The Mystery of Confirmation

In the second Mystery of the Church we move from Easter to Pentecost, from participating in the death and resurrection of Christ to the coming of the Holy Spirit.  This Sacred Mystery, or Sacrament, is called chrismation or confirmation.

Receiving confirmation is receiving the “power from on high” the gift of the Spirit.  This empowers the baptised person to live the life made new in baptism.  We become temples of the Holy Spirit.  As we hear in the compline service, “Glory to You, our God, glory to You! Heavenly King, Consoler, the Spirit of Truth, present in all places and filling all things, the Treasury of blessing, and the giver of life: come and dwell in us, cleanse us of all stain and save our souls, O Good One!”  Consider that immediately after His baptism in the river Jordan, the Holy Spirit descended upon our Lord, with those amazing words “Behold my Son in whom I am well pleased.”  Our obedience to God, which begins with baptism, allows us to receive the indwelling Holy Spirit.

It is only through the power of the Holy Spirit that we can know the fullness of Truth, as the Scripture says:  “When the Spirit of Truth comes he will guide you into all the Truth; for he will not speak on his own authority, but whatever he hears he will speak, and he will declare to you the things that are to come” (Jn 16:13).  For the Spirit of God is our counselor (paraclete) who guides us in the truth.  Those who deny God’s eternal Truths clearly do not have the Holy Spirit.  Indeed, to deny the basic Truths of Christianity (those truths essential to salvation) is a clear indicator that one is not a real believer.  Furthermore, a failure to demonstrate those clear fruits of the Spirit the Apostle speaks of in Galatians 5 is also evidence of a lack of communion with the Lord.

Confirmation marks the recipient permanently, like baptism, therefore it is never necessary to receive the sacrament more than once.  A sub conditione rite of confirmation may be done if a Bishop or priest feels it is  necessary, but it is not generally considered a repeat of the sacrament.  The form of the rite differs between Roman Catholic and Orthodox churches, though the result, meaning and purpose is identical.  In the Roman Catholic Church, and in most of the Old Catholic and derivative churches, the rite of Confirmation is done once a person reaches the age of reason  In the Eastern rite and Orthodox churches the rite of Chrismation is done immediately after baptism allowing the infant to receive Holy Communion.

According to the Greek Orthodox Church:

In the Sacrament of Chrismation, the priest anoints the various parts of the body of the newly-baptized with Holy Oil saying: “The seal of the gifts of the Holy Spirit.” The Holy Oil, which is blessed by the bishop, is a sign of consecration and strength. The Sacrament emphasizes the truths that not only is each person a valuable member of the Church, but also each one is blessed by the Spirit with certain gifts and talents. The anointing also reminds us that our bodies are valuable and are involved in the process of salvation.

Chrismation, or Confirmation, recognizes the receiving individual into the membership of the Church of Christ.  Without the Sacrament one lacks the fullness of the Holy Spirit which moves through the Holy Church.

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