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204 • Part II. The Sacraments: The Faith Celebrated

the sacrament of Confirmation, which in a certain way perpetuates the

grace of Pentecost in the Church” (CCC, no. 1288, citing Pope Paul VI,

Divinae Consortium Naturae

, no. 659).

By the second century, Confirmation was also conferred by anoint-

ing with holy oil, which came to be called sacred Chrism. “This anoint-

ing highlights the name ‘Christian,’ which means ‘anointed’ and derives

from that of Christ himself whom God ‘anointed with the Holy Spirit’”

(CCC, no. 1289, citing Acts 10:38).


The signs, symbols, ritual acts, and words of the liturgy speak to us

of the meaning of a Sacrament and of what Christ enacts in the event

through his ministers and the disposition of the candidate. With this in

mind, we reflect on the following elements of Confirmation: the anoint-

ing with sacred Chrism, the recipient, the essential rite, the ministers, and

the effects of the Sacrament.

The Anointing with Sacred Chrism

The post-baptismal anointing with sacred chrism in

Confirmation . . . is the sign of consecration. . . . those

who are anointed, share more completely in the mission

of Jesus Christ.

—CCC, no. 1294

In or near Holy Week, the bishop consecrates the sacred Chrism during

the course of the ChrismMass. It is used to anoint the newly baptized, to

confer the Sacrament of Confirmation, and to anoint bishops and priests

during the celebration of the Sacrament of Holy Orders.

Anointing with oil has many meanings such as cleansing as part of a

bath, limbering up the muscles of athletes, and healing the wounds of the

sick. Two other sacramental celebrations make use of blessed oil: “The

pre-baptismal anointing with the oil of catechumens signifies cleansing

and strengthening; the anointing of the sick expresses healing and com-