FRANCISCO-fact: What is Confirmation?

This reads like a Catechism question. In reality, it is a question from our real life here at St. Francis and from the Catechism, or aka An Outline of Faith: commonly called the catechism starting on page 845 in the Prayer Book. Who knew? The Episcopal Church has a Catechism! Yes, yes, it does.

But, back to the question itself. The answer is: “Confirmation is the rite in which we express a mature commitment to Christ and receive strength from the Holy Spirit through prayer and the laying on of hands.” (p. 860) But this answer is not an entirely complete or true one.

The not true part first. Confirmation is a rite and action of the Church which developed in the areas of Europe covered by the Bishop of Rome. For various reasons the action of chrismation (the applying of baptismal oils after the immersion of the candidate in the water at baptism) was separated from the Baptismal rite. There is long explanation as to why, and it will take more than one Francisco-fact to explain. So, back to the basics.

“Confirmation is the rite in which we express a mature commitment to Christ and receive strength from the Holy Spirit through prayer and the laying on of hands.”

The true part is, after splitting the action of chrismation from the act of plunging the candidate into the water, the action of chrismating went looking for a theology to support it as a stand-alone act. That theology in the western church, making a mature affirmation of faith, was connected to teaching the maturing Christian about the basics of their commitment. There is way more to it than that, even today, especially since the Episcopal Church began to claim its ancient heritage within the catholic faith during the liturgical reform movement of the 1960’s and 1970’s as embodied in the Prayer Book of 1979.

Practically speaking, we have a new class of confirmands to prepare for the Visitation of the Bishop, even though we do not yet know the date. Confirmation preparation will begin on April 18 with the distribution of an assessment in order to help the Rector determine what information needs to be emphasized in the six weeks of classroom Instruction. We have a universe of some 25 older teens who are eligible to be confirmed and letters have been distributed to those families along with the expectations of the process. Here is the schedule:

  1. Pre-class assessment: (Emailed Sunday, April 18, due Friday, April 23)
  2. Concerning Confirmation: (Sunday, April 25–11:00 AM thru 12:00 PM)
  3. Understanding our Faith through the Book of Common Prayer (Sunday, May 2—11:00 AM thru 12:00 PM)
  4. The Bible: (Sunday, May 9—11:00 AM thru 12:00 PM)
  5. Sacraments: (Sunday, May 16—11:00 AM thru 12:00 PM)
  6. Christian Believing and Christian Living: (Sunday, May 23—11:00 AM thru 12:00 PM)
  7. Reassessment: (Emailed, Sunday, May 23, due Friday, June 11)
  8. Interview with the Rector: (Zoom meetings scheduled for the period from Tuesday, June 1 through Friday, June 11)

Therefore, Confirmation preparation will take place via Zoom Meeting from Sunday, April 25 through Sunday, June 11, excluding Sunday, May 30, which is Memorial Day weekend. This should be an interesting and fulsome time of formation and education for the rite of Confirmation.

Published by fr.david

Rector of St. Francis Church. Adopted son of the Old Dominion--Hampden-Sydney loving, Red Sox supporting, Burkean.

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