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Keywords:

  • confirmation;
  • sacrament;
  • chrismation;
  • ordinary minister;
  • grace;
  • holy spirit;
  • bishop

Abstract

In response to accusations leveled against the integrity of confirmation as a distinct sacrament, the author searches magisterial documents for a theology of confirmation. Two main theological explanations of the sacrament are explored: the ecclesial significance of the bishop's office as the original minister of confirmation; and the grace of the sacrament – that is, the gifts and Gift of the Holy Spirit. This grace is characterized as both defensive and offensive, from the perspective of defending the faith of the individual and the Church, and sharing in Christ's mission to evangelize the world. In a final section, the author addresses several popular but mistaken or one-sided approaches to explaining confirmation that have had negative pastoral consequences in recent decades.