Reader Question: How Do I Get Confirmed?

On our Questions About Catholicism page, Pauline asks:

I was baptized in 1949 but never made my Confirmation. What do I have to do to make my Confirmation, and what happens?

Sadly, this question is all too common, especially among Catholics who reached the customary age for Confirmation (usually around 14) in the 1960's and 70's. For some time, Confirmation has been treated in practice as a secondary sacrament or even a mere rite of passage—a sort of Catholic equivalent of the bar or bat mitzvah.

But Confirmation, as the name suggests, is in fact the perfection of Baptism. Indeed, in the early Church, the Sacraments of Initiation (Baptism, Confirmation, and Communion) were all administered at the same time, both to adult converts and to infants. The Eastern Catholic Churches, like the Eastern Orthodox Churches, continue to administer all three sacraments together to infants, and even in the Latin Rite of the Catholic Church, adult converts still normally receive Baptism, Confirmation, and Holy Communion in that order. (Pope Benedict XVI, in his apostolic exhortation Sacramentum Caritatis, has suggested that the original order should be restored for children as well as adults.)

Confirmation binds us to the Church and strengthens our faith through the action of the Holy Spirit. Thus, every baptized Christian should be confirmed.

So, if you find yourself in Pauline's situation, how do you get confirmed?

The simple answer is that you should talk to your parish priest. Different parishes will approach this question differently. Some will ask the person seeking Confirmation to go through the Rite of Christian Initiation for Adults (RCIA) or another class on the meaning of Confirmation. In others, the priest may simply meet a few times with the candidate in order to determine whether he or she has a proper understanding of the sacrament.

Depending on the parish, adults candidates for Confirmation may be confirmed at the Easter Vigil or with the regular Confirmation class. More often, however, the priest will simply confirm the candidate in a private ceremony. While the normal minister of the sacrament is the diocesan bishop, adult candidates for Confirmation are normally confirmed by the priest, just as adult converts are confirmed by the priest at the Easter Vigil.

If you are an adult and haven't been confirmed, please don't delay. The Sacrament of Confirmation brings great graces that will help you in your struggle to attain holiness. Contact your parish priest today.

If you have a question that you would like to be featured as part of our Reader Questions series, you can use our submission form. If you would like the question answered privately, please send me an e-mail. Be sure to put "QUESTION" in the subject line, and please note whether you'd like me to address it privately or on the Catholicism blog.