The Prayer Book describes the Catechism as an "instruction in Christian faith and conduct for those who are to be confirmed." In our studies we will work through the Catechism, question by question, and so come to an understanding of the Christian faith.
For Confirmation you will need to understand the questions and answers given in the Catechism. These notes will help you do that. Second, you will need to learn off by heart the Apostles creed, the Ten Commandments (only the first phrase of the long commands), and the Lord's Prayer.
As an aid for your confirmation lessons you should have your own Prayer Book and a modern version of the Bible. Usually godparents appreciate the opportunity to provide their godchild with either a Bible or Prayer Book. By the time you are confirmed you should be able to find your way around both the Bible and the Prayer Book.
So, let us begin our study of the Catechism.
"At my baptism, I was made a member of Christ, the child of God, and an inheritor of the kingdom of heaven."
Water baptism is an ancient symbol that expresses a person's turning to Christ, or as the Bible calls it, "repentance." Water baptism is an outward way of expressing a desire to turn to Jesus and accept him as our friend and saviour. It's a very meaningful symbol, because when we turn to Jesus we are washed with God's forgiveness, washed clean from the stains of all the wrong we have ever thought and done, or as the Bible puts it, "our sins are forgiven."
A forgiven person has three special things going for them:
The Bible describes a forgiven person as "in Christ", "one with Christ", "united to Christ." It just means we are now Jesus' intimate friend. In Australian we might say "Jesus is my best mate, my best friend." Like a best friend, Jesus will stick with us to the end of our life. He will never leave us alone.
The Bible describes a forgiven person as a child of God. It's another way of saying that a forgiven person has a special relationship with God. Our heavenly Father promises his children a package of special privileges. The privileges are many, but they can be summed up as freedom from guilt, self and fear. "If the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed", John 8:36.
The Bible describes a forgiven person as an inheritor of eternal life. A forgiven person is set free from the fear of death. Just as Jesus rose from the dead, so his friends will rise from the dead in the day of his return to this earth, and they will share eternity with him in God's new heaven.
Many of us were Baptized when we were babies and it was then that our parents and godparents gave us our Christian names, our first names. On that occasion we were symbolically included in God's special family. Of course, all this was done in expectation that we would one day turn to Christ and seek forgiveness ourselves and so become one of Jesus' friends, a child of God, sharing eternity with him. Our parents and godparents, at that time, simply pointed us in a particular direction. Confirmation is where we confirm that direction for ourselves.
Confirmation is an Ordinance (or rule) of the Anglican church. Turn to the Baptismal Service and at the end you will find instructions to godparents. They are instructed to see to it that their godchild knows the Creed, Lord's Prayer and Ten Commandments, is instructed in the church Catechism and then is Confirmed. Of course, these days it is more the parents' responsibility, as the role of godparents is often ceremonial.
Confirmation is the means by which a person becomes a full member of the church. What happens is this. The candidate prayerfully studies the Bible truths contained in the Catechism and accepts them to the degree they are able. They then attend the Confirmation service where they publicly confirm the promises made on their behalf at their Baptism. The Bishop then confirms their confirming of the promises by laying hands on the candidate and praying for their strengthening in the Christian faith. The congregation then joins in prayer for all the candidates.
The laying-on of hands may seem a little strange, but it is an ancient symbol of prayer. In the Bible we find that the action of laying-on of hands was used on special occasions: eg. with prayer for God's blessing, by the leaders of God's people in Old Testament times, by Jesus himself, and also by his disciples. Prove this by looking up the following Bible references: Genesis 48:9-14; Deuteronomy 34:9; St. Mark 10:16, 16:18; Acts 6:6, 9:12, 19:1-6, 28:8: 2 Timothy 1:6.
So, Confirmation in our church is the rite, or ceremony, whereby the candidate confirms their baptismal promises and is confirmed by the Bishop in the prayerful laying-on of hands for strengthening in the Christian life.
Our parents and godparents spoke on our behalf and answered questions that could only be answered by someone who has decided to follow Jesus for themselves. In a sense, it was an expression of their hope that one day we could say these things for ourselves. Confirmation gives us the opportunity to consider the Christian faith for ourselves and confirm our own trust in Jesus. We study what it means to be a Christian, confirm the promises made on our behalf and seek the strengthening of God's Holy Spirit for our walk with Jesus.
Remember, it is only a first step filled with doubts and questions. Each will have to make their own journey toward trusting Jesus. Some will inevitably decide there is nothing in it all. Some will decide that Jesus is indeed the Son of God and that life eternal is found in him only.
So Confirmation serves the following ends:
i] It is an opportunity to accept responsibility for the vows made for me at Baptism.
ii] It challenges me to consider further the person of Jesus and what it means to put my trust in him.
iii] It offers me the privilege of full church membership and therefore the right to take part in the Holy Communion.
iv] It serves as a time when I can seek God's blessing in the strengthening of His Spirit.
1. Study carefully the Confirmation lessons.
2. Attend classes of instruction whenever possible.
3. Write down any points that are not clear about and ask for an answer.
4. Try to understand the Catechism teaching, for it sums up the main truths the Bible tells us we are to believe.
5. Examine yourself; that is, consider whether you really want to follow Jesus. You need not make a decision for the present, but do move toward deciding one way or the other. Some people take years to do this, so don't pressure yourself. Just be willing to continually test yourself.
6. Read the Bible. While the Catechism teaches the main truths of the Bible, you should make yourself familiar with the truths in the Bible itself. You will find it a help to know the names of the books of the Old and New Testaments, and where each book is to be found. If you need help to form the habit of regular daily Bible reading, ask your Catechism teacher (the Catechist) for Bible reading notes, or write to Scripture Union.
7. Pray. This is the most important of all preparations for Confirmation, as it is in all other matters. Ask your godparents, parents and others to pray for you.
Learn the second part of the Apostles Creed to "from there he shall come to judge the living and the dead".
Read through the Catechism and note its five parts. Mark in the margin in pencil (If it is your Prayer Book) words you do not understand. Look them up in a dictionary.
O God, I pray that you give me a right heart, that I may come to know you in Jesus. Lead me to know your great love for me in Christ Jesus. Help those who teach me, to give me the teaching I need. Grant that, on my Confirmation Day, I may be ready to give myself to be your faithful soldier and servant to my life's end; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.