Even though in the west, the sacrament of confirmation is usually received by Catholics as teenagers, several years after making their first Holy Communion, the Roman Catholic Church considers confirmation to be the second of the three, with the sacrament of initiation (baptism being the first and Holy Communion the third). Confirmation is regarded as the perfection of baptism, because, as the introduction to the Rite of Confirmation states: by the sacrament of Confirmation, the baptized are more perfectly bound to the Church and are enriched with a special strength of the Holy Spirit. Hence they are, as true witnesses of Christ, more strictly obliged to spread and defend the faith by word and deed.

As against the thoughts of many who think of the laying on of hands, which signifies the descent of the Holy Spirit, as the central act in the sacrament of confirmation. The essential element, however, is the anointing of the confirmand (the person being confirmed) with chrism (an aromatic oil that has been consecrated by a bishop). The anointing is accompanied by the words “Be sealed with the Gift of the Holy Spirit” (or, in the Eastern Catholic Churches, “The seal of the gift of the Holy Spirit”). This seal is a consecration, representing the safeguarding by the Holy Spirit of the graces conferred on the Christian at baptism.

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