There are many practices of worship in the Roman Catholic religion. Worshiping could be anything: basic prayer, the seven sacraments, or public worship (Sunday mass). Each experience of worship has different meanings in Roman Catholicism, affecting people in many different ways. One of the more noteworthy practices that I have experienced is one of the seven sacraments, confirmation.
Confirmation is said to be a time where a catholic confirms their beliefs. Through this sacrament, a person becomes a spiritual adolescent; that is, they mature in the way they communicate with God and in conveying his message. Confirmation involves receiving the gifts of the Holy Spirit. In a way, it is a reenactment of when the Holy Spirit came down on the apostles and gave them the strength to teach as Jesus did.
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I remember distinctively preparing for my confirmation. Besides reading up on how confirmation came about and what it all exactly means, I was required to perform a certain amount of community service before the date of my confirmation. I never understood why it was required until after my confirmation — if I didn’t perform that community service, I wouldn’t have fully understood the gifts I had received. The whole preparation time before the mass brought me knowledge, the studying of the Holy Spirit brought me understanding, helping the elderly brought me counsel, and so on.
A sponsor is required for someone wanting to be confirmed. The sponsor s role is essential to confirmation. The sponsor takes the role of Jesus if we were back during the original Pentecost. To be confirmed requires a lot of guidance, so a relative or close friend is chosen to help prepare. The sponsor is present at the ceremony to deliver the one being confirmed just as Jesus delivered the apostles to the Holy Spirit. I had chosen my cousin as my sponsor and we have developed a close relationship ever since then.
When the apostles first received the Spirit, there was a tongue s of fire over their heads (fire is considered one of the signs of the Holy Spirit). During my preparation period, I was required to make banners representing one of the gifts of the Holy Spirit. This was a great idea since they hung the banners in the church for two weeks around the time of our confirmation.
To me, they were symbols or offerings to the community that showed we were ready to receive the Holy Spirit and follow in Jesus’ footsteps. The banner was my tongue of fire. I still enjoy the time of year around confirmation because that s when the banners are put up. It s nice to see the creativity that was involved in the making of each banner. It shows what the gift meant to the person who made the banner.
Confirmation is basically a mass with two added parts: the laying on of hands and the anointing of the consecrated oil. The bishop was serving the mass, which shows the importance of the confirmation ceremony: only a bishop is allowed to administer this sacrament. The bishop laid his hands on each of us, asking for the Holy Spirit to come upon us. Coincidentally, I did feel a strong presence of heat afterward.
Later on in the ceremony, he made the sign of the cross on our foreheads with the consecrated oil, while our sponsors stood next to us. I enjoyed the fact of having my sponsor with me throughout the mass. It made everything comfortable and it sealed the importance of having a sponsor. They walk up with us to receive the oil and lead us to the Holy Spirit.
The whole experience I had with the sacrament of confirmation was great. It gave me a sponsor, a person to go to when I need some help for the rest of my life. It strengthened my relationship with my church and community while setting a better direction for my life with the gifts I received. I hope in the future someone chooses me to be their confirmation sponsor. Nothing would make me happier than to lead someone else into a stronger relationship with God.
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