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What is Confirmation ?



A sacrament in which the Holy Ghost is given to those already baptized in order to make them strong and

perfect Christians and soldiers of Jesus Christ. It has been variously designated: bebaiosis or confirmatio,

a making fast or sure; teleiosis or consummatio, a perfecting or completing, as expressing its relation to

baptism. With reference to its effect it is the "Sacrament of the Holy Ghost", the "Sacrament of the Seal"

(signaculum, sigillum, sphragis). From the external rite it is known as the "imposition of hands" (epithesis

cheiron), or as "anointing with chrism" (unctio, chrismatio, chrisma, myron). The names at present in use

are, for the Western Church, confirmatio, and for the Greek, to myron.

Reference - Catechhism of the Cathlic Church.


Who can minister the confirmation?




1314 If a Christian is in danger of death, any priest should give him Confirmation.[132] 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.


The bishop alone is the ordinary minister of confirmation. This is expressly declared by the Council of

Trent (Sess. VII, De Conf., C. iii). A bishop confirms validly even those who are not his own subjects; but

to confirm licitly in another diocese he must secure the permission of the bishop of that diocese. Simple

priests may be the extraordinary ministers of the sacrament under certain conditions. In such cases,

however, the priest cannot wear pontifical vestments, and he is obliged to use chrism blessed by a Catholic

bishop. In the Greek Church, confirmation is given by simple priests without special delegation, and their

ministration is accepted by the Western Church as valid. They must, however, use chrism blessed by a




Transcribed by Charles Sweeney, S.J.


From the Catholic Encyclopedia, copyright © 1913 by the Encyclopedia Press, Inc.

The blessing of the chrism


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 Syriac 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."

Catechism of the Catholic Church

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.[112]






1306 Every baptized person not yet confirmed can and should receive the sacrament of Confirmation.[121] Since Baptism,

Confirmation, and Eucharist form a unity, it follows that "the faithful are obliged to receive this sacrament at the appropriate

time,"[122] for without Confirmation and Eucharist, Baptism is certainly valid and efficacious, but Christian initiation remains



1307 The Latin tradition gives "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.[123]


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.[124]


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.[125]


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.[126]


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.[127]


Rite of the sacrament


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.]."[113] In the Eastern Churches, after a prayer of epiclesis the

more significant parts of the body are anointed with myron: forehead, eyes, nose, ears, lips, breast, back, hands, and feet. Each

anointing is accompanied by the formula: "The seal of the gift that is the Holy Spirit."


Reference from Scott Hahn’s audio and video tape presentation, "The Seven Sacraments of the Catholic Church" as it appears in the "Catholic Adult Education on Video Program" with Scott and Kimberly Hahn.

But those three sacraments that are indelible, Baptism, Confirmation and Holy Orders, are, in a sense, prime sacraments. Baptism is the sacrament of our new birth whereby we become babies in Christ. Confirmation is the sacrament of battle, whereby we become soldiers of Christ. Then Holy Orders, as we will see tomorrow, is the sacrament of the supernatural Father, the Pontifex, the Bridge Builder who helps and offers himself up to be a bridge between God and man.

Confirmation could be described as our own personal Pentecost. It’s where the Spirit, received in Baptism, all of a sudden bursts into life with Confirmation. If Jesus was declared to be a child or a son of God at his baptism, do you remember the Mount of Transfiguration where all of a sudden the glory of sonship blinded the disciples and they fell down at his feet? Then they hear that same heavenly voice coming down and saying, "This is my beloved Son with whom I am well pleased." Only this second time God adds a new phrase, "This is my beloved Son with whom I am well pleased. Listen to him." "Listen to him." And right after that event, Jesus, we are told, set his face like flint to Jerusalem because he knew he had to go up and do spiritual battle with the devil.


Mount of Transfiguration

Jesus Christ goes on later to the Mount of Transfiguration where before three apostles his appearance is transformed, so that the sonship, this divine sonship which he possesses, which was declared at Baptism becomes visible and powerful and manifest to Peter, James and John – so much so that they end up on their faces. In a sense, Confirmation is that. If Baptism instills divine sonship in the believer, Confirmation unleashes the power of sonship and the Holy Spirit’s glory as we receive that sacrament.

Confirmation is almost equivalent to spiritual adolescence when supernatural hormones are released in the children of God to cause them to grow and to become able to control and harness their own newly found powers and desires.

