1st Holy Communion And Confirmation Gifts From Be Personal
According to the Catholic Church there are seven Sacraments that are essential for our salvation and to living a life in the manner that Christ intended for us. The three Sacraments that initiate us and welcome us into the family of Christ; these are Baptism, Confirmation and Communion. It is baptism that frees us from sin and then Confirmation denotes the strengthening of faith. To be part of the sacrifice of Christ, by the taking of the Body and Blood of Christ during Communion, is the third Sacrament and represents growing closer to the community of the church. Baptism is the initial gift of the Spirit and Confirmation is the sacrament of the fullness of the spirit.
At the beginning of Christian history, most of those who were baptised were adults who were converts to the religion. The ritual of baptism probably coincided with admitting them to the full rites of the church, yet to be known as confirmation. Those adults who desired to become members of the Christian Church took part in a three-year process called the Catechumenate, a time of intense study that often took place in secret whilst Christianity was still illegal under the Roman Empire. A sponsor would guide the Catechumen through the process and then present them to the bishop for baptism. The catechumens would first have descended into a pool to be baptised in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. Then they would have ascended, been clothed in a white robe and been anointed with oil by the bishop, before taking their place with the rest of the community to undertake the ritual of the Eucharist for the first time. These ceremonies would have taken place at the Easter Vigil.
However, in later years it became customary to baptise infants and then it became necessary to draw more of a distinction between the two ceremonies. The fourth century, when Emperor Constantine proclaimed Christianity as the religion of the state, saw a time of many more people being baptised. The religion spread from the towns to the countryside and it became impossible for bishops to get to all of the ceremonies in person. In the East the bishops solved the problem by blessing the oil to be used in the ceremonies and then delegating to their priests. The bishops in the West delegated the rite of baptism, but retained the anointing with oil, which they carried out to large groups when in a particular area. This inevitably led to an increased gap between baptism and confirmation.
As Christianity grew and became the official church it became common for whole families to be baptised at the same time, including infants, making the three year process of the Catechumenate impractical. It became the idea that, since society itself was taking on a Christian identity, those who wished to convert could learn about becoming a Christian after they had been baptised.
In the Middle Ages confirmation was still closely linked to baptism and was often conferred before the first birthday. However, there were some churches that set a minimum age of ten and there were also two synods held in England in the thirteenth century that differed between whether confirmation should be administered during the first year of life or within the first three years.
After the Fourth Lateran Council the age at which communion could be given, which still followed confirmation, was marked as being after the age of reason was reached. After the thirteenth century the age for confirmation and communion was raised from seven, to twelve and then fifteen. Then, in 1917, the Code of Canon Law recommended that Confirmation be delayed until about the age of seven, but allowed that it could take place earlier. It was in 1932 that official permission was granted to alter the order of the sacraments. Thus, Confirmation could take place after First Holy Communion, a novelty that increasingly became the accepted practice. Confirmation came to be seen as an occasion for the personal profession of faith by an individual approaching adulthood.
In the Roman Catholic Church, confirmation is regarded as a sacrament that was introduced by Jesus Christ himself. The gifts of the Holy Spirit, grace, strength and courage, are bestowed upon the recipient. Only those who have been baptised and are over the age of seven may be confirmed and the ritual is usually carried out by a bishop.
Other churches, such as the Eastern Orthodox Church, carry out the sacraments of baptism, confirmation and first communion all at the same time. Here a priest may administer at the ceremony. After the Protestant Reformation, the Anglican and Lutheran Churches retained a form of confirmation. In the Anglican Church a bishop must conduct the ritual and confirmation is still regarded as a sacrament. However, the Lutheran Church rejects this idea and sees confirmation as a public declaration of the faith that the candidate was baptised into. In both the Anglican and Lutheran Churches, confirmation is preceded by classes of instruction in the catechism.
There are other Protestant Churches where confirmation is not regarded as a sacrament, but they use the term confirmation to describe the acceptance of baptised members into full membership of the church. It also confers the right to receive Holy Communion.
Since the Middle Ages, when it first became the practice to confirm adolescents instead of infants, theologians have taught that Confirmation is the sacrament of maturity. Those who receive the sacrament old enough and ready to live active and responsible Christian lives. Fortified by the increased strength of the Spirit, those who are confirmed are able to fight, suffer and die for the faith. The idea of receiving the sacrament and becoming a soldier of Christ has prevailed down the centuries.
