I got to thinking today that one of the main problems with understanding Confirmation today is that we don’t understand the name.

We hear “confirm”, and we think, “Oh, I’m going to confirm that I want to be a Christian and a Catholic”, or “the Senate confirmed those guys’ appointments as cabinet officials.”

But it’s really about the Latin “confirmare”, which means “to strengthen, to make firmer, to reinforce.” That’s why the Douay-Rheims has Jesus telling Peter to “confirm thy brethren” instead of “strengthen your brethren.” (Luke 22:32.)

Confirmation is about giving us gifts from the Holy Spirit to stiffen our spine when times get tough, to make us more holy, to make us more useful to Him in spreading the Word, and to keep us together on the way home to Him.

Nowadays, there seems to be a lot of new catechetical materials that emphasize that Confirmation means “Strengthening,” but we sure didn’t get that back when I was getting Confirmed. We got more of a Charismatic emphasis (probably because there were Charismatic Catholics in the neighborhood, in a small way). But there were already a lot of people in my CCD class who were being told that they were voting yes or no on Catholicism. I hope that whole line of thinking goes away and is forgotten.