It gives to us the capacity to gain spiritual self-mastery, and what do adolescents need? It gives to us a greater conformity to Christ so the glory of our sonship might be lived out morally at a time of increased temptations and opportunities and occasions for sin. And it releases the fullness of the Holy Spirit’s power in us. We determine ourselves by choices and by actions and we need God’s help to make the right choices to do the holy actions.




Cyprian of Carthage

"Some say in regard to those who were baptized in Samaria that when the apostles Peter and John came there only hands were imposed on them so that they might receive the Holy Spirit,(Acts 8:14) and that they were not re-baptized. But we see, dearest brother, that this situation in no way pertains to the present case. Those in Samaria who had believed had believed in the true faith, and it was by the deacon Philip, whom those same apostles had sent there, that they had been baptized inside—in the Church. . . . Since, then, they had already received a legitimate and ecclesiastical baptism, it was not necessary to baptize them again. Rather, that only which was lacking was done by Peter and John. The prayer having been made over them and hands having been imposed upon them, the Holy Spirit was invoked and was poured out upon them. This is even now the practice among us, so that those who are baptized in the Church then are brought to the prelates of the Church; through our prayer and the imposition of hands, they receive the Holy Spirit and are perfected with the seal of the Lord" (ibid. 73[72]:9).

Cyprian of Carthage

"[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?" (ibid., 74[73]:5).

Cyprian of Carthage

"[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 have an existence. But . . . the birth of Christians is in baptism" (ibid.,74[73]:7).

Council of Carthage VII

"[I]n the Gospel our Lord Jesus Christ spoke with His divine voice, saying, ‘Except a man be born again of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God’ [John 3:5]. This is the Spirit which from the beginning was borne over the waters; for neither can the Spirit operate without the water, nor the water without the Spirit. Certain people therefore interpret [this passage] for themselves wrongly, when they say that by imposition of the hand they receive the Holy Ghost, and are thus received, when it is manifest that they ought to be born again [initiated] in the Catholic Church by both sacraments" (VII Carthage [A.D. 256]).

Treatise on Re-Baptism

"[I]t has been asked among the brethren what course ought specially to be adopted towards the persons of those who . . . baptized in heresy . . . and subsequently departing from their heresy, and fleeing as supplicants to the Church of God, should repent with their whole hearts, and only now perceiving the condemnation of their error, implore from the Church the help of salvation. . . . [A]ccording to the most ancient custom and ecclesiastical tradition, it would suffice, after that baptism which they have received outside the Church . . . that only hands should be laid upon them by the bishop for their reception of the Holy Spirit, and this imposition of hands would afford them the renewed and perfected seal of faith" (Treatise on Re-Baptism 1 [A.D. 256]).

Treatise on Re-Baptism

"[B]y imposition of the bishop’s hands the Holy Spirit is given to every one that believes, as in the case of the Samaritans, after Philip’s baptism, the apostles did to them by laying on of hands [Acts 8:14


Cyril of Jerusalem

"[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’" (ibid., 22:7).


"[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]).

Council of Laodicea

"[T]hose who have been illuminated are, after baptism, to be anointed with celestial chrism and thus become partakers in the kingdom of Christ" (canon 48 [A.D. 360]).

Pacian of Barcelona

"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]).

The Apostolic Constitutions

"[H]ow dare any man speak against his bishop, by whom the Lord gave the Holy Spirit among you upon the laying on of his hands, by whom you have learned the sacred doctrines, and have known God, and have believed in Christ, by whom you were known of God, by whom you were sealed with the oil of gladness and the ointment of understanding, by whom you were declared to be the children of light, by whom the Lord in your illumination testified by the imposition of the bishop’s hands" (Apostolic Constitutions 2:4:32 [A.D. 400]).

The African Code

"[T]he former council . . . decreed, as your unanimity remembers as well as I do, that those who as children were baptized by the Donatists, and not yet being able to know the pernicious character of their error, and afterward when they had come to the use of reason, had received the knowledge of the truth, abhorred their former error, and were received in accordance with the ancient order by the imposition of the hand, into the Catholic Church of God spread throughout the world" (canon 57[61] [A.D. 419]).

© 1996 Catholic Answers, Inc






The Sacrament of Confirmation is a striking instance of the development of doctrine and ritual in the Church. We can, indeed, detect much more than the mere germs of it in Holy Scripture; but we must not expect to find there an exact description of the ceremony as at present performed, or a complete solution of the various theological questions which have since arisen. It is only from the Fathers and the Schoolmen that we can gather information on these heads.

(2) Church Fathers

Augustine explains how the coming of the Holy Ghost was companied with the gift of tongues in the first ages of the Church. "These were miracles suited to the times . . . .

