Confirmation: Patristic Texts

Tertullian, On Baptism 7-8 (c. 200)

"Then having gone up from the bath we are anointed with a blessed anointing of ancient discipline, by which people were accustomed to be anointed for priesthood, by oil from a horn from which Aaron was anointed by Moses [Ex 30:22-30]. For this reason we were called "christs" ("anointed ones") from "chrism," which is the ointment which lends its name to the Lord. It was made spiritual because the Lord was anointed with the Spirit by God the Father, as it says in Acts: 'For they were gathered together in that city against your holy Son whom you have anointed [Acts 4:27].' Thus also the anointing flows on us physically, but benefits spiritually, as the physical act of baptism (that we are immersed in water) has a spiritual effect (that we are free from transgressions). Next, calling and inviting the Holy Spirit, the hand is imposed for the blessing."

Hippolytus, Apostolic Tradition 21-22 (c. 215)

"The neophytes are anointed by the presbyter from the oil consecrated by the bishop. He says, 'I anoint you with holy oil in the name of Jesus Christ.' And thus, drying themselves, the individuals are vested, and afterwards are brought in the church.

"But the bishop, imposing his hand on them, prays by saying, 'Lord God, who made them worthy to merit the forgiveness of sins by the bath of rebirth of the Holy Spirit, send your grace onto them, that they may serve you according to your will. For to you is the glory, to the Father and to the Son with the Holy Spirit in the Holy Church, both now and for ever. Amen.'

"Afterwards, pouring the consecrated oil from his hand and imposing it on the neophyte's head, let him say, 'I anoint you with holy oil in the Lord, the Father Almighty, and Christ Jesus, and the Holy Spirit.'

"And consigning the neophyte on the forehead, let him offer the kiss and say, 'The Lord be with you.'"

Origen (d. 253), Homily on Leviticus 9

"And don't be surprised that this sanctuary is reserved for priests alone. For all whoever have been anointed with the oil of sacred chrism have become priests, as also Peter says to the whole Church: 'You are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation' (1 Pet 2:9). Therefore you are a 'priestly people,' and on that account you approach holy things."

Basil the Great, On the Holy Spirit 15, 35 (c. 375)

(Basil argues that some practices come to us from traditions, not from specific writings. He illustrates with the details of the baptismal ritual.)

"We also bless the water of baptism, the oil of anointing, and even the baptized themselves. By virtue of what writings? Is it not by virtue of the protected, secret, and hidden tradition? Indeed! Even the oil of anointing, what written word has taught about that? The triple immersion, from where does it come? And everything that surrounds baptism: the renunciation of Satan and his angels-from what Scripture does that come?

"Is it not from that teaching held private and secret, which our fathers kept in silence, protected from anxiety and curiosity, knowing well that in keeping quiet one safeguards the sacred character of the mysteries? For how would it be reasonable to divulge by writing the instruction, that which is not permitted to the uninitiated to contemplate?"

Augustine, Sermon 227, 1 (c. 420)

"Baptism and water have come. You have been penetrated, as it were, so that you may come to the form of bread. But it is not yet bread without fire. What therefore does fire represent? It is chrism. For the oil of our fire is the sacrament of the Holy Spirit."


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