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 LITURGY OF CONFIRMATION
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-