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September 19, 2005

Ch. XXVII. Q. 145. What is Confirmation?

CONFIRMATION is the Sacrament whereby those who have been made members, by Baptism, of Christ's Body, wherein the Holy Ghost dwells and works, are are endowed with the gift of the Holy Ghost by the laying on of hands, are strengthened for spiritual warfare, and are made full participators in the royal priesthood of the faithful.1

2. The matter of Confirmation is the laying of hands upon the candidate's head by the proper Minister.2 This action is performed in different ways in different parts of the Church, sometimes consisting merely of signing the Cross upon the forehead with oil which has been blessed for that purpose. But the use of oil, while ancient, edifying and worthy of restoration among us, is not an essential part of the matter. Theform is an invocation of the Holy Ghost which either precedes, as with us, or accompanies the laying on of hands.3

3. The Minister of Confirmation in the West is a Bishop; but, in the East, the right to confirm is given to Priests and exercised by them. The requirement in the West that Bishops should confirm resulted, at an early period, in an interval of time occurring between Baptism and Confirmation, and ultimately led to the custom of postponing Confirmation to the years of discretion. This was a departure from Apostolic and primitive usage, and led to provision being made in our Prayer Book for a ratification of baptismal vows in connection with Confirmation, lest the close connection between the two Sacraments should be lost sight of. The original practice of administering both Sacraments at the same time has been preserved in the East, even in case of infants.4

4. The Anglican Communion requires that children shall not be kept from Confirmation beyond the age when they are able to learn the Church Catechism; but shall be duly instructed and brought to the Bishop to be confirmed by him so soon as they reach the years of discretion, i.e., of ability to distinguish practically between the state of salvation and the state of damnation. They misinterpret the Church and err dangerously who think that ability to give a full reason for the faith which is in them should be required. The preparation consists simply of a penitent spirit of obedience to the kingdom of grace, and sufficient knowledge and conviction to fulfil the practical requirements of Faith and conduct laid down in that kingdom. It is, of course, expedient that adult candidates for Confirmation should receive fuller instruction, adapted to their age and intelligence, and should fulfil the conditions of Faith and repentance which are necessary for the beneficial reception of any Sacrament by those who are of sufficient age to resist truth and grace.5

1 Acts VIII. 14-17: XIX. 1-6: II. Cor. I. 21, 22: Heb. VI. 1, 2: I. John II. 20, 27. S. Thos. Sum. Th., III. 72: Grueber's Rite of Confirmation: N.Y. Church Club Lectures of 1892, Lec. Ill: Smith and Wace, Dic. of Christ. Biog., "Confirmation": Forbes' 39 Arts., XXV, 454-458: Schouppe, Tract XII: Hooker's Eccles. Pol., V. 66: Stunt's Theol. Dic., "Confirmation"': Cat. of Nic. Bulgaris, 10, 13,17, 24: Hutchings' Holy Ghost, 247-256: Elmendorf, Elem. of Moral Theol., 576-581: Martene, De Antiq. Eccles. Ritibus Cap. II.

2 Acts. VIII. 17, 18: XIX. 6

3 S. Thos., III. 72. 2-4, 9, 12: Grueber, 10-29: Schouppe, XII. 20-27: Nic. Bulgaris, 12, 17: Hutchings, 280, 281, note: Martene, Art. 3.

4 S. Thos., III. 72. 11: Grueber, 47-56: Schouppe, XII.28-34: Kingdons God Incarnate, 148-152: Ewer's Grammar of Theol., 135-143: Bingham's Antiquities, Bk. XII. ch. I, II.

5 Grueber, 47-53: Percival's Digest, 128, 129.

Posted by Trevor at September 19, 2005 12:16 PM