Confirmation is a sacrament (a holy and visible sign of an invisible reality) appointed by God in which he gives the Holy Spirit to those who ask for it.
It’s development is linked to the sacrament of Baptism, which in the early Church, consisted of several rites or actions, including the pouring of water, laying on of hands, and anointing with holy oil. All of these were administered by the Bishop, usually at Easter. When the Church grew, it became impossible for the Bishop to baptise everyone at one time and in one place, and so Baptism, properly consisting of the pouring of water in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, was split from Confirmation, which consisted in the laying on of hands and anointing with holy oil. The Church teaches, therefore, that Confirmation completes Baptism, by uniting us more firmly to Christ, increasing in us the gifts of God’s Holy Spirit, giving us a special grace of the Holy Spirit to be faithful witnesses to Christ, and increasing and deepening the grace which we received when we were baptised. Like Baptism, you can only be confirmed once.
Historically in the Church of England, it was at the point of Confirmation when people began to receive Holy Communion. However, it is no longer the case that you have to be confirmed to receive consecrated bread and wine. So in addition to Confirmation preparation, we also offer preparation for those who are not quite ready to receive Confirmation but who wish to receive Communion. At St Peter’s and St Paul’s and our other churches, we generally offer Confirmation preparation to anyone from the age of ten who freely decides to live a life as God’s child and asks for his Spirit, and First Communion preparation to anyone from the age of seven.
If you are interested in exploring the sacrament of Confirmation for yourself or your child, or exploring First Communion, please contact the Vicar.