In the Early Church those who were entering the Christian faith were baptised and confirmed at the same service. After a time, the Church in the West separated baptism and confirmation except in the case of adults. Infants are normally baptised and the promises made on their behalf by parents and godparents who promise that they will teach them the Christian faith and when old enough encourage them to make a personal commitment and be confirmed by the bishop.
At a Service of Confirmation today there are often candidates of all ages and some will already have been baptized whilst others will be baptized and confirmed at the same service. We are seeing an increasing number of adults coming for confirmation and there is no upper age limit.
The Service of Confirmation follows a period of preparation. This may take place by attending an informal group with others, where a priest or lay person introduces various aspects of the Christian faith, or your local church(es) may run an Alpha course or something similar for larger numbers. Preparation sessions should be fun and stimulating and you will be able to ask difficult questions and engage in discussion.
At the Service of Confirmation (which takes place within the context of the Eucharist) candidates are asked to respond together to questions the Bishop puts to them:
Do you turn to Christ?
I turn to Christ
Do you repent of your sins?
I repent of my sins
Do you renounce evil?
I renounce evil
Do you believe in God the Father, the Creator of all?
I believe and trust in God the Father
Do you believe in his Son, Jesus Christ, the Saviour of the world?
I believe and trust in God the Son
Do you believe in the Holy Spirit, the Lord, the Giver of Life?
I believe and trust in God the Holy Spirit
The Bishop will then baptize any candidates for baptism.
He will then say a prayer invoking the Holy Spirit to come upon those who are to be confirmed. Then he lays his hands on each candidate (and he may also anoint each one with holy oil) and says, ‘God has called you by name and made you his own’. Then he prays:
Confirm, Lord your servant with your heavenly grace, and anoint him/her with your Holy Spirit; empower him/her for your service and keep him/her in eternal life. Amen.
The service continues and the candidates receive Holy Communion.