August 4, 2019 – Ruminations by Fr. Pat

In the Early Church, when an adult became a Christian, he/she would undergo the Sacraments of Initiation. These three Sacraments are Baptism, Confirmation, and Holy Eucharist. These three Sacraments would represent the beginning of a new Life in Christ. Baptism was when we died to our old life of Sin and became a new Creation in Christ, thus, beginning our Relation with Him. Although originally seen as one Ritual experience, this Rite had three elements to it, the three Sacraments mentioned above.

Today we shall look a little at Confirmation. And to do that reflection we need to look at the Early Church and the legalization of Christianity. Because the numbers were always pretty small, the local Bishop would perform these Rites. But, what would happen, when all of a sudden, there were thousands of people being Baptized and being Received into the Church? The local Bishop couldn’t do it all. He had new responsibilities and couldn’t keep up.

In the Eastern part of the Empire, the solution was to delegate the local Pastor to perform these Rites. To this day the Easter Rites perform all three Sacraments together. The only exception to this delegation was that the Bishop would Consecrate the oils used in these Rites.

In the Western part of the Empire, the bishops also delegated Baptism to Priests, but retained the function of per-forming the Initial Anointing and Laying on of hands. This they would do whenever they visited a particular locality. Thus, in the West the Celebration of the Sacrament of Confirmation was done at a later time than the celebration of the Sacrament of Baptism. Baptism would be the time for the initial gift of the Holy Spirit, while Confirmation would be the Sacrament of the fullness of the Spirit with His Seven Gifts. In the West Confirmation gradually became a Sacra-ment of Maturity (it is still seen by most people today in this light). Those who received it were regarded as old enough and ready to live active, responsible Christian lives. The Christian was sealed as a witness for Christ in Confirmation and fortified by an increase of the Spirit’s gifts to fight, suffer, and die for the faith.

Do you only see Confirmation as a rite of Passage, or do you see it as something else? Do you see it as an end (to CCD) or a strengthening of your Relationship with God?

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