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Why is Confirmation in third grade?

During the Fourth Diocesan Synod in 2017, lay Catholics representing every parish in the Diocese of Springfield in Illinois voted overwhelmingly in support of the restored order the sacraments, meaning Confirmation would come before First Holy Communion, and they would both occur in third grade. Despite this change being implemented in parishes and schools several years ago, the same concerns and questions debated in the synod are being raised by Catholics in our diocese today. This site is intended to address these and other concerns and to provide context for this important change.

What is Confirmation and what is the purpose in choosing a Confirmation name?

Confirmation is where a Catholic is sealed with the Seven Gifts of the Holy Spirit by the authority of the diocesan bishop, a successor of the Apostles. Those gifts are wisdom, understanding, counsel, fortitude, knowledge, piety, and fear of the Lord.

When someone receives the outpouring of the Holy Spirit in the Sacrament of Confirmation, he or she is “more strictly obliged to spread and defend the faith by word and deed” (Lumen gentium, 11). While this is not a new mission for the baptized, those who are anointed with the sacred Chrism “share more completely in the mission of Jesus Christ” (Catechism of the Catholic Church, 1294). So, it became customary for those preparing for Confirmation to choose what we commonly call a Confirmation name. While not required by the Church, choosing such a name is a laudable practice and is commonly done in the dioceses of the United States of America.

Some time ago, it became somewhat usual to choose a Confirmation name because it was the name that a grandparent had, but this was never the idea behind the choosing of a name. Rather, because the one to be Confirmed will be sent out “to confess the name of Christ boldly, and never to be ashamed of the Cross,” the idea is to choose the name of a saint who can help fulfill this mission (Catechism of the Catholic Church, 1303). Sometimes, we choose the saint because of his or her patronage, because of the name itself, because of a common personality, or because of his or her story. Sometimes, though, it also seems a saint, as it were, chooses us. Whatever the case, choosing the name of saint is a way of placing oneself under the patronage of this particular friend of God, of seeking to imitate this person who imitated Christ, and of seeking the prayers and guidance of this saint (cf. I Corinthians 11:1).

Confirmandi may choose the name of a canonized saint, a blessed, or a servant of God (venerable).

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