What Happens at a Catholic Confirmation?

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At a Catholic confirmation, a person who has previously been baptized is initiated into full discipleship with Christ by the laying on of hands of a bishop or priest. Confirmation is a sacrament that deepens one’s relationship with God, and is thus usually preceded by organized religious instruction. Catholics believe that confirmation brings an outpouring of the Holy Ghost like that which occurred to the Apostles on Pentecost.

A Catholic confirmation usually takes place at the confirmed person’s church. The most common age for confirmation is 14, although younger children and adults may also receive this “sacrament” or ordinance. The confirmation gives the faithful a chance to consciously confirm the discipleship into which they entered when baptized as infants.

A bishop performs the confirmations en masse, although priests have the authority to confirm an individual if the person is in danger of death or is an adult who was previously baptized in another church. The clergyman performing the confirmation lays his hands on the head of the confirmation candidate, signifying that he is appointed to be a true witness of Christ. The bishop prays for him to receive the seven gifts of the spirit: awe, wonder, wisdom, reverence, courage, knowledge and right judgment. He also anoints the candidate’s head with oil and makes the sign of the cross with holy chrism oil.

The confirmed individual then receives an outpouring of the Holy Ghost, which brings gifts of the spirit like strength, virtue, insight and divine protection.