What is Confirmation?
Confirmation is the rite at which those who have been baptised seek the blessing of the Holy Spirit for their growth as Christians. The confirmation candidates first confirm the promises of their baptism. Then the bishop lays hands on them, praying that God's Spirit will confirm, strengthen and guide them to live out their faith in their everyday lives.
As children we often adopt our parents' beliefs and practices but as we grow older we develop our own opinions and beliefs. This is part of the transition into adulthood, which is marked by many different stages - moving to secondary school, becoming a teenager, wanting to choose our own styles of clothes and music. In the Christian faith there is also a stage of transition when young people may feel that they want to make their own declaration of faith and commit their life to Christ. This transition is normally marked by confirmation. It is a service in which the young people confirm for themselves, and publicly before family, friends and the wider Church, the promises made on their behalf at their baptism. However, confirmation is not just something for teenagers but can take place whenever an individual desires to make a faith commitment. Sometimes young people come before they reach their teens and others come as adults.
What happens at Confirmation?
The candidates renew their baptismal vows before the bishop; and as in baptism, the congregation is asked to support the candidates in their life of faith. The bishop then asks each candidate by name, ‘Do you .... believe and accept the Christian faith into which you are baptized?'
The candidates then affirm their faith, together with the congregation, in the words of the Apostles' Creed. After this, they kneel before the bishop, who lays hands on each one, praying,
'Confirm .... O Lord, with your heavenly grace, that he/she may continue to be yours for ever, and daily increase in your Holy Spirit more and more until he/she comes to your eternal kingdom. Amen.'
How is Confirmation related to Holy Communion?
Holy Communion or Eucharist is when Christians draw especially close to God. In some parts of the Anglican Communion individuals who have been baptised do not have to be ‘confirmed' to receive Holy Communion. In the Church of Ireland, admission to Holy Communion has usually presupposed confirmation.
What happens after Confirmation?
By making a public affirmation of faith the candidates take responsibility for themselves as members of Christ's Church. When the bishop asks, ‘Will you proclaim by word and example the good news of God in Christ?' and ‘Will you seek and serve Christ in all people, loving your neighbour as yourself?', the candidates respond, ‘With the help of God, I will'. This demonstrates both their commitment and their recognition of their dependence on God to live a Christian life.
Quotations from The Book of Common Prayer 2004, © The Representative Church Body of the Church of Ireland, 2004
The above information copyright © 2007 APCK, Church of Ireland House, Dublin 6