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Rite of Confirmation

CONFIRMATION, RITE OF. The practice of confirming those who have been baptized is spoken of in Acts viii.12-17; xix.4-6. In the early Church it was administered by Bishops alone, and followed as immediately as possible after Baptism. Such is the custom of the Greek Church at the present day, but there the Office is not restricted to Bishops, as in the Western Church, confirmation being administered with chrism, an unguent consecrated by a Bishop. In the Western Church the Rite became gradually dissociated from Baptism, although it has never lost its primary signification as a confirming, or strengthening, by the Holy Ghost of those who have been baptized. It is now administered, as the rubric directs, to those who have arrived at "years of discretion," that is to say, to those who are old enough to understand the leading doctrines of the Christian Faith. The age at which Bishops of the Anglican Church will confirm children varies a little in the different dioceses, but 13 or 14 is the general age. The Rite of Confirmation forms one of the seven Sacraments of the Churches of Greece and Rome.

The Preface to the Service, inserted in 1661, is, in substance, the rubric of 1549. The Vow, at all times implied, was not explicitly inserted until 1661. The Versicles and Prayer are from ancient Offices. The form of words accompanying the Imposition of Hands dates from 1552. The Lord's Prayer was inserted in 1661, and the Collect following was composed in 1549. The second Collect is from the Communion Office. The concluding rubric, although making it a point of Church order that people should be confirmed before coming to Holy Communion, allows that in certain cases the privilege conferred by the Rite may be anticipated.