The books of the Ancient Testament tell us that, in the old days, the kings of Israel were anointed with olive oil, a ritual that consecrated them to the service of the people of God.  These kings were then called « messiahs » (in Hebrew) or « christs » (in Greek), which simply means « he who has received the anointment ».

The Apostles gave this title to Jesus, since he replaced the ancient kings.  He had come to proclaim and inaugurate a new Kingdom: the Kingdom of God, a Kingdom of « righteousness and peace and joy » (Rom 14,17). Jesus is Christ.

Along with Jesus, all his disciples are called to proclaim and build around them the kingdom of God, a Kingdom of « righteousness and peace and joy ».  If Jesus bears the name of Christ, we bear the name of Christian.

Also, from the first centuries of the Church, we started to join to the baptism with water, a second motion: anointment with olive oil.  This anointment, we call it confirmation, or chrismation.  The olive oil, consecrated by the bishop, is called the Holy Chrism.  Please note how these words – Christian, chrismation, Chrism – all start like the word ‘Christ’.  They want to emphasize our deep relationship with the Christ, Jesus.

In Eastern Orthodox churches, they still anoint littlle children during their baptism: they are confirmed immediately after the baptism.

But in the Roman Catholic Church, the practice has dissociated these two sacraments over time; so that today, confirmation is celebrated later in life.  But its meaning doesn’t change; if in baptism, I discover my identity in Jesus, in confirmation I discover my mission: make justice, peace and joy grow around me.

“Confirmation, like all sacraments, is not the work of man, but of God, who takes care of our life by modeling us in the image of his Son, so make us able to love like him.” (Pope Francis)

Each diocese has developed its own traditions surrounding this sacrament.

In the Archdiocese of Gatineau, those who were baptized at a young age are invited to present themselves for confirmation after age 16.  The great majority of confirmants (candidates for confirmation) have waited until they were adults to do it.  Many have discovered that confirmation is required in order to become a godparent during a baptism, or to celebrate the sacrament of marriage: thus, they demand to receive confirmation at that moment.

Whatever the situation, the Christian community that is celebrating confirmation wants to give all their care to the new confirmants by praying for them, helping them fully understand the meaning of their action, by preparing for them a significant and jouyous celebration, and by supporting them as they get involved with Jesus in his mission.


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