Holy Spirit in Baptism and Confirmation - What is the difference?

My understanding is that we are sealed with the Holy Spirit at baptism, but that we also receive the Holy Spirit at Confirmation. So I’m a little confused on this–what exactly do we receive at Confirmation that we didn’t receive at baptism? Do we receive “more” of the Holy Spirit (if that is possible) at Confirmation?

Baptism and Confirmation are Sacraments (and they also seal one with an indelible mark…among many other effects…)

In both…yes we receive the Holy Spirit…for an overview which will answer your Q:




The “Baptism in the Spirit” is not a Sacrament…but can be related to Bap. and Conf. …bringing one to live them in a more vivid way etc. It can also be seen as another sending of the Holy Spirit …and can include the giving of particular charisms…(there can be many sendings of the Holy Spirit in ones life…(though he does not cease to dwell within you if one is in a state of grace!..there is some mystery here involved) not just the two major ones noted above). (I am not keep on the this term however…but it is the one that caught on …so it stuck)

It is associated largely with the Charismatic movement.

There can be various theological reflections or opinions on this. I am not a part per se of the Charismatic Movement but these are my thoughts ( I tend to think it is a bit of both…)

A very important prayer prayed at various times by the Church …listed as common prayer in the Compendium of the Catechism:

Come, Creator Spirit

Come, Holy Spirit, Creator come,
From your bright heavenly throne!
Come, take possession of our souls,
And make them all your own.
You who are called the Paraclete,
Best gift of God above,
The living spring, the living fire,
Sweet unction, and true love!
You who are sevenfold in your grace,
Finger of God’s right hand,
His promise, teaching little ones
To speak and understand!
O guide our minds with your blessed light,
With love our hearts inflame,
And with your strength which never decays
Confirm our mortal frame.
Far from us drive our hellish foe
True peace unto us bring,
And through all perils guide us safe
Beneath your sacred wing.
Through you may we the Father know,
Through you the eternal Son
And you the Spirit of them both
Thrice-blessed three in one.
All glory to the Father be,
And to the risen Son;
The same to you, O Paraclete,
While endless ages run. Amen.

Veni, Creator Spiritus

Veni, creátor Spíritus,
mentes tuórum vísita,
imple supérna grátia,
quæ tu creásti péctora.
Qui díceris Paráclitus,
altíssimi donum Dei,
fons vivus, ignis, cáritas,
et spiritális únctio.
Tu septifórmis múnere,
dígitus patérnæ déxteræ,
tu rite promíssum Patris,
sermóne ditans gúttura.
Accénde lumen sénsibus,
infúnde amórem córdibus,
infírma nostri córporis
virtúte firmans pérpeti.
Hostem repéllas lóngius
pacémque dones prótinus;
ductóre sic te prævio
vitémus omne nóxium.
Per Te sciámus da Patrem
noscámus atque Fílium,
teque utriúsque Spíritum
credámus omni témpore.
Deo Patri sit glória,
et Fílio, qui a mórtuis
surréxit, ac Paráclito,
in sæculórum sæcula. Amen.


The Sacrament of Baptism primarily removes the stain of original thus making us members of the Catholic Church and eligible for Heaven as our final reward. Yes we receive the Holy Spirit. The Sacrament of Confirmation primarily confers the Gifts of the Holy Spirit to the confimand thus perfecting Baptism and strengthening our souls and bodies to defend the Faith when needed.

Some historical background might be helpful:

In the early Church, and even today in the Eastern Churches, the Sacraments of Baptism and Confirmation (Chrismation) were celebrated together in a ritual that could hardly be considered distinct from one another. What we know today as Baptism was the part of the rite where the individual was immersed in water, while Confirmation or “Chrismation” was a sealing of the individual with the Holy Chrism. Both were integral parts of the full rite of Christian initiation.

