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The Catechism of the Catholic Church Today on the Sacrament of Confirmation.


  • The Catechism Today
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This is what the Catechism of the Catholic Church states on this issue:


1285 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. (cf. Roman Ritual, Rite of Confirmation, Introduction 1) 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." (Vatican II, Lumen Gentium 11; cf. Ordo Confirmarionis, Introduction 2)

I. Confirmation In The Economy Of Salvation

1286 In the Old Testament the prophets announced that the Spirit of the Lord would rest on the hoped-for Messiah for his saving mission. (cf. Isaiah 11:2; 61:1; Luke 4:16-22) 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. (cf. Matthew 3:13-17; John 1:33-34) 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." (John 3:34)

1287 This fullness of the Spirit was not to remain uniquely the Messiah's, but was to be communicated to the whole messianic people.(cf. Ezekiel 36:25-27; Joel 3:1-2) On several occasions Christ promised this outpouring of the Spirit, (cf. Luke 12:12; John 3:5-8; 7:37-39; 16:7-15; Acts 1:8) a promise which he fulfilled first on Easter Sunday and then more strikingly at Pentecost. (cf. John 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; 2:17-18) Those who believed in the apostolic preaching and were baptized received the gift of the Holy Spirit in their turn. (cf. Acts 2:38)

1288 "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; cf. Acts 8:15-17; 19:5-6; Hebrews 6:2 )

1289 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, the term Confirmation suggests that this sacrament both confirms and strengthens baptismal grace.


Two traditions: East and West


1290 In the first centuries Confirmation generally comprised one single celebration with Baptism, forming with it a "double sacrament," according to the expression of St. Cyprian. 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. In the West the desire to reserve the completion of Baptism to the bishop caused the temporal separation of the two sacraments. The East has kept them united, so that Confirmation is conferred by the priest who baptizes. But he can do so only with the "myron" consecrated by a bishop. (cf. Corpus Canonum Ecclisarum Orientalium, Canon 695 § 1; 696 § 1)


1291 A custom of the Roman Church facilitated the development of the Western practice: a double anointing with sacred chrism after Baptism. The first anointing of the neophyte on coming out of the baptismal bath was performed by the priest; it was completed by a second anointing on the forehead of the newly baptized by the bishop. (cf. St. Hippolytus, Trad. Ap. 21:SCh 11,80-95) The first anointing with sacred chrism, by the priest, has remained attached to the baptismal rite; it signifies the participation of the one baptized in the prophetic, priestly, and kingly offices of Christ. If Baptism is conferred on an adult, there is only one post-baptismal anointing, that of Confirmation.


1292 The practice of the Eastern Churches gives greater emphasis to the unity of Christian initiation. That of the Latin Church more clearly expresses the communion of the new Christian with the bishop as guarantor and servant of the unity, catholicity and apostolicity of his Church, and hence the connection with the apostolic origins of Christ's Church.


II. The Signs And The Rite Of Confirmation


1293 In treating the rite of Confirmation, it is fitting to consider the sign of anointing and what it signifies and imprints: a spiritual seal.


Anointing, in Biblical and other ancient symbolism, is rich in meaning: oil is a sign of abundance and joy; (cf. Deuteronomy 11:14; Psalms 23:5; 104:15) it cleanses (anointing before and after a bath) and limbers (the anointing of athletes and wrestlers); oil is a sign of healing, since it is soothing to bruises and wounds; (cf. Isaiah 1:6; Luke 10:34) and it makes radiant with beauty, health, and strength.


1294 Anointing with oil has all these meanings in the sacramental life. The pre-baptismal anointing with the oil of catechumens signifies cleansing and strengthening; the anointing of the sick expresses healing and comfort. The post-baptismal anointing with sacred chrism in Confirmation and ordination is the sign of consecration. By Confirmation Christians, that is, those who are anointed, share more completely in the mission of Jesus Christ and the fullness of the Holy Spirit with which he is filled, so that their lives may give off "the aroma of Christ." (2 Corinthians 2:15)


1295 By this anointing the confirmand receives the "mark," the seal of the Holy Spirit. A seal is a symbol of a person, a sign of personal authority, or ownership of an object. (cf. Genesis 38:18; 41:42; Deuteronomy 32:34; Catechesi Tradendae 8:6) Hence soldiers were marked with their leader's seal and slaves with their master's. A seal authenticates a juridical act or document and occasionally makes it secret. (cf. 1 Kings 21:8; Jeremiah 32:10; Isaiah 29:11)


