For several decades now, well-meaning catechists, priests and deacons have told candidates for the sacrament of confirmation something along the lines of this: “Confirmation is when you decide to accept the Catholic faith for yourself.” If this were true, it would mean that my own reception of the sacrament of confirmation means nothing because I was confirmed the same day I was born; at such a young age, I could not possibly make such a momentous decision. The sacrament of confirmation, then, cannot be about an individual’s choice. Indeed, such an understanding was never present in any official document or prayer of the church.
Many centuries ago, Pope St. Leo the Great wisely said that “what was visible in our Savior has passed over into his mysteries” (Sermon 74.2). He spoke these words concerning the ascension of Christ and in this way referred to the relationship between the life and ministry of the Lord Jesus and the Sacraments of his Body, the Catholic Church.