The following information includes the Rite of Confirmation with guidelines and instructions for celebration in the Archdiocese of Los Angeles. These suggestions and resources are intended to assist priests, catechists, confirmation candidates, liturgical planning teams, and the entire parish community in fulfilling their pastoral responsibility in celebrating the Sacrament of Confirmation.
Everyone needs to keep in mind that the celebration of the Sacrament of Confirmation is a time of special grace for those being confirmed. The entire focus should be upon Confirmation as a Sacrament of Initiation that strengthens Baptism. Confirmation is not a “graduation” or “presentation” ceremony but rather a liturgical action of the church.
Section I: General Instructions
Candidates for Confirmation: The Bishop’s scheduled visit to the parish during the Easter season is to confer the Sacrament of Confirmation on high school students and, unless otherwise determined, on the adult candidates of the parish. High school Confirmation candidates must have participated in and completed the two year Confirmation process. Catechized adult Catholics seeking completion of their Initiation through Sacrament of Confirmation will be confirmed either at the local parish or Regional Celebration of confirmation for Adults. Adults in the RCIA process baptized at Easter are to be confirmed by the presiding priest as part of the Easter Vigil liturgy.
Parish Participation: The catechetical and pastoral preparation should in some way include the entire parish community and not merely the candidates for Confirmation (Rite of Confirmation #3). The parish community needs to be made aware that some of its members are preparing to celebrate Confirmation. This may be accomplished through:
- announcements imparting information through the bulletin, parish newsletters, letters from the pastor, etc.;
- preaching on Sundays during the Easter season and throughout the year;
- parish prayer including Intercessions for the candidates in the Universal Prayer or Prayer of the Faithful on Sundays;
- ceremonies presenting the Candidates to the Parish Community;
- Photographs of the candidates in the vestibule;
- testimonies of commitment;
- prayer partners.
Sponsors: A Baptismal godparent is not only allowed, but is in fact desired as the Confirmation sponsor, in order to emphasize the relationship between Baptism and Confirmation (Canon 893.2). “Pastors will see that the sponsor is spiritually qualified for the office” (RC, #6). The sponsor for any candidate may be male or female, is to be sufficiently mature, (at least 16 years of age), a fully initiated Catholic and living a life of faith which befits the role to be undertaken, and is not prohibited by Canon Law from exercising the role of sponsor. A parent may not act as a sponsor for his or her child (Canon 874). Individuals selected as sponsors must be Catholics who are able to receive the Sacraments of the Church. Sponsors are expected to receive Holy Communion at the Mass of Confirmation.
Names: The use of the baptismal name on the occasion of Confirmation better expresses the relationship between Baptism and Confirmation. If a special Confirmation name is taken, it must be the name of a recognized saint (such as St. John, St. Martha, St. Teresa, Blessed Junípero Serra) or an acceptable recognized Christian name (such as Faith, Charity, Prudence). Individual teachers must guide their students in the selection of a Confirmation name, and those names are to be approved in advance. Only full names are to be used, e.g., “Joseph, Robert, Barbara, Gabriela;” not shortened names such as “Joey, Bobby, Barbs, Gabby.”
Attire for Candidates: Candidates should dress appropriately befitting the solemnity of the Confirmation liturgy. Robes or a uniform dress code are preferable because they eliminate questionable attire. The stole is the distinctive garb of the ordained minister; garments resembling a stole should not be worn by the Confirmation candidate.
Photography: Confirmation candidates, sponsors and families need to be informed that the taking of photographs or videotaping during the Confirmation Liturgy is not permitted. Everyone needs to be reminded to turn off cellular phones and pagers. Confirmation team members need to monitor and implement this strictly.
- Following Confirmation, the confirming Bishop will take one photograph with each newly confirmed person and his or her sponsor.
Knights of Columbus & Knights of St. Peter Claver: If present, they may be in the procession and should follow the cross bearer and acolytes and precede the concelebrants. The Knights should be seated to one side so as not to obstruct the participation of the candidates and sponsors. They do not draw their swords at any time in the Church; their heads are to remain uncovered throughout the Mass.
