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The Sacrament of Confirmation gives us the spiritual ability to become adult witnesses of Christ. In this sense, it completes the gift of spiritual childhood given to us at Baptism. (Acts 8:15-17)

The celebration of the Sacrament is made of up of two elements: The laying on of hands by the bishop and the anointing with chrism oil. It is preceded by the renewal of baptismal promises.

Since the beginning of the Church, the bishop has been the ordinary minister of the Sacrament. However, he can delegate it to a priest, as he does at the Easter Vigil.

The Sacrament of Confirmation is a complete gift of God, one that we can reject. For us to know how to use this gift, we must constantly practice converting our lives over to God. Although this passage explicitly refers to ordination, it equally applies to confirmation. (2 Timothy 1:6-7)

Through it we receive the gifts of the Holy Spirit: Fear of the Lord, piety, knowledge, courage, right judgment, understanding, and wisdom. By these gifts, we can grow in faith and the Holy Spirit strengthens us to be witnesses for Jesus. (Isaiah 11:2)

One of the most important things about Confirmation, and our lives as Christians, is to understand how to use the gifts of the Holy Spirit that God gives us in Baptism and Confirmation. According to St. Augustine, the primary purpose of the Gifts of the Holy Spirit is to lead us deeper in our faith with Christ. They tend to follow this order:

  • Fear of the Lord: This gift helps us recognize God's will by understanding that He holds the keys to eternal life. This is the beginning step on our relationship to peace with God. This leads to:

  • Devotion (Piety): The gift of devotion to the Lord helps us grow in obedience to Christ by learning about Him through the Scriptures. This helps us to be meek, which is the loss of resentment towards people. Once we control our anger, we are open to see each other and God clearly. This leads to:

  • Knowledge: The gift of knowledge leads us to be confronted with the fact that God is to be loved for Himself, neighbors are to be loved because of God, and that our love for God involves everything - our heart, mind and soul. It is not so much an intellectual knowledge as it is a 'biblical' experience of being united in love. This leads to:

  • Fortitude: The gift of fortitude is needed to keep our love of God secure, even in bad times. Fortitude keeps us strong, away from despair and focused on eternity. When difficulties hit, and the feeling of love fades, it helps us to stay strong. This leads to:

  • Counsel: The gift of counsel can be understood in relationship to the practice of counseling. Counseling involves receiving correction of our actions.  According to God, there is no deeper way to love than to be a person of mercy. The gift of counsel leads us to mercy, which leads us to perfection in love. Mercy is the way God deals with us, and is what is best for us. It is a love that dies for someone, even when they don't deserve it. This leads to:

  • Understanding: The gift of understanding concerns the understanding of the heart, the part of ourselves where only God and I are present. The gift of understanding cleanses the heart to prefer the Truth to everything, and leads us to love that which we thought was unlovable, including our enemies. This leads us to:

  • Wisdom: The gift of wisdom is the final stage of our growth in faith. Here, we live a life that pleases God alone and are able to enjoy His peace here on earth and into eternity.

The way to progress from one Gift of the Holy Spirit to the next is to use our personal God-given gifts for the service of others. We all have gifts to use to build up God's Kingdom, as St. Paul talks about in 1 Corinthians 12 (feel free to read any part from that passage). First, we need to develop ourselves so our gifts can emerge. Our personal gifts develop through:

  • Prayer and growth in holiness.

  • Studying God's ways and training our minds.

  • Getting involved with our parishes, communities, studies, etc., and letting people see us lead by example.

  • Not being afraid of hard work, getting our uniform dirty.

  • Putting ourselves in situations that will cause us to grow, even if that means we get uncomfortable. We need to be willing to do what others won't do (Matthew 25:14-20).

Once we get this pattern down, our God-given gifts will emerge. Many of you, because you have been practicing these steps, can already see your gifts and have begun to use them. Once you see these gifts, it is important to affirm them, both in yourself and in others. Don't be afraid to do that: If God has given you the gift to sing, then thank Him for it and use it. If you are really growing in your gifts, your life will begin to show fruit. St. Paul calls this the Fruit of the Holy Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23). This Fruit is the proof that you are going in the right direction with your life in Christ.

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