Jesus came and stood among them and said, "Peace be with you." Then said Jesus to them again, Peace be to you: As the Father has sent me, I am sending you. He breathed on them and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit, John 20:19-22
When we come For Confirmation . . . . . . . .
Why is it important to be Confirmed?
Because for those of us who were baptised as infants or children, it is the completion of our baptism! You see, when we were baptised as an infant or child, we were baptised in the faith of our parents and Godparents: that is, they, because of their faith, made certain promises to Almighty God on our behalf. Therefore, as we passed through the waters of baptism, (1) he enabled us to be born again as one of his special children, (2) he forgave our sins, (3) he enabled us to enter a very special relationship with Jesus, who became our brother, and (4) he gave us each a special gift, the gift of his Spirit (we received the Holy Spirit of God into our lives) when we were baptised. And he did this, so that you and I could be saved, and so share a very special relationship with him. As children of God: you and I have now been empowered for life, we have been empowered to become the person that God created us to be: and we now live with the promise of Eternal Life.
But there comes a time in our lives when we cease to be a child any more. When we need to take charge of our own life, when we need to make our own decisions, when we need to own our relationship with Almighty God, and stop depending upon the faith of others, especially those who made promises to God on our behalf at our baptism. Confirmation is when we do this!
Confirmation usually happens when children start to become adults at the age of 12 or 13 years of age. But of course it can take place at any age after this. In this sacrament, the child is encouraged to speak for themselves and own (or confirm) the promises that were made on their behalf by their parents and Godparents at their baptism. At their Confirmation, the Bishop will lay his hands upon their head and they will be filled with the gift of God’s Holy Spirit. When an adult is baptised, they are usually confirmed by the Bishop at the same service and are welcomed to receive their first Communion as well.
Now, you will notice that I have said that at baptism we receive the Holy Spirit of God, but at Confirmation we are filled with the Holy Spirit. This is not a mistake: they are actually two separate and important experiences: that we each need to have had in order for us to fully blossom in our Christian journey, and relationship with Almighty God.
What is the biblical evidence for this?
As we see in the scriptures, the disciples themselves had these same two experiences of the Holy Spirit. Firstly, they received the Holy Spirit, then they were filled with the Holy Spirit: and that’s what transformed them into a people of power.
In St John 20.19-23 we note that the disciples first experienced the Holy Spirit in a personal way, on the day that Jesus rose from the dead, that is, on Easter Day. That evening, as the disciples gathered behind locked doors in the upper room, because they were afraid of what the Jews might do to them, now that Jesus had been crucified. Jesus came and (John 20.19) “stood amongst them”, and said: (John 20.21) “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, even so I send you”. Then he breathed on them and said: (John 20:22) “Receive the Holy Spirit” and they did! At that stage nothing really exciting appeared to have happened. Perhaps they were a little more relaxed about their situation and they were definitely more peaceful. They had received the Holy Spirit. However, no great transformation took place in their lives as a consequence. They still, certainly, weren’t a people of power at that stage, even though they had received the Holy Spirit. So, if that’s how the disciples received the Holy Spirit, and if it’s true that we can share this same experience of the Holy Spirit, how do we receive him when Jesus is no longer here to breathe on us? Well the answer to this question as we know, can be found in the book of the Acts of the Apostles where Peter, in answer to this very question says: (Acts 2:38) “Repent, and be baptised every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit”. Again, this is a promise isn’t it? It’s a promise which says that as you and I pass through the waters of baptism, we will receive the Holy Spirit as a free gift from our loving heavenly Father. Therefore if you have been baptised in water and in the name of God the Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit you have received the Holy Spirit, in the same way that the disciples received him when Jesus breathed on them.
But the disciples were also filled with the Holy Spirit, as we heard later in the book of the Acts of the Apostles. Of the day of Pentecost St Luke says, that the disciples were again gathered together in the upper room, when they shared their second personal experience of the Holy Spirit. (Acts 2:2-4) “And suddenly a sound came from heaven like the rush of a mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting. And there appeared to them tongues as of fire, distributed and resting on each one of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit”. This is where we see them begin to be transformed into a people of power. Straight away the disciples rushed out of the house and into the street where they boldly witnessed to an enormous crowd of people, by telling them about the mighty works of God. This was something that they could never have done before they were filled with the Holy Spirit. And you and I are the same. Until we are filled with the Holy Spirit, we too, like the disciples will remain powerless. Once we’re open enough to allow God to fill our lives with his gift of the Holy Spirit, the same Holy Spirit that we received as we passed through the waters of baptism, our lives too, will begin to be transformed until we, like the disciples, are able to powerfully witness to our family and friends about the mighty works of God. This second experience of the Holy Spirit is still available to each of us today, through the sacrament of Confirmation, through the laying on of the Bishop’s hands. We too are filled with the Holy Spirit: the same Spirit that we received at our baptism!
At Confirmation we re-affirm our faith in God as Father, Son and Holy Spirit. We confirm the promises that were made on our behalf at our baptism and we own them for ourselves. Thus declaring that our faith in God is a personal matter, and that it has now matured! In response to this, our heavenly Father enables us to be filled with the Holy Spirit.
QUESTIONS OFTEN ASKED ABOUT CONFIRMATION
Can the child’s Godparents be involved? Yes we very much encourage this. Especially during the service where they are confirmed by the Bishop. This would be seen as one of the roles of a Godparent.
Is there a fee for this? Definitely not! The service of Confirmation will be held at our usual Sunday morning service, on an occasion when the Bishop of Bunbury is able to be present.
Is there some form of preparation required? Yes there is and it is age appropriate. Separate sessions are held for children/ teenagers and adults. With children/ teenagers a work book will probably be used, and if so then the parents will be asked to cover the cost of this material.
Can we invite members of the family to attend this special day? Yes we very much encourage you to invite other family members and even friends to attend and help you to celebrate this special occasion.
Do I/they need to have any special clothing for the occasion? Not really, just dress as you would normally for church on Sunday.
Can I talk more about this with the Priest before I make a commitment to proceeding with the Confirmation? Of course you can, Priests-in-Charge would love to hear from you. The Parish phone number is 08 9535 6152.