1296 Christ himself declared that he was marked with his Father's seal. (cf. John 6:27) Christians are also marked with a seal: "It is God who establishes us with you in Christ and has commissioned us; he has put his seal on us and given us his Spirit in our hearts as a guarantee." (2 Corinthians 1:21-22; cf. Ephesians 1:13; 4,30) This seal of the Holy Spirit marks our total belonging to Christ, our enrollment in his service for ever, as well as the promise of divine protection in the great eschatological trial. (cf. Revelation 7:2-3; 9:4; Ezekiel 9:4-6)


The celebration of Confirmation


1297 The consecration of the sacred chrism is an important action that precedes the celebration of Confirmation, but is in a certain way a part of it. It is the bishop who, in the course of the Chrism Mass of Holy Thursday, consecrates the sacred chrism for his whole diocese. In some Eastern Churches this consecration is even reserved to the patriarch:

The liturgy of Antioch expresses the epiclesis for the consecration of the sacred chrism (myron) in this way: "[Father . . . send your Holy Spirit] on us and on this oil which is before us and consecrate it, so that it may be for all who are anointed and marked with it holy myron, priestly myron, royal myron, anointing with gladness, clothing with light, a cloak of salvation, a spiritual gift, the sanctification of souls and bodies, imperishable happiness, the indelible seal, a buckler of faith, and a fearsome helmet against all the works of the adversary."

1298 When Confirmation is celebrated separately from Baptism, as is the case in the Roman Rite, the Liturgy of Confirmation begins with the renewal of baptismal promises and the profession of faith by the confirmands. This clearly shows that Confirmation follows Baptism. (cf. Vatican II, Sacrosanctum Concilium 71) When adults are baptized, they immediately receive Confirmation and participate in the Eucharist. (cf. Code of Canon Law, can. 866)


1299 In the Roman Rite the bishop extends his hands over the whole group of the confirmands. Since the time of the apostles this gesture has signified the gift of the Spirit. The bishop invokes the outpouring of the Spirit in these words:

All-powerful God, Father of our Lord Jesus Christ,
by water and the Holy Spirit
you freed your sons and daughters from sin
and gave them new life.
Send your Holy Spirit upon them
to be their helper and guide.
Give them the spirit of wisdom and understanding,
the spirit of right judgment and courage,
the spirit of knowledge and reverence.
Fill them with the spirit of wonder and awe in your presence.
We ask this through Christ our Lord.


(Ordo Confirmarionis 25)

1300 The essential rite of the sacrament follows. In the Latin rite, "the sacrament of Confirmation is conferred through the anointing with chrism on the forehead, which is done by the laying on of the hand, and through the words: "Accipe signaculum doni Spiritus Sancti" [Be sealed with the Gift of the Holy Spirit.]." (Paul VI, Apostolic Constitution, Divinae Consortium Naturae, 663) In the Eastern Churches of Byzantine rite, after a prayer of epiclesis, the more significant parts of the body are anointed with myron: forehead, eyes, nose, ears, lips, chest, back, hands, and feet. Each anointing is accompanied by the formula (Signaculum doni Spiritus Sancti): "the seal of the gift of the Holy Spirit."


1301 The sign of peace that concludes the rite of the sacrament signifies and demonstrates ecclesial communion with the bishop and with all the faithful. — cf. St. Hippolytus, Trad. Ap. 21:SCh 11,80-95



III. The Effects Of Confirmation

1302 It is evident from its celebration that the effect of the sacrament of Confirmation is the special outpouring of the Holy Spirit as once granted to the apostles on the day of Pentecost.


1303 From this fact, Confirmation brings an increase and deepening of baptismal grace:

    • it roots us more deeply in the divine filiation which makes us cry, "Abba! Father!"; (Romans 8:15)
    • it unites us more firmly to Christ;
    • it increases the gifts of the Holy Spirit in us;
    • it renders our bond with the Church more perfect; (cf. Vatican II, Lumen Gentium 11)
    • it gives us a special strength of the Holy Spirit to spread and defend the faith by word and action as true witnesses of Christ, to confess the name of Christ boldly, and never to be ashamed of the Cross: (cf. Council Of Florence (1439): DS 1319; Vatican II, Lumen Gentium 11; 12)

Recall then that you have received the spiritual seal, the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of right judgment and courage, the spirit of knowledge and reverence, the spirit of holy fear in God's presence. Guard what you have received. God the Father has marked you with his sign; Christ the Lord has confirmed you and has placed his pledge, the Spirit, in your hearts.

