What is the theology of confirmation? what does it do to the person?
Confirmation is the sacrament of Pentecost–it is the strengthening in the Holy Spirit so that we can profess our faith publicly.
It also makes us soldiers of Christ, as St. Robert Bellarmine explains here:
The sacrament of our Confirmation does not bestow the gift of tongues nor the gift of miracles, since these were necessary, not for the advantage and perfection of the, Apostles themselves, but for the conversion of the infidels. But it bestows the gifts of spiritual wisdom and of charity, which is “patient and kind;” and as a sign of this most rare and yet most precious virtue of patience, the Bishop gives the person about to be confirmed a slight blow, that he may remember he now becomes a soldier of Christ, not to strike, but to endure; not to do injuries to others, but to bear them. In the Christian warfare, he fights not against visible but invisible enemies; for thus did Christ our great commander fight and conquer, who being nailed to the cross, conquered the infernal powers; thus did the Apostles fight, only just confirmed, for being severely scourged in the council of the Jews, they went forth “rejoicing that they were accounted worthy to suffer reproach for the name of Jesus.” The grace of Confirmation then effects this, that when a man is unjustly injured, he should not think of revenge, but rejoice that he suffered reproach unjustly.
The whole chapter on Confirmation in this book is helpful. The CCC is too of course.
In a nut shell, from the CCC:
1285 Baptism, the Eucharist, and the sacrament of Confirmation together constitute the “sacraments of Christian initiation,” whose unity must be safeguarded. It must be explained to the faithful that the reception of the sacrament of Confirmation is necessary for the completion of baptismal grace.89 For "by the sacrament of Confirmation, [the baptized] are more perfectly bound to the Church and are enriched with a special strength of the Holy Spirit. Hence they are, as true witnesses of Christ, more strictly obliged to spread and defend the faith by word and deed."90
Have you started RCIA yet
To increase Sanctifying Grace in the soul of the recipient.
I can’t explain the theology of the sacrament, but I think a practical purpose it serves is that a person has developed a personal knowledge of the faith and practice.
I also can’t say that it corresponds to the Jewish bar/bat mitzvah ceremony, but I think it does. In either case, I think the confirmand should have a solid understanding of their faith.
When I was confirmed my knowledge on the faith and practice was practically nonexistent.
The short answer is: “to complete Christian Initiation.” Various theological reasons are given, depending upon the age of the confirmandi. The most common is, “to seal the person with the gift of the Holy Spirit to share the Good News of Jesus.”
In the earliest days, the Sacraments of Initiation were all receive together.
Over time, in the West, Confirmation (Chrismation) became separated in time from Baptism. First Communion also became separated in time from Baptism.
At various times in Church history Confirmation has been received BEFORE First Communion and, more typically now, after First Communion.
The most typical time is 8th grade, but some bishops are confirming in 11th or 12th grade.
RCIA restored the original (and best) model - giving all the sacraments of initiation together at the same time.
In the East, this has always been, and still is today: A baby is baptized, chrismated and receives a drop of Christ’s blood from the priest’s finger. All together, all at the same time.
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