Over the years I have found one resounding misconception about the Sacrament of Confirmation – you do not become an adult in the Church when receiving the Sacrament of Confirmation.  Paragraph #1308 says:

Although Confirmation is sometimes called the “sacrament of Christian maturity,” we must not confuse adult faith with the adult age of natural growth, nor forget that the baptismal grace is a grace of free, unmerited election and does not need “ratification” to become effective. St. Thomas reminds us of this:

Age of body does not determine age of soul. Even in childhood man can attain spiritual maturity: as the book of Wisdom says: “For old age is not honored for length of time, or measured by number of years. “Many children, through the strength of the Holy Spirit they have received, have bravely fought for Christ even to the shedding of their blood.126

The way I communicate it to parents and catechists is that the Sacrament of Confirmation is, for many, the third Sacrament of Initiation.  It calls one to take the next step in their life as a disciple of Christ and as a witness of the Christian life.  For so many who receive the Sacrament of Confirmation in 7th or 8th grade or even High School they do not become an adult in the same way that parents are adults who have to pay a mortgage and responsibilities of a full time job and providing for a family.  On the other hand by virtue of receiving our Confirmation one is being called to be a greater witness of the Good News of Jesus Christ.  Catechism Paragraph # 1309 says:

“Preparation for Confirmation should aim at leading the Christian toward a more intimate union with Christ and a more lively familiarity with the Holy Spirit – his actions, his gifts, and his biddings – in order to be more capable of assuming the apostolic responsibilities of Christian life…”

The emphasis should be on a more intimate union with Christ and being called to be a witness.  Yes, it is true that they are called to “assume the apostolic responsibilities of Christian life” but the understanding that one becomes an adult in the Church is inaccurate.  I find that trying to empower candidates to see themselves as an adult in the Church is not putting the emphasis on the right thing but on reaching a goal or destination of becoming an adult.  The Christian maturity the Church is speaking of is an intimate union with Christ and the call to go into the world and live your faith.  We don’t have to be an adult to live our faith or be involved in our parish.  This Sacrament is just the beginning of a life lived for Christ and His body, the Church.

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