Chrism, the Holy Spirit, and slaps across the face. Here are nine things you need to know about Confirmation!
1. Confirmation has been around for a while
Catholics have been getting confirmed for almost 2,000 years. According to Saint Cyprian, Confirmation and Baptism were usually combined into a “double sacrament.”
“Among other reasons, the multiplication of infant baptisms all through the year, the increase of rural parishes, and the growth of dioceses often prevented the bishop from being present at all baptismal celebrations,” the Catechism explains. “In the West the desire to reserve the completion of Baptism to the bishop caused the temporal separation of the two sacraments.”
The East keeps Baptism and Confirmation connected in the same ceremony.
2. Eastern Churches call this sacrament “Chrismation”
The chrism the bishop uses to anoint those receiving the sacrament signifies the gift of the Holy Spirit. It emphasizes the fact that Christians are anointed, and reminds those gathered of how Christ himself was anointed with the Holy Spirit.
“For this reason the Eastern Churches call this sacrament Chrismation, anointing with chrism, or myron which means ‘chrism.’ In the West, the term Confirmation suggests that this sacrament both confirms and strengthens baptismal grace,” the Catechism explains.
3. Confirmation sends us on mission
The sacrament of Conformation equips Christians for a mission.
“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,” the Catechism reads.
4. It’s a sacrament of initiation
Three Catholic sacraments make up the sacraments of Christian initiation. These include Baptism, the Eucharist, and Confirmation.
5. Confirmation finishes what Baptism started
“Confirmation perfects Baptismal grace,” the Catechism reads. “It is the sacrament which gives the Holy Spirit in order to root us more deeply in the divine filiation, incorporate us more firmly into Christ, strengthen our bond with the Church, associate us more closely with her mission, and help us bear witness to the Christian faith in words accompanied by deeds.”
6. Bishops and priests can both administer the sacrament
In the Latin rite, Catholic bishops are the original and usual ministers of the sacrament. “The administration of this sacrament by them [bishops] demonstrates clearly that its effect is to unite those who receive it more closely to the Church, to her apostolic origins, and to her mission of bearing witness to Christ,” the Catechism reads.
However, if the need arises, a bishop can grant the faculty of administering the sacrament to a priest. In the East, the priest baptizes and confers Confirmation in one and the same sacramental celebration. The sacred chrism he uses to confirm is consecrated by the patriarch or bishop in order to express the apostolic unity of the Church.
7. Confirmation has scriptural roots
The sacrament of confirmation is found in Bible passages such as Acts 8:14–17, 9:17, 19:6, and Hebrews 6:2, which talks about the laying on of hands and presence of the Holy Spirit.
8. It’s a one time deal
You can only be confirmed in the Catholic Church one time.
“Like Baptism which it completes, Confirmation is given only once, for it too imprints on the soul an indelible spiritual mark, the ‘character,’ which is the sign that Jesus Christ has marked a Christian with the seal of his Spirit by clothing him with power from on high so that he may be his witness,” the Catechism reads.
9. Yes, they used to slap you
Confirmation equips Christians to be soldiers for Christ. Before the Second Vatican Council, the bishop would slap the cheek of the newly confirmed Christian as a reminder to be courageous in the work of evangelization.
Now the newly confirmed receive a hand shake as a sign of peace.