RCIA 215-216: Celebration of Confirmation

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After baptism and the “explanatory” rites follows the celebration of confirmation:

215. In accord with the ancient practice followed in the Roman liturgy, adults are not to be baptized without receiving confirmation immediately afterward, unless some serious reason stands in the way. The conjunction of the two celebrations signifies the unity of the paschal mystery, the close link between the mission of the Son and the outpouring of the Holy Spirit, and the connection between the two sacraments through which the Son and the Holy Spirit come with the Father to those who are baptized.

Why confirm after baptism? It’s Trinitarian.

216. Accordingly, confirmation is conferred after the explanatory rites of baptism, the anointing after baptism (RCIA 228) being omitted.

So the loose end from RCIA 214 is tied up. I wouldn’t have added it, except as an appendix to this whole section.

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About catholicsensibility

Todd and his family live in Ames, Iowa. He serves a Catholic parish of both Iowa State students and town residents.
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3 Responses to RCIA 215-216: Celebration of Confirmation

  1. Jim McK says:

    Todd, I hope I am not getting tedious with this. my apologies if this is so.

    There are two different ways of understanding an anointing with chrism. The first is hebraic, where it was tied to the offices of prophet priest and king; the second is more hellenic, where anointing was only used in more prosaic settings like athletics or makeup. The two anointings reflect these two meanings, with the baptismal recalling the hebraic while confirmation is about ‘strengthening’ for athletic contests or battle.

    Simply deleting the baptismal anointing, and using only confirmation, leaves out any reference to the messianic tradition in adult initiation. Perhaps this is conveyed well enough in teaching about baptism, but the meaning is native to the anointing and more visible there.

    I guess I am just saying, when initiating adults, remember what is explained by the “explanatory rite” of anointing with chrism, even though it will not be used.

  2. Todd says:

    Jim,

    No bother at all, my friend. My sense is that anointing of the sick aligns with your hellenic sense, and confirmation more with the former.

    Adopting confirmation as a sacrament of strengthening (possibly as a response to the perceived “weakness” of childhood or immaturity) would be a later interpretation of the practice of reserving the rite to the bishop–when he would come to town.

    I wouldn’t say it’s impossible for the Holy Spirit to decide in the second Christian millennium that it was time to augment the original meaning of Confirmation. And in fact, some of the readings for the Rite of Confirmation suggest a certain strengthening of the Lord’s anointed (cf Isaiah 61) although I think they could be equally interpreted as the strength of character called for in a leader or a king.

    I don’t know if the “sacrament in search of a theology” will ever be settled in my lifetime. My only suggestion would be to look at all the Scriptures suggested for the celebration, as well as the prayers to get the two aspects of Divine Revelation–Scripture and Tradition–and to discern the path from there.

  3. Jim McK says:

    In some ways, I have been looking for the sources of Confirmation over the last 39 years, albeit haphazardly and sporadically. I write here because I am interested in what liturgists think about some of the issues involved, but I am interested in the meaning conveyed which extends beyond the rites themselves.

    Sometimes it is hard to convey some tightly wound information. The hellenic/hebraic distinction I made highlights something in a far more complicated picture. The two strains are related — being oiled for strength in battle is related to being anointed as the messianic battle leader. And there are other strains, like funeral anointings, which are related to anointing a sick person.

    One other caveat about what I wrote earlier. Both the hellenic and hebraic strains I described are present in St Paul He talks about being prepared for athletic contests probably as much as he talks about the ‘prophet, priest and king’ character of christians. Maybe more. Christianity is where the hellenic and the hebraic mix together; the divergence of these two strains initiation has deeper implications about fidelity to that meeting.

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