The Catechism of St. Thomas Aquinas


The second Sacrament is Confirmation. The matter of this Sacrament is chrism made from oil, which signifies the bright lustre of conscience, and from balsam, which signifies the odor of a good name; both of which are blessed by the bishop. The form of this Sacrament is: “I sign thee with the sign of the cross, and I confirm thee with the chrism of salvation, in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. Amen.”[18] The minister of this Sacrament is solely the bishop.[19] It is not licit for a priest to anoint on the forehead with chrism those who are to be confirmed.[20]


The effect of Confirmation is that the Holy Spirit is imparted to give strength, just as He was given to the Apostles on the day of Pentecost. Thus, the Christian must boldly confess the name of Christ. The one who is confirmed is anointed on the forehead wherein is the seat of fear; so that he will not blush to confess either the name of Christ or especially the cross of Christ, which to the Jews was a scandal and to the pagans foolishness. For this reason he is signed with the sign of the cross.


Certain of the Greeks erred concerning this Sacrament in saying that it could be administered by one who is only a priest. Against this it is said that the Apostles sent the Apostles Peter and John to impose hands upon those who had been baptized by Philip the deacon, and they received the Holy Spirit. Now, the bishops of the Church are in the places of the Apostles, and in their place also do they impose hands when the Sacrament of Confirmation is administered.


18. “Amen” is omitted in the Roman Pontifical.

19. The ordinary minister of Confirmation in the Latin Church is the bishop. In virtue of canon 782, # 3, only Abbots, Prelates Nullius, vicars and Prefects Apostolic can confer this Sacrament validly and only within the confines of their own territory and during their term of office. Cardinals can confirm validly anywhere.

20. A priest of the Latin Rite who has a special indult granted by the Holy See may confirm Catholics of his own rite only, unless it is otherwise stated (Canon 782, # 4).

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