Choose a topic from Part 3a:

72. Confirmation

1. The sacraments of the New Law are instituted to producespecial effects of grace. Now, there is a special perfection incoming to full strength and maturity. To produce this effect ofgrace in the spiritual order, there exists a special sacramentcalled confirmation.

2. The matter of the sacrament of confirmation(that is, the material used in making the sign which is to become asacrament), is the oil called holy chrism. Oil signifies the graceof the Holy Ghost; holy chrism is oil mingled with balm or balsam,which is a preservative with a pleasing odor. Chrism is thereforesuitable matter for a sacrament which brings to the soulthe Holy Ghost with gifts and graces, and preserves the soul inright living as "the good odor of Christ" (II Cor.2:15).

3. The chrism used in confirmation is olive oil mingledwith balsam, blessed or consecrated by a bishop previous to its usein the sacrament of confirmation.

4. Unless Scripture itself gives the form (thatis, the determinate set of words used in confecting or conferring asacrament), the Church prescribes that form. The Church alwaysselects words which express precisely the meaning and reality ofthe sacrament. In the Latin rite the form of the sacrament ofconfirmation, uttered by the confirming prelate as he applies thematter by anointing the forehead of the candidate, is thefollowing: "I sign thee with the sign of the Cross, and Iconfirm thee with the chrism of salvation, in the name of theFather, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost."

5. Confirmation imprints a character on the soul,as do all those sacraments which permanently fit and constitute aperson for service and action in the worship of God; hence,confirmation can be received only once. As baptism permanentlyequips a man for living by grace, confirmation equips him forsuccessful combat against the enemies of his soul and of the faith.Confirmation gives a man the power of the soldier of Christ. Itimpresses this power upon him as an indelible character.

6. The character imprinted by confirmation presupposes, ofnecessity, the baptismal character. For confirmation is to baptismas full growth is to birth; no one can attain maturity unless hefirst be born.

7. As we saw in the first part of this work (Ia, q. 43),the Holy Ghost is "sent" by way of sanctifying grace. Inconfirmation, the Holy Ghost is "sent" or given to thoseconfirmed, and therefore brings them sanctifying grace.

8. The age of the body does not affect the soul. One canattain to spiritual birth by baptism even in old age. And one canattain to spiritual maturity by confirmation, even in earlyyouth.

9. The person being confirmed is anointed with chrism onthe forehead, so that he may show to all that he is a Christian,fearless of all the enemies of Christ.

10. The person confirmed is made a soldier of Christ. Now,a new soldier needs instruction in the warfare he is to wage. Forthis reason, the person confirmed has a sponsor to teach him.Again, since it is confirmation that gives full growth andstrength, the person coming to be confirmed is still little andweak, and needs to be upheld by another; hence, he needs asponsor.

11. The sacrament of confirmation is regularlyadministered by a bishop. It is, of course, within the power andjurisdiction of the pope to delegate priests to administerconfirmation. Priests possess the power to confirm because of theirpriestly order, but they have not the right, the jurisdiction touse that power, without the delegation mentioned.

12. The rite or ceremony with which confirmation isadministered is appropriate. Even in such matters, the Churchmanifests the guidance of the Holy Ghost.

"This is the greatest wisdom -- to seek the kingdom of heaven through contempt of the world. "
Thomas á Kempis

* * *

"Spiritual persons ought to be equally ready to experience sweetness and consolation in the things of God, or to suffer and keep their ground in drynesses of spirit and devotion, and for as long as God pleases, without their making any complaint about it."
St Philip Neri

* * *

"Whoever wants to stand alone without the support of a master and guide will be like the tree that stands alone in a field without a proprietor. No matter how much the tree bears, passers-by will pick the fruit before it ripens. "
St John of the Cross, OCD - Doctor of the Church

* * *