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A History of Confirmation Parallels & Precedents

A History of Confirmation Parallels & Precedents

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A History of Confirmation Parallels & Precedents

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  1. A History of ConfirmationParallels & Precedents • An initiation ritual signifying and effecting full membership in the church • Characterized by confusion • Initiation for infants and adult converts • It is given only once • Seal of the Holy Spirit • Intensification for children and adolescents • Reaffirms the meaning of Baptism • Transition period • Re-anoints and renews • Verbal assent is to Baptismal promises

  2. A History of ConfirmationParallels & Precedents • Receiving the Holy Spirit • Guided and empowered by the Spirit • For Jewish Christians it is the beginning of the Messianic Age. • Everything that seemed beyond human ability was attributed to the Holy Spirit • The courage to preach • People’s willingness to accept it • Miraculous cures and conversions • Decisions and courses of events that led to the spread of the gospel • The communities survival of persecution

  3. A History of ConfirmationParallels & Precedents • Receiving the Holy Spirit • Baptism was the sign of acceptance but other signs existed as well • Living in a spirit of love for the brotherhood • Serving the community and ministering to its needs • Avoiding sin and scandal • Obeying religious, civil and family authority • Romans 12; I Corinthians 2; I John 4 • Charismatic utterances and prophecy • Spiritual ecstasies and visions • Religious insight and inspired teachings • I Corinthians 12-14

  4. A History of ConfirmationParallels & Precedents • Receiving the Holy Spirit • Often these manifestations came with the laying on of hands • Acts 8:14-18;9:31 • The imposition of hands was not always associated with Baptism • Acts 2:41; 9:18-19; 19:1-7 • Imposition of hands was a ritual for delegating responsibility and authority in the community • Acts 6:6; I Timothy 4:14

  5. A History of ConfirmationParallels & Precedents • Receiving the Holy Spirit • As late as the 2nd Century Irenaeus of Lyons wrote of the importance of charismatic gifts visible signs of the Holy Spirit • 200 years later these charismatic signs had completely disappeared. • Augustine of Hippo writes, “Who in the present day expects that those on whom hands are laid for the bestowal of the spirit will suddenly begin speaking in tongues?”

  6. A History of ConfirmationParallels & Precedents • Receiving the Holy Spirit • By the year 200 most communities in the west performed two back to back rites • Baptism signifying spiritual regeneration • And anointing signifying reception of the Holy Spirit • Third century Eastern rites mention no such post-anointing but the Baptism was preceded by an anointing of the whole body by deacons and deaconesses. • Baptismal water brought the Holy Spirit • John Chrysostom Bishop of Constantinople • Theodore, Bishop of Mopsuestia in Syria

  7. A History of ConfirmationParallels & Precedents • Receiving the Holy Spirit • Beginning in the 3rd century all descriptions of western Baptisms included various actions performed by the presiding bishop after candidates came out of the pool • Placing of hands over the heads of either each individual or the group • Placing the sign of the cross on the forehead • Pouring of oil over the head • Making the sign of the cross with oil on the head

  8. A History of ConfirmationParallels & Precedents • Rome (215) - The bishop extended a hand over the candidates and prayed that they be filled with the Holy Spirit, then he pored oil and laid his hand on their head, made the sign of the cross on their forehead, and gave them a ritual kiss known as the kiss of peace. • Imposition of hands was done in symbolic imitation of the apostles action described in the New Testament • The poring of oil was symbolic representation of the reception of the Holy Spirit • The oil was perfumed scented with either myrrh or balsam and referred to as chrism • Symbolized the Christians need to be sweetness in the world • The sign of the cross symbolized acceptance of Christ

  9. A History of ConfirmationParallels & Precedents • Receiving the Holy Spirit • Cyprian of Carthage - The newly baptized person is presented to the head of the church; he receives the Holy Spirit through our prayer and the imposition of our hand, and is perfected by means of the Lord’s sign.” • Cyril of Jerusalem - The baptized are anointed on the forehead, ears, nose, and breast as a symbol of their sanctification by the Spirit in baptism, and a sign of their union with Christ who was anointed with the spiritual oil of gladness that is, with the Holy Spirit • Augustine - Catechumens are ground like wheat through the lenten fast and exorcisms, mixed with water in baptism and formed into the body of Christ, and baked by the fire of the Holy Spirit in the anointing with chrism.

