Sacrament of Confirmation
in the Eastern Church
In the Eastern Catholic Churches, the three sacraments of initiation are administered at the same time to infants. Children are baptized, confirmed, and receive Communion (in the form of the Sacred Blood, the consecrated wine), all in the same ceremony, and always in that order. Since the timely reception of Baptism is very important, and it would be very hard for a bishop to administer every baptism, the bishop’s presence, in the Eastern Churches, is signified by the use of chrism consecrated by the bishop. The priest, however, performs the confirmation.
Eligibility for Confirmation:
Even in the West, priests can be authorized by their bishops to perform confirmations, and adult converts are routinely baptized and confirmed by priests. All those who have been baptized are eligible to be confirmed, and, while the Western Church suggests receiving the sacrament after reaching the “age of reason” (around seven years old), it can be received at any time. (A child in danger of death should receive Confirmation.) A confirmant must be in a state of grace. If the sacrament is not received immediately after Baptism, the confirmant should participate in the Sacrament of Confession before Confirmation.
The Effects of the Sacrament of Confirmation:
The Sacrament of Confirmation confers special graces of the Holy Spirit upon the person being confirmed, just as such graces were granted to the Apostles on Pentecost. Like Baptism, therefore, it can only be performed once, and Confirmation increases and deepens all of the graces granted at Baptism.The Catechism of the Catholic Church lists five effects of Confirmation:
it roots us more deeply in the divine filiation [as sons of God] which makes us cry, “Abba! Father!”;
it unites us more firmly to Christ;
it increases the gifts of the Holy Spirit in us;
it renders our bond with the Church more perfect;
it gives us a special strength of the Holy Spirit to spread and defend the faith by word and action as true witnesses of Christ, to confess the name of Christ boldly, and never to be ashamed of the Cross.
Because Confirmation perfects our baptism, we are obliged to receive it “in due time.” Any Catholic who did not receive Confirmation at baptism or as part of his religious education during grade school or high school should contact a priest and arrange to receive the Sacrament of Confirmation.
As stated above, in the Maronite Church, the Mystery of Chrism (Sacrament of Confirmation) is administered at the same time as Baptism. Parents should be very careful to be sure that the Mystery (Sacrament) of Confirmation is not received again when the child is older.
As always, if you have any questions concerning Confirmation, please talk to Father Abda.