Confirmation, it's indelible mark and trent

I do not understand how it is possible to accept the council of Trent when one of it’s canons explicitly states that:

CANON IX.-If any one saith, that, in the three sacraments, Baptism, to wit, Confirmation, and Order, there is not imprinted in the soul a character, that is, a certain spiritual and indelible Sign, on account of which they cannot be repeated; let him be anathema.

I would like to call attention to confirmation alone, as I believe there is ample proof in patristics for Baptism and Orders providing an indelible mark.

as far as I can tell there is ABSOLUTELY, UNEQUIVOCALLY, DEFINITIVELY no evidence at all WHAT SO EVER in the first 1000 years of Christianity of this teaching in regards to confirmation AT ALL. not even a single quote for anyone. in fact the opposite is demonstrated in abundance. There are canons, and rites and I believe quotes that all speak about or mandate re-chrismation.

This seems to be Proof that the council of Trent is guilty of a COMPLETE AND TOTAL innovation. What can be said?

note: Please do not interpret the Caps or bold font as aggressiveness, it is only meant to underline the extent of my understanding

First, I have never seen any canon, rite, or early quote that mandates the repetition of the Sacrament of Confirmation for someone. Can you post some so that we may see them in context?

Second, be careful not to see every instance where holy oil is used as the Sacrament of Confirmation. In the Latin Rite, chrismation is different from Confirmation. A christmation with holy oil happens at baptism in both East and West but only in the East does this baptismal chrismation constitute the Sacrament of Confirmation. Also, some of the re-chrismations you are referring to may be the reconfirming of heretics. Even today, if a confirmed Lutheran converts to Catholicism, he is confirmed in the Catholic Church, because his former confirmation is invalid. Perhaps a similar situation is involved in some of the re-chrismations you are referring to.

Third, I don’t think everything in Catholic dogma has to be explicitly asserted by the surviving documents of the first 1000 years of history in order to be handed on as dogmatic. Some of it may be implicit.

Fourth, and this is related to #3, evidence that something was taught in later periods of Church History is evidence that it was taught in earlier periods of Church History, because the Church does not innovate. Therefore, if something is taught by the Church in 1200 A.D., that is evidence that it was taught before 1200 A.D. What do you think of that argument?

Fifth, I have never looked up the Sacrament of Confirmation in the early Church Fathers, but I have looked it up in the New Testament, and I think there is evidence of its special character in the New Testament. Consequently, it should not be repeated. Perhaps further examples of Church Fathers can be looked up where they talk about its special character.

What if a person goes to his confirmation with doubts about the state of his soul. Can it get confirmation again?

There are several examples that could be applied as you say to heretics, or those not genuinely Confirmed to begin with. among them would be the council of Constantinople, it’s very last canon I believe. There are quote from Augustine regarding the imposition of hands, and others that speak of Chrismating Heretics. Again though, I think given the texts (I can try to find them later on if need be) and the way the are structured, one could possibly interpret them as you say (i.e. to mean heretics that were not confirmed to begin with).

However there is rubric from Patriarch Methodius I of constantinople that states that the Lapsed (People that left Christianity), and in this context there can be no room for doubt (i.e. that they were Legitimately chrismated, then left the faith and are now coming back.) These people are anointed with oils again. There were several manuscripts of this and the earlier ones mention anointing the person like after baptism, and the later ones add that the words “be sealed with the holy spirit” are to be spoken during the anointing. Furthermore, there exists a fragment from this very same Methodius the I that states even certain Christian heretics are to be Chrismated again.

As the earlier cases could be interpreted either way, It seems to me that this should be the lens through which to view the other aforementioned cases.

Once again, I apologize, But I can’t put the quotes up right now, but if you do a google search you should be able to find them. If need be I should be able to find them and post them when I have the time to locate them.

