White Robed Monks of St. Benedict

On Confirmation

Table of Contents


Peace be with you.

We are offering you, the reader, a general framework from within which to appreciate the Sacrament of Confirmation. The following information is just information. We might label the following simply as instruction. We do not say the information is right or wrong (although we have intended the information to be correct in stating what it does state). We tend to be non-dogmatic, so please do not take the following in any way to reflect the last word about Confirmation from the Catholic viewpoint. The information herein serves as the backdrop for the Rite of Confirmation we celebrate. If you have any questions or need for clarifications, please contact your priest. Thank you.

Peace and Joy!

Return to Table of Contents

Sacraments and Confirmation

Sacraments (are) symbolic actions mediating the presence of God.1 There is no heaven out there where God dwells. God is now here, eternally present.(Otto: The Eternal Now) God is outside of time and space, both of which are our own linerally and commonly (created and) accepted ways to maneuver perceptually within the phenomenal realm. Essentially, there is no there there, as the poet Gertrude Stein has written. Accordingly, we offer the following ideas about God before discussing in detail the Sacrament of Confirmation: That God, in the Holy Spirit, is really present to God's creation, to God's humanity, and not in the shape of a static Other, but in the dynamism of God's loving desire, in constant self-communication. For God transcends time, God's unsurpassable presence in creation and in humanity in Jesus Christ is not past, but clearly present. 2

In the symbolic sacramental actions — but not only in them — God's Spirit effects the 'opening' of the bars (delusions, illusions, allusions) that human beings set up against God's presence. he Spirit actualizes and intensifies what 'always already' is. A part of this process is the ability of symbolic actions ... to externalize and make visible that which, from their very constitution, demands actualization.3 In the Sacrament of Confirmation, what demands actualization is the sealing of our Baptism by the grace of the Holy Spirit.
Return to Table of Contents

Sacraments of Initiation

There are three sacraments of initiation within the Catholic-Christian community: Baptism, Confirmation, and the Eucharist. Together, these sacraments constitute a single process of initiation. These sacraments, along with the other four (Holy Orders, Marriage, Reconciliation, Healing) are empowerments rather than just means of personal sanctification. The Sacraments empower us to carry out the mission of the People of God in the Church and the world.4 In essence, the mission of the People of God is to bear witness to Christ's two commandments which form the base of all other laws. And Christ said: You shall love the Lord your God with your whole heart, with your whole soul, and with your whole mind. ... The second is like it, you shall love your neighbor as yourself. (Matthew 22: 37-39)
Return to Table of Contents

Baptism and Confirmation

In the Sacrament of Baptism, the Church formally acknowledges us as children of God and formally initiates us to further awaken in God who is love (1 John 4:8) In the Sacrament of Confirmation, the Holy Spirit seals or ratifies our Baptism. In Confirmation the Holy Spirit empowers us to delve deeper into ourselves so that we may more fully appreciate who we truly are. We are now more open to personal and hence social transformation in thought, feeling, word and deed. Through the gifts of the Holy Spirit, we are empowered to be more congruent as we express ourselves as children of God.5 In Baptism we received initiation into the Way of Christ, the Way of Compassion. In Confirmation, God through His Spirit, ratifies our initiation. We are empowered to grow in compassion, integrity, and congruence as we so choose to respond or not to the grace of the Holy Spirit.

