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THCT202 Christian Symbol Ritual and Sacrament

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As  I  was  working  on  this  chapter,  I  heard  a  report  on  National  Public  Radio about elections in Lebanon, which quoted an unnamed Western diplomat: “If you think you understand Lebanese politics, it obviously hasn’t been explained to you properly.”  Many  people  feel  that  something  similar  could  be  said  about  the sacrament  of  confirmation.  Explaining  it  properly  is  no  simple  task,  and  the explanation  may  still  leave  us  with  less  than  a  full  understanding  of  this sacrament.One  short  statement  from  the  Second  Vatican  Council’s  Constitution  on  the Sacred Liturgy, however, provides us the key to understanding confirmation: “The rite  of  confirmation  is  to  be  revised  also  so  that  the  intimate  connection  of  this sacrament with the whole of Christian initiation may be shown more clearly” (no.71).

This  sacrament  has  had  a  difficult  life.  Through  the  centuries  people  in  the church have used it to serve many different needs. These uses are so different from one another that it is easy to understand why the meaning of this sacrament is a conundrum for many people today.Picking  up  different  books  and  listening  to  different  speakers  describe  this sacrament  makes  one  wonder  if  they  are  all  talking  about  the  same  sacrament. Some people see confirmation as a “sacrament of Christian maturity.” Others see it as simply the completion of baptism. Some stress the Christian commitment the sacrament requires. Others emphasize the free gift of the Holy Spirit. Some argue that  it  must  be  celebrated  only  in  late  teen  or  early  adult  years;  still  others contend that it is best celebrated with baptism, even in infancy. For some people it  is  the  beginning  of  a  lifetime  of  Christian  living;  for  others  it  is  the  final capstone of parish religious education. Some say it makes Christians into soldiers of Christ; others, into missionaries of the Gospel; still others, into servants of the world.  
 
And  different  writers  combine  several  of  these,  giving  them  varying degrees of importance Paul  Turner,  in  his  excellent  study  entitled  Confirmation:  The  Baby  in  Solomon’s Court  (Paulist  Press,  1993),  has  described  no  fewer  than  seven  different  ritual patterns  in  use  in  various  churches  today,  all  called  confirmation.  He  sees  these seven  as  deriving  ultimately  from  three  different  models  in  antiquity:  the completion  of  the  rite  of  baptism,  the  reconciliation  of  heretics baptismal anointing deferred until some time after baptism.

A  look  at  church  history  reveals  the  context  for  these  three  ancient  roots  of confirmation. Evidence from the early days of the church is very limited. Scripture scholars  tell  us  that  despite  various  hints  about  the  role  of  the  Holy  Spirit  in  the lives of Christians, the New Testament gives us no real evidence for any rite that we  would  recognize  as  confirmation.  For  several  centuries  after  the  New Testament period, Christians would have been very puzzled if we had asked them about the sacrament of confirmation. What we have come to know as a separate sacrament  was  for  them  simply  a  part  of  the  rite  of  baptism,  the  celebration  of initiation by which a person became a Christian.

The celebration of initiation varied from place to place and from time to time,so it would take a large book to describe it in detail in all its variations in these centuries.  Instead,  we  will  examine  here  a  typical  outline  of  elements  that  can give  us  a  sense  of  the  experience.  Such  a  rite,  normally  celebrated  at  the  Easter Vigil,  would  begin  with  the  candidates  for  initiation  leaving  the  assembly  of  the faithful to go to the baptistery, often a separate building near the entrance to the church.  Once  there,  they  would  renounce  Satan,  perhaps  facing  the  west  and spitting  at  him;  then  facing  the  east,  they  would  commit  themselves  to  Christ.

At this point the candidates would return to the full assembly, where the bishop was  waiting  with  the  faithful.  Greeted  with  acclamations,  they  would  then  be anointed  with  chrism  by  the  bishop  and  greeted  with  the  kiss  of  peace.  Now members  of  the  faithful,  they  would  join  the  full  assembly  for  the  celebration  of the Easter Eucharist. This anointing by the bishop after the baptismal bath is the ancient root of what we know as confirmation.As  this  description  of  initiation  suggests,  this  anointing  was  a  brief  part  of  a much larger rite.

