Confirmation – sealed with the gift of the Holy Spirit

Through the Sacrament of Confirmation the faithful become more perfectly bound to the Church as true witnesses to Christ as their full Christian initiation is completed. This season 1,738 have been confirmed in the Diocese of Venice, which is an increase over last year’s number.

Pope Francis said Confirmation is a Sacrament which must be understood as a continuation of the faith journey, beginning with Baptism, along with the Eucharist, to constitute a single saving event – Christian initiation – “in which we are brought into Christ who died and rose again, and become new creatures and members of the Church.”

Here in the Diocese of Venice, a group of young men and women recently completed their own final step of Christian initiation by being “sealed with the gift of the Holy Spirit” with sacred Chrism oil administered by Bishop Frank J. Dewane during their Confirmation at Our Lady of Guadalupe Parish in Immokalee on May 4, 2024.

This Sacrament has been repeated by Bishop Dewane, and delegated Parish priests in the Parish at the Easter Vigil, since the fall of 2023, with 1,738 young men and women receiving their Confirmation during that time. Among that number were 662 adults who received the Sacrament of Confirmation at their home Parishes on Holy Saturday at the Easter Vigil on March 30, 2024.

Bishop Dewane told the confirmandi at Our Lady of Guadalupe Parish that part of receiving the Sacrament of Confirmation is a willingness to come forward and say they are ready to receive the Holy Spirit and live out that commitment.

“Nothing magical happens today,” Bishop Dewane said. “Each one of you must be aware in your mind, and more profoundly in your heart and soul, that you have let the Holy Spirit into your life. That encounter with Christ, that encounter of receiving the Holy Spirit, must change your life as you become more the man or woman of God you are called to be.”

Through the Sacrament of Confirmation, the young men and women are confirmed with the abundant gifts of the Holy Spirit. In the anointing, they will each be formed more closely to Christ, the Son of God.

“We are all supposed to follow Jesus Christ in our life,” the Bishop said. “When He was on earth, the Lord said to the Apostles and His Disciples ‘Follow Me.’ Christ says ‘Follow Me’ to us on a regular basis because sometimes we get a little lost. When this happens, Christ says, ‘come back – follow me.’ As you follow the Lord, you will come to have a deeper understanding of who God is in your life, allowing you to conform your life more fully to Christ, the Son of God.”

Bishop Dewane told the young men and women that this is a call to live out their faith fully, not selectively. This is because the Sacrament of Confirmation is not an ending to the faith journey, but a beginning. This means living their faith outside the four walls of the church, doing the will of the Lord, and living in a manner worthy of the call that each has received.

“By being anointed with the sacred Chrism, you are called to stand up in the midst of others and show you are a man or woman of faith,” Bishop Dewane said. “As a witness for Christ, there is a profound value you give by demonstrating your faith. You do this by speaking up, or maybe by making the sign of the cross in a restaurant before you start your meal, and in everything you do. It has far more value than what you think. Your example reminds others of what they should or could be doing.”

During the Sacrament of Confirmation, the confirmandi renew their baptismal promises, which Bishop Dewane said is done to publicly proclaim who they are as Catholics and to have the courage, hope, faith and perseverance to be true followers of Christ.

As the Rite continues, the Bishop says an introductory prayer and asks all to join him in praying for the candidates and then he recites an additional prayer. Finally, the candidates are presented by coming forward, with their sponsor placing their right hand on the candidate’s right shoulder. Then with his right thumb, the Bishop makes the sign of the cross on their forehead with the holy Chrism oil and says “Be sealed with the Gift of the Holy Spirit.” The confirmed reply, “Amen.” At this point, the Bishop says, “Peace be with you,” and they respond “And with your spirit.”

Pope Francis often stresses how important it is that all children receive the Sacrament of Confirmation. While there is a logical emphasis on the Sacrament of Baptism, he notes that there tends to be less of a focus on the Sacrament of Confirmation. Therefore, those who are baptized remain at a halfway point, and as Pope Francis said, they do not “receive the Holy Spirit that gives us the strength to go forward in Christian life.”

The Diocese of Venice has a religious education program which emphasizes the importance of the Sacrament of Confirmation during a two-year period. The young men and women go through a process where they renew and refresh what they previously learned before transitioning into studying about the gifts of the Holy Spirit. This program culminates in Confirmation, when they are full Christians who are called to be more and reflect the love and goodness of Christ in their heart and soul.

There is an additional program called the Order of Christian Initiation for Adults, which not only assists adults in receiving the Sacrament of Confirmation, but other Sacraments they might be missing, thus allowing them to be in full Communion with the Church. Contact your Parish if you wish to inquire about the Order of Christian Initiation for Adults in Diocese of Venice.