St. Ambrose, De myst. 7,42: PL 16,402-403

1304 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. (cf. Council Of Trent (1547): DS 1609; Luke 24:48-49)

1305 This "character" perfects the common priesthood of the faithful, received in Baptism, and

"the confirmed person receives the power to profess faith in Christ publicly and as it were officially (quasi Ex officio)."


St. Thomas Aquinas, STh III,72,5, ad 2

IV. Who Can Receive This Sacrament?


1306 Every baptized person not yet confirmed can and should receive the sacrament of Confirmation. (cf. Code of Canon Law, can. 889 § 1) Since Baptism, Confirmation, and Eucharist form a unity, it follows that "the faithful are obliged to receive this sacrament at the appropriate time," (Code of Canon Law, can. 890) for without Confirmation and Eucharist, Baptism is certainly valid and efficacious, but Christian initiation remains incomplete.


1307 For centuries, Latin custom has indicated "the age of discretion" as the reference point for receiving Confirmation. But in danger of death children should be confirmed even if they have not yet attained the age of discretion. (cf. Code of Canon Law, canons 891; 883, 3o.)


1308 Although Confirmation is sometimes called the "sacrament of Christian maturity," we must not confuse adult faith with the adult age of natural growth, nor forget that the baptismal grace is a grace of free, unmerited election and does not need "ratification" to become effective. St. Thomas reminds us of this:

Age of body does not determine age of soul. Even in childhood man can attain spiritual maturity: as the book of Wisdom says: "For old age is not honored for length of time, or measured by number of years. "Many children, through the strength of the Holy Spirit they have received, have bravely fought for Christ even to the shedding of their blood.


St. Thomas Aquinas, STh III,72,8, ad 2; cf. Wisdom 4:8

1309 Preparation for Confirmation should aim at leading the Christian toward a more intimate union with Christ and a more lively familiarity with the Holy Spirit - his actions, his gifts, and his biddings - in order to be more capable of assuming the apostolic responsibilities of Christian life. To this end catechesis for Confirmation should strive to awaken a sense of belonging to the Church of Jesus Christ, the universal Church as well as the parish community. The latter bears special responsibility for the preparation of confirmands. (cf. Ordo Confirmarionis Introduction 3)


1310 To receive Confirmation one must be in a state of grace. One should receive the sacrament of Penance in order to be cleansed for the gift of the Holy Spirit. More intense prayer should prepare one to receive the strength and graces of the Holy Spirit with docility and readiness to act. (cf. Acts 1:14)


1311 Candidates for Confirmation, as for Baptism, fittingly seek the spiritual help of a sponsor. To emphasize the unity of the two sacraments, it is appropriate that this be one of the baptismal godparents. (cf. Ordo Confirmarionis Introduction 5; 6; Code of Canon Law, Canon 893 §§ 1-2)


V. The Minister Of Confirmation


1312 The original minister of Confirmation is the bishop. (cf. Vatican II, Lumen Gentiu 26)


In the East, ordinarily the priest who baptizes also immediately confers Confirmation in one and the same celebration. But he does so with sacred chrism consecrated by the patriarch or the bishop, thus expressing the apostolic unity of the Church whose bonds are strengthened by the sacrament of Confirmation. In the Latin Church, the same discipline applies to the Baptism of adults or to the reception into full communion with the Church of a person baptized in another Christian community that does not have valid Confirmation. (cf. Code of Canon Law, Can. 883 § 2)


1313 In the Latin Rite, the ordinary minister of Confirmation is the bishop. (Code of Canon Law, Can. 882) If the need arises, the bishop may grant the faculty of administering Confirmation to priests, (cf. Code of Canon Law, Can. 884 § 2) although it is fitting that he confer it himself, mindful that the celebration of Confirmation has been temporally separated from Baptism for this reason. Bishops are the successors of the apostles. They have received the fullness of the sacrament of Holy Orders. The administration of this sacrament by them 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.


1314 If a Christian is in danger of death, any priest can give him Confirmation. (cf. Code of Canon Law, Can. 883 § 3) Indeed the Church desires that none of her children, even the youngest, should depart this world without having been perfected by the Holy Spirit with the gift of Christ's fullness.


In Brief


1315 "Now when the apostles at Jerusalem heard that Samaria had received the word of God, they sent to them Peter and John, who came down and prayed for them that they might receive the Holy Spirit; for it had not yet fallen on any of them, but they had only been baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. Then they laid their hands on them and they received the Holy Spirit." (Acts 8:14-17)


1316 Confirmation perfects Baptismal grace; 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.


1317 Confirmation, like Baptism, imprints a spiritual mark or indelible character on the Christian's soul; for this reason one can receive this sacrament only once in one's life.


