All Roman Catholics are encouraged to receive the sacrament of confirmation. All Orthodox Christians are required to receive the sacrament of chrismation, and do so immediately after their baptism or conversion.
In the West the sacrament is normally performed by a bishop or a priest he delegates. Since a bishop cannot be present at every infant baptism, this led to the custom of confirming larger groups of older children and young adults, so that confirmation took on something of the nature of a rite of passage, and an opportunity to affirm a personal commitment to the faith. In most cases those being confirmed have been receiving the Eucharist for several years
In the Eastern Church, i.e., in Eastern Orthodox, Oriental Orthodox, and Eastern-rite Catholic churches, the sacrament may be performed by a priest, and is usually conferred immediately after baptism; therefore, it is usually received by infants. After receiving this sacrament, the recipient is eligible to receive the Eucharist. In addition, Chrismation is used to admit converts who were originally baptized according to a Trinitarian formula.
In both traditions, the sacrament is considered to bind the recipients more perfectly to the Church, and to enrich them with a special strength of the Holy Spirit (see Lumen Gentium for the Roman Catholic interpretation).
It is used in chrismation to show that the gift of the Spirit was originally given to men through the apostles of Christ, whose formal successors in the world are the bishops of the Church (see Acts 8:14; 19:1-7).
Together with being baptized and chrismated, the new-born child is also "churched." The rite of churching imitates the offering of male children to the temple according to the law of the Old Testament, particularly the offering of Christ on the fortieth day after his birth (Luke 2:22).
It is also the Orthodox tradition that the mysteries of baptism and chrismation, called officially "holy illumination," are fulfilled in the immediate reception by the "newly-enlightened" of Holy Communion in the eucharisticliturgy of the Church.
The term chrismation is used because of the perfumed holy oil, myrrh (μύρον), or chrism, consecrated by a bishop, with which the recipient of the sacrament is anointed, while the priest speaks the words sealing the initiate with the gift of the Holy Spirit.
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