© The reservation of the rite to the bishops

In proof of the reservation of the rite to bishops the Schoolmen appeal to the example of Acts, viii; and they go on to explain that as the sacrament is a sort of completion of baptism it is fitting that it should be conferred by "one who has the highest power [summam potestatem] in the Church" (St. Thomas, III:72:11). They were aware, however, that in the primitive Church simple priests sometimes administered the sacrament. This they accounted for by the fewness of bishops, and they recognized that the validity of such administration (unlike the case of Holy orders) is a mere matter of ecclesiastical jurisdiction. "The pope holds the fullness of power in the Church, whence he can confer upon certain of the inferior orders things which belong to the higher orders . . . . And out of the fullness of this power the blessed pope Gregory granted that simple priests conferred this sacrament" (St. Thomas, III:72:11).


The practice in England has already been illustrated by facts from the life of St. Cuthbert. One of the oldest ordines, or prescriptions for administering the sacrament, is found in the Pontifical of Egbert, Archbishop of York (d. 766). The rite is practically the same as that used at present; the form, however, is: "receive the sign of the holy cross with the chrism of salvation in Christ Jesus unto life everlasting." Among the rubrics are: modo ligandi sunt, i.e. the head of the person confirmed is to be bound with a fillet; and modo communicandi sunt de sacrificio, i.e. they are to receive Holy Communion (Martčne). It was especially during the thirteenth century that vigorous measures were taken to secure the proper administration of the sacrament. In general, the councils and synods direct the priests to admonish the people regarding the confirmation of their children. The age limit, however, varies considerably. Thus the Synod of Worcester (1240) decreed that parents who neglected to have their child confirmed within a year after birth should be forbidden to enter the church. The Synod of Exeter (1287) enacted that children should be confirmed within three years from birth, otherwise the parents were to fast on bread and water until they complied with the law. At the Synod of Durham (12177? Cf. Wilkins, Ioc. cit. below) the time was extended to the seventh year. Other statutes were: that no one should be admitted to Holy Communion who had not been confirmed (Council of Lambeth, 1281); that neither father nor mother nor stepparent should act as sponsor (London, 1200); that children to be confirmed must bring "fillets or bands of sufficient length and width ", and that they must be brought to the church the third day after confirmation to have their foreheads washed by the priest out of reverence for the holy chrism (Oxford, 1222); that a male sponsor should stand for the boys and a female sponsor for the girls (Provincial Synod of Scotland, 1225); that adults must confess before being confirmed (Constitution of St. Edmund of Canterbury, about 1236). Several of the above-named synods emphasize the fact that confirmation produces spiritual cognation and that the sacrament cannot be received more than once. The legislation of the Synod of Exeter is especially full and detailed (see Wilkins, Concilia Magnę Brittannię et Hibernię, London, 1734). Among the decrees issued in Ireland after the Reformation may be cited: no one other than a bishop should administer confirmation; the Holy See had not delegated this episcopal function to any one (Synod of Armagh, 1614); the faithful should be taught that confirmation cannot be reiterated and that its reception should be preceded by sacramental confession (Synod of Tuam, 1632).



Previous to the establishment of the hierarchy, many Catholics in North America died without having received confirmation. In some portions of what is now the United States the sacrament was administered by bishops from the neighboring French and Spanish possessions; in others, by missionary priests with delegation from the Holy See. Bishop Cabezas de Altimirano of Santiago de Cuba, on his visitation of Florida, confirmed (25 March, 1606) a large number, probably the first administration of the sacrament in the United States territory. In 1655, Don Diego de Rebolledo, Governor of Florida, urged the King of Spain to ask the pope to make St. Augustine an episcopal see, or to make Florida a vicariate Apostolic so that there might be a local superior and that the faithful might receive the Sacrament of Confirmation; but nothing came of the petition. Bishop Calderon of Santiago visited Florida in 1647 and confirmed 13,152 persons, including Indians and whites. Other instances are the visitations of Bishop de Velasco (1735-6) and Bishop Morel (1763). Subsequently, Dr. Peter Camps, missionary Apostolic, received from Rome special faculties for confirmation. In New Mexico, during the seventeenth century, the custos of the Franciscans confirmed by delegation from Leo X and Adrian VI. In 1760, Bishop Tamaron of Durango visited the missions of New Mexico and confirmed 11,271 persons. Bishop Tejada of Guadalajara administered (1759) confirmation at San Fernando, now San Antonio, Texas, and Bishop de Pontbriand at Ft. Presentation (Ogdensburg, N.Y.) in 1752. The need of a bishop to administer the sacrament in Maryland and Pennsylvania was urged by Bishop Challoner in a report to the Propaganda, 2 Aug., 1763. Writing to his agent at Rome, Rev. Dr. Stonor, 12 Sept., 1766, he says: "there be so many thousands there that live and die without Confirmation"; and in another letter, 4 June, 1771: "It is a lamentable thing that such a multitude have to live and die always deprived of the Sacrament of Confirmation." Cardinal Castelli wrote, 7 Sept., 1771, to Bishop Briand of Quebec asking him to supply the need of the Catholics in Maryland and Pennsylvania. In 1783 the clergy petitioned Rome for the appointment of a superior with the necessary faculties "that our faithful living in many dangers, may be no longer deprived of the Sacrament of Confirmation . . . . " On 6 June, 1784, Pius VI appointed Rev. John Carroll as superior of the mission and empowered him to administer confirmation (Shea, Life and Times of Archbishop Carroll, New York, 1888; cf. Hughes in Am. Eccl. Review, XXVIII, 23).