Thus, God, in the Sacrament of Confirmation though His creative Divine Spirit gives us new life and deeper insight. By the laying on of hands the Church, through the empowerment of Holy Orders, passes on the power of the Holy Spirit and a further sharing of Christ's priesthood.
6 Hence, God strengthens us to use the freedom He has given us. The Church, in the person of the Bishop or Priest, anoints us with chrism, a visible communication of interior power.7 What specifically is interior power?
Return to Table of Contents

Interior Power and Gifts of the Holy Spirit

The interior power is the infusion of the Holy Spirit. We receive the opportunity to accept the gifts of the Holy Spirit. These gifts describe the Spirit as the essence of God (John 4:24).8 The gifts of the Holy Spirit are: Wisdom, Understanding, Judgment, Courage, Knowledge, Love, and Reverence.
Return to Table of Contents


We, in attending Wisdom, know that what we resist persists. We recognize, without praise or blame, that whatever we have in our life in any moment is exactly what we want. God never gives us what we do not ask for. If we ask for something and do not receive it, generally we have not cooperated with God's grace and have not done what is necessary to receive it. As the proverb recounts: Heaven helps those who help themselves. Hence, we also recognize that whatever we do not have in the moment is exactly what we want. We recognize that we and we alone are the creators of our experience, of our lives. The choice was, is, and always will be ours, ours individually and alone.

Return to Table of Contents


In attending Understanding we apprehend the meaning of life and our existence. We know what words, signs, and symbols actually are communicating. Nothing. It is we who give meaning to the words, signs and symbols, which themselves are inherently meaningless. We do not limit our understanding to our interpretation. We delve to the reality behind the signs and symbols of life. Beauty is not in the rose. It is in the eye of the beholder. Hence, there are no beautiful roses per se in the universe, no good, no bad, no right, no wrong. We do not live life by believing that our projections upon life about life are reality.
Return to Table of Contents


In attending Judgment we appreciate that judgements are elemental to our human condition. When Christ admonished: Judge not lest you be judged (Matthew 7:1-7), he was perhaps suggesting, because he understood Judgement, that we realize that each and every judgement we make is a product of our own creation. As each judgement is only our creation, we perhaps ought not project our judgments upon reality and life. Our judgments often time have little to do with reality. If we judge the rose beautiful or ugly, in effect that rose is still just a rose. If we understand ourselves, we surrender without praise or blame, without judgment, to who, what, and how we are. We do not have the capacity to judge correctly. We do not know the total picture, the total circumstance and, as human beings, never can. We know only that we do not know. Likewise, we accept others just as they are. We leave judgement to God.
Return to Table of Contents


In attending Courage we meet life without fear because we acknowledge and accept that there is in reality nothing to fear except the fear which we have created and that which we have created to fear — through inappropriate judgement and a lack of understanding and compassion. We meet dangers and difficulties with valor because we have taken responsibility for our fear. We no longer victimize ourselves and by actions or inaction that produce self-sabotage in failure or success. We are without fear to either succeed or fail. We just do, prudently.
Return to Table of Contents


In attending Knowledge we are aware of the distinction in knowledge itself. There is knowledge we gain directly by our perception of reality as it is rather than what or how we may think (judge) it to be. There is knowledge we gain by intellectual study, actual experience or in the acquisition of a particular skill. As we mature in becoming who we truly are (rather than who we think, hope, or dream we are or are not) we learn the reality of the former and integrate the latter into the former. The rose is just a rose. Life is just life. And this rose is beautiful for me. and that is all.
Return to Table of Contents


In attending Love we first of all recognize the confusion invited by the word-symbol itself, as with the word God. We recognize that throughout our human history that we, out of our love for God and of whatever religion or nation we might be, have killed more people for any other reason than simply because others have not agreed with our interpretation of "love" or "God." In Love, we become clear that the word itself is meaningless and that it is we who impregnate the word with meaning. We also recognize that as with God, Love we cannot adequately put into language our meaning of Love or God. We might turn to St. Paul for a general guideline to find out how Love manifests itself: Love is patient, kind, and so forth (1 Corinthians 12:31-13:8).
Return to Table of Contents


In attending Reverence we acknowledge our human inherent ignorance. The only reality that we can admit to with a high degree of certainty is that essentially we do not know. This we know. This essential unknowingness we each as human beings share with one another. Hence, do we come to honor and feel respect for our own selves and each other. We each are precious and vulnerable no matter what our social standing or personal condition may be. We are awed by the preciousness of the human condition and our state as children of God. As we mature we come to honor and revere God in profound respect and consequently enhance in our own self-respect. Even though we do not understand God, we yet come simply to know, to be present to one another in God.
Return to Table of Contents

