1. Why is it said that religious education is not completed with Confirmation?
Confirmation, as a Sacrament of Initiation, is really a beginning not an end. Through Confirmation catechesis we become more aware of the ongoing responsibilities in living out a Catholic Christian life. Our faith relationship with God is one that must constantly grow and change as we mature. Religious formation, therefore, is a life-long process.
2. Why is Confirmation celebrated in parishes instead of in Catholic schools?
The parish is the ecclesial locus for sacraments. The parish is a community of people who offer support to fellow Christians throughout life. School ends, but parish life into which the person is initiated, ideally continues to offer support through the person’s adolescent and adult life (weddings, baptisms of future children, etc.).
3. Do Catholic school students need to be involved in their parish Confirmation catechesis?
Because Confirmation is a parish community celebration uniting all persons who seek the sacraments with the other members of the parish, the candidates should participate together in immediate, focused Confirmation catechesis. Formation should focus on building the Body of Christ in the parish, as it is the primary community of faith. A well-designed Confirmation catechesis will complement existing programs, building on what is being taught in both school and parish religious education classes. The content for immediate sacramental preparation should be separate from “Faith themes” covered in separate catechetical sessions [see Confirmation formation models]. A Confirmation retreat should include specific content different from other retreat formats. Where service is a part of the Catholic school mission, parishes should make consideration for these efforts. Some opportunity for group sharing of the meaning of service can offer important feedback for Christian living. Dialogue between school and parish personnel is essential.
4. Do I have to get confirmed?
No. Certainly, the Church desires that all members become fully initiated but no one will think any less of you if you choose not to get confirmed. And although it may cause some tension in your family (because your parents obviously want you to be confirmed), you can choose to be confirmed at any time, when you feel ready: the gift of the Holy Spirit is yours for the asking. Whenever you ask for him to come into your life, God will send him.
5. Can you get married if you are not confirmed?
Yes. If they can do so without serious inconvenience, Catholics who have not yet received the Sacrament of Confirmation are to receive it before being admitted to marriage (Code of Canon Law #1065). Confirmation should be celebrated before the Sacrament of Marriage. If one has not been confirmed and presents oneself for marriage, then Confirmation should be celebrated if the person can be adequately prepared and Confirmation is scheduled in that parish or nearby before the marriage takes place. If it is impossible to prepare someone for Confirmation adequately before marriage, then the priest should proceed with the wedding but use every means possible to see that the person is confirmed on the first occasion after the marriage has taken place.
6. Can you receive communion if you are not confirmed?
Yes. Provided you have celebrated your First Communion and are currently in spiritual and moral communion with the Roman Catholic Church. This may require you going to confession before receiving communion, but the three Sacraments of Initiation (baptism, confirmation, and communion) are independent. You cannot be confirmed if you are not in communion with the Church, but you may receive communion at any mass regardless of your status as a confirmation candidate, unconfirmed person, and confirmed person. Anytime a mass is celebrated – such as at a wedding – your status as an unconfirmed person does not prevent you from taking communion.
7. Can persons with cognitive or physical disabilities be confirmed?
Yes. Catechesis and Confirmation preparation programs are adapted on an individual basis so the spiritual growth and community involvement of each candidate is both encouraged and enriched according to their abilities.
8. If you were confirmed at birth can you be confirmed again?
No. Confirmation may not be repeated. The young person is encouraged to participate in the preparation and celebration, but at the time of Confirmation, after everyone has been confirmed, they can be greeted by the Bishop and blessed rather than anointed.
9. How much influence should parents have on a young person’s decision for Confirmation?
It is important to affirm parents’ response in faithfully carrying out their commitment to their child’s baptismal promises by encouraging their adolescent’s involvement in Confirmation formation as well as supporting other essential dimensions in Christian living. At the same time, parents should be educated in the importance of their adolescent’s free consent to the invitation in the formation process, an invitation to deepen their experience of God’s love and to respond freely. While parents should continue to give witness to their children through their own example of Christian living, the actual decision to receive or delay the sacrament should be made by the candidate. Parishes should assist parents with their own catechetical formation.
10. May parents or stepparents be Confirmation sponsors?
No. According to Canon Law #874, parents may not be sponsors for their children. A stepparent, at least to some extent, assumes the role of the parent and should not be a sponsor for their stepchild. However, a parent or stepparent my present the candidate to the Bishop during the ceremony.
11. May a candidate have more than one sponsor?
Normally, there is a single sponsor. In maintaining the intimate connection between Baptism and Confirmation, it is desirable that the sponsor be the one who undertook this role at Baptism. If a person had both a male and female baptismal sponsor, those two may fulfill the role of Confirmation sponsor. In the liturgical celebration, it is desirable that a single sponsor or parent present the candidate to the confirming minister [Canon Law #863, 893 and OC #5]
12. May someone at a long distance away be a sponsor while someone else represent the candidate at the ceremony by proxy?
Yes. However, it is recommended that someone nearby be asked to be a sponsor so that he/she can become more involved in the candidate’s preparation.
13. What is the proper attire for the Rite of Confirmation?
Candidates should dress modestly as they present themselves to the parish community. Thus, specific guidelines should be discussed with the candidates, sponsors, and parents prior to the ceremony. Appropriate attire for males would be coat and trousers, shirt and tie. Females should wear a dress or professional dress suit, appropriate for church – one with a modest hem [knee length or longer] and neckline [no plunging necklines, strapless or spaghetti-strap dresses].
14. Is taking a special name for Confirmation necessary?
In order to emphasize the close relationship between confirmation and baptism, it is preferred that candidates retain their baptismal names. However, a special name may be chosen if desired. Selecting a name for Confirmation involves a decision by the young person and their parents. It may be the first time that they have considered the lives of the saints as models or helpers for their lives.
If a baptismal name is name foreign to Christian sensibility, then it is advisable that a name be chosen which reflects a recognized saint of the Church, a person from scripture or a Christian role model. [cf Canon #855]
15. How should the names of the confirmed be recorded?
Following the liturgy, the cards with the names of those confirmed, as well as the names of the minister, parents, and sponsors, and a notation of the place and date of the Confirmation conferred, are to be entered in the parish Confirmation register of the confirmed. For those confirmed who were baptized in the parish, the information is to be recorded in the Baptismal register as well. For those persons baptized elsewhere, the typed card used in the ceremony, is mailed to the parish where the confirmed was baptized. (Rite of Confirmation #14, Canon 895, 535 #2) If the pastor of the place is not present, the minister either personally or through another is to inform him of the Confirmation as soon as possible [Canon 896].
16. What is the Catholic Church’s acceptance as valid confirmation from other ecclesial community traditions of confirmation?
A. The Orthodox Church: A valid confirmation.
B. Protestant denominations [including Episcopal]: Not a valid confirmation.