Bishop’s parking: A place should be reserved for the Bishop’s car near the rectory and clearly marked. It is requested that the Bishop’s office be notified in advance where the reserved parking space will be located.
Rehearsal: A rehearsal for all liturgical ministers, the Confirmation candidates and their sponsors which helps ensure familiarity with the movement and rite of Confirmation is strongly recommended. The rehearsal must include at the least the following:
- Walking through the entire Confirmation Rite:
- Speaking the Confirmation name loudly and clearly;
- Responding the “Amen” and “And with your spirit” in the Rite;
- Practicing all of the music to be sung by the Confirmation group and the Assembly.
Worship/Participation Aids: A printed booklet or pamphlet to assist in liturgical participation is recommended. It should not include prayers or readings in the language proclaimed by others, e.g. the Scripture readings (unless multilingual), the Eucharistic prayer, special rites or ceremonies proclaimed by others, nor those prayers or responses which the assembly knows from memory.
- The worship aid should include all the music sung by the assembly, except for that music which is readily known, e.g., the traditional chant to the Lord’s Prayer.
Music: Confirmation is a celebration of faith within the midst of the community of the Church. Music carefully selected and well rendered can heighten the celebration and strengthen the faith of the assembled believers.
- The priority in selecting music is that it should be music known to the confirmation candidates, and music which they themselves will sing with spirit and fervor during the Liturgy.
The music selected should be artistically good, liturgically appropriate and pastorally suitable (c.f. Music in Catholic Worship, Liturgical Music Today, and Sing to the Lord). Songs that speak of our Baptismal dignity, the Paschal Mystery, our call to Christian witness, and empowerment in the Holy Spirit are appropriate. It should be kept in mind that Confirmation “seals” the baptismal experience and hence should be seen intimately linked to an overall theology of initiation in which the Spirit is at work both in Baptism and Confirmation. Music should be selected to highlight those parts of the liturgical rite that are more significant: e.g., Word, the Rite of Confirmation, and the Eucharist.
- Prelude Music: Prior to the liturgy and while the candidates are being seated, instrumental or choral music may accompany this action in order to create an atmosphere that is both festive and reverent. There should be a definite break between the Prelude and the Gathering or Entrance song.
- Introductory Rites: The Gathering or Entrance song should create an atmosphere of the praise of God and of celebration. It is particularly appropriate during the Easter season to select anthems that reflect the nature of this liturgical season. Music, either sung or instrumental, should accompany the Rite of Sprinkling, taking into account the baptismal symbolism of the ritual action. The Glory to God may be the song accompanying the Rite of Sprinkling. Other priests or deacons may participate in the Rite of Sprinkling, depending upon the design of the Church.
- Liturgy of the Word: Within the Liturgy of the Word, the Responsorial Psalm and Gospel Acclamation should be sung.
- Rite of Confirmation: The Anointing with Chrism is accompanied by a dialogue between the Bishop and Candidate. Only very soft, background instrumental music should accompany this rite—but no singing, in order not to render inaudible the words spoken by the Bishop and the candidate.
- Liturgy of The Eucharist: Instrumental music is appropriate during the Presentation and Preparation of the Gifts. The acclamations of the Eucharistic prayer should be rendered musically. The Lord’s Prayer need not be sung; however, if sung, the melody should be familiar to all. The Lamb of God is a litany which accompanies the Breaking of the Bread, thus the invocation and response may be repeated as long as the action demands. The Communion song should foster a sense of unity, be simple and not demand great effort.
Copyright permissions need to be obtained and properly acknowledged for all music printed in a worship aid. Please see “Worship/Participation Aids” in Liturgical Life. Volume III, Number 5, or contact the Office for Worship of the Archdiocese of Los Angeles at (213) 637-7262.
Section II: Confirmation Liturgy
General Preparation: The Confirmation liturgy demands careful preparation by a team that should include parish priests, deacons, Confirmation coordinators and catechists who have worked with the candidates, some of the candidates themselves, members of the liturgy committee and music ministers.