In regards to a comment made about a person in doubts about the state of his soul, I am not exactly sure if I am understanding correctly, but I believe you are alluding to an invalid sacrament. If the person being confirmed says in their heart and believes " this is all nonsense, and I don’t believe it, Im just doing it for the heck of it." Then I believe the sacrament was invalid. In such a case, performing the service again would not constitute re-chrismation, but rather performing it for the first time, because the first service was not valid. But I think this is not especially relevant, to the main topic.

Finally to the points that i did not address.I can see your point in regards to something being discovered as taugh only in lets say the year 1200, then stating that this constitutes a type of proof that it existed previously. I don’t how strong an argument that is, I suppose it would depend on the exact circumstance. In this circumstance, however we have two conflicting ideas, once which was supported at an earlier date, the other which was not.

Comments?

Thomas Aquinas, well before the Council of Trent, in Summa Theologica, Third Part, Question 72 Article 5, says about whether a character is imprinted in Confirmation:
I answer that, As stated above (Q[63], A[2]), a character is a spiritual power ordained to certain sacred actions. Now it has been said above (A[1]; Q[65], A[1]) that, just as Baptism is a spiritual regeneration unto Christian life, so also is Confirmation a certain spiritual growth bringing man to perfect spiritual age. But it is evident, from a comparison with the life of the body, that the action which is proper to man immediately after birth, is different from the action which is proper to him when he has come to perfect age. And therefore by the sacrament of Confirmation man is given a spiritual power in respect of sacred actions other than those in respect of which he receives power in Baptism. For in Baptism he receives power to do those things which pertain to his own salvation, forasmuch as he lives to himself: whereas in Confirmation he receives power to do those things which pertain to the spiritual combat with the enemies of the Faith. This is evident from the example of the apostles, who, before they received the fulness of the Holy Ghost, were in the “upper room . . . persevering . . . in prayer” (Acts 1:13,14); whereas afterwards they went out and feared not to confess their faith in public, even in the face of the enemies of the Christian Faith. And therefore it is evident that a character is imprinted in the sacrament of Confirmation.
(the objections were not listed above, but may be viewed at: ccel.org/ccel/aquinas/summa.TP_Q72_A5.html
Reply to Objection 1: All have to wage the spiritual combat with our invisible enemies. But to fight against visible foes, viz. against the persecutors of the Faith, by confessing Christ’s name, belongs to the confirmed, who have already come spiritually to the age of virility, according to 1 Jn. 2:14: “I write unto you, young men, because you are strong, and the word of God abideth in you, and you have overcome the wicked one.” And therefore the character of Confirmation is a distinctive sign, not between unbelievers and believers, but between those who are grown up spiritually and those of whom it is written: “As new-born babes” (1 Pet. 2:2).

Reply to Objection 2: All the sacraments are protestations of faith. Therefore just as he who is baptized receives the power of testifying to his faith by receiving the other sacraments; so he who is confirmed receives the power of publicly confessing his faith by words, as it were “ex officio.”

Reply to Objection 3: The sacraments of the Old Law are called “justice of the flesh” (Heb. 9:10) because, to wit, they wrought nothing inwardly. Consequently in circumcision a character was imprinted in the body only, but not in the soul. But in Confirmation, since it is a sacrament of the New Law, a spiritual character is imprinted at the same time, together with the bodily

It should be noted that the Councils do not give “arguments” in their canons, only the decree. The Letter of the First Council in Jerusalem did not detail the argument with Peter and Paul in their theological debate, but gave only the ruling. And without the book of Acts, we would have been none the wiser to why the Council sent that letter.

Yes, the Second Ecumenical Council’s text can be accessed here: newadvent.org/fathers/3808.htm and its final canon reads, in part, “Those who from heresy turn to orthodoxy, and to the portion of those who are being saved, we receive according to the following method and custom… [T]hey are first sealed or anointed with the holy oil upon the forehead, eyes, nostrils, mouth, and ears; and when we seal them, we say, The Seal of the gift of the Holy Ghost.” This is what the Church still does today, though I think the phrase “The seal of…” now says, “Be sealed with…” or something to that effect.