As  long  as  dioceses  were  small  and  the  bishop  always  presided  at  Easter initiations, there was no problem. But when that was no longer possible due to the increasing  size  of  the  church,  the  question  arose  about  what  to  do  with  that portion of initiation when the bishop was not present. In the East the decision was made  that  whoever  presided  at  the  Easter  rites  would  do  the  anointing.  Thus among  Eastern  churches,  the  anointing  or  chrismation  is,  to  this  day,  celebrated immediately after the water bath of baptism, whether the initiate is an adult or an infant.

As  this  happened,  First  Communion  was  often  also  delayed,  since  it  was properly  received  only  after  confirmation.  At  the  beginning  of  the  20th  century, Pope  Pius  X  lowered  the  age  for  First  Communion  to  seven  to  encourage  more frequent  Communion,  and  confirmation  was  left  hanging,  as  it  were,  in  midair, now fully removed from the initiation celebration in most people’s minds.So the first of Turner’s historical models was an anointing that was clearly part of baptism. The deferral of that anointing until later, eventually many years after baptism, is seen as a separate model because it lost its roots in initiation and came to be seen as a sacrament of Christian maturity.
 
Explain why we sometimes call confirmation a sacrament with a confused theology. Include historical and theological reasons to support your answer. In spite of the confusion, describe at least one way in which the sacrament’s theology can be understood and celebrated coherently? 

THCT202 Christian Symbol Ritual and Sacrament

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Tellus molestie nunc non blandit massa enim nec dui. Tellus molestie nunc non blandit massa enim nec dui. Ac tortor vitae purus faucibus ornare suspendisse sed nisi. Pharetra et ultrices neque ornare aenean euismod. Pretium viverra suspendisse potenti nullam ac tortor vitae. Morbi quis commodo odio aenean sed. At consectetur lorem donec massa sapien faucibus et. Nisi quis eleifend quam adipiscing vitae proin sagittis nisl rhoncus. Duis at tellus at urna condimentum mattis pellentesque. Vivamus at augue eget arcu dictum varius duis at. Justo donec enim diam vulputate ut. Blandit libero volutpat sed cras ornare arcu. Ac felis donec et odio pellentesque diam volutpat commodo. Convallis a cras semper auctor neque. Tempus iaculis urna id volutpat lacus. Tortor consequat id porta nibh.

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Hac habitasse platea dictumst vestibulum rhoncus est pellentesque. Amet dictum sit amet justo donec enim diam vulputate ut. Neque convallis a cras semper auctor neque vitae. Elit at imperdiet dui accumsan. Nisl condimentum id venenatis a condimentum vitae sapien pellentesque. Imperdiet massa tincidunt nunc pulvinar sapien et ligula. Malesuada fames ac turpis egestas maecenas pharetra convallis posuere. Et ultrices neque ornare aenean euismod. Suscipit tellus mauris a diam maecenas sed enim. Potenti nullam ac tortor vitae purus faucibus ornare. Morbi tristique senectus et netus et malesuada. Morbi tristique senectus et netus et malesuada. Tellus pellentesque eu tincidunt tortor aliquam. Sit amet purus gravida quis blandit. Nec feugiat in fermentum posuere urna. Vel orci porta non pulvinar neque laoreet suspendisse interdum. Ultricies tristique nulla aliquet enim tortor at auctor urna. Orci sagittis eu volutpat odio facilisis mauris sit amet.

Tellus molestie nunc non blandit massa enim nec dui. Tellus molestie nunc non blandit massa enim nec dui. Ac tortor vitae purus faucibus ornare suspendisse sed nisi. Pharetra et ultrices neque ornare aenean euismod. Pretium viverra suspendisse potenti nullam ac tortor vitae. Morbi quis commodo odio aenean sed. At consectetur lorem donec massa sapien faucibus et. Nisi quis eleifend quam adipiscing vitae proin sagittis nisl rhoncus. Duis at tellus at urna condimentum mattis pellentesque. Vivamus at augue eget arcu dictum varius duis at. Justo donec enim diam vulputate ut. Blandit libero volutpat sed cras ornare arcu. Ac felis donec et odio pellentesque diam volutpat commodo. Convallis a cras semper auctor neque. Tempus iaculis urna id volutpat lacus. Tortor consequat id porta nibh.

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