It is often said today the Sacrament of Confirmation allows a young person - or an older person - to "accept the faith for themselves." Rubbish! This notion you will not find in the Rite of Confirmation, in the Catechism or - unless I am much mistaken - in the tradition of the Church. The Catechism reminds us that "although Confirmation is sometimes called the 'sacrament of Christian maturity,' we must not confuse adult faith with the adult age of natural growth" (1308).
A person accepts the faith for himself when he renews his baptismal promises during the Easter season.
A person accepts the faith for himself when he renews his baptismal promises during the Baptism of a child.
A person accepts the faith for himself when he recites the Creed, either the Nicene at Mass or the Apostles during the rosary.
A person accepts the faith for himself when he responds, "Amen," to, "The Body of Christ," and receives the Eucharisitic Lord.
If a person has not accepted the faith for himself he should be doing none of these things, for in so doing he would make himself a great liar.
If Confirmation really were the acceptance of the faith for oneself, then my reception of this great Sacrament would be meaningless. Why? I was born, baptized and confirmed on the day of my birth, because I was not expected to live. Certainly as an infant of less than one day old I could not have accepted the faith for myself, and yet "his grace to me has not been ineffective" (I Corinthians 15:10).
It has been said that Confirmation is "a sacrament in search of a theology." Hogwash! It has a theology, and it always has.
Regarding the Sacrament of Confirmation, the Catechism of the Catholic Church teaches, with my emphases:
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" (1285).
- roots us more firmal to Christ;
- increases the gifts of the Holy Spirit in us;
- renders our bond with the Church more perfect;
- 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.
I am in full support of a younger age for the recption of Confirmation, even before the reception of First Communion, both to restore the proper ordering of the Sacraments of Initiation and to strengthen the grace of God in our young people.
Consider this: if Confirmation really is the sealing with the fullness of the gifts of the Holy Spirit - which it is - why do we wait so long to give this gift to our children when they have already erroneously and - quite likely - invincibly formed their consciences? Would it not be wiser to confirm them when they are young so they have the fulness of the Holy Spirit to help them form their consciences according to the truth of the Gospel?