Confirmation is a sacrament in which, through the imposition of the Bishopís hands, anointing and prayer, baptized persons are strengthened in their faith and receive the gifts of the Holy Spirit that they may live upright Chrisitian lives.
The soul is confirmed or strengthened by divine grace.
It is sometimes called the laying on of hands because the bishop extends his hands over those whom he confirms and prays that they may receivethe Holy Spirit.
Scriptural References to Confirmation
Acts 19:5-6 When they heard this, they were baptized in the name of theLord Jesus. 6 As Paul laid his hands on them, the Holy Spirit came down on them and they began to speak in tongues and to utter prophecies.
Acts 8:14-18 When the apostles in Jerusalem heard that Samaria had accepted the word of God, they send Peter and John to them. 15 The two went down to these people and prayed that they might receive the Holy Spirit. 16 It had not as yet come down upon any of them since they had only been baptised in the name of the Lord Jesus. 17 The pair upon arriving imposed hands on them and the received the Holy Spirit. 18 Simon observed that it was through the laying on of hands that the apostles conferred the Spirit, ...
Hebrews 6:1-2 1 Let us, then, go beyond the initial teaching about Christ and advance to maturity, not laying the foundation all over again: repentance from dead works, faith in God, 2 instruction about baptisms and laying on of hands, resurrection of the dead, and eternal judgement. 3 And, God permitting, we shall advance!
Notice how in this passage we are walked through the successive stages of the Christian journey--repentance, faith, baptism, confirmation, resurrection, and judgment. This passage encapsulates the Christian's journey toward heaven and thus gives what theologians call the order of salvation or the ordo salutis. It thus well qualifies as "the elementary teachings" of the Christian faith.
!The laying on of hands mentioned in the passage clearly must beconfirmation: The other kinds of the imposition of hands (for ordinationand for healing) are not done to each and every Christian and thus could scarcely qualify as basic teachings which form part of the order ofsalvation.
Some of The Teachings of the Early Fathers
The ophilus of Antioch: "Are you unwilling to be anointed with the oil ofGod? 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]).
Tertullian: "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 withus, the unction runs on the body and profits us spiritually, in the sameway 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 invitingthe Holy Spirit" (Baptism 7:1
Tertullian: "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
Hippolytus: "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 themy our 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
Cyprian of Carthage: "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 ofChrist" (Letters 7:2 [A.D. 253]).
What is necessary to receive Confirmation properly?
1) It is necessary to be in the state of grace. (You must go to confession if the state of your soul is in question.)
2) A knowledge of the chief truths and duties of our religion is required. (IE:the sacraments, the Apostles Creed and common prayers.)
How Confirmation is done
1) The Bishop lays his hand on the head of the person he confirms,and anoints the forhead with holy chrism in the form of a cross ashe says:"I sign you with the sign of the cross, and I confirm you with the chrism of salvation, in the name of the Father, and of the Son and of the HolySpirit."
2) Holy chrism in a mixture of olive oil and balm, blessed by the bishop on Holy Thursday. By annointing the forehead with chrism in the form of a cross is meant that the Catholic who is confirmed must always be ready to profess his faith openly and to practice it fearlessly.
3) After the annointing with chrism, the bishop gives the personconfirmed aslight blow on the cheek, saying, "Peace be with you!" This is doneinorder to remind him that he must be ready to suffer everything, evendeath, for the sake of Christ.
4) Finally the bishop gives all his blessing. Then those who have been confirmed or their god parents pray the Creed, "Our Father" and "HailMary."
What are the effects of Confirmation?
1) Confirmation grants us the special grace by which our faith is deepened and strengthened, and we become concerned not only for our own spiritual needs, but for those of others.
Confirmation makes us sharers with Christ in His role of Redeemer. We participate with Him in the task of extending His Kingdom, by adding new souls to His Mystical Body. Our words and our works are directed not merely to our own sanctification, but also to the purpose of making Christís truths alive and real for those around us, we are "soldiers of Christ."
