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4. Administration of the Rite of Confirmation

Antiquities of the Christian Church
XV. Of Confirmation

4. Administration of the Rite of Confirmation

Four principal ceremonies were employed in the rites of confirmation, namely; imposition of hands, unction, with the chrism, sign of the cross, and prayer.

  1. Imposition of hands. This rite is derived from the New Testament: it was used in various religious solemnities, and is still retained in the christian church. For an account of the different opinions which were entertained respecting this rite; and of the mode of administering it, see references in the index. 
  2. Unction. This, as has been already remarked, was denominated chrism, in distinction from the unction which was administered before baptism. Origen and Tertullian speak expressly of this rite. In the Apostolical Constitutions it is styled the confirmation of our confession, and the seal of the covenants. A prayer is also given, which was offered on the occasion. Cyril of Jerusalem gives full instructions respecting the administration of chrism. From his time it came into general use in the church.

    The material used for this chrism was usually olive-oil. Sometimes perfumed ointment, compounded of various ingredients, was used. The chrism was consecrated by prayer, exorcism, and insufflation. It was applied, in the Eastern church, to various parts of the body, to the forehead, ears, nose, eyes, breast, etc. In the Western church it appears to have been applied only to the forehead.

  3. Sign of the cross. This was affixed by applying the chrism in such a manner as to represent a cross. This was thought to be a very important and expressive emblem, the sealing rite, which gave to confirmation the name of *, a seal. 
  4. Prayer and mode of confirmation. In the Greek church one uniform mode of confirmation has been observed from the beginning, as follows: "The seal of the gift of the Holy Ghost. Amen." Besides this implied prayer, one more at length is supposed to have been offered. In the Latin church, the form has varied at different times. The most ancient form ran thus: "The seal of Christ to eternal life." The modern form, in the Roman Catholic church, is as follows. "Signo te signo crucis, et confirrao te chrismale salutis in nomine Pa ✝ tris et Fi ✝ lii, et Spiritus ✝ Sancti. Amen."

Other formalities were: the salutation, "Peace be with you;" a slight blow upon the cheek, to admonish the candidate of the duty of patience under injuries; unbinding of the band upon the forehead; prayer and singing; the benediction of the bishop, together with a short exhortation from him.

Ed. Martene. De Antiq. Eccl. Rit. lib. i. c. 2. art. 4: Assemani Cod. Liturg. Eccl. Univers. lib. iii.

Lib. iil. c. 17: vii. c. 22. 44. 45.

Catech. Mystag. 3.

Innocent. Ep.l. ad Decent, c. 3: Martin Brucharen. c. 52: Cone. Constant, i. c. 7.

(* denotes Greek text in Rev. Lyman Coleman's translation.)


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