  10. A History of ConfirmationParallels & Precedents • Receiving the Holy Spirit - Third Century • The western churches began to take the symbolic actions more literally, trying to specify which action conveyed which spiritual effect • Tertullian - Those who were baptized were washed spiritually clean by an angel, and did not receive the Holy Spirit until the Bishop laid his hands on them. • Bishop Cornelius of Rome - The Holy Spirit came with the consignation by the the bishop on the forehead of the baptized. • Council of Arles 314 - Discussed no rebaptism but perhaps a re-imposition of the hands to restore the lost Holy Spirit • Ambrose of Milan - In baptism Christians received regeneration and forgiveness of sins through water and the Spirit, and in the imposition of hands by the bishop, they received the seven gifts of the Spirit enumerated in Isaiah 11:2-3

  11. A History of ConfirmationParallels & Precedents • The presence of the Bishop was important • He represented both the local community and the larger church • Sometimes the Bishop could not be present so initiation rites had to be adjusted • Priests were sometimes given the right by Bishops to perform the entire ceremony • The oil used was consecrated by the Bishop which symbolized his presence and his approval of the candidates • Cyprian of Carthage wrote that in danger of death catechumens could baptized and anointed by a priest but that if they recovered they should be brought to the Bishop for imposition of hands. • A council of Spanish Bishops at Elvira in 300 decreed that if a deacon baptized the candidate must go to the bishop to be perfected by laying on of hands • In Rome two post-baptismal anointings took place but only the bishop could perform the second

  12. A History of ConfirmationParallels & Precedents • Receiving the Holy Spirit - 4th -6thCenturies • Pope Innocent I (416) - Instructed that priests could anoint the baptized with consecrated chrism but that they were not to perform the rite of consignation with the chrism since only the bishops as successors of the apostles could give the Holy Spirit • Council of Orange 441, French bishops gave priests permission to anoint the people they baptized if the oil was blessed by a bishop • Three developments made a bishops presence more difficult • Christianity being made the official religion made the sheer number of baptisms unmanageable • Augustine’s teaching that Baptism was necessary to remit original sin made infant baptism explode • Missionary excursions to northern Europe to convert Barbarians were accompanied by few Bishops

  13. A History of ConfirmationParallels & Precedents • Receiving the Holy Spirit - 4th -6thCenturies • Gradually the post-baptismal anointing replaced the imposition of hands as the completion of baptism • Even in the east where no post-baptismal anointing originally occurred infants began to be chrismated after they were baptized • This chrismation is an anointing with the sign of the cross on the child’s forehead, eyes, nostrils, lips, ears, breast, hands and feet and with each consignation the priest administering the rite says, “The seal of the gift of the Holy Spirit.” • Though still administered in a unified ceremony baptism, chrismation and eucharist were accepted as separate sacraments

  14. A History of Confirmation • From Consignation to Confirmation • French Councils of Riez and Orange 439 and 441 first used the term confirmation • Gave the priest permission to anoint the children they baptized with chrism • Instructed the bishops to visit rural parishes on a regular basis to confirm these baptism by the imposition of hands • Bishop Faustus of Riez in 460 stressed the importance of this episcopal • It made those who received it more fully Christians • Holy Spirit gave new life in Baptism but in confirmation the Spirit gave additional strength needed in the battle against sin • Germanic Invasions Began

  15. A History of Confirmation • From Consignation to Confirmation • Spain and Italy • Isidore of Seville (600) - Wrote separately about Baptism and imposition of hands but allowed local priests to Baptize, anoint and give communion to children each year during Easter Vigil • Pope Gregory objected to the practice of priests in Sardinia anointing with chrism on the babies forehead but allowed it because it was so widespread • In Rome the rite of consignation was strictly reserved to the Bishop. When Rome sent missionaries to England in the 7th century the tradition went with them so few were ever consignated.

  16. A History of Confirmation • From Consignation to Confirmation - French • In 784 Charlemagne established the Franc Empire and sent to Rome for a sacramentary. Pope Hadrian sent him the Roman practice of episcopal consignation • During the 800s growing power of the French emperor and nobles threatened selection of bishops and taxation of church lands • By 850 the only changes allowed to the system were those which could be proven official church practices • Clerics decided to remedy the situation through forging a collection of church documents • A collection of letters and decrees from popes and councils, some authentic to add to the deception, some written by local priests but attributed to popes and bishops Compilation was attributed to Isidore the Bishop of Seville

  17. A History of Confirmation • From Consignation to Confirmation - French • Passages from a Pentecost sermon of Faustas were passed off as letters from Pope Urban in the 3rd century and a Pope Melchiades, who never existed. • “all the faithful must receive the Holy Spirit after Baptism through the imposition of the hand of the bishop so that they may become fully Christians.” • One attributed to Melchiades suggested that episcopal confirmation held greater dignity even than baptism. • The forgeries spread throughout Europe until between the 9th and 13th centuries the Roman custom of episcopal confirmation extended to all countries of Europe and the French explanation became the Catholic view.

