Today’s Catechism sections begin the discussion of the Sacrament of Confirmation. Supporting material comes from the “Apostolic Traditions of Hippolytus of Rome”.

Article 2

THE SACRAMENT OF CONFIRMATION

1285 Baptism, the Eucharist, and the sacrament of Confirmation together constitute the "sacraments of Christian initiation," whose unity must be safeguarded. It must be explained to the faithful that the reception of the sacrament of Confirmation is necessary for the completion of baptismal grace.88 For "by the sacrament of Confirmation, [the baptized] are more perfectly bound to the Church and are enriched with a special strength of the Holy Spirit. Hence they are, as true witnesses of Christ, more strictly obliged to spread and defend the faith by word and deed."89

I. Confirmation in the Economy of Salvation

1286 In the Old Testament the prophets announced that the Spirit of the Lord would rest on the hoped-for Messiah for his saving mission.90 The descent of the Holy Spirit on Jesus at his baptism by John was the sign that this was he who was to come, the Messiah, the Son of God.91 He was conceived of the Holy Spirit; his whole life and his whole mission are carried out in total communion with the Holy Spirit whom the Father gives him "without measure."92

1287 This fullness of the Spirit was not to remain uniquely the Messiah's, but was to be communicated to the whole messianic people.93 On several occasions Christ promised this outpouring of the Spirit,94 a promise which he fulfilled first on Easter Sunday and then more strikingly at Pentecost.95 Filled with the Holy Spirit the apostles began to proclaim "the mighty works of God," and Peter declared this outpouring of the Spirit to be the sign of the messianic age.96 Those who believed in the apostolic preaching and were baptized received the gift of the Holy Spirit in their turn.97

1288 "From that time on the apostles, in fulfillment of Christ's will, imparted to the newly baptized by the laying on of hands the gift of the Spirit that completes the grace of Baptism. For this reason in the Letter to the Hebrews the doctrine concerning Baptism and the laying on of hands is listed among the first elements of Christian instruction. The imposition of hands is rightly recognized by the Catholic tradition as the origin of the sacrament of Confirmation, which in a certain way perpetuates the grace of Pentecost in the Church."98

1289 Very early, the better to signify the gift of the Holy Spirit, an anointing with perfumed oil (chrism) was added to the laying on of hands. This anointing highlights the name "Christian," which means "anointed" and derives from that of Christ himself whom God "anointed with the Holy Spirit."99 This rite of anointing has continued ever since, in both East and West. For this reason the Eastern Churches call this sacrament Chrismation, anointing with chrism, or myron which means "chrism." In the West, Confirmation suggests both the ratification of Baptism, thus completing Christian initiation, and the strengthening of baptismal grace - both fruits of the Holy Spirit.

Two traditions: East and West

1290 In the first centuries Confirmation generally comprised one single celebration with Baptism, forming with it a "double sacrament," according to the expression of St. Cyprian. Among other reasons, the multiplication of infant baptisms all through the year, the increase of rural parishes, and the growth of dioceses often prevented the bishop from being present at all baptismal celebrations. In the West the desire to reserve the completion of Baptism to the bishop caused the temporal separation of the two sacraments. The East has kept them united, so that Confirmation is conferred by the priest who baptizes. But he can do so only with the "myron" consecrated by a bishop.100

1291 A custom of the Roman Church facilitated the development of the Western practice: a double anointing with sacred chrism after Baptism. The first anointing of the neophyte on coming out of the baptismal bath was performed by the priest; it was completed by a second anointing on the forehead of the newly baptized by the bishop.101 The first anointing with sacred chrism, by the priest, has remained attached to the baptismal rite; it signifies the participation of the one baptized in the prophetic, priestly, and kingly offices of Christ. If Baptism is conferred on an adult, there is only one post-baptismal anointing, that of Confirmation.

1292 The practice of the Eastern Churches gives greater emphasis to the unity of Christian initiation. That of the Latin Church more clearly expresses the communion of the new Christian with the bishop as guarantor and servant of the unity, catholicity and apostolicity of his Church, and hence the connection with the apostolic origins of Christ's Church.

IN BRIEF

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.

St. Hippolytus explains the dual anointing of the baptized in “The Apostolic Tradition of Hippolytus of Rome” (21).

19 Afterward, when they have come up out of the water, they shall be anointed by the
elder with the Oil of Thanksgiving, saying, "I anoint you with holy oil in the name of Jesus
Christ." 20 Then, drying themselves, they shall dress and afterwards gather in the church.

21 The bishop will then lay his hand upon them, invoking, saying,
"Lord God, you who have made these worthy
of the removal of sins through the bath of regeneration,
make them worthy to be filled with your Holy Spirit,
grant to them your grace,
that they might serve you according to your will,
for to you is the glory,
Father and Son
with the Holy Spirit,
in the Holy Church,
now and throughout the ages of the ages.
Amen.

22 After this he pours the oil into his hand, and laying his hand on each of their heads, says,
"I anoint you with holy oil
in God the Father Almighty,
and Christ Jesus,
and the Holy Spirit."

Footnotes

88 Cf. Roman Ritual, Rite of Confirmation (OC), Introduction 1.
89 LG 11; Cf. OC, Introduction 2.
90 Cf. ⇒ Isa 11:2; ⇒ 61:1; ⇒ Lk 4:16-22.
91 Cf. ⇒ Mt 3:13-17; ⇒ Jn 1:33-34.
92 ⇒ Jn 3:34.
93 Cf. ⇒ Ezek 36:25-27; ⇒ Joel 3:1-2.
94 Cf. ⇒ Lk 12:12; ⇒ Jn 3:5-8; ⇒ 7:37-39; ⇒ 16:7-15; ⇒ Acts 1:8.
95 Cf. ⇒ Jn 20:22; ⇒ Acts 2:1-14.
96 ⇒ Acts 2:11; Cf. ⇒ 2:17-18.
97 Cf. ⇒ Acts 2:38.
98 Paul VI, Divinae consortium naturae, 659; Cf. ⇒ Acts 8:15-17; ⇒ 19:5-6; ⇒ Heb 6:2.
99 ⇒ Acts 10:38.
100 Cf. CCEO, Can. 695 # 1; 696 # 1.
101 Cf. St. Hippolytus, Trad. Ap. 21 SCh 11, 80-95.