Confirmation is the sacrament of the Holy Spirit, whom Christ Jesus sent (John 16:7). Jesus instructed his Apostles that they “will receive the power of the Holy Spirit” and called upon the Apostles to be his “witnesses to the ends of the earth” (Acts 1:8). At the Pentecost, the Apostles were filled with the Holy Spirit (Acts 2:1-4), and began to spread the Word of God. The Acts of the Apostles is often called the Gospel of the Holy Spirit.
The rite of Confirmation is anointing the forehead with chrism, (in some instances this is done right after baptism) together with the laying on of the bishop’s hands and the words, “Be sealed with (or receive) the Gift of the Holy Spirit.” The recipient receives the seven gifts of the Holy Spirit: wisdom, understanding, counsel, fortitude, knowledge, piety and fear of the Lord (Isaiah 11:2-3). The ecclesial effect and sacramental grace of the sacrament give the recipient the strength and character to witness for Jesus Christ.
In Confirmation, a baptized Christian makes “a mature commitment to Christ, and receives strength from the Holy Spirit through prayer and the laying on of hands by a bishop” (Book of Common Prayer, page 857). It completes the initiation rite that began at baptism by transferring responsibility for the promises made at baptism from the sponsors to the one being confirmed. One can be confirmed whenever he or she is ready to accept that responsibility; usually this happens during adolescence if one is raised in the church. Confirmation expresses not only a desire to live as an adult Christian, it also indicates a desire to do so in The Episcopal Church.
At the first Pentecost, Jesus said to his disciples: “Receive the Holy Spirit. For those whose sins you forgive, they are forgiven; for those whose sins you retain, they are retained.” (John 20:23) These words of our Savior remind us of the fundamental gift of our redemption: the completely free and undeserved gift, a newness of life which we could never earn, and God grants it to us out of his mercy. As Saint Paul wrote: “It is all God’s work. It was God who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the work of handing on this reconciliation.” (2 Corinthians 5:18).