At confirmation we receive the gifts of the Holy Spirit and confirm our baptismal promises. Greater awareness of the grace of the Holy Spirit is conferred through the anointing of chrism oil and the laying on of hands by the Bishop.
Confirmation perfects Baptismal grace; it is the sacrament which gives the Holy Spirit in order to root us more deeply in the divine filiation, incorporate us more firmly into Christ, strengthen our bond with the Church, associate us more closely with her mission, and help us bear witness to the Christian faith in words accompanied by deeds. (CCC 1316)
Through the Sacrament of Confirmation we renew our baptismal promises and commit to living a life of maturity in the Christian faith. As we read in the Lumen Gentium (the Dogmatic Constitution of the Church) from the Second Vatican Council:
Bound more intimately to the Church by the sacrament of confirmation, [the baptized] are endowed by the Holy Spirit with special strength; hence they are more strictly obliged to spread and defend the faith both by word and by deed as true witnesses of Christ. (no. 11)
Scriptural Foundation for Confirmation
In the Acts of the Apostles we read of the coming of the Holy Spirit on Pentecost. While baptism is the sacrament of new life, confirmation gives birth to that life. Baptism initiates us into the Church and names us as children of God, whereas confirmation calls us forth as God’s children and unites us more fully to the active messianic mission of Christ in the world.
After receiving the power of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost, the Apostles went out and confirmed others, showing confirmation to be an individual and separate sacrament: Peter and John at Samaria (Acts 8:5-6, 14-17) and Paul at Ephesus (Acts 19:5-6). Also the Holy Spirit came down on Jews and Gentiles alike in Caesarea, prior to their baptisms. Recognizing this as a confirmation by the Holy Spirit, Peter commanded that they be baptized (cf. Acts 10:47).
Qualifications for the Role of a Catholic Sponsor
- Only one sponsor.
- To help the candidate, lead a Christian life in harmony with their confirmation, and to fulfill faithfully the obligations connected with it. (Canon 872).
- A mature Catholic who will establish a lifelong faith relationship and be willing to walk with the child in their faith journey.
- A Catholic role model for the child.
- A Catholic who is at least 16 years old (Canon 874, §1, 2°) and has received already the Sacrament of Confirmation and the Sacrament of the Eucharist and who leads a life in harmony with the faith in keeping with the role to be undertaken (Canon 874, §1, 3°) and is not bound by any canonical penalty (Canon 874, §1, 4°)
- That is to say he or she ought to be a practicing Catholic who attends Mass regularly, participates in the sacramental life of the Church, and is part of the life of a Catholic parish community.
- If the sponsor is married, the marriage must be a valid and recognized marriage in the Catholic Church.
- Cannot be the father or mother of the one to be confirmed(Canon 874, §1, 5°).
- A Catholic who lacks the requirements to be a sponsor or a Catholic who is now practicing a non-Catholic faith cannot serve as a sponsor.
- It is fitting (but not necessary) that one's godfather or godmother serve as sponsor.
- For a Catholic sponsor who is not a parishioner of St. Mary Cathedral, Holy Redeemer Parish, or St. Thomas Aquinas Parish, a letter from the potential sponsor’s pastor is required in addition to the above form. It is called a ‘Letter of Good Standing.’ The sponsor asks his/her pastor for a letter stating that he/she meets all the qualifications for the role of a Catholic sponsor.