the Sacrament and come to it at the opportune time (cf. can. 890). Consequently, when a member of the faithful wishes to receive this Sacrament, even though not satisfying one or more elements of the local legislation (e.g., being younger than the designated age for administration of the Sacrament), those elements must give way to the fundamental right of the faithful to receive the Sacraments. Indeed, the longer the conferral of the Sacrament is delayed after the age of reason, the greater will be the number of candidates who are prepared for its reception but are deprived of its grace for a considerable period of time.
In conclusion, this Congregation for Divine Worship must insist, given the concrete circumstances of the case under consideration, that the opportunity to receive the Sacrament of Confirmation be extended to the girl as soon as is conveniently possible.
In order to complete our documentation concerning this question, this Dicastery would be grateful to Your Excellency to receive notice of the agreement you will have reached with the family for the administration of the Sacrament.
With every good wish and kind regard, I remain
Sincerely yours in Christ,
Jorge A. Card. MEDINA ESTEVEZ
Francesco Pio TAMBURRINO
Taken from Notitiae,
Congregation of Divine Worship,
Patrick has worked for the archdiocese since 2014. He works in the areas of faith formation, ethnic communities, pastoral planning, evangelization, discipleship, and leadership. Patrick has worked previously in parishes in the Archdiocese of Boston and elsewhere as a Director for Evangelization, Director of Religious Education, and Coordinator of Youth Ministry. He and his wife have two sons.
Liz is first and foremost, a daughter of God. She is married to her best friend, Tony, and enjoys his help with preparing couples for marriage. She has three adult children and loves being “Nana” to her grandkids. Liz started serving in ministry when her children were small as many moms do. Eventually, her pastor asked her to run the high school faith formation program. Equipped with a bachelor’s degree in business from Worcester State College, she knew she needed more theology. After certificates in catechesis and youth ministry, she moved on to get her Master of Theological Studies from Saint John’s Seminary. Before coming to the Archdiocese of Boston in 2016, Liz was the director of youth and young adult ministry for the Worcester Diocese. She has been blessed to serve on team for Cursillo, lead pilgrimages to Marian sites, and mission trips locally and abroad.
Chris is originally from Caldwell, New Jersey and has lived in Massachusetts since 1991. He is a graduate of Boston College with degrees in both Theology and History. After college Chris began a 31-year career in the life insurance industry where he worked in sales, distribution, and account management for the estate planning and charitable giving market. Throughout his professional career Chris was also actively engaged in serving his parish in a variety of roles including working part-time as a parish youth minister, volunteering in faith formation for both children and adults, serving on the parish RCIA team as catechist and sponsor, and coordinating parish-wide evangelization efforts by running the ChristLife series.
In 2017 Chris left the corporate world and transitioned his passion for the gospel into a full-time position with the Archdiocese of Boston, where he seeks to support parishes in the mission of forming and equipping disciples for the work of evangelization.
Chris and his wife Krissy currently live in Attleboro, MA with their sons Brendan and Kolbe.
Rosemary is originally from Hingham and, after living in Minnesota and Florida, returned to the area to attend Boston College. After graduating with a degree in Marketing and Human Resources, Rosemary made Boston her home and enjoyed work in human resources roles within financial services for over a decade.
In response to the Lord’s call to use her leadership and organizational development experience coupled with her love for Christ to serve the Church directly in her daily work, Rosemary pursued a Master of Arts in Ministry from the Theological Institute for the New Evangelization, complemented with study through Loyola University in Rome and the Theology of the Body Institute in PA, and joined the Archdiocese of Boston.
In addition to an interest in igniting a love for Christ in others through the new evangelization, she has a particular interest in the Theology of the Body, the dignity of human life, the intersection of faith and business, and the intersection of faith and culture. She loves visiting with the Lord in Eucharistic Adoration and meeting Him in each individual encounter until we see Him face to face!
Born in El Salvador, Wendy came to the United States when she was three years old, and ever since then, she has called Massachusetts her home.
Raised in a beautiful Catholic family, Wendy volunteered her teenage years to youth ministry and volunteered for mission trips locally and abroad.
Wendy earned a Bachelor of Arts in Communications from Northeastern University and later pursued a career in public relations. Today, Wendy has more than ten years of experience in the field of public relations.
In addition to her new role at the Archdiocese, Wendy continues to serve as an active member of St. Mary of the Annunciation in Cambridge, Massachusetts, along with her husband Deacon Franklin Mejia, and their two children, Gabriel and Isabella.