St John's Q&A

Friday, July 22, 2005

Confirmation - notes


Is Confirmation necessary for salvation?
- debatable; theological debate
- might say that it is necessary for those who have been offered it

- the Magisterium (teaching authority) of the Church says this:
“It must be explained to the faithful that the reception of the sacrament of Confirmation is necessary for the completion of baptismal grace. For "by the sacrament of Confirmation, [the baptized] are more perfectly bound to the Church and are enriched with a special strength of the Holy Spirit. Hence they are, as true witnesses of Christ, more strictly obliged to spread and defend the faith by word and deed." (CCC, # 1285)
- Confirmation completes baptism
- “seals” the gifts of baptism
- sends us on our journey; missionary
- mission, “receive the Holy Spirit”

“The 1st Confirmation” – Pentecost (fifty days after Resurrection / Passover - feast of weeks)

- Acts 2:1-13
- Jesus had promised that the Father would send the Spirit
-“the Paraclete, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you everything and remind you of all I have said to you” - John 14:26

- Acts 8
- the Apostles, began to impart the gift of the Spirit through the laying on of hands
-Peter and John went to Samaria where the people “had only been baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. Then they laid hands on them, and they received the Holy Spirit (16-17)

Did the early Church celebrate Confirmation as we do??

- yes, with external signs (oils, the laying on of hands) and with the bishop as celebrant
- no, because it was celebrated with baptism as a “double sacrament”
§ Conf. completes bapt., seals gifts of HS, indelible character

- Bishop couldn’t be present at all baptisms
- huge number of baptisms, growing number of rural parishes, growth of dioceses (among other reasons)
- West separated the 2 in order to reserve Conf. to the bishop
- East kept them as one; priests did Conf.

Did the early Church Fathers distinguish between Baptism and Confirmation:

- St. Hippolytus of Rome (235 AD) mentions the following rites of Confirmation:
- Imposition of hands by the Bishop and prayer
- anointing with consecrated oil - this unction must be distinguished from the baptismal unction performed by the priest after Baptism - together with imposition of hands and the simultaneous pronouncement of a Trinitarian form of blessing
- signing of the forehead and the kiss of peace.

What about the oils used in Confirmation?
- “Christ” = anointed one ; Christian = anointed one
- very early in the Church, an anointing with perfumed oil (chrism) was added to the laying on of hands
- continues in both East and West
- East: “chrismation”
- West: “Confirmation” (ratification of Baptism and strengthening / fulfilling baptismal grace)

- Chrism oil is used in Baptism – priesthood of Christ as p,p,k

- from OT and other ancient symbolism, oil:
- is a sign of abundance and joy
- cleanses (before or after a bath) and limbers (athletes, e.g.)
- is a sign of healing since it soothes bruises and wounds
- makes radiant with beauty, health, and strength

- those who are anointed at Baptism are cleansed and strengthened
- those who are anointed at Confirmation are consecrated to Christ and share more deeply in his mission

Confirmation seals us as Christ’s and helps us to DO God’s Will

Confirmation brings a greater familiarity with the Holy Spirit, particularly, who can be a powerful presence in our lives
- gifts of the Holy Spirit (+ charisms; 1 Cor 12; healing, prophecy, miracles, tongues)
- fruits of the Holy Spirit (love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, generosity, gentleness, faithfulness, modesty, self-control, chastity)


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