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The Profession of Faith
Life in Christ
Pope John Paul II
is a sacrament of the New Law through which baptized persons receive a
special grace which strengthens them for the profession of the Christian
faith. It is usually conferred by the bishop, who lays his hands on the
recipients, making the sign of the Cross with chrism on their foreheads,
while he pronounces the words "I sign thee with the sign of the cross and
confirm thee with the chrism ot salvation, in the name of the Father and
of the Son and of the Holy Spirit."
Besides conferring a special grace to profess the faith, Confirmation imprints on the soul an indelible character, so that it can be received validly only once. The sacrament used to be received by children when they have reached the age of reason (about seven years) and before their First Holy Communion. Now it is conferred on children of 11-12 years of age. Years ago confirmed children were told they had then become 'Soldiers of Christ'.
The name which a bishop may give to those who are confirmed in addition to their baptismal name. Although a new name is usually given at Confirmation, it is not required. Generally the name is that of a favourite saint.
The following extracts are taken from the Catholic Church Code of Canon Law:
The sacrament of confirmation confers a character. By it the baptized continue their path of Christian initiation. They are enriched with the gift of the Holy Spirit, and are more closely linked to the Church. They are made strong and more firmly obliged by word and deed to witness to Christ and to spread and defend the faith.
THE CELEBRATION OF CONFIRMATION
The sacrament of confirmation is conferred by anointing with chrism on the forehead in a laying on of hands, and by the words prescribed in the approved liturgical books.
The chrism to be used in the sacrament of confirmation must have been consecrated by a Bishop, even when the sacrament is administered by a priest.
It is desirable that the sacrament of confirmation be celebrated in a church and indeed during Mass. However, for a just and reasonable cause it may be celebrated apart from Mass and in any fitting place.
THE MINISTER OF CONFIRMATION
The ordinary minister of confirmation is a Bishop. A priest can also validly confer this sacrament if he has the faculty to do so, either from the general law or by way of a special grant from the competent authority.
The following have, by law, the faculty to administer confirmation:
For a grave reason the Bishop, or the priest who by law or by special grant of the competent authority has the faculty to confirm, may in individual cases invite other priests to join with him in administering the sacrament.
The diocesan Bishop is bound to ensure that the sacrament of confirmation is conferred upon his subjects who duly and reasonably request it.
A priest who has this faculty must use it for those in whose favor it was granted.
A Bishop in his own diocese may lawfully administer the sacrament of confirmation even to the faithful who are not his subjects, unless there is an express prohibition by their own Ordinary.
In order lawfully to administer confirmation in another diocese, unless it be to his own subjects, a Bishop needs the permission, at least reasonably presumed, of the diocesan Bishop.
A priest who has the faculty to administer confirmation may, within the territory assigned to him, lawfully administer this sacrament even to those from outside the territory, unless there is a prohibition by their own Ordinary. He cannot, however, validly confirm anyone in another territory, without prejudice to the provision of can. 883, n.3.
Within the territory in which they can confer confirmation, ministers may confirm even in exempt places.
THE PERSONS TO BE CONFIRMED
Every baptized person who is not confirmed, and only such a person, is capable of receiving confirmation.
Apart from the danger of death, to receive confirmation lawfully a person who has the use of reason must be suitably instructed, properly disposed and able to renew the baptismal promises.
The faithful are bound to receive this sacrament at the proper time. Parents and pastors of souls, especially parish priests, are to see that the faithful are properly instructed to receive the sacrament and come to it at the opportune time.
The sacrament of confirmation is to be conferred on the faithful at about the age of discretion, unless the Episcopal Conference has decided on a different age, or there is a danger of death or, in the judgment of the minister, a grave reason suggests otherwise.
As far as possible the person to be confirmed is to have a sponsor. The sponsor's function is to take care that the person confirmed behaves as a true witness of Christ and faithfully fulfils the duties inherent in this sacrament.
A person who would undertake the office of sponsor must fulfill the conditions mentioned in can. 874.
It is desirable that the sponsor chosen be the one who undertook this role at baptism.
PROOF AND REGISTRATION OF CONFIRMATION
To establish that confirmation has been conferred, the provisions of can. 876 are to be observed.
The names of those confirmed, the minister, the parents, the sponsors and the place and date of the confirmation are to be recorded in the confirmation register of the diocesan curia or, wherever this has been prescribed by the Episcopal Conference or by the diocesan Bishop, in the register to be kept in the parochial archive. The parish priest must notify the parish priest of the place of the baptism that the confirmation was conferred, so that it be recorded in the baptismal register, in accordance with can. 535 §2.
If the parish priest of the place was not present, the minister, personally or through someone else, is to notify him as soon as possible that the confirmation was conferred.
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