Confirmation is the sacrament through which the Holy Spirit comes to us in a special way and enables us to profess our faith as strong and perfect Christians and soldiers of Jesus Christ.
Christ promised His Apostles the gift of the Holy Spirit (Luke 24:49; John 14:16-17, 16:7, 12). They understood that the promise was meant for all Christians. Hence after receiving the Spirit on Pentecost Day, they conferred Him on all the baptized: Acts 2:38 and 8:14-17.
1. Confirmation in a very special manner brings us the Holy Spirit with His sevenfold gifts. “Then they laid their hands on them, and they received the Holy Spirit” (Acts 8:17).
Confirmation for the Christians may be likened to the day of Pentecost for the Apostles, when they received the Holy Spirit under sensible signs: tongues as of fire, and a mighty wind. The Apostles themselves administered the sacrament of Confirmation, as at Samaria and Ephesus. “And when Paul laid his hands on them, the Holy Spirit came upon them” (Acts 19:6). “Laying of the hands” was the earliest name for Confirmation.
2. Any baptized Christian may be confirmed. Although the sacrament is not necessary for salvation, it is sinful to neglect it, as it confers many graces.
3. We should receive the sacrament of Confirmation at the age when we pass from childhood to youth. At that period all kinds of temptations surround us, and we need special strength from God to resist them.
In the early days of the Church, it was the custom to confirm very young children. The sacrament of Confirmation is today delayed in order that the recipient may first have a basis of knowledge of the fundamentals of faith. Even when Confirmation is administered to infants and very young children, they truly receive the sacrament. The age is a matter of discipline in particular dioceses.
4. The bishop is the usual minister of Confirmation.
Sometimes, however, the Holy See gives missionary priests the power to administer this sacrament. Pastors and administrators of parishes in their respective territories are granted the faculty of confirming, as extra-ordinary ministers, those who are in danger of death from sickness, accident, or old age.
The ceremonies of Confirmation begin by the Bishop extending his hands over those to be confirmed (1), invoking the Holy Ghost. He signs with the sign of the cross the forehead of each separately with chrism (2), pronouncing the words of confirmation. He gives the person a slight blow on the cheek (3) to remind him to be ready to suffer all things, even death, for his faith.