'Be sealed with the gift of the Holy Spirit': A theological analysis of the seal of the Holy Spirit in the context of confirmation catechesis

Bellows, Philippa (2012). 'Be sealed with the gift of the Holy Spirit': A theological analysis of the seal of the Holy Spirit in the context of confirmation catechesis. PhD thesis The Open University.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.21954/ou.ro.0000edf9

Abstract

The revised Rite of Confirmation in the Roman Catholic Church uses Accipe signaculum Doni Spiritus Sancti, 'Be sealed with the gift of the Holy Spirit' as its essential formula. By doing so it points to a wealth of Scriptural and Patristic doctrine which should help those being confirmed to appreciate what they are being given.

This thesis argues that these words contain a largely 'untapped' resource which is potentially valuable as part of the process of confirmation catechesis.

A survey suggests that published programmes for confirmation preparation, in use in England and Wales, do not help young people to understand the 'seal' of the Holy Spirit even though the Church is keen that they should. By changing the bishop's words to be sealed with the gift of the Holy Spirit', the Rite of Confirmation, later supported by the Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC), suggests that 'sealing' is central to the meaning of the sacrament of confirmation.

This thesis identifies a need for catechesis on the 'seal' of the Spirit. It draws on contemporary challenges to confirmation catechesis and discusses areas of dissonance between what young people are receiving from published confirmation preparation programmes and what the Church teaches.

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