For our next (and final) Confirmation Intensive, we are focusing on the Rite of Confirmation which includes the following:
- the Presentation of the Candidates
- the Bishop’s Homily
- the Renewal of Baptismal Promises
- the Laying on of Hands and the Anointing with Chrism
- the General Intercessions
I’m currently sharing with you what I’m developing for each of these 5 elements of the Rite (the kids will experience five, 15-minute mini-sessions, one on each of the 5 elements). We continue today with the Laying on of Hands and the Anointing with Chrism.
- Explain that following the Renewal of Baptismal Promises at Confirmation, 2 very important things take place: the laying on of hands and the anointing with chrism.
- For the laying on of hands, ask the young people to recall playing “tag” when they were children. Invite a volunteer to explain in simple terms how the game is played. Emphasize that the key to the game is the idea that somehow you can transfer a quality (e.g. being “it”) to someone else simply by touching them with your hand. Tell them they are going to see how this idea of transferring a quality can be found in the Bible.
- Make sure all the young people have Bibles. Divide the class into 3 groups and have each group look up and read one of the following passages: Group 1: Numbers 27:15-23 (Moses lays his hands on Joshua to make him his successor); Group 2: Mark 8:22-25 (Jesus lays his hands on a blind man’s eyes); Group 3: Acts of the Apostles 8:14-17 (the apostles lay hands on people to call down the Holy Spirit).
- Ask for a volunteer from each group to describe from their passage who laid hands on who and why…comment as needed.
- Explain that in the Rite of Confirmation, the bishop and priests will extend their hands over the entire group (instead of laying hands on each Confirmand individually) as the bishop prays the following words (invite a student to come forward and read this): “All-powerful God, Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, by water and the Holy Spirit you freed your sons and daughters from sin and gave them new life. Send your Holy Spirit upon them to be their helper and guide. Give them the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of right judgment and courage, the spirit of knowledge and reverence. Fill them with the spirit of wonder and awe in your presence. We ask this through Christ our Lord. Amen.”
- Point out how the Gifts of the Holy Spirit are being “transferred” to them in this ritual.
- For the anointing with chrism, provide each young person with a small index card and a pencil with an eraser. Then, give half of the group PERMANENT MARKERS. Tell them all to write the words Be Sealed with the Gift of the Holy Spirit on the index card but have half do so in pencil and the other half with their permanent marker.
- Then, tell all of them to take a pencil and to try to erase the words they’ve just written. Of course, within seconds the ones written in pencil will have been erased while the ones in marker will not.
- Write the word INDELIBLE on the board and explain that it means a “mark that cannot be erased” – it is permanent
- Explain that when the bishop anoints them with oil and says the words “Be sealed with the gift of the Holy Spirit” they are receiving an indelible effect – a permanent relationship. It’s like being born into a family: you become a son, daughter, niece, nephew, cousin, etc. You can’t stop being that…it’s a permanent relationship. In the same way, they will be in permanent relationship with the Holy Spirit.
- Finally, distribute samples of colognes and perfumes from magazines. BE SURE TO CHECK IF ANYONE HAS FRAGRANCE ALLERGIES/SENSITIVITIES. Ask them to give a thumbs up or thumbs down on the fragrance they’ve been given. Collect the samples.
- Explain that the chrism they will be anointed with is perfumed – it has a slight fragrance. People wear colognes and perfumes to make an impression on others – a good impression. Confirmation calls you to make an impression on others. Just as a fragrance spreads, we too are called to spread the Good News of Jesus and to leave a good impression on others by living the Fruits of the Holy Spirit (option: see page 83 of the Confirmed In the Spirit book, “Fruits of the Holy Spirit”).