Chrismation

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Chrismation is the name given in Eastern Orthodox, Oriental Orthodox and Eastern Catholic churches, as well as in the Assyrian Church of the East, Anglican, and in Lutheran initiation rites, to the Sacrament or Sacred Mystery more commonly known in the West as confirmation, although Italian normally uses cresima (chrismation), rather than confermazione (confirmation).

The term chrismation is used because of the chrism (perfumed holy oil, usually containing myrrh (μύρον), and consecrated by a bishop) with which the recipient of the sacrament is anointed, while the priest speaks the words sealing the initiate with the Gifts of the Holy Spirit.

Contents

Liturgical form

  • In the Eastern Orthodox Church and Byzantine Rite Catholic Churches, the priest seals the newly-baptized with chrism, making the sign of the cross on the forehead, eyes, ears, nostrils, breast, back, hands and feet using the following words each time:

Sacramental theology

Eastern Churches

In the Eastern Churches, i.e., the Assyrian Church of the East and the Eastern Orthodox, Oriental Orthodox, and Eastern Rite Catholic churches, this sacramental rite may be performed by a presbyter (priest), and is usually conferred immediately after baptism; therefore, it is usually received by infants. After receiving this sacrament, the recipient is eligible to receive the Eucharist. In addition, Chrismation may be used to admit those converts who have already been baptized according to a Trinitarian formula. In the Eastern tradition, chrismation shows the unity of the church through the bishop in the continuation of the Apostolic faith, because the chrism used is presented to the priest by the bishop and (together with the antimension) is the symbol of the priest's permission from the bishop to perform the sacraments (see faculty). Although priests in the Eastern churches are universally granted this faculty, it is thus still considered ultimately proper to the bishop and associated with his Apostolic office specifically, and not merely the priestly. Furthermore, because some of last year's chrism is mixed with the next year's, there is a tradition that the chrism is believed to contain a remnant of, or at least a connection to, the same chrism which was consecrated by the Apostles in the first century, and thus is a symbol of Apostolic succession. The Coptic Orthodox Church also witnesses the tradition that while the Apostles used to give Confirmation by the laying on of the hands, when they found they were not able to communicate such power they ordered to collect the 30 spices which were to be used to anoint Christ's body and they were mixed with oil. Saint Mark the Evangelist brought this Myron in Egypt and it was at the times of Athanasis new Myron or Chrism was made, mixed with the original one made by the Apostles, and since then Myron has been remade 28 times and distributed among the other Patriarchs. [1]

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