The Confirmation Liturgy is celebrated within the Liturgy of the Word. Its integrity must be maintained. Care is taken to allow the Word and the symbolic action of these primary parts of the celebration to stand out, unencumbered by extraneous words or peripheral signs and symbols. The following are specific liturgical points regarding the celebration of Confirmation:
- Symbols: The primary symbols inherent to the liturgy itself need to be given careful attention, i.e., the water, the Chrism, the book of Scripture, the bread and wine, the Easter candle and the assembly. These symbols are most effective when allowed to be authentic forms of ritual expression without added words of explanation.
- Water: Baptism begins our journey as part of the living Body of Christ; Confirmation strengthens the Christian Initiation begun in Baptism. For this reason, Confirmation is celebrated during the Easter Season. The baptismal water and its use in the Rite of Sprinkling frame and define the Confirmation liturgy. If a Baptismal font is located within the body of the Church, the liturgy will begin there. A large, clear glass container for the water with a green leaf branch should be available [evergreen branches are the most effective]. If a baptismal font is not accessible, a prominent vessel of water placed on a small table or stand in a clearly visible area, easily accessible to the Bishop for the beginning of the liturgy is needed. The parish priests may assist the Bishop in the sprinkling of the people.
- Easter Candle: Since Confirmation is an initiation sacrament, it is appropriate to highlight the Easter Candle, which should be positioned near the ambo or font. [Only genuine full wax Easter Candles reflects the Risen Christ authentically. Parishes should avoid artificial candles that burn oils, kerosene, or small spring-loaded interior candles.]
- Chrism: “When (those baptized) are anointed with this holy oil and made the temples of your glory…Let this be indeed the Chrism of salvation for those who will be born again of water and the Holy Spirit.” (Roman Pontifical, Consecration of the Chrism, n. 25). The Bishop will normally use the Chrism of the Parish and it may be carried in the entrance procession. It shall be placed in an area of prominence, near the font, or on the table holding the vessel of water.
In order that the fullness of the sacramental signs may be evident, the Chrism is not to be wiped off the foreheads of the newly confirmed.
Scripture Readings and Roman Missal Prayers: The Ritual for Confirmation states that the Readings may be taken from the Mass of the Day or from texts in the Lectionary, nos. 764-768.
- When Confirmation is celebrated on a Sunday Vigil, Sunday, Solemnity or during the Easter Season, ALL the READINGS and PRAYERS for THAT DAY MUST BE USED.
- If Confirmation is celebrated on a weekday during the Easter Season, either the readings for that day or alternate readings for Confirmation may be chosen. If Confirmation is celebrated on a weekday in the Easter season, the PRAYERS from the Ritual of Confirmation must be chosen.
- Although all the Readings for Confirmation from the Lectionary (Nos.764-768) may be used as indicated above, all of the daily Easter season Readings are most appropriate for the Confirmation liturgy. (If alternate Readings are chosen, the Confirming Bishop must be notified prior to the Confirmation on the form the parishes send to the Confirming Bishop.)
Choosing Ministers: Those selected for various ministries within the Confirmation liturgy should be individuals who are prepared and who regularly serve in this capacity for the community. Each person should have only one function at a given liturgy. Therefore it is inappropriate to have confirmation candidates serving in the capacity of liturgical minister, such as Extraordinary Minister of Holy Communion or Lector.
- Lectors: The Scriptures must be proclaimed with dignity and clarity by persons trained as lectors and familiar with the local parish liturgical space and equipment.
- Acolytes: According to present Church directives, six trained servers are necessary for the Confirmation liturgy: an incense bearer, a cross bearer, two candle bearers, a miter bearer and a crozier bearer.
- Deacon: The participation of a deacon (permanent or transitional) is highly desired. The Deacon serves as a minister to the Bishop, proclaims the Gospel, presents the sacred Chrism to the Bishop, and assists the Bishop as the rubrics specify.
