Confirmation is a sacrament, a ritual or a service performed by man. The word actually means a strengthening, meaning to deepen your relationship with God. These practices are usually used in faiths that believe in infant baptism. However, Confirmation usually comes later in life when a child reaches the age of accountability, which varies among the individual faiths that practice confirmation. Confirmation typically involves a time of training in God's Word and Christian doctrine, followed by an examination and / or recitation of what has been learned.
Confirmation is the Christian rite in which the initiation into the church that takes place by confirmation is confirmed. In the Roman Catholic and Orthodox Eastern churches, it is a sacrament by which a Christian is strengthened in his faith. In the Lutheran and Anglican churches it is universally used, but it is sometimes not a sacrament. In the East, the Priest makes the confirmation on the newly baptized person of any age. In the West it is ordinarily an Episcopal function, and the recipient has reached a canonical age of discretion. In the Latin Rite, the bishop is the ordinary minister of Confirmation but priests may confirm in certain circumstances when authorized by the bishop.
Confirmation consists of the laying on of hands and anointing with chrism, a mixture of oil and balm, although Anglicans and Lutherans have abandoned the anointing. Some other Protestant churches use the term confirmation for the ceremony of admitting baptized persons into full church membership. In the earliest days of Christianity, adults became members of the Church through both a water confirmation and a laying-on of hands. For many converts, becoming a Christian meant giving up sinful habits and beginning a new life. They felt a great spiritual energy to live differently from the majority of people around them.
Centuries after the apostles, when almost everyone in the Roman Empire was Christian, most people no longer experienced such dramatic change in their life at Confirmation. In the fourth century, for example, St. Augustine wrote, "Who in the present day expects that those on whom hands are laid for the bestowal (gift) of the Spirit will suddenly begin speaking in tongues?" In other words, only a few hundred years away from the apostles, those charismatic gifts had all but disappeared. Becoming a Christian by that time meant living like everybody else and seldom suffering or even feeling uncomfortable.
As years passed, the laying-on of hands by the bishop was changed to an anointing with oil, since in the Scriptures anointing is often associated with the reception of God's Spirit. And, some years after that, the full ceremony of Christian initiation into the Church was divided into two parts: confirmation with water by a priest, and anointing with oil by a bishop. This happened because the bishop could not always be present at everyone's confirmation, and yet he wanted to personally receive every new Christian into full membership in the Church. After a while, this second part of Christian initiation became a completely separate ritual called Confirmation.
Eventually it turned out that, while all Christians were baptized, few were confirmed. One reason for this was that every parish had a priest but bishops were few and far between, just as today.
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