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The Early Church Fathers on the Sacrament of Confirmation.


  • Early Church Fathers
  • From the Scriptures



  1. St. Augustine of Hippo, (A.D. 354-428)
    St. Isidore of Pelusium, (unknown - A.D. 440)
    Salvian, (A.D. c.400-c.484)
St. Augustine of Hippo, (A.D. 354-428), North African; born in Tagaste in A.D. 354, baptized in Milan in A.D. 387, ordained a priest in A.D. 391 and appointed bishop of Hippo in A.D. 395, Augustine is one of our greatest theologians. His numerous works display genius of the highest order, and have ever had great weight in the Christian churches. He is also a Doctor of the Church.

In the first days (of the Church) the Holy Ghost came down upon believers, and they spoke in tongues which they had not learned, as the Holy Ghost gave them to speak. These were miracles suited to the times. . . . Is it now expected that they upon whom hands are laid, should speak with tongues? Or when we imposed our hand on these children, did each of you wait to see whether they would speak with tongues; and when he saw that they did not speak with tongues, was any of you so perverse of heart as to say, "These have not received the Holy Ghost, for if they had received, they would speak with tongues, even as was done in those days?" If then there be not now a testimony to the presence of the Holy Spirit by means of these miracles, whence is it proved, whence does each one know that he has received the Holy Spirit? Let him ask his own heart: if he loves his brother, the Spirit of God abides in him. Let him see to it, let him prove himself under the eyes of God; let him see whether there is in him the love of peace and of unity, the love of the Church which is spread over the whole universe. . . . Therefore if thou wouldst know that thou hast received the sacrament, interrogate thy heart; lest haply thou have the sacrament, and have not the virtue of the sacrament. Interrogate thy heart: if the love of thy brother is there, be secure. Love cannot be without the Spirit of God: for Paul cries aloud, "The charity of God is poured forth in our hearts by the Holy Ghost who is given to us."

T.iii.Tr. vi. in Ep. Joan. n.10, col. 2542-2543.
The Faith of Catholics, Volume 2, pages 143-144

"Baptism and water have come. You have been penetrated, as it were, so that you may come to the form of bread. But it is not yet bread without fire. What therefore does fire represent? It is chrism. For the oil of our fire is the sacrament of the Holy Spirit."

Augustine, Sermon 227, 1 (c. 420 AD)

Speaking of the procession of the Holy Ghost, he says:

"This is that Spirit that was bestowed, from Heaven, on the day of Pentecost, ten days, that is, after our Lord had ascended into Heaven. What, is not He who gives the Holy Ghost, God? Yea, and how great a God is He who gives a God! For none of His disciples ever gave the Holy Ghost. They prayed indeed that He would come down upon those upon whom they laid hands; they gave Him not. Which custom the Church even now observes in her prelates.... Of Christ it is written in the Acts of the Apostles, how God anointed Him with the Holy Ghost (Act 10:38), not indeed with visible oil, but with the gift of grace, which is signified by that visible unction wherewith the Church anoints the baptized."

T. viii. I. xv. Be Trinit. n. 46 {al. 26), col. 1509-10.
The Faith of Catholics, Volume 2, pages 144-145

St. Isidore of Pelusium, (unknown - A.D. 440), a disciple of St. John Chrysostom, he was born in Egypt to a prominent Alexandrian family. He became an ascetic, and moved to a mountain near the city of Pelusium, in the tradition of the Desert Fathers; known to us for his letters, written to Cyril of Alexandria, Theodosius II, and a host of others. His letters display great judgment, precision, and learning.

Proving that the Philip who baptized at Samaria was not Philip the Apostle, he says:

"Philip did indeed baptize those who had become disciples at Samaria, but the Apostles Peter and John, having come from Jerusalem unto them, delivered unto them the grace of the Holy Spirit. But had he who baptized, been one of the Apostles, he would have had authority to give that Spirit. Whereas he but baptizes as a disciple, whilst the Apostles, upon whom the authority to give it had been conferred, complete the grace."

L.i.Ep. ccccl. page 114
The Faith of Catholics, Volume 2, page 145

Salvian, (A.D. c.400-c.484), a Christian priest and writer of Gaul, who appeared to have a special background in law. He died at Marseilles in 484.

"It may, perhaps, be asked, what are the blessings which God apportions to Christians? .. . First, the law, next the prophets, . . . lastly the gifts of regeneration, the grace of holy baptism, the unction of divine chrism."

L.iii. De Gubern. Dei, n. 2, Galland, t. x.p. 14.
The Faith of Catholics, Volume 2, page 146



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.



The Church's Scriptures that support Confirmation:

Soloman's Prayer for Wisdom

17 Who has learned thy counsel, unless thou hast given wisdom and sent thy holy Spirit from on high?

Wisdom 9:17

The Coming of the Holy Spirit

1 When the day of Pentecost had come, they were all together in one place. 2 And suddenly a sound came from Heaven like the rush of a mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting. 3 And there appeared to them tongues as of fire, distributed and resting on each one of them. 4 And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance.

Acts 2:1-4

Philip Preaches in Samaria

14 Now when the apostles at Jerusalem heard that Samaria had received the word of God, they sent to them Peter and John, 15 who came down and prayed for them that they might receive the Holy Spirit; 16 for it had not yet fallen on any of them, but they had only been baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. 17 Then they laid their hands on them and they received the Holy Spirit.


Acts 8:14-17

Paul in Ephesus

1 While Apollos was at Corinth, Paul passed through the upper country and came to Ephesus. There he found some disciples. 2 And he said to them, "Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?" And they said, "No, we have never even heard that there is a Holy Spirit." 3 And he said, "Into what then were you baptized?" They said, "Into John's baptism." 4 And Paul said, "John baptized with the baptism of repentance, telling the people to believe in the one who was to come after him, that is, Jesus." 5 On hearing this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. 6 And when Paul had laid his hands upon them, the Holy Spirit came on them; and they spoke with tongues and prophesied.

Acts 19:1-6

The Postponement of Paul's Visit

21 But it is God who establishes us with you in Christ, and has commissioned us; 22 he has put his seal upon us and given us his Spirit in our hearts as a guarantee. 23 But I call God to witness against me — it was to spare you that I refrained from coming to Corinth. 24 Not that we lord it over your faith; we work with you for your joy, for you stand firm in your faith.


2 Corinthians 1:21-24

Spiritual Blessings in Christ

13 In him you also, who have heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and have believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit, 14 who is the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it, to the praise of his glory.


Ephesians 1:13-14

The Peril of Falling Away

1 Therefore let us leave the elementary doctrine of Christ and go on to maturity, not laying again a foundation of repentance from dead works and of faith toward God, 2 with instruction about ablutions, the laying on of hands, the resurrection of the dead, and eternal judgment. 3 And this we will do if God permits. 4 For it is impossible to restore again to repentance those who have once been enlightened, who have tasted the heavenly gift, and have become partakers of the Holy Spirit.


Hebrews 6:1-4

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