1318 In the East this sacrament is administered immediately after Baptism and is followed by participation in the Eucharist; this tradition highlights the unity of the three sacraments of Christian initiation. In the Latin Church this sacrament is administered when the age of reason has been reached, and its celebration is ordinarily reserved to the bishop, thus signifying that this sacrament strengthens the ecclesial bond.


1319 A candidate for Confirmation who has attained the age of reason must profess the faith, be in the state of grace, have the intention of receiving the sacrament, and be prepared to assume the role of disciple and witness to Christ, both within the ecclesial community and in temporal affairs.


1320 The essential rite of Confirmation is anointing the forehead of the baptized with sacred chrism (in the East other sense-organs as well), together with the laying on of the minister's hand and the words: "Accipe signaculum doni Spiritus Sancti" (Be sealed with the Gift of the Holy Spirit.) in the Roman rite, or: Signaculum doni Spiritus Sancti [the seal of the gift of the Holy Spirit] in the Byzantine rite.


1321 When Confirmation is celebrated separately from Baptism, its connection with Baptism is expressed, among other ways, by the renewal of baptismal promises. The celebration of Confirmation during the Eucharist helps underline the unity of the sacraments of Christian initiation.




  1. St. Clement of Alexandria, (A.D. 150-220)
    Tertullian, (A.D. 160-218)
    St. Theophilus of Antioch, (unknown - A.D. c.186)
    St. Hippolytus of Rome, (A.D. 170-236)
    St. Serapion of Alexandria, (A.D. 190-211)
    Pope St. Cornelius I, (unknown - A.D. c.253)
    St. Cyprian of Carthage, (A.D. 200-258)
    The Apostolic Constitutions, (dated A.D. c. 270)
    St. Ephrem the Syrian, (of Edessa), (A.D. 306-378)
    St. Pacian of Barcelona, (A.D. c.310-375)
    St. Hilary of Poitiers, (A.D. 315-367)
    St. Optatus of Milevis, (unknown - A.D. 384)
    St. Cyril of Jerusalem, (A.D. 315-386)
    Pope St. Siricius, (A.D. c.334-398)
    St. Ambrose of Milan, (A.D. 340-396)
    St. Jerome, (A.D. 342-420)
    St. John Chrysostom, (A.D. 344 - 407)
    St. Augustine of Hippo, (A.D. 354-428)
    St. Isidore of Pelusium, (unknown - A.D. 440)
    Salvian, (A.D. c.400-c.484)
St. Clement of Alexandria, (A.D. 150-220), Greek; theologian, a scholar of Pantaenus, to whom he succeeded as head of the Catechetical School at Alexandria, Egypt. His writings display great acquaintance with the Gentile philosophy. He wrote with the express design of hiding the mysteries of the Christian religion from the Pagans, and the uninitiated, while at the same time, laboring to show the immense practical superiority of the Christian code of morals over that of every Pagan sect and system of philosophy.

Let us see, from the very nature of the Christian character, how great is, before God, the prerogative given to this mean and sordid substance (the flesh). To wit, the flesh is washed, that the soul may be made stainless. The flesh is anointed, that the soul may be consecrated. The flesh is sealed, that the soul may be fortified. The flesh is overshadowed by the imposition of hands, that the soul also may be illuminated by the Spirit. The flesh is fed with the body and blood of Christ, that the soul may be fattened of God."

De Resurrect. Carnis, n.8, page 330.
The Faith of Catholics, Volume 2, Page 134

Tertullian, (A.D. 160-218), North African; ecclesiastical writer, Christian apologist and lawyer, son of a centurion and contemporary of St. Irenæus, a native and citizen of Carthage. The zeal and ability with which he defended the Christian cause, and vindicated its faith and discipline, have immortalized his name, though it has suffered by his adoption, around the year A.D. 200, of some of the Montanist's errors, whose cause he is thought to have supported until his death. His works are numerous, and are written with great ability and erudition, but in an harsh style.

"After coming from the place of washing we are thoroughly anointed with a blessed unction, from the ancient discipline by which [those] in the priesthood . . . were accustomed to be anointed with a horn of oil, ever since Aaron was anointed by Moses. . . . So also with us, the unction runs on the body and profits us spiritually, in the same way that baptism itself is a corporal act by which we are plunged in water, while its effect is spiritual, in that we are freed from sins. After this, the hand is imposed for a blessing, invoking and inviting the Holy Spirit".

