According to the Baltimore Catechism, question 330, which we faithfully memorized, "Confirmation is the sacrament through which the Holy Ghost comes to us in a special way to enable us to profess our faith as strong and perfect Christians and soldiers of Jesus Christ."
Whatever that actually meant may have been less than completely clear to me at the time. What was particularly important to me about my my confirmation was that I got to choose a confirmation name. I chose Michael for my confirmation name, because I was attracted by the bellicose militaristic image of Michael the Archangel in the prayer which we then regularly recited as part of the so-called “Leonine Prayers for Russia” recited after Low Mass. Because that was what I cared the most about, that is the part of the ceremony that I best remember.
Thus, Confirmation seemed even then to be less of a big deal than the energy invested in it would seem to have warranted. For all sorts of reasons, we still manage to make a big deal out of Confirmation, but now in a different context in which fewer young people are likely to get confirmed. By continuing to celebrate it out of its proper order, moreover, we may give the impression to those who do get confirmed that confirmation is the sacramental culmination of Christian initiation, instead of the Eucharist. Not only does that distort the relative importance of those two sacraments, it burdens Confirmation with an obligation it seems hardly equipped to fulfill.
Back in 1957, however, my Confirmation was just another part of a way of life sanctified by the building in which it occurred. It was that great gothic-towered parish church, that dominated the neighborhood both physically and socially, that took me out of time and beyond the narrow confines of my limited space, and that taught me that to go to the altar of God would give joy to one’s youth. (Introibo ad altare Dei, ad Deum qui laetificat juventutem meam, as we were then happily taught to say.) That was something wonderful, which remains with me to this day!