How to Explain Catholic Confirmation to a Teen

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By the age of reason, teenagers want to being experiencing life as mature individuals. When Catholic teens prepare for and receive the Sacrament of Confirmation, religious educators have an opportunity to guide young people into understanding what spiritual maturity in the Roman Catholic Church means. Use this rite of Christian initiation as a once-in-a-lifetime chance to engage teens in activities and dialogue about the potential for a dynamic and Christ-like life in the Catholic Church.

1 Teach teens about the implications

Teach teens about the implications Catholic Confirmation carries for spiritual and temporal maturity. Provide young Catholics about to receive Confirmation information about the changes the Sacrament initiates. Give teens a journal writing assignment in which they explore the self-centeredness of childhood and the selflessness of Christian adulthood. Ask the teens to list how they saw their places in their families, schools and worship communities as young children. Then, ask them to imagine and write down how they might use the gifts of the Holy Spirit, such as wisdom and strength to help others in their immediate communities.

2 Discuss the gifts

Discuss the gifts of the Holy Spirit that people receive with the Sacrament of Confirmation. Show teens how Jesus employed the gifts of wisdom, understanding, counsel, strength, knowledge and fear of the Lord in his ministry. Start a dialogue with teens in which they discuss how they might use the gifts of the Holy Spirit to answer Christ’s and the Catholic Church’s call to evangelization. Give young people scenarios from school or family life in which they might exercise the spirit of understanding.

3 Explain to teens

Explain to teens that they will attend religious education classes leading up to the Confirmation ceremony. Discuss with young Catholics the purpose of the classes, which emphasize the gifts of the Holy Spirit.

4 Describe the Confirmation ceremony

Describe the Confirmation ceremony to create a sense of anticipation in teen candidates. Tell them that the Bishop will perform the ceremony by anointing the candidates’ heads with blessed oil called Chrism and by praying for the Holy Spirit to come into each teen.

5 Prepare teens for the Sacrament of Reconciliation

Prepare teens for the Sacrament of Reconciliation, which they will experience prior to the Confirmation ceremony. Ask the young people to reflect on characteristics and actions they think keep them separated from God.

6 To understand the value

Guide teens to understand the value of rites of passage, which begin with Baptism and find completion in Confirmation. Explain that once confirmed, the teens become full members of the universal Roman Catholic Church. Describe how the worship community will attend Confirmation as witnesses to the young people’s rite of spiritual passage. Tell teens that they are about to experience an ancient ritual, which has the power and love of the Trinitarian God as its source and goal.

Alyson Paige has a master's degree in canon law and began writing professionally in 1998. Her articles specialize in culture, business and home and garden, among many other topics.