YOUCAT on Confirmation

What is Confirmation?
Confirmation is the sacrament that completes Baptism; in it the gift of the Holy Spirit is bestowed upon us. Anyone who freely decides to live a life as God’s child and asks for God’s Spirit under the signs of the imposition of hands and anointing with chrism receives the strength to witness to God’s love and might in word and deed. He is now a full-fledged, responsible member of the Catholic Church.

What does Sacred Scripture say about the Sacrament of Confirmation?
In the Old Testament, the people of God expected the outpouring of the Holy Spirit upon the Messiah. Jesus lived his life in a special Spirit of love and of perfect unity with his Father in heaven. This Spirit of Jesus was the “Holy Spirit” for whom the people of Israel longed; this was the same Spirit whom Jesus promised to his disciples, the same Spirit who descended upon the disciples fifty days after Easter, on the feast of Pentecost. And it is again this same Holy Spirit of Jesus who descends upon everyone who receives the Sacrament of Confirmation.

What happens in Confirmation?
In Confirmation the soul of a baptised Christian is imprinted with a permanent seal that can be received only once and marks this individual for ever as a Christian. The gift of the Holy Spirit is the strength from above in which this individual puts the grace of his Baptism into practice through his life and acts as a “witness” for Christ.

Who can be Confirmed, and what is required of a candidate for Confirmation?
Any Catholic Christian who has received the Sacrament of Baptism and is in the “state of grace” can be admitted to Confirmation.

What are the seven gifts of the Holy Spirit?
The seven gifts of the Holy Spirit are wisdom, understanding, counsel, fortitude, knowledge, piety and fear of the Lord. With these the Holy Spirit “endows” Christians, in other words, he grants them particular powers that go beyond their natural aptitudes and gives them the opportunity to become God’s special instruments in this world.

What are the fruits of the Holy Spirit?
The fruits of the Holy Spirit are charity, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, generosity, gentleness, faithfulness, modesty, self-control and chastity. In the fruits of the Holy Spirit the world can see what becomes of people who let themselves be adopted, led and completely formed by God. The fruits of the Holy Spirit show that God really plays a role in the life of Christians.

What does it mean to say: I believe in the Holy Spirit?
To believe in the Holy Spirit means to worship him as God just like the Father and the Son. It means to believe that the Holy Spirit comes into our hearts so that we as children of God might know our Father in heaven. Moved by God’s Spirit, we can change the face of the earth.

What role does the Holy Spirit play in the life of Jesus?
Without the Holy Spirit, we cannot understand Jesus. In his life the presence of God’s Spirit, whom we call the Holy Spirit, was manifest in a unique way. It was the Holy Spirit who called Jesus to life in the womb of the Virgin Mary (Matthew 1:18), endorsed him as God’s beloved Son (Luke 4:16-19), guided him (Mark 1:12) and enlivened him to the end (John 19:20). On the Cross, Jesus breathed out his Spirit. After his Resurrection, he bestowed the Holy Spirit on his disciples (John 20:22). At that, the Spirit of Jesus went over to his Church: “As the Father has sent me, even so I send you” (John 20:21).

Under what names and signs does the Holy Spirit appear?
The Holy Spirit descends upon Jesus in the form of a dove. The first Christians experience the Holy Spirit as a healing ointment, living water, a raging storm or a flaming fire. Jesus Christ himself speaks about the Counsellor, Comforter, Teacher and Spirit of Truth. In the sacraments of the Church, the Holy Spirit is bestowed through the imposition of hands and anointing with oil.
The peace that God established in his covenant with mankind after the flood was indicated to Noah through the appearance of a dove. Pagan antiquity, too, considered the dove to be a symbol of love. And so the early Christians understood immediately why the Holy Spirit, the love of God in person, came down in the form of a dove when Jesus allowed himself to be baptised in the Jordan. Today the dove is recognised worldwide as the sign of peace and as one of the great symbols for the reconciliation of man with God.

What does it mean to say that the Holy Spirit has “spoken through the prophets”?
Already in the Old Covenant God filled men and women with the Spirit, so that they lifted up their voices for God, spoke in his name and prepared the people for the coming of the Messiah.
In the Old Covenant God sought out men and women who were willing to let him use them to console, lead and admonish his people. It was the Spirit of God who spoke through the mouth of Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel and other prophets. John the Baptist, the last of these prophets, not only foresaw the coming of the Messiah. He also met him and proclaimed him as the liberator from the power of sin.

How could the Holy Spirit work in, with and through Mary?
Mary was totally responsive and open to God (Lk 1:38). Thus she was able to become the “Mother of God” through the working of the Holy Spirit – and as Christ’s Mother to become also the Mother of Christians, indeed, the Mother of all mankind.

What happened on Pentecost?
Fifty days after his Resurrection, the Lord sent the Holy Spirit down from heaven upon his disciples. The age of the Church began. On Pentecost the Holy Spirit transformed fearful apostles into courageous witnesses to Christ. In a very short time, thousands had themselves baptised: it was the birthday of the Church. The miracle of the languages on Pentecost shows that the Church is there for all peoples from the very beginning: She is universal (= the Latin term for the Greek kat’ holon, catholic) and missionary. She speaks to all men, overcomes ethnic and linguistic barriers, and can be understood by all. To this day the Holy Spirit is the “soul” of the Church, the essential principle of her life.

What does the Holy Spirit do in the Church?
The Holy Spirit builds up the Church and impels her. He reminds her of her mission. He calls people into her service and sends them the necessary gifts. He leads us ever deeper into communion with the Triune God.
Even though the Church during her long history has often seemed “abandoned by all good spirits”, the Holy Spirit has been at work in her despite all the human failings and inadequacies. The mere fact of her two-thousand-year existence and the many saints of all eras and cultures are the visible proof of his presence. The Holy Spirit is the one who maintains the Church as a whole in the truth and leads her ever deeper into the knowledge of God. It is the Holy Spirit who works in the sacraments and brings Sacred Scripture to life for us. Even today he gives his gifts of grace (charisms) to those who are completely receptive to him.

What does the Holy Spirit do in my life?
The Holy Spirit makes me receptive to God; he teaches me to pray and helps me to be there for others.
St Augustine calls the Holy Spirit “the quiet guest of our soul”. Anyone who wants to sense his presence must be quiet. Often this Guest speaks very softly within us and with us, for instance, in the voice of our conscience or through other interior and exterior promptings. Being a “temple of the Holy Spirit” means being there, body and soul, for this Guest, for God in us. Our body is therefore God’s living room, so to speak. The more receptive we are to the Holy Spirit in us, the more he becomes the master of our life, the sooner he will bestow on us even today his charisms for the upbuilding of the Church. And so, instead of the works of the flesh, the fruits of the Spirit grow in us.

YOUCAT (Youth Catechism of the Catholic Church)

 

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