  18. A History of Confirmation • William Durand, Bishop of Mende supervised the production o a new edition of the Roman liturgical books in the 13th century • The older rite called for individual imposition of the bishop’s hand on each of the candidates followed by an individual consignation with oil • Durand simplified the rite to a collective imposition or extension f hand over all the candidates • The older rite called for a kiss on the cheek, for babies this was often replaced with a caress • Durand further modified this to be a slap on the cheek to signify strength for the battle against sin • He felt this was more in line with the false decretals

  19. A History of Confirmation • The false decretals spread further • Francis Gratian and Peter Lombard in the 12th century • Accepted the decretals at face value for both canon law and theology • Lombard relied heavily on them to declare confirmation a sacrament • His listing of the seven sacraments was accepted as standard in 1274 by the Second Council of Lyons • Difficulties in the scholastic period • If confirmation is necessary, what about the many people who had died and never been confirmed? • It was not necessary for salvation otherwise those without it would be condemned to hell then what would be the purpose of Baptism? • What was the “matter” and “form” of the sacrament? Was it the imposition of a single hand or the extension of the bishop’s hand as in the Roman sacramentary? Was it the anointing with chrism?

  20. A History of Confirmation • Aquinas viewed confirmation as necessary for achieving spiritual perfection since holiness could not be attained without the help of the Holy Spirit • Scholastics decided that the essential “matter” of confirmation was the anointing with chrism. • The proper “form” was the formula the bishop pronounced as he anointed. • “I sign you with the sign of the cross, and I confirm you with the chrism of salvation, in the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.”

  21. A History of Confirmation • A problem of institution • Where is it instituted by Christ? • Bonaventure believed that the present sacrament had been instituted by the church under the guidance f the Holy Spirit • Alexander of Hales suggested that it had been inspired by the Holy Spirit at the Council of Meaux in the 9th century • Aquinas believed all sacraments had to be instituted by Christ • Some felt John 20:22 where Christ breathed on the apostles • Mark 10:13 Jesus resting his hand on the children • Aquinas suggested Christ instituted it through his promise not in its performance John 16:17

  22. A History of Confirmation • A problem of character • What was the sacramental character bestowed that made the sacraments reception limited to only once • Bonaventure suggested they were identical but applied to two different states of faith in their effect • Albert the Great and Alexander of Hales viewed the character of confirmation as a configuration to Christ the King, the Christian’s leader in spiritual battle • Aquinas saw sacramental character as a spiritual power oriented to perform certain actions; through Baptism Christians received the power to achieve salvation; through confirmation they received the power to attain spiritual perfection and to combat the enemies of faith • Some suggested that in baptism one received the Holy Spirit but in confirmation one received the gifts of the Holy Spirit

  23. A History of Confirmation • The problem of age • If confirmation was necessary for publicly professing and defending the faith, was it still necessary in infancy? • 13th century episcopal decrees urged confirmation by age two or three • Some imposed penalties on parents who neglected their duty • In an effort to enforce confirmation English bishops withheld Eucharist until after confirmation • Italian bishops suggested excommunication of priests who did not regularly remind parishioners of confirmation • Gradually the age moved upwards • 13th century bishops suggested the “age of discretion” • Council of Cologne (1280) set age of discretion at 7

  24. A History of Confirmation • The Theology of Confirmation was canonized by the Council of Florence (1439) • By confirmation Christians grow in grace and are strengthened in faith. • The matter is the anointing with chrism • The form is the words of the Bishop • The Bishop is the ordinary minister • Priests might be delegated to perform the rite provided the chrism used was blessed by the Bishop

  25. A History of Confirmation • Confirmation in Modern Times • In the middle ages confirmation was often neglected • Sacramental minimalization made the rite perfunctory • One Bishop performed confirmations as he rode by on horseback • Few could understand why it was necessary • Theologically it made no difference in a person’s ability to get to heaven • Morally it made no difference in a person’s life • Bishop’s often used confirmations as a shows of episcopal dignity and as a way to take up extra collections • Protestant reformers looked at what went on in confirmation and decided it was neither scriptural nor Christian