2) By Confirmation we also receive that grace Jesus promised to His Apostles: "You shall receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you, and you shall be witnesses for me...even to the very ends of the earth".
The confirmed will no longer remain of the defensive fighting for his faith when being attacked. He will go forth joyfully in the fullfillment of vocation of soldier of Christ. He will become restless unless he is doing something worth-while for others - something to make more secure their promise of eternal life. He will join the ranks of Catholic Action, he will start being a real soldier of Christ, he will be "another Christ."
3) The character of Confirmation is a spiritual and indelible sign which marks the Christian as a soldier in the army of Christ.
The confirmed as Christís soldier will be loyal to his King, Whose cause he serves. He is prepared to undergo any sufferings, even death if necessary. He will do all in his power to expand the kingdom of God. Because Confirmation imprints an indelible character on the soul, it may be received only once.
The Gifts of the Holy Spirit
1) Wisdom - the gift by which we recognize the emptiness of earthly things. By it we come to regard God and spiritual things as of the highest good.
2) Understanding - The gift by which we are enabled to recognize the true Catholic teaching, and to detect false doctrines.
3) Counsel - The gift of counsel helps us to discover the will of God under difficult circumstances.
4) Fortitude - the gift by which we are strengthened under trials, to do Godís will.(From one devil to another: "Our cause is never more in danger than when a Human, no longer desiring, but still intending, to do His will, looks round upon a universe from which every trace of Him seems to have vanished, and asks why he has been forsaken, and still obeys."C.S. Lewis, The Screwtape Letters.
5) Knowledge - The gift of knowledge enables us to grasp the teaching of the Church, to know God and Jesus Christ Whom He sent.
6) Piety - The gift by which we love God as our Father, ever striving to do His will.
7) Fear of the Lord - The Fear of the Lord makes us dread sin as the greatest of all evils, and enables us to quell fear of man and human respect.
The Fruits of the Holy Spirit
These defintions are found in the Maryknoll Catholic Dictionary, Copyright 1965
1) Charity - Christian charity is the love of God and the love of all men for the sake of God.
2) Joy - A feeling experienced by a person either in his will or in his sence appetite that results from the possession of a desired god.
3) Peace - The tranquility of order. Manís inner world has been disordered by sin as well as his relation to others and to the world around him. Peace is the establishment of order within man (in his psychological, imaginative, mental, emotional, and spiritual life) and in society (community, state, national and international).
4) Patience - A virtue which enables its possessor to endure with equanimity, all physical and moral sufferings for the love of God. There are three degrees of patience which correspond to the three stages of spiritual development: 1.suffering is acceptedas coming from God; 2. suffering is embraced that we might be more like Christ; 3.suffering is loved and sought for the sake of God.
5) Benignity - Kindness
7) Long-suffering - a disposition to bear trials and wrongs patiently. It differs from patience in that it contains the notion of patience over a long period of time.
8) Mildness - A gentleness and temperateness. It is not to be taken in the etymological sence of "softness."
9) Faith - A gift of God, a share in his Divine vision by which the person exercising it has the virtue of strength to believe what God reveals because of Godís authority in revealing truth.
10) Modesty - The virtue of moderation in oneís personal life, in habits, attitudes, speech, dress, etc. The virtue has a certain relativity depending on place, time and circumstance. Thus what is permissible for a lay person is not necessarity permissible for a cleric, or what is allowed a husband and wife is not necessarity allowed and engaged couple. Dress suitable for swimming or for a beach would not be suitable in church. Also, standards change with time; the dress of a modern woman would have been considered immodest in Victorian days.
11) Continence - That virtue which in practise preserves the mind from impure thoughts and desires, and restrains the will from actions following aroused sexual desire. In the context of marriage, abstinence from marital intercourse for any period of time by mutual consent of husband and wife.
12) Chastity - chastity applies to all Christians, married as well as single. In denotes deliberate abstention from all unlawful sexual pleasure of mind or body by way of conscious control. Chastity is a special gift of God.