Transcribed by Charles Sweeney, S.J.

From the Catholic Encyclopedia, copyright © 1913 by the Encyclopedia Press, Inc.





The Summa Theologica of St. Thomas Aquinas

Article 6

Whether the character of Confirmation presupposes of

necessity, the baptismal character?


Objection 1. It seems that the character of Confirmation does not presuppose, of necessity, the baptismal character. For the sacrament of Confirmation is ordained to the public confession of the Faith of Christ. But many, even before Baptism, have publicly confessed the Faith of Christ by shedding their blood for the Faith. Therefore the character of Confirmation does not presuppose the baptismal character. Objection 2. Further, it is not related of the apostles that they were baptized; especially, since it is written (Jn. 4:2) that Christ "Himself did not baptize, but His disciples." Yet afterwards they were confirmed by the coming of the Holy Ghost. Therefore, in like manner, others can be confirmed before being baptized. Objection 3. Further, it is written (Acts 10:44-48) that "while Peter was yet speaking . . . the Holy Ghost fell on all them that heard the word . . . and [Vulg.: ‘for’] they heard them speaking with tongues": and afterwards "he commanded them to be baptized." Therefore others with equal reason can be confirmed before being baptized. On the contrary, Rabanus says (De Instit. Cleric. i): "Lastly the Paraclete is given to the baptized by the imposition of the high priest’s hands, in order that the baptized may be strengthened by the Holy Ghost so as to publish his faith." I answer that, The character of Confirmation, of necessity supposes the baptismal character: so that, in effect, if one who is not baptized were to be confirmed, he would receive nothing, but would have to be confirmed again after receiving Baptism. The reason of this is that, Confirmation is to Baptism as growth to birth, as is evident from what has been said above (1; 65, 1). Now it is clear that no one can be brought to perfect age unless he be first born: and in like manner, unless a man be first baptized, he cannot receive the sacrament of Confirmation.

Reply to Objection 1. The Divine power is not confined to the sacraments. Hence man can receive spiritual strength to confess the Faith of Christ publicly, without receiving the sacrament of Confirmation: just as he can also receive remission of sins without Baptism. Yet, just as none receive the effect of Baptism without the desire of Baptism; so none receive the effect of Confirmation, without the desire ofConfirmation. And man can have this even before receiving Baptism.

Reply to Objection 2. As Augustine says (Ep. cclxv), from our Lord’s words, "’He that is washed,needeth not but to wash his feet’ (Jn. 13:10), we gather that Peter and Christ’s other disciples had beenbaptized, either with John’s Baptism, as some think; or with Christ’s, which is more credible. For He didnot refuse to administer Baptism, so as to have servants by whom to baptize others."

Reply to Objection 3. Those who heard the preaching of Peter received the effect of Confirmationmiraculously: but not the sacrament of Confirmation. Now it has been stated (ad 1) that the effect ofConfirmation can be bestowed on man before Baptism, whereas the sacrament cannot. For just as theeffect of Confirmation, which is spiritual strength, presupposes the effect of Baptism, which is justification,so the sacrament of Confirmation presupposes the sacrament of Baptism.



Article 11

Whether only a bishop can confer this sacrament?

