Confirmation seals and strengthens the believer to live as a child of God, through the power of the Holy Spirit.

Confirmation is ordinarily conferred by a bishop who - through the “laying on of hands” and “anointing with chrism oil” - invokes the presence of the Holy Spirit on the baptized person. In this powerful encounter with God, we experience again the grace of Pentecost when the Holy Spirit descended upon Mary and the Apostles!

Since the earliest days of the Church, the apostles conferred this sacrament upon the newly baptized. 

Now when the apostles at Jerusalem heard that Sama'ria had received the word of God, they sent to them Peter and John, who came down and prayed for them that they might receive the Holy Spirit; for it had not yet fallen on any of them, but they had only been baptized...  Acts 8:14-16

In the Early Church, we find witness of this sacrament, such as when Theophilus of Antioch (181 AD) wrote:

Are you unwilling to be anointed with the oil of God? It is on this account that we are called Christians: because we are anointed with the oil of God. To Autolycus

Over time, two traditions developed in the administration of Confirmation in the Catholic Church.  In the Eastern Rites of the Catholic Church, the sacrament is given at the time of baptism whether one is child or adult... even to newborn infants!  Often this is done by a priest using the oil consecrated by the bishop.

In the West, (in the Latin Rite of the Catholic Church), the sacrament is ordinarily administered by the Bishop sometime after the age of reason.  When children are baptized as infants they receive confirmation at a later time.  Adults who participate in the "Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults" always receive confirmation immediately following baptism by their pastor.  In the case of a baptism when one is in danger of death any priest has the authority to confer Confirmation following baptism provided that he has the proper oil of chrism available at the time of the baptism.  This is the case with both adults and infants.

This sacrament provides an increase and deepening of the grace of Baptism which increase the gifts of the Holy Spirit received in Baptism.

The Catechism provides a clear list of these specific graces in #1303:


  • Roots us more deeply in the divine filiation which makes us cry, “Abba! Father!”
  • Unites us more firmly to Christ
  • Increases the gifts of the Holy Spirit in us
  • Renders our bod with the Church more perfect
  • Gives us the special strength of the Holy Spirit to spread and defend the faith by word and action as true witnesses of Christ, to confess the name of Christ boldly, and never to be ashamed of the Cross.

The role of the Sponsor is to bring the Confirmation Candidate along in his/her preparation to receive the Sacrament. A Sponsor presents the Candidate to the Bishop and supports the Candidate in the continued living-out of his/her Baptismal promises.

  • Be at least sixteen (16) years of age
  • Be a Catholic who has been confirmed and has received the sacrament of Holy Eucharist
  • If married, must be married in the Catholic Church
  • Be leading a life in harmony with the faith and role to be undertaken
  • Not be bound by any canonical penalty
  • Not be the mother or father of the one to be baptized. (Canon 874.2)

And, because of the close connection between Baptism and Confirmation, the Church encourages a Sponsor at Confirmation to be the same as the one for Baptism. This emphasizes the ongoing nurturing and continued relationship that is so important between an individual and his/her Sponsor.

A Sponsor need not be the same sex as the Candidate.

  • Regularly communicate with the Candidate about his/her progress in the program (at least once every couple of weeks)
  • Commit to daily prayer for the Candidate
  • Present the Candidate at the Confirmation Celebration to the Bishop
  • Continue support as the newly confirmed discovers more and more about his/her faith
  • Attend the Sponsor/Candidate meeting
  • Attend the Confirmation practice

While the age for reception of Confirmation varies from one diocese to the next, the need for preparation is universal. Preparation involves general formation for the life of discipleship and specific formation leading the confirmand to a greater unity with the Church. The Catechism explains that "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." (1309)

In additional to preparation classes one must be spiritually prepared. "To receive Confirmation one must be in a state of grace. One should receive the sacrament of Penance in order to be cleansed for the gift of the Holy Spirit. More intense prayer should prepare one to receive the strength and graces of the Holy Spirit with docility and readiness to act." (Catechism, 1310)

Fr. Muir explains the Sacrament of Confirmation

The Sacrament of Confirmation