(Baptism 7:1—2, 8:1 [A.D. 203]

"No soul whatever is able to obtain salvation unless it has believed while it was in the flesh. Indeed, the flesh is the hinge of salvation. . . . The flesh, then, is washed [baptism] so that the soul may be made clean. The flesh is anointed so that the soul may be dedicated to holiness. The flesh is signed so that the soul may be fortified. The flesh is shaded by the imposition of hands [confirmation] so that the soul may be illuminated by the Spirit. The flesh feeds on the body and blood of Christ [the Eucharist] so that the soul too may feed on God. They cannot, then, be separated in their reward, when they are united in their works".

The Resurrection of the Dead 8:2—3 [A.D. 210]

St. Theophilus of Antioch, (unknown - A.D. c.186), Patriarch of Antioch, born pagan but embraced Christianity by studying the Holy Scriptures, especially the prophetical books. Wrote against idols, made contributions to Christian literature, polemics, exegetics, and apologetics.

"Are you unwilling to be anointed with the oil of God? It is on this account that we are called Christians: because we are anointed with the oil of God".

To Autolycus 1:12 [A.D. 181]

St. Hippolytus of Rome, (A.D. 170-236), Roman; bishop and martyr, probably a scholar of St. Irenæus of Lyons.

"The bishop, imposing his hand on them, shall make an invocation, saying, ‘O Lord God, who made them worthy of the remission of sins through the Holy Spirit's washing unto rebirth, send into them your grace so that they may serve you according to your will, for there is glory to you, to the Father and the Son with the Holy Spirit, in the holy Church, both now and through the ages of ages. Amen.' Then, pouring the consecrated oil into his hand and imposing it on the head of the baptized, he shall say, ‘I anoint you with holy oil in the Lord, the Father Almighty, and Christ Jesus and the Holy Spirit.' Signing them on the forehead, he shall kiss them and say, ‘The Lord be with you.' He that has been signed shall say, ‘And with your spirit.' Thus shall he do to each".

The Apostolic Tradition 21—22 [A.D. 215]

St. Serapion of Alexandria, eighth bishop of Antioch, (A.D. 190-211), known principally through his theological writings.

[Prayer for blessing the holy chrism:] "God of powers, aid of every soul that turns to you and comes under your powerful hand in your only-begotten. We beseech you, that through your divine and invisible power of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, you may effect in this chrism a divine and heavenly operation, so that those baptized and anointed in the tracing with it of the sign of the saving cross of the only-begotten . . . as if reborn and renewed through the bath of regeneration, may be made participants in the gift of the Holy Spirit and, confirmed by this seal, may remain firm and immovable, unharmed and inviolate"

The Sacramentary of Serapion 25:1 [A.D. 350]

Pope St. Cornelius I, (unknown - A.D. c.253), Pope from A.D. 251 to 253 and Martyr, elected during a lull in the persecution under Emperor Decius, his pontificate was complicated by a schism, one cause of which was the self-appointment of the Roman priest Novatian as antipope and the second, the dispute over the Church's attitude toward Christian apostates and whether those who has repudiated the Christian faith during persecution needed to be re-baptized.

"Novatus received baptism by infusion as he lay on his (sick) bed; if indeed such a one ought to be said to have received it. But even after he recovered from his illness, he did not receive the other things which ought to be partaken of according to the rule of the Church, — to be sealed, that is, by the bishop: and not having received this, how did he receive the Holy Ghost?"

Ap. Euseb. H.E.,c.xliii/Galland. t.iii.
The Faith of Catholics, Volume 2, page 13

St. Cyprian of Carthage, (A.D. 200-258), North African; bishop; biblical scholar, martyr.

"It is necessary for him that has been baptized also to be anointed, so that by his having received chrism, that is, the anointing, he can be the anointed of God and have in him the grace of Christ"

Letters 7:2 [A.D. 253]

"As to what some allege concerning those who had been baptized in Samaria, that, on the arrival of the Apostles, Peter and John, only hands were imposed on them that they might receive the Holy Ghost, but that they were not rebaptized; we see, dearest brother, that this instance is in no way pertinent to the present case. For they who had believed in Samaria, had believed with a true faith, and had been, by Philip the deacon, whom the same Apostles had sent, baptized within, in the Church, which is one, and to which alone it is granted to give the grace of baptism, and to loose sins. And, therefore, because they had received the legitimate and ecclesiastical baptism, it was not fitting that they should be baptized again, but only what was wanting, that was done by Peter and John; that prayer being made for them, and hands imposed, the Holy Ghost should be invoked and poured forth upon them. Which now also is done amongst us; so that they who are baptized in the Church are presented to the bishops (prelates) of the Church, and, by our prayer and imposition of hands, they receive the Holy Ghost, and are perfected with the seal of the Lord."

