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The Early Church Fathers on the Sacrament of Confirmation.

 

  • Early Church Fathers
  • From the Scriptures

 

 

  1. St. Clement of Alexandria, (A.D. 150-220)
    Tertullian, (A.D. 160-218)
    St. Theophilus of Antioch, (unknown - A.D. c.186)
    St. Hippolytus of Rome, (A.D. 170-236)
    St. Serapion of Alexandria, (A.D. 190-211)
St. Clement of Alexandria, (A.D. 150-220), Greek; theologian, a scholar of Pantaenus, to whom he succeeded as head of the Catechetical School at Alexandria, Egypt. His writings display great acquaintance with the Gentile philosophy. He wrote with the express design of hiding the mysteries of the Christian religion from the Pagans, and the uninitiated, while at the same time, laboring to show the immense practical superiority of the Christian code of morals over that of every Pagan sect and system of philosophy.

Let us see, from the very nature of the Christian character, how great is, before God, the prerogative given to this mean and sordid substance (the flesh). To wit, the flesh is washed, that the soul may be made stainless. The flesh is anointed, that the soul may be consecrated. The flesh is sealed, that the soul may be fortified. The flesh is overshadowed by the imposition of hands, that the soul also may be illuminated by the Spirit. The flesh is fed with the body and blood of Christ, that the soul may be fattened of God."

De Resurrect. Carnis, n.8, page 330.
The Faith of Catholics, Volume 2, Page 134

Tertullian, (A.D. 160-218), North African; ecclesiastical writer, Christian apologist and lawyer, son of a centurion and contemporary of St. Irenæus, a native and citizen of Carthage. The zeal and ability with which he defended the Christian cause, and vindicated its faith and discipline, have immortalized his name, though it has suffered by his adoption, around the year A.D. 200, of some of the Montanist's errors, whose cause he is thought to have supported until his death. His works are numerous, and are written with great ability and erudition, but in an harsh style.

"After coming from the place of washing we are thoroughly anointed with a blessed unction, from the ancient discipline by which [those] in the priesthood . . . were accustomed to be anointed with a horn of oil, ever since Aaron was anointed by Moses. . . . So also with us, the unction runs on the body and profits us spiritually, in the same way that baptism itself is a corporal act by which we are plunged in water, while its effect is spiritual, in that we are freed from sins. After this, the hand is imposed for a blessing, invoking and inviting the Holy Spirit".

(Baptism 7:1—2, 8:1 [A.D. 203]

"No soul whatever is able to obtain salvation unless it has believed while it was in the flesh. Indeed, the flesh is the hinge of salvation. . . . The flesh, then, is washed [baptism] so that the soul may be made clean. The flesh is anointed so that the soul may be dedicated to holiness. The flesh is signed so that the soul may be fortified. The flesh is shaded by the imposition of hands [confirmation] so that the soul may be illuminated by the Spirit. The flesh feeds on the body and blood of Christ [the Eucharist] so that the soul too may feed on God. They cannot, then, be separated in their reward, when they are united in their works".

The Resurrection of the Dead 8:2—3 [A.D. 210]

St. Theophilus of Antioch, (unknown - A.D. c.186), Patriarch of Antioch, born pagan but embraced Christianity by studying the Holy Scriptures, especially the prophetical books. Wrote against idols, made contributions to Christian literature, polemics, exegetics, and apologetics.

"Are you unwilling to be anointed with the oil of God? It is on this account that we are called Christians: because we are anointed with the oil of God".

To Autolycus 1:12 [A.D. 181]

St. Hippolytus of Rome, (A.D. 170-236), Roman; bishop and martyr, probably a scholar of St. Irenæus of Lyons.

"The bishop, imposing his hand on them, shall make an invocation, saying, ‘O Lord God, who made them worthy of the remission of sins through the Holy Spirit's washing unto rebirth, send into them your grace so that they may serve you according to your will, for there is glory to you, to the Father and the Son with the Holy Spirit, in the holy Church, both now and through the ages of ages. Amen.' Then, pouring the consecrated oil into his hand and imposing it on the head of the baptized, he shall say, ‘I anoint you with holy oil in the Lord, the Father Almighty, and Christ Jesus and the Holy Spirit.' Signing them on the forehead, he shall kiss them and say, ‘The Lord be with you.' He that has been signed shall say, ‘And with your spirit.' Thus shall he do to each".