  26. A History of Confirmation • Confirmation in Modern Times • Protestant Reformation • A ruse to glorify bishops and line their pockets • It seemed to deny that the Holy Spirit was given in Baptism or that Baptism alone was not sufficient for salvation • The scholastic justifications were inept • Its institution by Christ could not be proven from the Bible • Anointing with chrism did not resemble the apostle’s laying on of hands in outward appearance or effect • Martin Luther - “I would allow confirmation as long as it was understood God knows nothing of it, that he said nothing about it, and that what the bishops claim for it is untrue.” (1522) • He however saw nothing wrong with children being prepared and confirmed in their knowledge of the faith at a later age (1533)

  27. A History of Confirmation • Confirmation in Modern Times • Protestant Reformation • In some dioceses it was customary to memorize the Our Father, Hail Mary, Apostle’s Creed and Ten Commandments prior to confirmation • John Calvin believed that in patristic times it was this education in the faith which gave confirmation its purpose • He found evidence of a catechumate that trained and educated those baptized in infancy • That in confirmation they were examined by the Bishop and made a profession of faith, approved by the laying on of hands • He found biblical evidence that a laying of hands was always preceded by a profession of faith • The Church of England which split due to political rather than theological reasons maintained confirmation before Eucharist

  28. A History of Confirmation • Confirmation in Modern Times • Council of Trent (1566) • Confirmation was not administered before the age of seven and no later than the age of twelve • Pope Benedict XIV - Reintroduced the individual imposition of hands by the bishop in the 18th century • In order to reestablish a symbolic continuity with the practice described in the New Testament, the revised rite instructed the bishop to lay his hands flat on the candidate’s head while signing the forehead with a thumb moistened with oil. • Pius X 1907 - Condemned modernists who claimed that there was no proof that the rite of confirmation was used by the apostles, and that a formal distinction between baptism and confirmation did not exist early.

  29. A History of Confirmation • Confirmation in Modern Times • The sacrament began to be given after Eucharist in the 1900s • First in France then in Belgium, Austria, and Hungary as part of the liturgical movement which viewed reception of Eucharist as integral to the mass rather than as an occasional sign of devotion • Pius X 1910 approved the practice, so that from then on communion was received prior to confirmation

  30. A History of Confirmation • Confirmation in the contemporary church • 20th century historical research uncovered the dubious foundations of the scholastic theology of confirmation • A sacrament in search of a Theology • 1920s Baptism gave a dynamic presence, Confirmation gave the indwelling of the Holy Spirit • 1930s - Ambrose’s idea of Baptism bringing the Holy Spirit, Confirmation bringing the seven gifts of the Spirit • 1940s & 50s - The sacrament of Catholic action making us soldiers of Christ • Historical investigations showed the unified ceremony of Christian initiation

  31. A History of Confirmation • Confirmation in the contemporary church • The sacrament again returned to the notion of being a completion or perfecting of Baptism • Become accepted Christian communities of family, parish, diocese and universal church represented by the Bishop • The spiritual character is the interior transformation that occurs when a person freely decides to be a member of the church and fully accepts what it means to be Christian. • Theologians pointed out that an initiation ritual of hand-laying or anointing could be traced back even to the apostolic church.

  32. A History of Confirmation • Confirmation in the contemporary church • Paul VI 1971 • Bishops are encouraged to give pastors in mission lands and priests who baptize adults the right to confer confirmation • The minister may extend his hands over all the candidates rather than over each individually • The signing with chrism is maintained but the words follow the eastern rite. “Be sealed with the Gift of the Holy Spirit.” • “Through the sacrament of confirmation, those who have been born anew in baptism receive the inexpressible Gift, the Holy Spirit himself, by which they are endowed with special strength. Moreover they are bound more intimately to the Church and they are more strictly obliged to spread and defend the faith both by word and deed as true witnesses of Christ.”

  33. A History of Confirmation • Confirmation in the contemporary church • Still the debate about age continues • The American Bishops 1972 agreed that children should be confirmed in early adolescence around the age of ten to twelve but age is left to the Bishops discretion • No uniform age • No uniform theology of the sacrament • Perhaps this is the way it is meant to be • Theologian Peter Fransen suggests that a pluralistic approach to confirmation has both historical and pastoral merit. • Confirmation presently adapts itself to the needs of the individual as John says, The Holy Spirit “blows where it wills”