Letters 73[72]:9 — Ep. lxxiii. ad Jubajanum, page 281
The Faith of Catholics, Volume 2, page 135

"[A]re not hands, in the name of the same Christ, laid upon the baptized persons among them, for the reception of the Holy Spirit?"

Letters 74[73]:5

"[O]ne is not born by the imposition of hands when he receives the Holy Ghost, but in baptism, that so, being already born, he may receive the Holy Spirit, even as it happened in the first man Adam. For first God formed him, and then breathed into his nostrils the breath of life. For the Spirit cannot be received, unless he who receives first has an existence. But the birth of Christians is in baptism"

Letters 74[73]:7— Ep. lxxiv. Pompeio
The Faith of Catholics, Volume 2, 136

Anointed also must he of necessity be, who is baptized, in order that, having received the chrism, that is, the unction, he may be the anointed of God, and have within him the grace of Christ."

Ep. lxx. ad Januarium, page 269
The Faith of Catholics, Volume 2, Pages 134-135

The Apostolic Constitutions (or Constitutions of the Holy Apostles), dated A.D.c 270, is a Christian collection of eight treatises which belongs to genre of the Church Orders.

Thou, therefore, O bishop, shalt anoint the head of those that are to be baptized, whether they be men or women, with the holy oil, for a type of the spiritual baptism. Then either thou, O bishop, or the presbyter under thee, pronouncing and naming over each of them, the sacred invocation of Father and Son and Holy Spirit, shalt baptize them in the water. And after that let the bishop anoint those who have been baptized, with the ointment. The baptism, therefore, is given unto the death of Christ, the water is instead of the burial, and the oil instead of the Holy Spirit, the seal instead of the cross, the ointment a confirmation of the confession."

Apostolic Constitutions L. iii.n. 16,17.
See also, Apostolic Constitutions l. ii.c.xxxii
The Faith of Catholics, Volume 2, page 139

St. Ephrem the Syrian, (of Edessa), (A.D. 306-378), Syrian; born in Nisebis, deacon, hymnist, poet. His works were even during his own lifetime almost all translated into Greek, and were, as St. Jerome informs us, held in such high estimation, as to be read in some churches after the Holy Scriptures. We have his life by St. Gregory of Nyssa.

"In the highway of our King we can see the landmarks set up, and arranged in order: there we can hear the names of Father, and of Son, and of Holy Ghost; there also are met with the sacraments of chrism and of baptism; the breaking of bread, and the chalice of salvation, as also the divine Scriptures, which they (the heterodox) have maliciously stolen and impiously corrupted. Praise the King of kings, whose highway is carried over the tops of the loftiest mountains, and cannot by any one be hidden from the eye."

T. ii. Syr. Serm. xxxvii.; Adv. Hæres. page 500.
The Faith of Catholics, Volume 2, Page 140

St. Pacian of Barcelona, (A.D. c.310-375), bishop of Barcelona, Jerome praises his eloquence, learning, chastity, and holiness of life. He is also remembered from a phrase from one of his letters: "My name is Christian, my surname is Catholic.".

"If, then, the power of both baptism and confirmation, greater by far than charisms, is passed on to the bishops, so too is the right of binding and loosing"

Three Letters to the Novatianist Sympronian 1:6 [A.D. 383]

Why said He this (St. Matthew 18:18), if it was not lawful for men to bind and to loose? Is this allowed to Apostles only? Then also to them alone is it allowed to baptize ; and to them alone to give the Holy Spirit; and to them alone to cleanse the sins of the nations; for all this was enjoined on none others but Apostles ... If therefore both the power of the laver, and of the chrism, gifts far greater, descended thence to bishops, the right of binding and of loosing was also with them."

Ep. i. Galland. t. vii.
The Faith of Catholics, Volume 2, pages 140-141

These things cannot be otherwise fulfilled than by the sacrament of the laver, and of the chrism, and of the bishop. For by the laver sins are cleansed away ; by the chrism the Holy Spirit is poured upon us; but both these we obtain at the hand and mouth of the bishop ; and thus the whole man is born again and is renewed in Christ."

Serm. De Baptism. n.5.6; Galland. t.vii. pages 274-275
The Faith of Catholics, Volume 2, page 141

St. Hilary of Poitiers, (A.D. 315-367), French; husband, theologian, bishop of Poiters around A.D. 355, and Doctor of the Church. Referred to as the "Hammer of the Arians" and the "Athanasius of the West.". He was obviously a firm supporter of St. Athanasius.