There are quote from Augustine regarding the imposition of hands, and others that speak of Chrismating Heretics. Again though, I think given the texts (I can try to find them later on if need be) and the way the are structured, one could possibly interpret them as you say (i.e. to mean heretics that were not confirmed to begin with).

That is what I would expect.

However there is rubric from Patriarch Methodius I of constantinople that states that the Lapsed (People that left Christianity), and in this context there can be no room for doubt (i.e. that they were Legitimately chrismated, then left the faith and are now coming back.) These people are anointed with oils again.

I googled Methodius on chrismation, and I found a Wikipedia article that quotes him as saying: “If a child…is in apostasy…let him be [baptized and]…anointed with Chrism.” And: “If…one who is of age has renounced his impending torment…then let him be [baptized] and anointed with Chrism according to the accepted Rite.”

Both of these quotations confuse me, but not quite for the reason you gave. First, in neither case is it exactly clear that he is talking about lapsi. “a child…in apostasy” may be a child who lapsed, or a child raised by a non-Christian. “one who…has renounced his impending torment” is also not a clear description of a lapsed Christian. It looks to me like a word is missing, and it ought to say “one who…has renounced under his impending torment.” That would be a clear description of a lapsed Christian. I wonder if the person who typed this into Wikipedia made a typo, and I would like to see the original document this comes from.

Another thing confuses me: if these passages are talking about lapsed Christians, why does the text say they should be rebaptized? I bracketed the words it uses to describe baptism and replaced them with the word “baptized.” The original words in the first sentence (according to Wikipedia) are: “let him be washed. Upon leaving the bath, [let him be] girded with a linen cloth.” That sounds like baptism to me. The original words in the second sentence are just “let him be washed.” Therefore, if this is talking about lapsed Christians, Methodius would seem to be calling for their rebaptism and reconfirmation. But I doubt he would call for that, so I would like to see the context to see if I am mistaken.

Wikipedia says these quotes come from “[The] Great Book of Needs, pp 113–114.” I’m not familiar with this book, so I googled it. I found a copy of a book with a similar title at CCEL. Turning to pages 113-114, I found them in a chapter about how to prepare holy oil for the Sacrament of Chrismation. So far, so good. But those pages don’t mention those quotes: ccel.org/ccel/shann/needs.iv.xv.html (scroll to pages 113-114)

I also don’t see anything from Methodius in that chapter or in the nearby ones. I tried searching in other sites, but so far have nothing. So, I have no context to help me understand the remarks that are attributed to him, or to see if he was even correctly quoted. Wikipedia’s quotations of him use a lot of ellipses and unusual phrases like “let him be washed” instead of “let him be baptized,” and it makes me think he may be being misquoted. I would need to find a more complete translation to know what he said and what its context was. If you have more data on what Methodius said, please post it.

There were several manuscripts of this and the earlier ones mention anointing the person like after baptism, and the later ones add that the words “be sealed with the holy spirit” are to be spoken during the anointing. Furthermore, there exists a fragment from this very same Methodius the I that states even certain Christian heretics are to be Chrismated again.

I think the possibility is remote, but perhaps in his diocese the baptismal Chrismation was not the same as the Sacrament of Confirmation, like we do in the Latin Rite. If that was true, he would have reason to command the Confirmation of converts to the Church from heresy, and of lapsed Christians who lapsed before being confirmed. Anyway, I am still unsure of what he even said, let alone what he might have meant by it. Please provide quotes if you get the chance.

As the earlier cases could be interpreted either way, It seems to me that this should be the lens through which to view the other aforementioned cases.

Do you mean the ones about heretics being confirmed? Since that is not incompatible with Catholic practice, and in fact we still do it today, I don’t see why you would hold the interpretation of those canons to be in question.