Prudence: Embodiment of Gifts

We might appreciate the gifts of the Holy Spirit embodied in the virtue of prudence. Growing in prudence, we further assume a profound and vital approach to the concrete reality and its claims on us. Through prudence, we grow in a deep and conscience intimacy with real life. We respond to life as it is rather than react to life as we may believe, perceive, or historicize it to be. As a truly prudent person, we have grown to full stature of reality.8

We are able to readily distinguish between the shrewd person and the prudent person. We recognize that the shrewd person has engendered the capacity to view reality in light of his (or her) own plan and purposes. We recognize the prudent individual as just as alert, but (she or he who) discerns in the course of terrestrial events how to place all things in the sense of the good, ultimately in the service of God. 9 Hence, we are able to penetrate the very heart of reality. We hear the loving voice of God in all things and accept the initiation to the childlike service of God. Each moment truly becomes yet another new beginning. We appreciate, in wisdom, that we, moment by moment, are only just beginning and that each beginning encompasses no true end. Through Confirmation, we come to know ourselves in Love, in God, who as St. Augustine described, is a circle whose center is everywhere and the circumference nowhere.10
Return to Table of Contents

The Cardinal Virtues

The grace of the Holy Spirit empowers us. With our decisive and hence conscious desire to cooperate, the grace of the Holy Spirit empowers us to embody the Cardinal Virtues. A virtue is a quality of inner goodness through which one lives well.11 The Cardinal Virtues are: Prudence, Justice, Fortitude and Temperance. Through the sealing of the Holy Spirit, we can and may come, as we may choose to cooperate with God's grace, to live virtuous lives. In the process, we learn that the more we practice one virtue, to the same extent do we unfold in the embodiment of the others. We come to experience the inherent unity of human life ever more free of our prior self-learned human conditioning. We become more aware of our delusions, illusions, and allusions about ourself, life, and God and, consequently, we do not imprison ourselves by them.
Return to Table of Contents


In prudence, we love wisely discerning the means leading to the Beloved and the obstacles which would bar the way. We love clearly discerning what is helpful and what is a hinderance on the path to God. In essence we appreciate prudence as the art of right counsel and guidance.


In temperance, we become love bestowing fully and without reserve. We love serving God totally and without corruption as we awaken ever more fully to who we truly are. We maintain a natural balance in a relatively stable state of equilibrium with reality: our thoughts, feelings, emotions as well as people, places, things, and events and our interpretation of each.
Return to Table of Contents


In justice we are love serving the Beloved alone embodied in all people and reality as it is. We know God as being Creator. We acknowledged and accept that the created always contains something of the creator as Efficient Cause. We govern ourselves and others justly being present with others in compassion, rather than being present for others in sympathy.


In fortitude we love gladly enduring everything for the Beloved, recognizing suffering for what it is. We surrender to physical, emotional, and spiritual sensation as it is rather than resisting the sensation either in fear of loss or gain and hence create pain and suffering, which like beauty, are only mental phenomena that we create.
Return to Table of Contents

Fruits of the Holy Spirit

By embodying the Cardinal Virtues we perfect the Gifts of the Holy Spirit. We actualize the Fruits of the Spirit. The Fruits of the Spirit are: Charity, Joy, Peace, Patience, Kindness, Goodness, Faith, Understanding, Self-control. (Galatians 5:22f) The fruits of the Spirit... are the signs of genuine freedom of the children of God. They do not flow from a mere orientation toward the prohibitive universal law, but from the child-like docility toward the Holy Spirit.12 We become like little children and enter the kingdom of God.


Hence, in Charity we treat ourselves and our fellow sisters and brothers as sons and daughters of God, recognizing that as God is our creator, He is within each of us as Creator. Hence, we each are greater than the sum of our parts. Children of God.


