The focus of the 18th Plenary Assembly of the Pontifical Council for the Laity [the proceedings of which are being published here] was the importance of Confirmation in the life of Christians. Reflection on this sacramente represented the ideal continuation of that on Baptism during the previous plenary Assembly and a further stage in the rediscovery of the sacraments of Christian initiation.
The sacrament of Confirmation immediately conjures up the idea of the layperson called to confess the faith.
The role of the "lay confessor" in the Church has often been the focus of attention. According to St. Cyprian of Carthage, the "confessor" is he who publicly and heroically confesses the Lord and who is for this reason thrown into prison. In the early and medieval Church a "confessor" was someone who suffered for confessing his or her faith, though not to the point of martyrdom. The term "confessor" was therefore applied to persons of proven sanctity who were active in the public arena. ... On the threshold of the third millennium, all those who seek the holiness that ought to inform academic, political and economi life, the world of work, marriage and the family, shall be "confessors".
For the "lay confessor", the mystery of his Baptism and Confirmation demands that the paschar mystery should shape everything from within-laws, customs, endeavours, even recreations. Man's understanding of himself as participant in Jesus Christ is the crux of the anthropology of the "lay confessor", because through Baptism the Christian was united in Christ in a depth equal to his (cf. Rm 5:5): "all things were made through him" (Jn 1:3).
... So Confirmation is closely linked to the capacity to confess one's own faith. It is this sacrament that characterizes the figure of the "lay confessor", which is discussed form various viewpoints in the reports gathered in the present volume.
By offering our readers the results of this Plenary Assembly, the Pontifical Council for the Laity hopes that in remeditating the significance of the sacrament of Confirmation, after that of the sacrament of Baptism, each faithful of Christ may rediscover in it the call to belong to the Lord and to grow in the capacity to bear witness to the newness of his or her own life in the secularized world of our time.
From the preface by Card. James Francis Stafford
President of the Pontifical Council for the Laity
Rediscovering Confirmation, Proceedings of the 18th Plenary Assembly, 27 February - 2 March 1999 (€10).