Multilingual Liturgy: The multicultural nature of the assembly should be considered during the process of planning readings, ritual texts and music. (Please contact the Office for Worship of the Archdiocese of Los Angeles for guidelines on multilingual liturgies.)
A designated sacristan should attend to the following details:
- Vestments: For Sunday Vigil, Sunday and Solemnity Masses in which Confirmation is celebrated during the Easter Season, WHITE vestments are to be worn (except for Pentecost). When Confirmation is celebrated during weekdays in the Easter Season, RED or WHITE VESTMENTS MAY BE WORN. The Presiding Bishop will normally bring his own vestment.
- Presider’s Chair: The Presidential chair is to be located in a place that is visible to the entire assembly. Chairs for concelebrating priests may be set in the sanctuary, but preferably not on either side of the Bishop. If there is a deacon, he is to be seated to the right of the Bishop. Altar Servers do not sit next to the Bishop. A chair should be provided for the Bishop’s Master of Ceremonies and should be positioned near the servers.
- Microphone: A standing microphone should be in place at the Presider’s chair with a cord sufficiently long to extend to the first pews of the assembly. If the parish is equipped with wireless microphones, then one of these should be available for the Bishop in the place in which he is to vest.
- Ritual Books: The Missal and lectionary should be set up before the Liturgy begins.
- Book of the Gospels: should be carried in procession by the deacon and placed flat upon the altar. (If the parish does not have a book of the Gospels the Lectionary can be substituted.)
(Note: the Bishop will provide the Roman Pontifical for the Rite of Confirmation.)
- Credence Table: A large credence table is necessary to hold the following:
- a large bowl of water and special branch for the Sprinkling Rite at beginning of Mass;
- corporal for the altar;
- chalice and purificator for the Bishop;
- extra chalices or cups with purificators for the assembly’s Communion. These are brought to the altar during the Lamb of God;
- empty ciboria—sufficient number for the orderly distribution of the Body of Christ;
- cruet of water;
- one lemon, quartered, and a towel for the Bishop; bread is not needed, nor used, for the washing of the Bishop’s hands;
- pitcher of water, bowl and two towels to wash the Bishops hands twice (after the Anointing, and during the offertory).
- Table for the Gifts: The table is located in the nave of the Church and should have on it one or two large ciboria with a sufficient number of hosts, and container(s) of wine sufficient for all who will be receiving Communion.
Section III: Liturgy, Order of Celebration
The Confirmation Candidates and Sponsors should be in their designated places in the pews prior to the scheduled time so that the ceremony is able to begin promptly at the appointed hour.
Order of Procession:
- Incense Bearer
- Server with Candle Cross Bearer Server with Candle
- Eucharistic Ministers (if needed)
- Deacon with Book of Gospels (if available)
- Concelebrating Priests
- Crozier Bearer and Miter Bearer
Entrance or Gathering Song: When the Bishop arrives at the altar, he may incense the Altar. The Entrance Song or background music should accompany the incensing of the altar.
Rite of Sprinkling: When Confirmation is celebrated during the Easter Season, to highlight the bond between Confirmation and Baptism, the Rite of Sprinkling replaces the Penitential Rite. (For set up, review Part II: Symbols – Water.)
Gloria: It is preferred that the Gloria be sung rather than recited. It also may be sung during the Sprinkling Rite.
Opening Prayer: spoken by the Bishop
LITURGY OF THE WORD
Scripture Readings: Refer to Part II, Section 2: Scripture Readings and Part II, Section 5: Choosing Ministers – Lectors, for assistance in the planning and preparation of the Liturgy of the Word. All Scripture readings should be proclaimed from the ambo. As in every liturgy, a period of reflective silence should follow the readings, before the Responsorial Psalm and the Gospel Acclamation.
Gospel: A Priest or Deacon proclaims the Gospel; if a Deacon is not available, one of the Priests proclaims the Gospel. Incensing the of the Book normally takes place. The priest or deacon receives a blessing from the Bishop while the Bishop is seated. The Gospel book is brought back to the Bishop for reverencing after the proclamation of the Gospel has been completed. All remain standing until the Bishop has reverenced the Gospel book.