He calls us, therefore, not only to the inheritance, but also to the imitation, of God, who, by the coming of Christ, bestows on the just and on the unjust, both the sun and the rain, in the sacraments of baptism and of the Spirit."

Commentary on Matthew Chapter 4, n.27 (cf.n. 10),t.i. page 668
The Faith of Catholics, Volume 2, page 137

"These the Lord says should not be hindered, because of such is the kingdom of Heaven: for the favor and gift of the Holy Spirit were, when the work of the law ceased, to be bestowed by the imposition of hands and prayer."

Commentary on Matthew Chapter 19, n.3, page 762
The Faith of Catholics, Volume 2, page 137

St. Optatus of Milevis, (unknown - A.D. 384), bishop of Milevis, Numidia, in Africa; from Augustine's writings we can assume Optatus was a convert; he is best known for his opposition to the heresy of Donatism.

He (Christ) went down into the water, not that there was what could be cleansed in God, but the water ought to go before the oil that was to supervene, in order to initiate, and order, and fill up the mysteries of baptism; having been washed, whilst He was held in John's hands, the order of the mystery is followed, and the Father completed what the Son had asked, and what the Holy Ghost had foretold. Heaven is opened whilst the Father anoints; the spiritual oil, in the image of a dove, immediately descended, and rested on His head, and poured on it oil, whence He took the name of Christ, when He was anointed by God the Father; to whom that the imposition of hands might not seem to have been wanting, the voice of God is heard from a cloud, saying, "This is my Son, of whom, I have thought well, hear ye Him".

De Schism. Donat. l. iv. n.7, page 76
The Faith of Catholics, Volume 2, pages 139-140

St. Cyril of Jerusalem, (A.D. 315-386), Palestinian; ordained by Maximus, he was made bishop of Jerusalem in A.D. 345; scholar and Doctor of the Church. None of his writings have been preserved to us, except eighteen catechetical instructions addressed to catechumens, and five mystagogic discourses addressed to neophytes.

"After you had come up from the pool of the sacred streams, there was given chrism, the antitype of that with which Christ was anointed, and this is the Holy Spirit. But beware of supposing that this is ordinary ointment. For just as the bread of the Eucharist after the invocation of the Holy Spirit is simple bread no longer, but the body of Christ, so also this ointment is no longer plain ointment, nor, so to speak, common, after the invocation. Further, it is the gracious gift of Christ, and it is made fit for the imparting of his Godhead by the coming of the Holy Spirit. This ointment is symbolically applied to your forehead and to your other senses; while your body is anointed with the visible ointment, your soul is sanctified by the holy and life-giving Spirit. Just as Christ, after his baptism, and the coming upon him of the Holy Spirit, went forth and defeated the adversary, so also with you after holy baptism and the mystical chrism, having put on the panoply of the Holy Spirit, you are to withstand the power of the adversary and defeat him, saying, ‘I am able to do all things in Christ, who strengthens me'".

Catechetical Lectures, 21:1, 3—4 [A.D. 350]

"[David says,] ‘You have anointed my head with oil.' With oil he anointed your head, your forehead, in the God-given sign of the cross, so that you may become that which is engraved on the seal, ‘a holy thing of the Lord'"

Catechetical Lectures, 22

Having been baptized into Christ, and having put on Christ, you have become conformable to the Son of God. For God having predestinated us unto the adoption of children (Ephesians 1:5), made us like unto the body of Christ's glory (Philip, 3:21). Being therefore made partakers of Christ (Hebrews 3:14), you are justly called Christs, and of you God said, Touch you not my anointed (Christs) (Psalms 104:15). Now you became Christs, when you received the emblem (antitype) of the Holy Ghost: and all things were in a figure wrought in you, because you are figures of Christ. He also was washed in the river Jordan, and having communicated of the fragrance of His divinity to the waters, He came up from them, and the Holy Ghost in substance lighted on Him, like resting upon like. And to you also, after you had come up from the pool of the sacred streams, was given the chrism (unction), the emblem (antitype) of that wherewith Christ was anointed; and this is the Holy Ghost. . . . But see that you do not suppose this to be bare ointment. For as the bread of the Eucharist, after the invocation of the Holy Spirit, is no longer simple bread, but Christ's body, so also this holy ointment, is no longer plain ointment, nor, so to say, common, after the invocation, but Christ's gift; and by the presence of His Godhead, it causes in us the Holy Ghost. This symbolically anoints thy forehead, and thy other senses ; and the body indeed is anointed with visible ointment, but the soul is sanctified by the Holy and life-giving Spirit. ... As Christ, after baptism, and the descent of the Holy Ghost, went forth and vanquished the adversary, so also do you; having, after the sacred baptism, and the mystical chrism, put on the panoply of the Holy Spirit, stand against the adverse power, and vanquish it, saying, I can do all things in Christ that strengthened me (Philip, 4) When you have been deemed worthy of this holy chrism, you are called Christians, verifying also the name by the new birth. For before you were vouchsafed in this grace, you were not rightly worthy of this designation, but were advancing on your way towards being Christians. You ought also to know that this chrism has its symbol in the old Scripture. So also the high-priest, raising Solomon to the kingdom, anointed him, after he had washed in Gihon. But to them these things happened in a figure; but to you, not in a figure, but in truth, because you were in truth anointed by the Holy Spirit."