The Apostolic Tradition 21—22 [A.D. 215]

St. Serapion of Alexandria, eighth bishop of Antioch, (A.D. 190-211), known principally through his theological writings.

[Prayer for blessing the holy chrism:] "God of powers, aid of every soul that turns to you and comes under your powerful hand in your only-begotten. We beseech you, that through your divine and invisible power of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, you may effect in this chrism a divine and heavenly operation, so that those baptized and anointed in the tracing with it of the sign of the saving cross of the only-begotten . . . as if reborn and renewed through the bath of regeneration, may be made participants in the gift of the Holy Spirit and, confirmed by this seal, may remain firm and immovable, unharmed and inviolate"

The Sacramentary of Serapion 25:1 [A.D. 350]

 

 

Baptism, the Eucharist, and the sacrament of Confirmation together constitute the "sacraments of Christian initiation," whose unity must be safeguarded.

 

It must be explained to the faithful that the reception of the sacrament of Confirmation is necessary for the completion of baptismal grace. For by the sacrament of Confirmation,
[the baptized] are more perfectly bound to the Church and are enriched with a special strength of the Holy Spirit. Hence they are, as true witnesses of Christ, more strictly obliged to spread and defend the faith by word and deed.

 

 


The Church's Scriptures that support Confirmation:


Soloman's Prayer for Wisdom

17 Who has learned thy counsel, unless thou hast given wisdom and sent thy holy Spirit from on high?

Wisdom 9:17

The Coming of the Holy Spirit

1 When the day of Pentecost had come, they were all together in one place. 2 And suddenly a sound came from Heaven like the rush of a mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting. 3 And there appeared to them tongues as of fire, distributed and resting on each one of them. 4 And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance.

Acts 2:1-4

Philip Preaches in Samaria

14 Now when the apostles at Jerusalem heard that Samaria had received the word of God, they sent to them Peter and John, 15 who came down and prayed for them that they might receive the Holy Spirit; 16 for it had not yet fallen on any of them, but they had only been baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. 17 Then they laid their hands on them and they received the Holy Spirit.

 

Acts 8:14-17

Paul in Ephesus

1 While Apollos was at Corinth, Paul passed through the upper country and came to Ephesus. There he found some disciples. 2 And he said to them, "Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?" And they said, "No, we have never even heard that there is a Holy Spirit." 3 And he said, "Into what then were you baptized?" They said, "Into John's baptism." 4 And Paul said, "John baptized with the baptism of repentance, telling the people to believe in the one who was to come after him, that is, Jesus." 5 On hearing this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. 6 And when Paul had laid his hands upon them, the Holy Spirit came on them; and they spoke with tongues and prophesied.

Acts 19:1-6

The Postponement of Paul's Visit

21 But it is God who establishes us with you in Christ, and has commissioned us; 22 he has put his seal upon us and given us his Spirit in our hearts as a guarantee. 23 But I call God to witness against me — it was to spare you that I refrained from coming to Corinth. 24 Not that we lord it over your faith; we work with you for your joy, for you stand firm in your faith.

 

2 Corinthians 1:21-24

Spiritual Blessings in Christ

13 In him you also, who have heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and have believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit, 14 who is the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it, to the praise of his glory.

 

Ephesians 1:13-14

The Peril of Falling Away

1 Therefore let us leave the elementary doctrine of Christ and go on to maturity, not laying again a foundation of repentance from dead works and of faith toward God, 2 with instruction about ablutions, the laying on of hands, the resurrection of the dead, and eternal judgment. 3 And this we will do if God permits. 4 For it is impossible to restore again to repentance those who have once been enlightened, who have tasted the heavenly gift, and have become partakers of the Holy Spirit.

 

Hebrews 6:1-4

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