RITE OF CONFIRMATION
Presentation of the Candidates: After the Gospel, before the homily, the Pastor presents the candidates for Confirmation in these or similar words:
Bishop <name>, the parish community of <parish name here> wishes to present to you its young men and women [and adult candidates] who have prepared and are ready to receive the fullness of Christian Initiation in the Sacrament of Confirmation. Each candidate has been well instructed and is accompanied by a sponsor. It is my privilege to present them to you at this time. I invite the candidates for Confirmation to please stand.
Bishop <name> the members of the parish community of <parish name here>, welcome you and express sentiments of thanks for your coming here so that the young men and women [and adult candidates] of the parish may receive the fullness of Christian Initiation in the Sacrament of Confirmation. Just as the apostles journeyed from town to town in order that the neophytes might receive the Holy Spirit, so you have journeyed here on a similar apostolic mission. These candidates have been baptized in the Lord Jesus and have been nourished at His Eucharistic Banquet. In preparation for this day they have received and carefully assimilated the Word of God with an ever deepening commitment of faith. The parish community has joined them in prayer that the seal of the Holy Spirit, with an abundance of gifts, may confirm them; and that by your ministry they may receive the fullness of Christian Initiation through the reception of the fullness of the Holy Spirit. I invite the candidates for Confirmation to please stand.
(The Confirmation candidates remain standing until the Bishop invites them to be seated.)
Homily: The Bishop will give the homily.
RENEWAL OF BAPTISMAL PROMISES
After the homily, ONLY THE CANDIDATES TO BE CONFIRMED STAND and renew their Baptismal Promises in a voice to be heard by all.
The Bishop leads the renewal with the following form:
Do you renounce Satan, and all his works, and all his empty show?
Do you believe in God, the Father almighty, Creator of heaven and earth?
Do you believe in Jesus Christ, his only Son, our Lord, who was born of the virgin Mary, suffered death and was buried, rose again from the dead and is seated at the right hand of the Father?
Do you believe in the Holy Spirit, the Lord, the giver of life, who came upon the Apostles at Pentecost and today is given to you sacramentally in Confirmation?
Do you believe in the holy Catholic Church, the communion of saints, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body, and life everlasting?
This is our faith. This is the faith of the church We are proud to profess it in Christ Jesus our Lord.
[NOTE: It is not necessary to print the Baptismal Promises in the worship aid.]
THE LAYING ON OF HANDS
During the Imposition of Hands the CANDIDATES ONLY WILL KNEEL. The Bishop, without miter, stands facing the candidates and addresses the assembly in these words:
Bishop: My dear friends, in Baptism God our Father gave the new birth of eternal life to his chosen sons and daughters. Let us pray to our Father that he will pour out the Holy Spirit to strengthen his sons and daughters with his gifts and anoint them to be more like Christ the Son of God.
All pray in silence for a short time. The Bishop extends his hands over the candidates and prays:
Bishop: All powerful God, Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, by water and the Holy Spirit you freed your sons and daughters from sin and gave them new life. Send your Holy Spirit upon them to be their helper and guide. Give them the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of right judgment and courage, the spirit of knowledge and reverence. Fill them with the spirit of wonder and awe in your presence. We ask this through Christ our Lord.
[NOTE: It is not necessary to print these two prayers in the worship aid.]
[NOTE: If the number of candidates is fewer than twenty-five, the Bishop may prefer to lay hands on each candidate individually. Each candidate would come forward for the Laying on of Hands; then candidates depart. After all the candidates have celebrated this ritual action, the candidates and sponsors would come forward for the anointing. This is an optional rite and arrangements should be made with the confirming Bishop before the ceremony.]
THE ANOINTING WITH CHRISM
The deacon or one of the priests brings the parish’s decanter of Chrism to the Bishop. The Bishop pours Chrism into either his Confirmation Chrism container, or into a smaller glass bowl which the deacon or priest holds at the Bishop’s right side—the Bishop will indicate his preference.
