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Confirmation

The Sacrament of Confirmation is actually the completion and perfection of the Sacrament of Baptism, and that is why Confirmation immediately follows Baptism in the Armenian Church. In the Roman Catholic Church it comes much later. Someone has this to say about Confirmation: “A royal seal validating, as well as confirming Holy Baptism, just as Amen validates and confirms the Creed.” By Baptism a new principle of spiritual life is given to the neophyte; by Confirmation he is endowed by all the gifts of the Holy Spirit which are necessary for the growth and progress of that life. By Baptism a new road is opened for the Christian; by Confirmation he is strengthened for this long course of spiritual conflicts in the Christian warfare as a soldier in the army of Christ.

The biblical expression for Confirmation is “laying on of hands,” as it is described in the book of the Acts of the Apostles (Chapters 8 and 19). It is always accompanied by the receiving of the Holy Spirit. “When they (Samaritans) believed . . . they were baptized” by Philip the deacon. “When the apostles at Jerusalem heard that (people at) Samaria had received the word of God, they sent to them Peter and John, who came down and prayed for them that they might receive the Holy Spirit, for it had not yet fallen on any of them, but they had only been baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. Then they laid their hands on them and they received the Holy Spirit” (Acts 8 : 12-17). “On hearing this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. And when Paul had laid his hands upon them, they Holy Spirit came on them” (Acts 19 : 5-6). Therefore it is the sacrament through which we receive the Holy Spirit.

In the Armenian language the name of the sacrament of Confirmation is “GUNOUNK” which means “Sealing,” referring to the spiritual fact that by Confirmation we are sealed as possessions of God. “He (God) has put His seal upon us and given us His spirit in our hearts as a guarantee” (2 Cor. 1 : 22). A Christian character is given to us by this sealing.

The chief sacramental act at the Confirmation is the anointing of the various members of the body of the baptized with the sanctified oil called Chrism, hence the name of “Chrismation” given to this sacrament. This oil is called “Sweet Oil” in Armenian or “Miuron.” Holy Miuron is blessed only by the Catholicos, the head of the Armenian Church, and distributed freely to all churches. Holy Miuron is made of olive oil and of the essence of some forty kinds of flowers and other sweet smelling herbs as ingredients.

Confirmation being the completion and fulfillment of the Baptism, there is a close connection and similarity of natures between these two sacraments; therefore separate administration of the sacraments, which is the common practice in the West, is not justifiable. The practice of the early Church was to administer them together.

Like Baptism, Confirmation also is not repeatable. All those who desire to become members of the Armenian Church, and who are not confirmed in their former church, must be anointed before their formal admittance into the membership of our Church.

After the unction the child is dressed. As the last and crowning act of the sacrament the priest ties around the neck of the child a cord made of white and red colored strings. It is symbolic of the blood and water which came out from the side of Christ on the cross, and signifies purity and courage. That string combines the meanings of Baptism and Confirmation. By Baptism, as we have said, the baptized is purified, and through Confirmation he is given the grace of spiritual fortitude, making him a Christian soldier to fight against the powers of the Evil which beset the Christian in the course of his life.

Then the child is taken to the altar to worship God. There Holy Communion is given to him by touching his lips with a particle of reserved sacrament. Thus, almost all the necessary Sacraments for salvation, Penance, Baptism, Confirmation and Communion are administered in one continuous act of making a person a member of the Christian Church.

 
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