There are some who claim the Sacrament of Confirmation to be an early church fabrication. As Catholics, we know this sacrament came from Christ, and was handed down to His apostles and successors. It is mentioned throughout Sacred Scripture and is carried on through to this day by Sacred Tradition. The effects of this sacrament include an increase in sanctifying grace which makes the recipient a "perfect Christian". The word "Christian" literally means to be anointed as we are sealed with the Holy Spirit through this sacrament. It bestows a special sacramental grace consisting in the seven gifts of the Holy Spirit and notably in the strength and courage to confess boldly the name of Christ. It also imparts an indelible character whereby the sacrament can never be received again by the same person. The anointing signifies the strength given for the spiritual conflict; the balsam contained in the chrism, the fragrance of virtue and the good odor of Christ; the sign of the cross on the forehead, the courage to confess Christ, before all men; the imposition of hands, enrollment in the service of Christ which brings true peace to the soul.
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."
This fullness of the Spirit was not to remain uniquely the Messiah's, but was to be communicated to the whole messianic people. On several occasions Christ promised this outpouring of the Spirit, a promise which he fulfilled first on Easter Sunday and then more strikingly at Pentecost. 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. Those who believed in the apostolic preaching and were baptized received the gift of the Holy Spirit in their turn.
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." 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.
- In the Old Testament, the Messiah is full of the Holy Spirit because He has been anointed by God.
- In the New Testament, Jesus the Messiah is full of the Holy Spirit because He has been anointed by God.
- St. Peter speaks of "Jesus of Nazareth: how God anointed him with the Holy Ghost".
- Disciples of Peter and John are confirmed by the imposition of hands.
– Paul confirms by the imposition of hands those who were bapstised.
- This verse explicitly shows the progression of a Christian from penance, faith, baptism, confirmation, death and judgement.
; – Paul refers to the Sacrament of Confirmation by saying they are sealed/signed with the Holy Ghost.
– The locusts could not harm those who were confirmed with the seal of God on their forehead.
Tradition & Fathers
"And about your laughing at me and calling me "Christian," you know not what you are saying. First, because that which is anointed is sweet and serviceable, and far from contemptible. For what ship can be serviceable and seaworthy, unless it be first caulked [anointed]? Or what castle or house is beautiful and serviceable when it has not been anointed? And what man, when he enters into this life or into the gymnasium, is not anointed with oil? And what work has either ornament or beauty unless it be anointed and burnished? Then the air and all that is under heaven is in a certain sort anointed by light and spirit; and are you unwilling to be anointed with the oil of God? Wherefore we are called Christians on this account, because we are anointed with the oil of God."
"And she said to her maids, Bring me oil.' For faith and love prepare oil and unguents to those who are washed. But what were these unguents, but the commandments of the holy Word? And what was the oil, but the power of the Holy Spirit, with which believers are anointed as with ointment after the laver of washing? All these things were figuratively represented in the blessed Susannah, for our sakes, that we who now believe on God might not regard the things that are done now in the Church as strange, but believe them all to have been set forth in figure by the patriarchs of old, as the apostle also says: 'Now these things happened unto them for ensamples: and they were written for our instruction, on whom the ends of the world are come."
"After having come out of the laver, we are anointed thoroughly with a blessed unction [perungimur benedictâ unctione] according to the ancient rule . . . The unction runs bodily over us, but profits spiritually . . . . Next to this, the hand is laid upon us through the blessing, calling upon and inviting the Holy Spirit."
"...he fell into a severe sickness; and as he seemed about to die, he received baptism by affusion, on the bed where he lay; if indeed we can say that such a one did receive it. And when he was healed of his sickness he did not receive the other things which it is necessary to have according to the canon of the Church, even the being sealed by the bishop. And as he did not receive this, how could he receive the Holy Spirit?"