The following information gives an overview of the Rite of Confirmation. For a detailed look at the celebration in the Archdiocese of Los Angeles, download the PDF with the guideline and instructions.
In preparing adults and youth to celebrate the sacrament of confirmation it is important to root this preparation in light of their Baptism (already celebrated). The following text from the General Introduction to the Sacrament of Baptism illustrates how closely linked the three sacraments of Initiation are. It would be incumbent upon the catechists responsible for this preparation to keep the following theological principles in mind throughout the preparation process.
In the sacraments of Christian initiation, we are freed from the power of darkness and joined to Christ’s death, burial, and resurrection. We receive the Spirit of filial adoption and are part of the entire people of God in the celebration of the Lord’s death and resurrection.
Baptism incorporates us into Christ and forms us into God’s people. This first sacrament pardons all our sins, rescues us from the power of darkness and brings us to the dignity of adopted children, a new creation through water and the Holy Spirit. Hence, we are called and are indeed the children of God.
By signing us with the gift of the Spirit, confirmation makes us more completely in the image of the Lord and fills us with the Holy Spirit, so that we may bear witness to him before all the world and work to bring the Body of Christ to its fullness as soon as possible.
Finally, coming to the table of the Eucharist, we eat the flesh and drink the blood of the Son of Man so that we may have eternal life and show forth the unity of God’s people. By offering ourselves with Christ, we share in the universal sacrifice, that is, the entire community of the redeemed offered to God by their High Priest, and we pray for a greater outpouring of the Holy spirit, so that the whole human race may be brought into the unity of God’s family.
Thus the three sacraments of Christian initiation closely combine to bring us, the faithful of Christ, to his full stature and to enable us to carry out the mission of the entire people of God in the Church and in the world. Christian Initiation General Introduction, 1-2.
Your parish formation and preparation for the Rite of Confirmation should be focused on Confirmation as a Sacrament of Initiation that strengthens Baptism.
The teaching documents of the church tell us that initiation should be the model for all catechesis. “It’s spirituality of Baptism inspire(s) all catechesis.” (GDC No. 91)
“Post-baptismal catechesis, without slavishly imitating the structure of the baptismal catechumenate … does well, … to draw inspiration from this preparatory school for the Christian life, and to allow itself to be enriched by those principal elements which characterize the catechumenate.” (GDC No. 91)
The Catechism of the Catholic Church No. 1075 says:
“Liturgical catechesis aims to initiate people into the mystery of Christ ….” So, liturgical catechesis, like the initiation process, begins with the mystery of God, the ways of the human heart, and the individual’s relationship with God. It recognizes that encounter with the living God is where we all start our spiritual journey. Therefore, it begins with experience of God rather than information about God. It expands into relationship with God, in and through the person of Jesus Christ, as made known to us through the Gospels and through participation in the ritual public prayer of the church.
“The source from which catechesis draws its message is the word of God.” (GDC No. 94)
By this description, the main formative elements of liturgical catechesis are the scripture and the liturgy. All moral, doctrinal and dogmatic issues rise from, or are integrated within this liturgical catechetical model, but are not the primary or on-going focus. Liturgical catechesis forms Catholics who live and grow spiritually through regular participation in, and reflection on, the source and summit of our Christian lives, the liturgy.
Reminder to Catechists:
It is important for all parish catechetical leaders to understand the church’s initiation process, and incorporate its spirituality and principals of formation into their leadership. Increasing awareness of liturgical catechetical elements, and encompassing a broader base of those elements into the time spent with those in your spiritual care, can strengthen the scope of your ministry. It means shifting your primary evaluative focus from cognitive to experiential. Think of it as immersion in a spiritual formation that moves from heart-to-mind, rather than mind-to-heart. This also requires that we walk the spiritual journey alongside those in our care. Through liturgical catechesis, the Gospel content and message becomes a “knowing” in one’s heart that eventually becomes a “knowing” in one’s head. The primary formative process in preparing for the sacrament, therefore is participation in liturgy.
The Office for Worship can assist you in the preparation of the Celebration of Confirmation in your parish.
For further information, please contact the Office for Worship: 213-637-7262 or OFWMailbox@la-archdiocese.org.