After my initial reply, I got out my copy of Jurgens’ Faith of the Early Fathers. He quotes St. Ephraim the Syrian and St. Cyril of Jerusalem to show that the early Fathers believed the Sacrament of Confirmation applies a special character to the soul.

St. Ephraim said: “The oil is a friend of the Holy Spirit, and His servant. … By means of the oil, the Holy Spirit impresses His seal upon the sheep; like a signet pressed in wax, He impresses His seal. So also the invisible seal of the Spirit is impressed on our bodies with the oil with which we are anointed in Baptism, whereby we bear His seal.” (On Oil and the Olive, aka. On Virginity)

St. Cyril of Jerusalem said: “[T]he Lord in enlisting souls examines their dispositions. … [W]hoever is found worthy, to him He readily gives His grace. … [W]here he perceives a good conscience, there He gives the wondrous and salvific seal, at which demons tremble and which angels recognize. Thus are the former put to flight, while the latter gather about it, as something pertaining to themselves. They, then, who receive this spiritual and saving seal require also the dispositions pertaining to it. … [A]ccept [it] and…having received it, guard it religiously.” (Catechetical Lectures 1 Paragraphs 3-4)

See also St. Cyril’s Catechetical Lectures 21, which is about the Sacrament of Confirmation. I think it so closely connects it to Baptism that the conclusion must immediately be drawn that it cannot be repeated, though I don’t think he states this explicitly.

The above-quoted language from the Fathers, about Confirmation imparting a special seal that angels flock to , also seems to imply that it cannot be repeated. Otherwise, this language would encourage people to receive that Sacrament as much as possible.

I’ll will try to write more later if I can. I was unaware of the quote from St. Ephreme. Unfortunately it does not state that the seal is indelible. I’m going on a long car ride and will try to respond once more tonight if I have time, But were it possible to find evidence of the INDELIBLE mark of CONFIRMATION/CHRISMATION, that would be the smoking gun so to speak.

in regard to the summa, that someone had mentioned, This was post schism, the question is whether texts exist for this pre-schism…

once again no disrespect intended with the caps lock.

That quote is taking Mor Ephrem out of context because I’m sure he would not subscribe to an idea of indelible remark - just like a wax seal can be be pressed with a signet, so too, after the wax has hardened the seal can be broken if the one who formed the seal wants it broken. The East did not have a concept of indelible mark until it was imported from the Latin Church.

I’m confused as to why, though, this is in the Eastern Catholic forum.

In his Catechetical Lectures, St. Cyril prays, “may He fill you with the heavenly things of the New Covenant, and give you the seal of the Holy Spirit indelible throughout all ages.” He also says that in Baptism Christians get “a holy indissoluble seal.” (both quotes in the Prologue to the Catechetical Lectures) Therefore, I don’t think the Latin Church exported the idea to the East.

Are you not going to include Luke, in Acts, where the apostles confirmed those baptized with the Laying on of Hands as an authority? and that such was refused to Simon the Magician?
Defining something as an “indelible mark” is, like the concept of “trinity”, known implicitly even when the term is not yet defined explicitly.

Well a canon from Ephesus prescribes confirmation for those being received from heretical sects. That included the Arians whose rites were identical to those of the the Church. I would think that would settle the issue regardless of a couple of quotes that may well be out of context or poorly translated.

I have this gut feeling that there is something amiss in this whole conversation. It was stated

This seems to be Proof that the council of Trent is guilty of a COMPLETE AND TOTAL innovation

Now, as Catholics we swear to believe in the Holy Catholic Church, we are subject to the Pope and the Canons, and we swear to believe in the Holy Spirit. In other words, to us it is impossible that the Council of Trent would “innovate”. Councils have always and only codified what was always implicitly present and known. To even write the phrase quoted above would be impossible to an informed Catholic.

I don’t know if it’s fair to say that St. Ephreme was taken out of context, because I don’t think that the poster necessarily stated that he was talking about an indelible seal. But I may be mistaken.