Objection 1. It seems that not only a bishop can confer this sacrament. For Gregory (Regist. iv), writing to Bishop Januarius, says: "We hear that some were scandalized because we forbade priests to anoint with chrism those who have been baptized. Yet in doing this we followed the ancient custom of our Church: but f this trouble some so very much we permit priests, where no bishop is to be had, to anoint the baptized on the forehead with chrism." But that which is essential to the sacraments should not be changed for the purpose of avoiding scandal. Therefore it seems that it is not essential to this sacrament that it be conferred by a bishop.

Objection 2. Further, the sacrament of Baptism seems to be more efficacious than the sacrament of Confirmation: since it bestows full remission of sins, both as to guilt and as to punishment, whereas this sacrament does not. But a simple priest, in virtue of his office, can give the sacrament of Baptism: and in a case of necessity anyone, even without orders, can baptize. Therefore it is not essential to this sacrament that it be conferred by a bishop.

Objection 3. Further, the top of the head, where according to medical men the reason is situated (i.e. the "particular reason," which is called the "cogitative faculty"), is more noble than the forehead, which is the site of the imagination. But a simple priest can anoint the baptized with chrism on the top of the head. Therefore much more can he anoint them with chrism on the forehead, which belongs to this sacrament. On the contrary, Pope Eusebius (Ep. iii ad Ep. Tusc.) says: "The sacrament of the imposition of the hand should be held in great veneration, and can be given by none but the high priests. Nor is it related or known to have been conferred in apostolic times by others than the apostles themselves; nor can it ever be either licitly or validly performed by others than those who stand in their place. And if anyone presume to do otherwise, it must be considered null and void; nor will such a thing ever be counted among the sacraments of the Church." Therefore it is essential to this sacrament, which is called "the sacrament of the imposition of the hand," that it be given by a bishop. I answer that, In every work the final completion is reserved to the supreme act or power; thus the preparation of the matter belongs to the lower craftsmen, the higher gives the form, but the highest of all is he to whom pertains the use, which is the end of things made by art; thus also the letter which is written by the clerk, is signed by his employer. Now the faithful of Christ are a Divine work, according to 1 Cor. 3:9: "You are God’s building"; and they are also "an epistle," as it were, "written with the Spirit of God, "according to 2 Cor. 3:2,3. And this sacrament of Confirmation is, as it were, the final completion of the sacrament of Baptism; in the sense that by Baptism man is built up into a spiritual dwelling, and is written like a spiritual letter; whereas by the sacrament of Confirmation, like a house already built, he is consecrated as a temple of the Holy Ghost, and as a letter already written, is signed with the sign of the cross. Therefore the conferring of this sacrament is reserved to bishops, who possess supreme power in the Church: just as in the primitive Church, the fullness of the Holy Ghost was given by the apostles, in whose place the bishops stand (Acts 8). Hence Pope Urban I says: "All the faithful should. after Baptism, receive the Holy Ghost by the imposition of the bishop’s hand, that they may become perfect Christians." Reply to Objection 1. The Pope has the plenitude of power in the Church, in virtue of which he can commit to certain lower orders things that belong to the higher orders: thus he allows priests to confer minor orders, which belong to the episcopal power. And in virtue of this fullness of power the Pope, Blessed Gregory, allowed simple priests to confer this sacrament, so long as the scandal was ended.

Reply to Objection 2. The sacrament of Baptism is more efficacious than this sacrament as to the removal of evil, since it is a spiritual birth, that consists in change from non-being to being. But this sacrament is more efficacious for progress in good; since it is a spiritual growth from imperfect being to perfect being. And hence this sacrament is committed to a more worthy minister. Reply to Objection 3. As Rabanus says (De Instit. Cleric. i), "the baptized is signed by the priest with chrism on the top of the head, but by the bishop on the forehead; that the former unction may symbolize the descent of the Holy Ghost on hint, in order to consecrate a dwelling to God: and that the second also may teach us that the sevenfold grace of the same Holy Ghost descends on man with all fullness of sanctity, knowledge and virtue." Hence this unction is reserved to bishops, not on account of its being applied to a more worthy part of the body, but by reason of its having a more powerful effect.

Translated by the Fathers of the English Dominican Province. Copyright © 1947 Benzinger Brothers Inc., Hypertext

Version Copyright © 1995, 1996 New Advent Inc.





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 oblect.[105] 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.[106]

1296 Christ himself declared that he was marked with his Father’s seal.[107 Jn 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."[108] 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.[109]



1302 It is evident from its celebration that the effect of the sacrament of Confirmation is the full 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!";[115]

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;[116] 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:[117]


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.[118]

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.[119]

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)."[120]


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 "The seal of the gift that is 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.