Hence, in Joy we do not take life personally recognizing life as the merry dance of God that it is and we are. Things happen and things do not happen and that is all.
Return to Table of Contents


Hence, in Peace we realize the Peace of Christ: My peace I give unto you, my peace I leave unto you, not as the world gives, but as I give. (John 14:27) We live now being in the kingdom of heaven.


Hence, in Patience we easily maintain a state of equilibrium and equanimity. There is no problem as there is no beauty in the universe, each being our own creation. All we do is get out of our own way, giving ourselves (and hence others) room to maneuver as we are wont in the Merry Dance of Life.
Return to Table of Contents


Hence, in Kindness we are present to ourselves and others in the human condition recognizing in our humanity what we can and cannot, ought and ought not, do for another in compassion rather than sympathy. We let ourselves and others simply just be without regret or remorse, hope or expectation.


Hence, in Goodness we practice a virtuous life, recognizing the excellence of forgiveness throughout and without praise or blame. We are neither hard nor easy on ourselves or others. In forgiveness, we appreciate the excellence inherent within our human condition. We can forgive.


Hence, in Faith we know that God never asks more from us than we are able to bear. Be it good times or bad (that we make so), in sickness or in health, for richer or for poorer, do we honor ourselves as children of God knowing we can handle any situation with Peace and Joy, being that we have nothing to fear as fear itself is our own creation as well.
Return to Table of Contents


Hence, in Understanding, we acknowledge and accept ourselves as children of God by surrendering ourselves to Him, unconditionally. We acknowledge and accept the human condition for what it is, the human condition replete with delusions, illusions, and allusions — our creation.


Hence, in Self-Control we remain mindfull with steadfastness or firmness of mind. We are able to control ourselves because we have surrendered to our human need to control. We accept unconditionally our need to control just as it is — another need. Consequently, we tend not to be out of control, addicted to wanting things and people to be the way we want them to be. Our inherent addictive personality traits, stemming from our need to control controlling us, dissolve as we acknowledge and accept who we truly are.
Return to Table of Contents

Confirmation: Sacrament of Spiritual Growth

Therefore, Confirmation is a sacrament of spiritual growth that enables a person to stand before the world as a witness of the power of the Holy Spirit. In the Rite of Confirmation we renew our baptismal vows to resolve our delusions, illusions, and delusions so that we may better love God and our neighbors. The Church passes on the power of the Holy Spirit by the laying on of hands. And as the minister of Confirmation anoints our forehead, the minister says: Be sealed with the gifts of the Holy Spirit.13 The minister then gives us a Sign of Peace, welcoming us into the community as a full, responsible member. Hence are we empowered, confirmed as children of God and heirs of heaven.
Return to Table of Contents

Notes on the Holy Trinity:

In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

One God, Three Persons?

"If God is one, how is it that Sacred Scripture and the Church's creeds affirm a pluralism within God, that in God there is the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit? To distinguish the 'one God' from the 'triune God,' even for purposes of theological analysis, is to distort radically the distinctively Christian understanding of God. For the Christian, there is only one God, and that one God is Triune.14
Return to Table of Contents

God of the Old Testament

"The God of the Old Testament is a living God, intimately involved in the history of the people of Israel, sending forth a word through the prophets and the 'signs of the times' — a word so identified with its source that it is called the very word of Yahweh (I am who I am). While it would be theologically unjustifiable to suggest some 'foreshadowing' of the Trinity in the Old Testament, the personification of certain divine forces or modalities (the word, the wisdom, and the spiritof God) which are distinct from God and yet not simply intermediate powers between God and the world perhaps provide a certain prelude to the Christian understanding of God as Triune.15
Return to Table of Contents

