Confirmation

Confirmation

Baptism, the Eucharist, and the sacrament of Confirmation together constitute the “sacraments of Christian initiation,” whose unity must be safeguarded. 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.” (LG 11) [CCC 1285]

In the Old Testament the prophets announced that the Spirit of the Lord would rest on the hoped-for Messiah for his saving mission. (Isa 11:2)The descent of the Holy Spirit on Jesus at his baptism by John was the sign that this was he who was to come, the Messiah, the Son of God.  (Mt 3:13-17) He was conceived of the Holy Spirit; his whole life and his whole mission are carried out in total communion with the Holy Spirit whom the Father gives him “without measure.” (Jn 3:34) [CCC 1286]

This fullness of the Spirit was not to remain uniquely the Messiah’s, but was to be communicated to the whole messianic people. (Ezek 36:25-27) On several occasions Christ promised this outpouring of the Spirit, (Lk 12:12; Jn 3:5-8; Jn 7:37-39) a promise which he fulfilled first on Easter Sunday and then more strikingly at Pentecost. (Jn 20:22; Acts 2:1-14) Filled with the Holy Spirit the apostles began to proclaim “the mighty works of God,” and Peter declared this outpouring of the Spirit to be the sign of the messianic age. (Acts 2:11) Those who believed in the apostolic preaching and were baptized received the gift of the Holy Spirit in their turn. (Acts 2:38[CCC 1287]

“From that time on the apostles, in fulfillment of Christ’s will, imparted to the newly baptized by the laying on of hands the gift of the Spirit that completes the grace of Baptism. For this reason in the Letter to the Hebrews the doctrine concerning Baptism and the laying on of hands is listed among the first elements of Christian instruction. the imposition of hands is rightly recognized by the Catholic tradition as the origin of the sacrament of Confirmation, which in a certain way perpetuates the grace of Pentecost in the Church.” (Paul VI, Divinae consortium naturae, 659) [CCC 1288]

Very early, the better to signify the gift of the Holy Spirit, an anointing with perfumed oil (chrism) was added to the laying on of hands. This anointing highlights the name “Christian,” which means “anointed” and derives from that of Christ himself whom God “anointed with the Holy Spirit.”(Acts 10:38) This rite of anointing has continued ever since, in both East and West. For this reason the Eastern Churches call this sacrament Chrismation, anointing with chrism, or myron which means “chrism.” In the West, Confirmation suggests both the ratification of Baptism, thus completing Christian initiation, and the strengthening of baptismal grace – both fruits of the Holy Spirit. [CCC 1289]

 

Jul 23, 2017 | Share this on: