Enter your email address to receive updates by email:

subscribe in a reader like my facebook page follow me on twitter Image Map
Podcast Message Line: 512-222-3389
Logos Catholic Bible Software

« Secret Projects Update | Main | Lenten Penance Suggestions »

January 12, 2007



I was born prematurely, and both baptized and confirmed because of fears I wouldn't survive.

More importantly, the Eastern Churches chrismate adult converts who have already been baptized without penance because 1) chrismation (confirmation) is actually the sacrament which normally gives you the right to other sacraments such as 2) penance but also 3) the East sees it as a continuation of baptism so that 4) it continues and fulfills the graces of baptism even if it is not in an ordinary situation.


The sacraments are like Tonka trucks...

Jimmy, that is one of the best catechetical analogies I have ever heard! I burst out laughing when I read it. Thank God for His mercy in making such durable sacraments for mental toddlers like me!


As a Byzantine Rite Catholic who was baptized and confirmed at the age of 30 days, I appreciate the information about the practices of the Eastern Church. Actually, there is no difference between the Latin Rite and the East, merely a difference in emphasis. The Eastern Church confirms immediately after baptism because one never knows when the child will need the gifts of the Holy Spirit. As one comment indicates, the Latin Rite confirms "early" if there is a danger of death.

As for the requirement of canon law that the person confirmed be in a state of grace, the Eastern practice conforms to that as well. The person has just been baptized, and baptism eliminates actual as well as original sin. And if we are talking about a baby, the concept of actual sin does not apply anyway.


Now I'm confused.

When asked why Catholics baptize their babies, when the babies can't possibly make a conscious decision of accepting Christ and joining a church, I always told my Protestant peers, that our baptism was different than theirs. I had two Christian Education teachers (I studied at a Baptist school) who told us not to criticize Catholic infant baptism because it had a different meaning than their baptism - so everybody believed me on that point, good. Then I would tell anybody who was asking me, that for saying "yes" to Christ, we had Confirmation.

Hey, I was just repeating what I had heard from some people, including a catechist. But if infants can be Confirmed - and infants can't consciously accept the faith - then obviously I got the meaning of Confirmation wrong. So, what is Confirmation?

Also, I made First Reconciliation before First Communion, Confirmation (although I did have to Confess before getting Confirmed). This is the order I got my sacraments: Baptism (as an infant) - Reconciliation (right before First Communion) - Communion (as a 8-year-old child) - Confirmation (as a teenager). I bet that's how most cradle Catholics get them, too. Boy am I confused now.

Tim J.

Nutcrazical -

As a new Catholic, I believed and taught the same thing - that Confirmation was to say "yes" to your faith and take responsibility for growing in the faith.

And it IS... but those are fringe benefits and not the main point of the sacrament of Confirmation.

Confirmation is the completion or the perfecting of Baptismal grace. The grace of Baptism is more toward the cleansing of sin and bringing us into the family of God - in other words, salvation.

Confirmation is oriented toward strengthening us for ministry and for living out the faith of our Baptism. This does not require conscious assent any more than Baptism does.

The way we do things in the U.S., Confirmation DOES offer an opportunity to say "yes" to our faith (because we confirm so late), but that is not a necessary part of the sacrament. We certainly SHOULD (if we are confirmed past the age of reason) affirm the faith as our own.

So, as much as I liked the analogy of Confirmation being like a Catholic Bar Mitzfah (as I used to call it), it really isn't. At its core, it is not about "coming of age" or "owning your faith".

Personally, I would prefer Confirmation right after Baptism, but what do I know?


Nutcrazical -

Consider the following verses from Acts 8:

14 ¶ Now, when the apostles, who were in Jerusalem, had heard that Samaria had received the word of God, they sent unto them Peter and John.
15 Who, when they were come, prayed for them that they might receive the Holy Ghost.
16 For he was not as yet come upon any of them: but they were only baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus.
17 Then they laid their hands upon them: and they received the Holy Ghost.



That's one thing that confuses me about the book of Acts. Didn't they receive the Holy Spirit when they were baptized?


Didn't they receive the Holy Spirit when they were baptized?

Well, tell me first who is the they that you're referring to here, then, I might be able to answer.

As the above passage from Acts 8 demonstrates, the folks there were already baptized but they didn't receive the Holy Ghost until the Apostles laid their hands on them, which speaks to the Sacrament of Confirmation.

Tim J.

"That's one thing that confuses me about the book of Acts. Didn't they receive the Holy Spirit when they were baptized?"

That's quite significant, really. Both the Bible and Church teaching make clear that receiving the Holy Spirit is not a once-for-all event. We receive Him in different ways and at different times, for various purposes.


Tim J.,

Thank you for your comment. I understand your point, however I do not understand verses such as Acts 8:16 quoted by Esau above which imply that the Holy Spirit wasn't received _at all_ at Baptism.

Tim J.

Well, Jeff, I would say from the text that the people in question in Acts 8 had only been baptized in the name of Jesus, and so had not followed the form of the sacrament of Baptism, but rather an adapted form of the baptism of John.

Their hearts were in the right place - and they probably did as well as they knew how, based on hearsay - but in fact they had not yet received the sacrament of Christian Baptism. The Church still teaches that for Baptism to be valid, the person must be baptized in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit (or Holy Ghost, as some denominations prefer) as per the teaching of Jesus.


Actually, Tim J., for the first time, I'd have to disagree with you here, where you had suggested that in Acts 8, it may have been a form of the baptism of John and that they probably had not received the sacrament of Christian baptism.

The program Sacraments Through the Ages with Fr. Charles Connor talked about this way back when it was previously shown on EWTN.

In terms of the passage in Acts 8, here's one good explanation:

The apostles administered the sacrament of confirmation, by imposition of hands, and prayer; and the faithful thereby received the Holy Ghost.

Not but they had received the grace of the Holy Ghost at their baptism: yet not that plenitude of grace and those spiritual gifts which they afterwards received from bishops in the sacrament of confirmation, which strengthened them to profess their faith publicly.

In any case, the Spirit is conferred through members of the Twelve (Peter and John) or their representative (Paul). This may be Luke's way of describing the role of the church in the bestowal of the Spirit.


Tim J.:

Actually, I think your previous remark was one way to explain it:

Both the Bible and Church teaching make clear that receiving the Holy Spirit is not a once-for-all event.


Actually, Tim J., I think you actually hit on it from another angle by your earlier comment:

Confirmation is the completion or the perfecting of Baptismal grace.


Apologies for all the redundant actuallys, my robot got damaged in all the posting.


I got to go with Esau on this one. In ancient usage, the "Name" meant the "Person". Baptism "in the Name of Jesus" meant Baptism "into the Person of Jesus"; i.e., the Body of Christ. Philip could baptize the Samaritans, but not confirm them, because he was a deacon(not to be confused, as he often is, with Philip the Apostle).


Thanks, bill912!

I could have paraphrased what Fr. Connor said on that EWTN program, but I was trying to obtain an exact quote in order to preserve every nuance of what he said. I still have to find it.

At any rate, when somebody is baptized in Jesus’ name or by the authority of Jesus Christ, it actually meant the baptism in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

In terms of John’s baptism, it was indeed a baptism of repentance as Acts 19:4 says; however, John’s baptism was not a valid baptism for us in the New Covenant. Tim J. was correct as far as this goes.

As Luke 1:77 tells us, his baptism was a preparation “to show us the way of Salvation”. It was to prepare for the Baptism of Jesus Christ and in Acts 19 you find that when Apollos was at Corinth, Paul passed through and came there and found some disciples and said to them, “Did they receive the Holy Spirit since they believed?” And they said, “No, we haven’t even heard if there is a Holy Spirit.” “Well, then, what baptism were you baptized?” They said, “John’s baptism.” And then Paul says, “John baptized with the baptism of repentance, telling the people to believe in the one who is to come after him.”

On hearing this, they had to be re-baptized or baptized properly in the name of the Lord Jesus. This didn't happen in Acts 8, though; nobody was re-baptized; we had, instead, the imposition of the hands.


...the Imposition of the hands, as in the Sacrament of Confirmation, that is.

Tim J.

"Actually, Tim J., for the first time, I'd have to disagree with you here"

What? Disagree? With ME? Don't you know who I am? I am Charles Foster KANE!!!

I'm just wingin' it here, guys. You are probably correct. At any rate, receiving the Holy Spirit at Baptism does not mean we don't need to receive Him again in Confirmation.

And, since I see now that there is no mention of these people being re-baptized, they probably had already received sacramental Baptism.

I concede.

That's what I get for firing off a post on my way out the door. Wifey and I actually had a date. Thai food. Actually very good. More than we could eat, actually.

Actually, this is just getting ridiculous.



You did not discuss reception into an Eastern Church as a baptized adult. You are not rebaptized (well, sometimes some Orthodox do that). You are just confirmed/chrismated. There is no confession before, because -- again, confession is only allowed (as with marriage, communion) after chrismation: with full entry into the church.

Pope Pius X with his moving back first communion before confirmation, which must be considered possible, nonetheless has caused all kinds of confusion as to what confirmation/chrismation is about.