Christ and Yahweh

"In Jesus Christ not only is the word made flesh, but all of the saving attributes of Yahweh in the Old Testament are actualized. God pardons through Christ (Ephesians 4:32) and reconciles the world through him (2 Corinthians 5:18) God gives the Spirit through the Son (John 15:26. 16:17) and the Christian belongs to Christ, and Christ belongs to God (1 Corinthians 2:23).16
Return to Table of Contents

God of the New Testament

"The New Testament speaks simply of God. This is the same God who was at work in the Old Testament: the God of Abraham, of Isaac, and of Jacob. The New Testament writers do not even ordinarily speak of Jesus as God (except in the rarest of cases, e.g., the Prorogue of St. John's Gospel), since it would be for them an identification of Jesus with the Father. ... The New Testament assumes that there IS some relationship (between the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit) (Matthew 11:27; John 1:1; 8:38; 10:38). The Father sends the Son and the Spirit (John 14:16, 26; 17:3; Galatians 4:6) and gives the Spirit through the Son (John 15:26; 16:7).17
Return to Table of Contents

Phenomenology of God

"The God whom we EXPERIENCE as triune IS triune. But we cannot reach back into the New Testament, much less the Old Testament. Trinitarian theology and doctrine ... slowly and often unevenly developed over the course of some 15 centuries.18

"The Bible describes the creative, redemptive, and sanctifying activities of God: Father, Son, and the Holy Spirit. ... The Son does not emanate from the Father's WILL, as creature, but out of the Father's SUBSTANCE, by a unique mode of origination radically different from the creative act. The Son, therefore, is 'begotten, not made.' He is not the perfect creature outside the divine order. He is begotten within the divine order and he remains in it. His being is untouched by createdness. Finally, he is 'one in being (homoousios) with the Father.'19
Return to Table of Contents

God as Relation

"(From) The Council of Alexandria in 362 (came) a new orthodox formula: 'one ousia (being, substance), three hypostases (persons).20 Each of the divine hypostases, or Persons, is the ousia or essence of God; these Persons are distinguished from one another by their relationship to one another, and those relationships are determined, in turn, by their origins. Thus, the Father is different from the Son in that the Father is unbegotten, while the Son is begotten by a process of generation while the Spirit proceeds from the Father [through the Son].21 (We note in other religions, as in Hinduism, a trinitarian motif: the One generates the Two and the One and the Two cannot exist with the Third, the Relationship between the One and the Two.)

"As St. Augustine wrote: not only is the Father not greater than the Son in respect of divinity, but Father and Son together are not greater than the Holy Spirit, and no single person of the three is less than the Trinity itself. Thus we are not speaking here of three separate individuals as we would three separate human beings. There are not three wills, but one. There are not three sources of divine action, but one.
Return to Table of Contents

Inherent Oneness, Three Relations

"In the Trinity all things are one except what is differentiated by reason of an opposition of relation (e.g. the Father, who is UNBEGOTTEN, is not the Son, who is BEGOTTEN. ... Whatever the Father, the Son, or the Holy Spirit are, they are in relation to one or both of the others. Threeness in God, therefore, is not rooted in threeness of substance or threeness of accidents but in threeness of RELATIONS: of begetting, of being begotten, and of proceeding.23
Return to Table of Contents

Relational Metaphors

"Augustine's analogies from human consciousness (may) explain (to some) the inner life of God. In every process of perception ... there are three distinct elements: the external object, the mind's sensible representation of the object, and the focusing of the mind. When the external object is removed, we rise to an even higher trinitarian level, superior to the first because the process occurs entirely now within the mind as is therefore 'of one and the same substance,' namely memory impression, the internal memory image, and the focusing of the will." He further elaborated upon this analogy carrying it to "mind as remembering, knowing, and loving God." 24

