The nineteen sections of the Confirmation Rite’s introduction give us a reminder of the importance of the sacrament in the life of the Church:
1. Those who have been baptized continue on the path of Christian initiation through the sacrament of confirmation. In this sacrament they receive the Holy Spirit whom the Lord sent upon the apostles on Pentecost.
2. This giving of the Holy Spirit conforms believers more fully to Christ and strengthens them so that they may bear witness to Christ for the building up of his Body in faith and love. They are so marked with the character or seal of the Lord that the sacrament of confirmation cannot be repeated.
The modern practice often fails, if actual numbers of the confirmed are compared to those baptized. Maybe there is lots of finger-pointing: poor catechesis, poor example of the confirmed, lack of push from pastors, parents marginally involved after First Communion of their kids.
One thing many people would agree on: how can confirmed believers be inspired to live more fully this sacramental character in such a way so as to inspire commitment from other believers and belief in those outside the Church?
The Synod on the Eucharist called for a more developed theology of Confirmation, which I think is noticeable here. In the scriptures, there are a range of meaning associated with “anointing” — royal, bridal, gladness, brotherhood, priestly, funeral,healing, etc.
One meaning was from the preparation of the athlete, alluded to by St Paul but made explicit in St Ignatius. This meaning appears to be at the root of confirmation as strengthening, but is it abandoning the earlier emanings? Is it because this was the only common meaning in the Greco-Roman world, as opposed to the Semitic world?
My point I guess is that speaking only of “strengthening” is already a movement away from the great dignity of confirmation, or should I say chrismation?
Perhaps this is all dealt with in considering the anointing at baptism, and its relation to confirmation, a problem in itself. Christifideles Laici, JP2’s apastolic exhortation on the laity, touches on the deeper meaning anointing has, and I think gets tangled in that baptism/confirmation tangle.