Confirmation

Liturgy We Live
By Dr. Gil Haas

Confirmation is described in Acts when apostles invoked the Spirit while laying on hands upon the newly baptized. Later, bishops mirrored these actions at confirmation by anointing with oil in the sign of the cross, laying on hands, and invoking the Spirit. Initially, confirmation immediately followed baptism. Because bishops performed confirmations, baptism and confirmation became chronologically separated when bishops’ enlarging jurisdictions made them unavailable for every baptism. In this paradigm, a bishop’s confirmation completed or “confirmed” a priest’s baptism. The Anglican Thirty-nine Articles of Religion (BCP, p 872) state that confirmation is “...not to be counted for Sacraments of the Gospel” although Anglicans regard confirmation as a reaffirmation of baptismal vows. The Council of Trent (1566) decreed that seven to twelve years of age was appropriate for timing confirmation. An earlier age was suggested by those believing that confirmation was a gift of the Spirit, while a later age was suggested by those believing that confirmation affirmed personal conviction. Some Episcopal dioceses believe that adult commitments performed in any denomination should be recognized as confirmation. Other dioceses (including ours) believe that persons confirmed in Catholic or Orthodox churches can be received while others should be confirmed.