In one of my first years of preparing high schoolers for Confirmation at St. Vincent's, one of the candidates used what I thought was a really great analogy to explain her understanding of what the sacrament was. She said, “My parents sent me an invitation to the Church through my Baptism and now Confirmation means that I’m RSVPing ‘yes.’”
You may have also heard Confirmation being described as becoming a “Soldier for Christ” or have been told “now it’s your turn to choose (or confirm) the faith for yourself.” While all of the above contain bits & pieces of the truth, they do not convey the fullness of the sacrament.
Paragraph 1285 in the Catechism of the Catholic Church reminds us “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.” This sacrament gives each recipient what he or she needs to go and make disciples of all nations (Matthew 28:19). This is a big responsibility!
In the Fall of 2019, the Archdiocese of Seattle officially announced that the typical age of Confirmation was dropping from age 16 to 7th grade (age 12). This would mean drastic changes to our preparation program. We have been working for almost two years evaluating how we’ve prepared youth in the past, and putting together a transition plan as to how we are going to implement this change in our parish.
You may be thinking, “Why is it taking so long?” Because the Sacrament of Confirmation is very important to the life of a parish and the viability of the Church. The following comes directly from the policies on the role of the parish community, “Since the preparation of candidates for Confirmation is one of the highest responsibilities of the people of God, parish communities are to provide a spirit of welcome, good example and opportunities for their involvement in parish life.” Wow, Confirmation isn’t something that a Baptized Catholic chooses for himself. Confirmation is yet another gift offered to us to strengthen us with the Holy Spirit and the support of our parish community for a life of discipleship. If you haven’t been Confirmed, I hope you’ll prepare for this beautiful gift at the age when you’re open to receiving this gift and ready to share it with others. If you’re already Confirmed, I hope you are sharing this gift by modeling and inviting others to live their lives for Christ.
Brita Jaingue - Director of Youth Ministry