This treatise is divided into four chapters : 1. definition and effects of Confirmation; 2. matter and form of Confirmation ; 3. the minister and the subject of Confirmation ; 4. the ceremonies of Confirmation.
CHAPTER I. DEFINITION AND EFFECTS OF CONFIRMATION
573. Definition. Confirmation is a sacrament instituted by Christ whereby the Holy Ghost is given to those baptized by the imposition of hands, the anointing with chrism, and a set form of words, in order that they may boldly profess their Faith in word and deed.
The effects of this sacrament. By divine law this sacrament has three effects (viz. a character, an increase of sanctifying grace, sacramental grace), by Ecclesiastical law one effect (viz. spiritual relationship, which is no longer treated as an impediment to marriage). Consequently by divine law the sacrament of Confirmation produces :
1. an indelible character, which establishes and marks out the recipient as a good soldier ready to fight courageously in dangers to Faith, and to lead a life in accordance with the precepts of Faith ;
2. an increase of sanctifying grace and, especially, of the gifts of the Holy Ghost ;
3. sacramental grace given for the exercise of special courage against the internal and external foes of the Faith.
574. Although it is certain that the sacrament was instituted by Christ, the exact moment is uncertain. Some think that He instituted it at the Last Supper after the institution of the Eucharist, others think that it was instituted after His Resurrection.
CHAPTER II. THE MATTER AND FORM OF CONFIRMATION
575. The remote matter of Confirmation is sacred chrism, i.e. an unguent made from olive oil and balsam and specially blessed by the bishop for the purpose of Confirmation.
A special blessing is required, and therefore the use of the oil of the sick or the oil of catechumens, although blessed by the bishop, would probably render the sacrament invalid.
576. The proximate matter of Confirmation is the anointing with this chrism performed on the forehead of die recipient in the form of a cross which is done by the direct use of the hands (and not through the means of some instrument). This is the rite observed in the Latin Church ; there are some differences in the rite followed in the Greek Churches, but these are purely accidental.
577. The form used in Confirmation in the Latin Church consists in these words : “ Signo tc signo crucis et confirmo te chrismate salutis in nomine Patris et Filii et Spiritus Sancti.” The form used in the Greek Church is : “ Signaculum doni Spiritus Sancti.”
CHAPTER III. THE MINISTER AND THE SUBJECT OF CONFIRMATION
578. 1. The ordinary minister of Confirmation is the bishop ; the extraordinary minister is a priest properly delegated either by common law or by special Apostolic indult (c. 782). The bishop may administer the sacrament of Confirmation in his own territory even to persons who are not his subjects ; in the diocese of another bishop he may not confirm without at least the reasonably presumed permission of that bishop, unless he confirms his own subjects privately and without using crozier or mitre (c. 783).— The bishop is under a grave obligation to provide an opportunity for his subjects to receive Confirmation at least within every five years (c. 785) ; but he has no strict obligation to administer the sacrament to a dying person who asks to receive it, since the sacrament is not absolutely necessary for that person.
A priest has no power to confer the sacrament without delegation from the Holy See which may be granted in die form of a special indult (as, for instance, when the local Ordinary is infirm) or by common law. By common law the power of confirming belongs to Cardinals, Abbots and Prelates nullius, Vicars and Prefects Apostolic (c. 702, § 3). but these may only administer the sacrament validly within the confines of their own territory and during the term of their office. All priests of the Oriental rite have a tacit and habitual delegation to administer the sacrament but only to the faithful of their own rite. Each time that a priest of the Latin rite administers this sacrament he must expressly point out in the vernacular beforehand that he is the minister of the sacrament in virtue of a special delegation. A new Instruction was issued by the S. Congregation of the Sacraments on the feast of Pentecost, 1934, regarding the ceremonies to be observed by priests administering Confirmation (Act. Ap. Sed. xxvii, II sqq.).
579. 2. The subject of Confirmation is any baptized person who has not yet been confirmed. With the exception of certain countries like Spain and Latin America, it is not customary at present to administer Confirmation to children until about the seventh year of age. Nevertheless the sacrament can be conferred even before this age if the child is in danger of death or if the minister considers it expedient for just and grave reasons (c. 788). Adults must have the intention of receiving the sacrament and also the state of grace, since Confirmation is a sacrament of the living. It is recommended that the person to be confirmed should be fasting and receive Holy Communion.
580. Confirmation is not a necessary means of salvation and it is probable danger to salvation. Parish priests are urged to see that the faithful approach the sacrament at a suitable time and with a fitting preparation (c. 787).
*Parish priests are empowered as from January 1st, 1947. to administer the Sacrament of Confirmation in certain circumstances to those in danger of death from grave sickness, (S C. do S.icr., 14 September, 1946)-
that there is no grave precept commanding its reception. Therefore no grievous sin is committed if a person does not receive the sacrament, provided there is no scandal, no contempt, and no special
CHAPTER IV. THE CEREMONIES OF CONFIRMATION
581. The ceremonies prescribed in the Pontifical must be observed ; this is a grave obligation so far as those ceremonies are concerned which relate either certainly or probably to the validity of Confirmation, such as the anointing on the forehead in the form of a cross.
Normally speaking, the sacrament should be administered with all the solemn rites prescribed in the Pontifical, but for a reasonable cause the bishop may confer the sacrament vested in a stole alone in any becoming place at any time. Neither the striking with the hand nor holding the candle are of grave obligation. The recipient may, but need not, assume a new name.
582. Sponsors. There is a grave obligation enjoining the presence of a sponsor, as at Baptism — at least if this is possible. The same sponsor should present only one or two subjects, but for a just reason the minister can allow one sponsor to present several to be confirmed (c- 794).
For valid sponsorship the same five conditions are required as for the sponsors at Baptism, cf. n. 570. Moreover he himself must have been confirmed (c. 795).
For lawful sponsorship the same five conditions are necessary as for the sponsors at Baptism ( mutatis mutandis). Moreover the sponsor should be other than the sponsor at Baptism unless the minister for a reasonable cause judge otherwise, or unless Confirmation is legitimately conferred immediately after Baptism ; in addition the sponsor should be of the same sex as the subject presented, unless for a reasonable cause the minister permits otherwise (c. 796). Spiritual relationship ensues from Confirmation between subject and sponsor, whereby the sponsor must see to the Christian education of the godchild and must have a perpetual care for him, but this relationship is no longer an impediment to marriage (cc. 797. 1079, 1335)-
583. Records. The administration of Confirmation must be entered in a special register as in the case of Baptism ; moreover it must be entered into the baptismal register (c. 798). If the proper parish priest of the subject confirmed was not present at the Confirmation, he must be notified as soon as possible (c. 799). Thus, for example, if Confirmation was administered in a boys’ college, the minister of Confirmation must ordain that the respective parish priests be notified of the Confirmation of the boys.