RCIA 233-236: Confirmation Rituals

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The celebration of confirmation is divided into three rituals. RCIA 233 directs the minister of confirmation to address the newly baptized “briefly … in these or similar words”:

My dear newly baptized, born again in Christ by baptism, you have become members of Christ and of his priestly people. Now you are to share in the outpouring of the Holy Spirit among us, the Spirit sent by the Lord upon his apostles at Pentecost and given by them and their successors to the baptized.

The promised strength of the Holy Spirit, which you are to receive, will make you more like Christ and help you to be witnesses to his suffering, death, and resurrection. It will strengthen you to be active members of the Church and to build up the Body of Christ in faith and love.

A short invitation follows, followed by a “brief” silent prayer.

RCIA 234 instructs the minister of confirmation toextend hands over the whole group of newly baptized. Associated ministers stand with the bishop or priest and do likewise. The text of the prayer:

All-powerful God, Father of our Lord Jesus Christ,
by water and the Holy Spirit
you freed your sons and daughters from sin
and gave them new life.

Send your Holy Spirit upon them
to be their helper and guide.

Give them the spirit of wisdom and understanding,
the spirit of right judgment and courage,
the spirit of knowledge and reverence.
Fill them with the spirit of wonder and awe in your presence.

We ask this through Christ our Lord.

“Fear of the Lord” has been adjusted to wonder and awe. Part 3 is the anointing with chrism. Let’s look at the rubrics:

235. A minister brings the chrism to the celebrant.

[When the celebrant is the bishop, priests who are associated as ministers of the sacrament receive the chrism from him.]

Each candidate, with godparent or godparents, goes to the celebrant (or to an associated minister of the sacrament); or, if circumstances require, the celebrant (associated ministers) may go to the candidates.

Either or both godparents place the right hand on the shoulder of the candidate and either a godparent or the candidate gives the candidate’s name to the minister of the sacrament. During the conferral of the sacrament a suitable song may be sung.

The minister of the sacrament dips his right thumb in the chrism and makes the sign of the cross on the forehead of the one to be confirmed as he says:

N, be sealed with the Gift of the Holy Spirit.

Amen

Peace be with you.

And also with you.

236. At the Easter Vigil the renewal of baptismal promises by the congregation (RCIA 237-240) follows the celebration of confirmation. Then the neophytes are led to their places among the faithful.

[Outside the Easter Vigil, the neophytes are led to their places among the faithful immediately after confirmation. The general intercessions then begin (see RCIA 241).]

Commentary:

Small details are significant. The confirmation candidates ordinarily go to the minister, not he to them.

Notice also the signation of the cross: this is not done with the post-baptismal anointing with chrism. Remember, that was done on the crown of the head, presumably on the person’s hair.

Notice the placement of the community’s renewal of baptismal promises after confirmation. In many places, I’ve seen this placed before confirmation, a pragmatic gesture to give soaked neophytes a few minutes to dry and dress before returning to the assembly. It would seem that the song of RCIA 231 might better serve this purpose.

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About catholicsensibility

Todd and his family live in Ames, Iowa. He serves a Catholic parish of both Iowa State students and town residents.
This entry was posted in post-conciliar liturgy documents, RCIA, Rites. Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to RCIA 233-236: Confirmation Rituals

  1. Peggie L. Thorp says:

    I’m curious. I attended an Easter vigil adult confirmation rite and heard the priest ask each of the confirmandi a question as to their intention to accept all the teachings of the church. Each answered, “I do” (or “I will”). Is this a church-wide fixture or left to diocesan discretion? Can anyone elaborate on this practice? Thank you.

  2. Todd says:

    For people baptized in another Christian tradition, they are asked to profess the following:

    I believe and profess all that the holy Catholic Church believes, teaches, and proclaims to be revealed by God.

    Sometimes the candidates are asked to repeat this line. Some pastors just ask the question and the candidates profess it. It is not used for the unbaptized–we presume they accept the teachings of the Church by their assent to baptism. The reference in RCIA is 490-498, for the Rite of Reception, not 233-236, which is for the unbaptized only.

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