While each parish approaches the sacrament of Confirmation differently, a current trend acknowledges recent Church documents in which Confirmation is considered related closely to Baptism and the Eucharist.
Together the three sacraments are considered as a process through which the Holy Spirit brings us into full union with the Church.
The old tradition of adopting a new saint’s name at confirmation encourages candidates to thoughtfully select a saint as a special patron or honor a saint to whom one had a special devotion. Many young people scour online lists of saints to identify one that shares their desired profession or hobby, or who led a full and holy spiritual life despite challenges that the candidate shares.
While the practice of choosing a confirmation name remains common, some dioceses – including the Diocese of Orange – encourage candidates to first instead consider using their baptismal name, which directly links the two sacraments of Christian initiation. Similarly, adds Director of the Office of Worship Lesa Truxaw, candidates are encouraged to consider choosing one of their godparents as a confirmation sponsor.
“A confirmation saint is someone we rely on who has come before us,” Truxaw explains. “We strive to be like them and ask for their help. Our saint name invokes a special relationship that began with baptism.”
In preparing to receive the sacrament, today’s confirmation candidates are encouraged to study the lives of the saints, which is easy today thanks to the wide variety of well-researched Catholic websites. Confirmation candidates are directed to pay special attention to the saints they are named after.
“We encourage them to find out what saints are recognized for,” Truxaw says. “In addition, we urge them to examine their own spiritual lives and identify areas where they need help and research appropriate saints who can intercede for them.”
Exploring the lives of the saints via the internet yields a great deal of practical information. At catholic.org, saints are listed alphabetically, by gender, by feast days, and by nationality, race, and profession. Other useful sites include mycatholic.life, beliefnet.com, and catholicnewsagency.com. The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops website at usccb.org has alphabetical lists of saints, as well as entries identifying American and evangelical saints.
The diocese’s Youth Ministry Programs Coordinator Catherine Ord says that if confirmation candidates don’t have a strong connection to their baptismal saint, they are encouraged to seek saints with spiritual gifts or special skills they find attractive.
“If they’re interested in music, they can consider St. Cecilia, the patron saint of musicians and music, or if they are called to working with the poor, there are many saints who devoted their lives to that pursuit,” Ord notes.
“Confirmation instructors at each parish often require students to compile reports about their chosen saint’s life or to write about the ways the saint will help them grow in their walk with God,” she adds.
“They study why the saint has meaning to them, with the idea that the saint is someone who walks with them in heaven and is present during their lives providing guidance in their spiritual journey.”