"It is only when the mind has focused itself on to its Creator with all its powers of remembering, understanding, and loving that the image it bears of God can be fully restored. (We no longer live our life bound by our illusions, false perceptions, delusions, false beliefs, or allusions, false stories.) Since these three, the memory, the understanding, and the will are, therefore, not three lives but one life, not three minds, but one mind, it follows that they are certainly not three substances, but one substance.25 Being one, not caught in the three worlds of delusion, illusion, and allusion but in our direct apperceptive appreciation of ourselves in God as God's children we actualize Christ's prayer: Father may they all be one, as you are one that they may be one in us. That the world may believe that you sent me. (John 17:21)

"Richard of St. Victor, (on the other hand,) began by looking to the unselfish love of human FRIENDSHIP as the reflection of the unselfish love of divine friendship (since we are, after all, made in the image of God). In God there is one infinite love and three infinite lovers: lover produces beloved, and lover and beloved are the productive principle of an equal cobeloved.
Return to Table of Contents

Love and the Holy Spirit

"Hence Christian writers speak of the author of this love as the Holy Spirit, who thus guides His own, teaching them what to do, inspiring them with divine knowledge of what is right (not to be confused with right/wrong dichotomy, but right in accord with one's true nature), in the concrete, existential situation. ... Yet the Spirit inspiring this love and wisdom was never thought of a deus ex machina who guides (people) from outside like a driver of an automobile. Fidelity to the Spirit was built on fidelity to one's true nature: the voice of true nature and the voice of the Spirit speak in such unison that they are barely distinguishable."27
Return to Table of Contents

Summary: Confirmation and Unity in the Spirit

By the pouring of water in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit we are solemnly known through Baptism as children of God. In that God is love (Hebrews 4:8), in Confirmation by the grace of his Spirit are we solemnly sealed with Chrism in Love. We are well on the path to awakening our true selves as Love, who we are as children of God, Who is Love. We are Christ-like, one with the Father, as Christ said: The Father and I are one. (John 10:30) through infusion of grace and wisdom by the indwelling of the Holy Spirit.

May God bless us all, in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

Return to Table of Contents


  1. Vorgrimler, Herbert. Sacramental Theology. Collegeville: Minnesota, 1992; p. 71
  2. Ibid., p. 71f.
  3. Ibid., p. 72.
  4. McBrien, Richard P. Catholicism. San Francisco: Harper, 1994; p. 807.
  5. Ibid., p. 819.
  6. Sacrament of Confirmation. South Deerfield: Scriptographic, 1982; p. 10.
  7. Vorgrimler, loc. cit.; p 125.
  8. Ibid., p. 124.
  9. Haring, Bernard. The Law of Christ, Vol I. Paramus, NJ:The Newman Press, 1960, p. 297.
  10. Odajnyk, V. Walter. Gathering the Light: A Psychology of Meditation.Boston: Shambhala, 1993; p. 192.
  11. Haring, loc. cit., p. 485.
  12. Ibid, p. 260.
  13. Sacrament of Confirmation, p. 5.
  14. McBrien, loc. cit., p. 276.
  15. Ibid., p. 300.
  16. Ibid., p. 281f.
  17. Ibid., p. 282.
  18. Ibid., p. 283.
  19. Ibid., p. 288f
  20. Ibid., p. 290.
  21. Ibid., p. 292.
  22. Ibid., p. 294.
  23. Ibid., p. 295.
  24. Ibid.,
  25. Ibid., p. 296.
  26. Ibid., p. 300.
  27. Johnson, William. The Still Point: Reflections on Zen and Christian Mysticism. New York: Harper and Row, Publishers, 1971; p. 102.

Peace and thank you.

Confirmation Petition Form
Rite of Confirmation Outside of Mass
The Network's Brochure
The Order's Brochure

White Robed Monks of St. Benedict
Post Office Box 27536
San Francisco CA 94127-0536 USA
Phone: 415-292-3228
email: webmaster@whiterobedmonks.org
Page URL: http://www.whiterobedmonks.org/confirm.html
Copyright © 1998 White Robed Monks of St. Benedict
Valid HTML 4.0!