As people have pointed out, it is not about "saying yes" to Christ. We do that daily in our life and our actions. It is a sacrament, it is a work of God, in our lives; it is the end of baptism with the full graces of baptism -- full admission into the church with its rights and responsibilities.


I think the confusion about the meaning of the Sacrament of Confirmation, besides Pope St. Pius X's setting the age of First Communion before Confirmation, also has to do with the modern meaning of the word "confirmation." Nowadays we think of it as in, "I 'confirm' that the promises made in my name at my Baptism are now my own", when in fact the Latin term "confirmatio", whence we derive the name of the sacrament, was used in the sense of "a strengthening", i.e., the sacramental infusion of the gifts of the Holy Spirit.


That certainly is another aspect towards the confusion we have with this sacrament. Language evolves and sometimes creates no connotations to old words, like this.

However, I think St Pius X, while he had good intentions and reasons for doing what he did (seeing how children used to recieve in times past) just didn't impliment the full restoration needed in order to make this transformation complete.

There is considerable amount of talk of making confirmation earlier in order to meet out with this change and I would approve it it (being Eastern). Indeed, I think because of this reception of communion before confirmation, a dispensation in my eyes, many people have treated confirmation as unimportant and many people don't get confirmed, thinking it is just an unncessary extra.


The sacraments are like Tonka trucks--they're hard to break--

Except for the sacrament of marriage. That one seems just about impossible to get right these days.

Roamin' Roman

While we're on the subject of confirmation/baptism... (and apologies if this is inapprpriate JA, if so please delete) I am a new Director of Faith Formation at a parish, and am now trying to overhaul the parish library.

One topical area that we are sorely lacking in is books dealing in particular with Baptism/Confirmation/sacraments of initiation (we do have tons of good books on the Eucharist though), and this is something that is sorely misunderstood by most Catholics, and Christians in general, today I feel. I often get questions from parents and students about what Baptism is, and do we *really* need it, and what if one doesn't get it with/without their fault, and why, why, why...? I answer as best I can, and refer them to the Catechism, but it would be great to locate a specific book or two that could be an accessible resource for them.

Now that I have had this mission in mind the last few weeks of obtaining good books on these two sacraments in particular, I'm coming up completely dry!! There just doesn't seem to be anything suitable out there - there are general books on the sacraments, and books on the Holy Spirit... And there are books going over almost every other individual sacrament and its effects (maybe not many for Anointing of the Sick I guess), but there do not seem to be any books on these two sacraments for the average lay person to pick up and learn from. I'm thinking of just placing little cards on that empty shelf of the library with the Catechism reference numbers. :)

Can anyone out there help us out with some suggestions? Is there really this vast a hole in the Catholic book industry?


Re: baptism and confirmation

You receive the Holy Spirit in both. It is by the Holy Spirit that one receives the sanctifying grace in baptism of the removal of original sin -- whether such baptism is administered today, or by John the Baptist. There is only one baptism for the forgiveness of sins. There is not a John's baptism and a baptism from and for everyone else.

Although one receives certain sanctifying graces by and through the Holy Spirit at baptism, one does not receive all of the sactifying graces. It is only by the sacrament of Confirmation, initiated at Pentecost, that the process is completed. One of the graces received at Confirmation is the grace to remain steadfast in the faith. Remember what happened at Pentecost -- only a short time before, the Apostles abandoned Jesus and ran away and hid, fearful of the authorities. After Pentecost -- after their Confirmation -- they received the graces to be able to go out to preach the gospel and convert nations without fear, even at the point of martyrdom.



One additional comment that might put any troubled minds to rest. Once you receive forgiveness for your sins through Confession, all the grace that you would have received at the celebration of the sacrament is given. The state of mortal sin makes one unable to receive the grace of the sacrament at that time but the grace will come once reconciliation with God and the Church occurs.

Dr. Eric

Bold Off!

Tim J.

Bender -

There is no evidence, that I know of, that John's baptism was equivalent to sacramental Christian Baptism. John's baptism was an outward sign of an interior change of heart - but the baptism itself was not a channel of grace as the sacrament of Baptism is. It was not for cleansing from sin, but for a sign of repentance.

John the Baptist did not administer sacramental Christian Baptism. God may have blessed people through John's baptism, but that is not the same thing as receiving the Holy Spirit.

The comments to this entry are closed.

January 2012

Sun Mon Tue Wed Thu Fri Sat
1 2 3 4 5 6 7
8 9 10 11 12 13 14
15 16 17 18 19 20 21
22 23 24 25 26 27 28
29 30 31