The candidates approach the Bishop two by two, with their sponsors. The candidates stand for the anointing. The sponsor places his/her right hand on the shoulder of the candidate. The candidate should state his/her Confirmation name loudly and clearly to the Bishop. Candidates should likewise be rehearsed to speak their “Amen” and “And also with you” in an audible voice. Care should be taken to keep the procession moving toward the site of anointing in a respectful pace, without undue delay.
The Bishop dips his right thumb in the Chrism and makes the sign of the cross on the forehead of the one to be confirmed using this formula:
Bishop: <name of Confirmandi> be sealed with the Gift of the Holy Spirit.
Bishop: Peace be with you.
Confirmandi: And with your spirit.
The procession of candidates and sponsors to the Bishop should be planned allowing the assembly maximum visibility of the Rite, e.g., the candidates and sponsors might process up the side aisles and return down the center aisle. The newly confirmed and their sponsors should be seated upon returning to their places.
The oil is left on the forehead of the candidate.
If any students have received the Sacrament of Confirmation at an earlier age, but have participated in the two year Confirmation process, the Bishop will impart a blessing on these young people. They should be positioned behind the Candidates and someone should identify those who will receive a blessing when they reach the Bishop.
After the last person has been confirmed, two acolytes approach the Bishop with the pitcher of water, bowl, lemon and two towels. At this time, those who will proclaim the General Intercessions should approach the podium and be in place.
The renewal of Baptismal Promises takes the place of the profession of Faith
Universal Prayer or Prayer of the Faithful: It is desirable to have one reader, or if prayers are multilingual then it is desirable to have one reader for each language. Multiple readers for each petition tends to emphasize the readers rather than the petitions, and is to be discouraged.
The Prayers should include intercessions for the Church, civil authorities, those in need, and the needs of the local community related to the celebration. There should be no more than five petitions.
This is an especially opportune time to include petitions for religious and priestly vocations.
LITURGY OF THE EUCHARIST
Presentation of the Gifts: It is appropriate that two or three of the newly-confirmed present the gifts of the people (bread, wine, optional gifts for the poor, collection) to the Bishop.
If there is a collection, the procession of gifts takes place following the collection. The Bishop will normally incense the altar and gifts. Pastors should direct the ushers as to the collection flow.
Eucharistic Prayer: The decision about which Eucharist Prayer to pray is reserved to the Bishop. The Eucharistic Prayers for Masses for Various Needs and Occasions are particularly appropriate for Confirmation.
Communion: Sufficient hosts for the Mass should be consecrated, and according to the Roman Missal, 2010, paragraph 73. (Hosts should not be taken from the tabernacle.)8/8/2012 Distributing Communion under both the forms of bread and wine is normative. This presumes proper catechesis and familiarity with the ritual of receiving from the cup. The common rule is that there be two ministers of the cup to every one minister of the hosts. Special ministers of the Eucharist are used when there is an insufficient number of ordinary ministers (priests, deacons).
Silent Reflection: Sufficient quiet time should be planned after Communion. The use of this time solely for additional music or hymns is to be discouraged. If a meditation hymn is included, sufficient silent time should also be included.
Prayer after Communion: Before the prayer, silence is observed.
Witness Talks: The practice of inviting newly confirmed young people to give “witness talks” at the Confirmation Mass is to be discouraged. Such presentations are more fitting during the Confirmation process, and may occasionally be included at the end of a Sunday Eucharist when parishioners are being asked to pray for those to be confirmed.
Announcements: If there are any announcements they should be brief and follow the Prayer after Communion. Expressions of gratitude to all who have helped in the Confirmation process are more fittingly printed in the worship aid, and not voiced during the liturgy.
Final Blessing: The Bishop will impart either the “Solemn Blessing” or the “Prayer over the People” from the Rite of Confirmation. The assembly will respond “Amen” to the Blessing.
Recessional: The ministers leave in the order given for the processional. The newly confirmed follow immediately behind the Bishop in the recessional.
Photographs of the Newly Confirmed: See Part 6 of Section I above for information about photographic policies.