In regards to the St. Cyril, I believe he is referring to Baptism when he speaks of an indelible seal.

Finally While the Arian rites may have been the same as Catholic rites, I believe one can make the argument that they were confirmed because the Arian confirmation was not valid, (because they were heretics and had no authority to do so.) That being said, I don’t know if you would win that argument, because one could easily counter and state that the Arians had valid apostolic sucession, or something to this effect.

This is why I tend to view statement like these from Ephesus, and also ones from the council of Constantinople, as well as quotes from people like Augustine that refer to the imposition of the hands to receive certain people as pertaining to Chrismation of any one regardless if they were previously Chrismated or not.

Again while I think one can make the claim that these instances referred only to people that had either not yet been chrismated, or to those whose Chrsimation was held to be invalid, I don’t know how strong an argument this is.

one instance that I was able to find was from the sixth canon of the council of Tarracon in around 516 or so. It stated:

Unde visum est nobis confirmationem, sicut nee baptisma iterari minime debere

or roughly,

“It seems to us that Confirmation like baptism, ought not be repeated”

this seems to hold water. While one could argue that the intent of this canon was not to say in all cases (such as in apostate and severe heretics), the fact that the reason for not doing so is likened to baptism (and I think it follows quite naturally therefore that the reasons for not repeating confirmation is the same as not repeating baptism) tends to diminish the value of this argument, at least in my mind,

So it would seem that there was at least one western voice that existed in the first 1000 years that denied that confirmation could be repeated, with the reasons for not doing so i think implicitly being the same as those applied to baptism.

What does this prove however if the councils of both Ephesus and Constantiople did in fact maintain that you should do it?

Unless it can be shown that the Ephesus and Constanintople and quotes from Augustine (and I think others as well) do not pertain to those already validly confirmed, I do not see how it is possible to maintain that Re-chrismation was not the most widely held belief of the first 1000 years.

Would it be fair to ask for proof that these councils and constantinople were in fact speaking in broad terms? Perhaps, but again as one poster already put it, the Arian rites were the same as Catholic rites (I’ll take thier word on that). So is there something to be said that confirmation was only considered valid if performed by an orthodox cleric? My guess would be no, but I dont know…

Well I certainly wouldn’t phrase the question the way the OP did. It’s not conducive at all to dialogue. What I would say is I don’t think the problem is necessarily what Trent taught. I don’t see anything that excludes it as a valid theological opinion. I think the issue is the anathema to anyone who disagrees. That seems to elevate it to a different level and seems to me to contradict Ephesus. How do you explain what looks to me like a contradiction in that canon from Trent vs the canon from Ephesus?

From my understanding Christ established the new covenant, but there are still parallels to the old laws. The Sacraments of Initiation are supposed to be a spiritual marriage between us and God. An ancient Jewish marriage would consist of a betrothal, a marriage, and the consummation. The first two are given once, while the third is repeated; every time a married couple has carnal relations they are re-consummating their marriage. Likewise, we are baptized once and confirmed once, but can receive the Eucharist for the rest of our lives. Every time we receive the Eucharist we are reaffirming our marriage (reaffirming our Baptism and Confirmation) to the Lord, and our souls become one with God. This is why he is called the Bridegroom and the Church (aka us) is called the bride. It is also why it is called the Marriage Supper of the Lamb. This is why I’m in favor of the restored order of the Sacraments of Initiation.

When the other gentleman brought up the Council of Ephesus, I went to look for what canon he was referring to. I searched through the extracts and canons published at this link: newadvent.org/fathers/3810.htm and I couldn’t find any mention of oil, ointment, unction, chrism, or the Sacrament of Confirmation/Chrismation, nor anything about the laying on of hands. Do you have further information about what the Council of Ephesus said on the subject, or do you think it is possible that it got confused with the First Council of Constantinople?