Cateches. Myst. 3 (Al. Cat. 19), n.1,3,6, pages 315-318
The Faith of Catholics, Volume 2, pages 137-139

Pope St. Siricius, (A.D. c.334-398), an active Pope, involved in the administration of the Church and the handling of various factions and viewpoints within it; author of two decrees concerning clerical celibacy. The decree of A.D. 385 stated that priests should stop cohabiting with their wives.

"You have set down in the beginning of your letter (page) that many who have been baptized by the impious Arians are hastening unto the Catholic faith, and that certain of our brethren wish to baptize them again, a thing which is not lawful, seeing that both the Apostle forbids this, and the canons oppose it ; and after the Council of Ariminum was quashed, the general decrees sent to the provinces by my predecessor Liberius prohibit it: we associate them, together with the Novatians, and other heretics, as was determined in synod, to the fellowship of the Catholics, by the invocation only of the seven-fold Spirit, with the imposition of the hand of the bishop ; as is also observed by all the east and the west."

Ad Himer. n.i.col.1218 t.ii. Concil. Labb.
The Faith of Catholics, Volume 2, page 142

St. Ambrose of Milan, (A.D. 340-396), German; reluctantly made bishop in the A.D. 374., Doctor of the Church. He closed a great and glorious career in A.D. 396. We have his life by Paulinus.

Addressing the catechumens who had just been baptized and anointed he says:

"Thou hast received the spiritual seal, the spirit of wisdom and of understanding, the spirit of counsel and of fortitude, the spirit of knowledge and of piety, the spirit of holy fear ; and keep what thou hast received. God the Father has sealed thee: Christ the Lord has confirmed thee: and the Spirit has given the pledge in thy heart, as thou hast learned from what is read in the Apostle."

De Mysteries, c. vii. n. 42, page 336
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St. Jerome, (A.D. 342-420), Dalmatian; born in Strido; priest, hermit, abbot, biblical scholar, translator and Doctor of the Church. In an age distinguished by men of the greatest eloquence and learning, St. Jerome, especially in all matters connected with the Sacred Scriptures, was then preeminent, and has probably never since been equalled.

"The Luciferian. 'Art thou ignorant that it is the custom of the churches for hands to be imposed upon the baptized after their baptism, and that thus the Holy Ghost is invoked? Dost thou ask where this is written? In the Acts of the Apostles' [as given already under Tradition.] Orthodox. I do not deny that it is the custom of the churches, for the bishop to journey to those who have been baptized by priests and deacons, at a distance from the greater cities, to impose hands upon them to invoke the Holy Spirit."

T.ii. Adv. Lucifer. t.ii.col.180-181
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St. John Chrysostom, (A.D. 344 - 407), Syrian; archbishop, Doctor of the Church. Born at Antioch in 344; he was ordained priest in A.D. 383, and raised to the see of Constantinople in the year A.D. 398. His eloquence gained him the title of Chrysostom, or the mouth of gold. His expositions of Scripture, especially the Epistles of St. Paul, are very valuable. This illustrious prelate died on his road to exile, in A.D. 407.

Why had not they who had been baptized received the Holy Ghost {Acts)? Either because Philip bestowed not this, honoring perhaps the Apostles, or because he had not this gift; for he was one of the seven, and this is the rather to be said. . . . For this reason, although baptizing, he gave not the Spirit to the baptized; for neither had he power; for this gift belonged to the twelve alone."

T. ix. Hom. 18 in Acta Apost. n.3, page 154
See also t.xii. Hom. 9 in Ep. and Hebr. n.2, page 136
The Faith of Catholics, Volume 2, page 141

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.
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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
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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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