Confirmation, like Baptism and Eucharist, is one of the Sacraments of Initiation as they all share a commonality of welcoming, gathering, initiating & sending out.
The Catechism of the Catholic Church, # 1285, says that confirmation is “ …necessary for the completion of baptism. For 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 wore and deed.”
From the earliest days of the Church the “laying on of hands” and “anointings” were done (Acts 6:6 – 1 Tim 4:4). This action was believed to convey the Spirit (as at Pentecost). The earliest communities experienced what it believed to be the spirit of God and understood itself to be guided and empowered by that spirit. It was, also, used for delegating responsibility and authority in the community. Many manifestations came as a result of the coming of the Spirit upon a person and the end result, like baptism, was that lives were affected, were changed. It was experienced.
It was an action so closely tied with baptism that in the Early Church there was not a differentiation. One went in the waters, came out and was “sealed” with the gift of the Holy Spirit by being anointed with a special oil. This “sealing” “confirmed” the baptism. Typically done by the bishop.
Our theology teaches that Confirmation brings an increase and deepening of the baptismal grace and offers a “strength” to spread and defend the faith. It, also, units and brings us into a full communion with the Church.
Over time the gift became understood as “gifts” of the Spirit. St. Ambrose stated, “recall that you have received the spiritual seal, the spirit of wisdom and understanding, of right judgment and courage, of knowledge and reverence, of holy fear in God’s presence.” Isaiah 11:2-3, “The spirit of the Lord shall rest upon him” (speaking of the rule of Immanuel) “a spirit of wisdom and of understanding, a spirit of counsel and of strength, a spirit of knowledge and of fear of the Lord.”
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