Unless it can be shown that the Ephesus and Constanintople and quotes from Augustine (and I think others as well) do not pertain to those already validly confirmed, I do not see how it is possible to maintain that Re-chrismation was not the most widely held belief of the first 1000 years. …as one poster already put it, the Arian rites were the same as Catholic rites (I’ll take thier word on that). So is there something to be said that confirmation was only considered valid if performed by an orthodox cleric? My guess would be no, but I dont know…

My guess would be yes, for several reasons.

First, the early Church wanted people to seek the Sacraments from an orthodox cleric whenever possible.

Second, there is in fact evidence that at least some of the faculties of independent priests, i.e. ones not obedient to the local Catholic bishop, were not recognized by the early Church. An example is in St. Ignatius: “Let that be deemed a proper Eucharist, which is [administered] either by the bishop, or by one to whom he has entrusted it.” (Letter to the Smyrnaeans Chapter 8) The implication is that this Sacrament would be illicitly sought from someone not entrusted with it by the local Catholic bishop.

In light of that, if unorthodox clerics were not recognized as having the faculty of administering the Sacrament of Confirmation, then I think the only logical response would be to Confirm those being brought over from heretical sects. This is the same thing the Church does today. The Arians and other heretical bishops may or may not have had valid orders, but I don’t think that automatically gave them the right to administer the Sacraments. And if they did not have the right to confirm those whom they baptized, they would have to be confirmed once brought into the Catholic Church.

Does that make sense?

yes, dmar198
I could not find the reference either, and was hoping to look at the Canons of Ephesus and Trent side by side to see how they can be said to contradict one another.

I don’t think that makes sense. The Catholic Church accepts baptisms from Protestants who have no faculties to celebrate sacraments all the time. Either way here is the canon from Ephesus.

Those who from heresy turn to orthodoxy, and to the portion of those who are being saved, we receive according to the following method and custom: Arians, and Macedonians, and Sabbatians, and Novatians, who call themselves Cathari or Aristori, and Quarto-decimans or Tetradites, and Apollinarians, we receive, upon their giving a written renunciation [of their errors] and anathematize every heresy which is not in accordance with the Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church of God. Thereupon, they are first sealed or anointed with the holy oil upon the forehead, eyes, nostrils, mouth, and ears; and when we seal them, we say, “The Seal of the gift of the Holy Ghost.” But Eunomians, who are baptized with only one immersion, and Montanists, who are here called Phrygians, and Sabellians, who teach the identity of Father and Son, and do sundry other mischievous things, and [the partisans of] all other heresies—for there are many such here, particularly among those who come from the country of the Galatians:—all these, when they desire to turn to orthodoxy, we receive as heathen. On the first day we make them Christians; on the second, catechumens; on the third, we exorcise them by breathing thrice in their face and ears; and thus we instruct them and oblige them to spend some time in the Church, and to hear the Scriptures; and then we baptize them.

Link

That is because Baptism doesn’t depend on the minister. Anybody can baptize in danger of death, but not everybody can confer Chrismation, even if he has the blessed oils at hand. This is because the Sacrament of Confirmation requires a priest who has valid faculties recognized by the local orthodox bishop, or a validly ordained bishop himself. In the east, the usual custom is for the priest to confer Chrismation at the same time as Baptism, therefore his local orthodox bishop would need to grant him faculties. (At least, that is how our Church sees it.) I don’t think the Arian and other heretical priests were given faculties recognized by the local orthodox bishop, therefore I don’t think they would validly confer Chrismation.

Either way here is the canon from Ephesus. Link

That link indicates that it is a canon of the First Council of Constantinople, not of Ephesus. To see this, go to that page and click the button to the left of the button “<< Prev”. The button reveals where your link is located within the table of contents, and if you click it you’ll see that Canon VII is listed in an inset under “[The] Canons of the One Hundred and Fifty Fathers who assembled at Constantinople,” which is itself inset underneath “The Second Ecumenical Council: The First Council of Constantinople.”

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