Strengthened to be Saints
The gift of the Holy Spirit in each of our lives is an unfathomable treasure. In our Baptism we have received the grace of adoption as God’s own sons and daughters, being recreated in the image of Jesus Christ. The same Holy Spirit empowers us to live and die as Christ did—in complete fidelity to the Father’s will—through Confirmation. This participation in the identity and mission of Christ is made possible because we receive the same Spirit with which Jesus Christ is filled.
Anointing with oil has all these meanings in the sacramental life. The pre-baptismal anointing with the oil of catechumens signifies cleansing and strengthening; the anointing of the sick expresses healing and comfort. The post-baptismal anointing with sacred chrism in Confirmation and ordination is the sign of consecration. By Confirmation Christians, that is, those who are anointed, share more completely in the mission of Jesus Christ and the fullness of the Holy Spirit with which he is filled, so that their lives may give off "the aroma of Christ." (CCC 1294)
The sacraments of Baptism and Confirmation correspond to this twofold nature of God’s gift, first entrance into His Family, and secondly our heroic living as witnesses in that relationship, called to be Saints.
"The sacrament of confirmation strengthens the baptized and obliges them more firmly to be witnesses of Christ by word and deed and to spread and defend the faith. It imprints a character, enriches by the gift of the Holy Spirit the baptized continuing on the path of Christian initiation, and binds them more perfectly to the Church." (Code of Canon Law, #879)
"Every baptized person not yet confirmed (and only such a person) is capable of receiving confirmation. To receive confirmation licitly (outside the danger of death) requires that a person who has the use of reason be suitably instructed, properly disposed, and able to renew the baptismal promises." (Code of Canon Law, #889)
Confirmation is required of every Catholic. It is one of the essential sacraments of the Church, without which one is not fully a member of the Church. To declare that one does not need the sacrament of Confirmation is to reject the grace God offers to us.
Confirmation is thus a requirement for being a godparent or sponsor, for being a lector or extraordinary minister of Holy Communion, for being ordained, or for entering religious life. It is not required for marriage.
"Catholics who have not yet received the sacrament of confirmation are to receive it before they are admitted to marriage if it can be done without grave inconvenience." (Can. 1065 §1.)
People who have not made their First Communion and who have not been Confirmed need to enter the RCIA program, and will be Confirmed at the Easter Vigil. Catholics who have already received made their First Communion and thus need only their Confirmation have a number of options, which are best discussed in person with Fr. Michael.
Rite of Christian Initiation for Adults (RCIA)
For adults who have not been baptized, the ordinary way to enter the Catholic Church is through a series of classes and liturgical events that culminate in the person receiving the sacraments of Baptism, Confirmation, and First Communion on the Easter Vigil (the Saturday night before Easter Sunday). This is called RCIA (Rite of Christian Initiation for Adults). Anyone interested in learning more about the Catholic faith can start RCIA classes without thereby committing to entering the Catholic Church. At MIT, the classes usually start in early to mid-October, and continue through the end of the school year. We meet for one hour a week on Sunday afternoons (2:45-3:45 pm in W11 Small Dining Room). It's also important to meet several times individually with the priest or deacon. For an initial conversation, contact Fr. Michael (firstname.lastname@example.org).