As Catholics, we are born spiritually in the sacrament of baptism. At that time, we become sharers in the divine life of the Most Blessed Trinity — Father, Son and Holy Spirit. We begin to live a supernatural life even as infants. As we mature, we practice the virtues of faith, hope and charity, and as we unite with Christ in the Church in offering worship to God, we also grow in grace and goodness.
Some believe that at this early stage, our spiritual life, like the life of a child, is largely self-centered. We tend to be preoccupied with the needs of our own soul, and with the effort to be good. In general, our religious life revolves around self.
At our confirmation, we receive a special grace by which our faith is deepened and strengthened, so that it will be strong enough not only for our own needs but for the needs of others with whom we shall try to share it. With the onset of adolescence a child begins to assume, progressively more and more, the responsibilities of adulthood. They begin to see their place in the total family picture and in the community at large.
Similarly, the confirmed Catholic begins to see more clearly (or ought to) their responsibility to Christ for their neighbor. They become deeply concerned (or ought to) with the welfare of Christ-in-the-world — which is the Church — and the welfare of Christ-in-his-neighbor. It is in this sense that confirmation is a spiritual maturation.
THE EFFECTS OF CONFIRMATION
The Catechism of the Catholic Church notes that confirmation is the special outpouring of the Holy Spirit. Its effects are to:
- Root us more deeply in divine filiation (being children of God);
- Unite us more firmly to Christ;
- Increase the gifts of the Holy Spirit in us;
- Strengthen our bond with the Church;
- Associate us more closely to her mission of bearing witness to Christ;
- Help us and to more strictly oblige us to spread and defend the faith by word and deed.
A generation ago, we said that confirmed Catholics were soldiers of Christ. This indicates confirmation’s effects: it configures us for a full and active mission of service to Christ.