Today, Confirmation is seen as part of a gradual conversion to Christ; part of a lifelong journey that is strengthened by the sacrament. Thus, Confirmation is seen as being directly connected to baptism and the Eucharist. Together, these sacraments form a process by which the Spirit brings the believer into a union with the Christian community. Confirmation and baptism form the initiation process and when Confirmation precedes Communion it is seen as preparation for the full celebration of the death and resurrection of Christ. When it became possible to celebrate a First Holy Communion before Confirmation, the role of Confirmation leading to the Eucharist had to be emphasised in non-chronological ways. This is achieved by celebrating Confirmation within Mass and through the words of the rite.
In the Anglican Church today, confirmation is the ceremony where a person confirms the promises that were made when they were baptised. If they were christened as an infant, then their Godparents made the promises on their behalf. As an adult, or young person, they make the promises themselves, with their family and the Christian community present to support them. The bishop will lay their hands upon the person’s head and ask for the Holy Spirit to provide the strength and commitment to live in God’s way. Then there are special prayers and sometimes the service of Holy Communion will follow. This very much depends upon the practice in the particular church.
There are many similarities in the Roman Catholic Church, where confirmation may also be known as Chrismation. The Holy Spirit is the focus of the ceremony, giving the same gifts to those who are being confirmed as when the apostles were confirmed at Pentecost to give them the courage to practice their faith. According to the Bible, in the Acts of the Apostles 8:14-17
Now when the apostles in Jerusalem heard that Samaria had accepted the word of God, they sent them Peter and John, who went down and prayed for them, that they might receive the holy spirit, for it had not yet fallen upon any of them; they had only been baptised in the name of the Lord Jesus. Then they laid hands on them and they received the holy spirit. The seven gifts of the Holy Spirit are traditionally wisdom, understanding, counsel, courage, knowledge, piety and fear of the Lord. The fruits of the Holy Spirit are charity, joy, peace, patience, benignity, goodness, long-suffering, mildness, faith, modesty, continency and chastity. The confirmation ceremony can take place within a mass or as a separate service. The bishop will wear red robes to symbolise the fire seen over the heads of the apostles at Pentecost.
When the person to be confirmed, known as a confirmand, kneels in front of the bishop he will anoint them with consecrated oil, chrism, making the sign of the cross on their forehead. He will call the person by their name, or the name they have chosen for confirmation, and will say ‘Be sealed with the gift of the Holy Spirit’. The person will respond with ‘Amen’ and then the bishop will say ‘Peace be with you’. The final response is ‘And also with you’, and then the person is seen as an adult in the church.
In Latter Day Saint Churches, where baptism is not carried out on infants, confirmation takes place either immediately after the baptism or on the following Sunday. Baptism alone is not seen as being complete, or fully effective until confirmation has taken place.
Baptists and Anabaptists, along with others who teach a believers baptism, do not practice confirmation at all. Only those who are ready to proclaim their faith are baptised and so there is no need for a confirmation of promises given on behalf of infants.
There are many gifts that are suitable to mark the occasion of a Confirmation or First Holy Communion. There are various bibles, written in language to suit the recipient, and they can be personalised with the date of the ceremony and a special message as well as the name of the person being confirmed or attending their first communion. Mugs with the name and date on them will go down well with younger recipients and there is a range of commemorative candles that can be personalised with details of the occasion.
The traditional idea of jewellery made with the Christian symbol of the cross is still popular. A bracelet featuring a cross and a charm engraved with the date is available and it comes in a trinket box that is engraved with the image of a church and details of the event. A perfect gift to mark the occasion.
Personalised photo frames with the confirmation or first communion details marked on them will be welcome in any household as a wonderful way to show off pictures taken on the day. May people will chose to invite family members and friends to join in the celebrations and a personalised guest book, holding all of their good wishes, will be a memento that will be treasured.
Token and blocks bearing all of the relevant details will make lovely ornaments and serve as a reminder of the promises made, whilst those who are perhaps not able to attend will welcome the chance to send a personalised Card. Greetings cards for both confirmation and first communion are available as well as general Christian cards that can be personalised to reflect the occasion. Whatever the available budget, those wishing to purchase a special remembrance will find beautiful personalised confirmation presents and First Holy Communion gifts.