That being said, each separate act had its own meaning. While we might say that we receive the Holy Spirit in both the sacraments of Baptism and Confirmation, the better question to ask is what the Holy Spirit accomplishes in us in each.

To know the answer to this question, we look to the rite itself, as the external act is a symbol of the internal spiritual reality. Baptism cleanses us of sin as indicated by immersion into water. Confirmation ordains (in the loose sense of the word) us into the mission of Christ through the anointing with chrism. In Greek, Christos means, “anointed one”.

In essence, Baptism is doing away with the old, and Confirmation is putting on the new. Now that we in the west separate the two sacraments by more than a decade typically for our children, the way the Sacraments work together has been almost forgotten, and Baptism has really taken on the dual meaning of both (i.e. off with the old, on with the new.) This isn’t wrong, its just that they work more powerfully together in my opinion.

Truthfully, I am displeased that catechesis these days has reduced Confirmation to “receiving the Holy Spirit.” There’s so much more significance than that and the lists of fruits and gifts that the children are made to memorize. It’s a disservice.

I hope this helps.

I would beg to differ here…

Baptism is not the doing away with the old and Confirmation the putting on the new.
I think your overstepping in your looking back at how they were done in the west in the early Church (and still are today with adult converts!..as a large number were in the first days!)

The Church has not changed Baptism into a “taking on the meaning of both” Baptism has been what it is from the beginning …even if after centuries of reflection it is more fully understood in certain aspects.

In the beginning…Paul was quite clear that the person who was baptized was a new creation…that he had put off the old man and put on the new…and that one received the Holy Spirit. Granted where baptism was done by the Bishop or Apostles what is referred to as confirmation today was done at the same time…but this was not always the case and Paul’s description of Baptism is the dying and rising with Christ …of the person being a new creation…putting off the old and putting on the new etc…he is focused on the waters of baptism …on the reality of what happens at baptism per se

As to “catechesis these days” on confirmation…your mileage will vary from place to place…for we have excellent catechesis in the Catechism and the Compendium of the Catechism etc…I imagine some teaches could not use such …which is certainly to be mourned…but many do…

I suppose this isn’t the first time I’m guilty of not being clear enough. But I agree with you, the grace of Baptism is the grace of Baptism, is the grace of Baptism. It hasn’t changed since it was instituted. I never claimed that the Church changed anything. I meant that our conceptualization of them has changed. Baptism has always contained within it the dual meaning of the dying and rising with Christ. Saints like St. Cyril of Jerusalem in the 4th century is clear enough on this in his catecheses.

However, that being said, the ritual act of the Sacraments of both Baptism and Chrismation were meant to be presented together. Chrismation, the anointing, was the immediate follow up to the immersion of Baptism, as a complamentary, outward representation of what was accomplished through Baptism and what was also now being effected through Chrismation.

You have to remember that the Sacraments were not “officially” numbered until the Council of Trent, although they can be found listed elsewhere earlier throughout Christian history with various degrees of specificity. However, the fact of the matter is that the early Christians were not concerned with the enumeration and categorization of which specific act constituted which specific Sacrament especially when it came to Baptism and Chrismation. They were essentially part of the same rite, and the outward act which contained the inward meaning is what was important.

We can separate the Sacraments of initiation conceptually but really both are intended to be parts of the same process of shedding the old and putting on the new. And this is precisely why, that on their own, each can mean both, even when not celebrated together. I have no disagreement with you on this point.

I think we are in agreement on how they are similar, but the bigger question is how they are different and therefore constitute two separate Sacraments.

The cleansing of original sin primarily constitutes the unique effect of Baptism, not shared by Chrismation.

The anointing with chrism is the unique act of Chrismation, which constitutes the unique grace of Chrismation not shared by Baptism. But nailing down what that grace is, is somewhat more complicated. The obvious “commissioning” of the person into the mission of Christ is the purpose of that anointing, but to some extent we can say the Christian also receives that mission in Baptism. In Chrismation one receives that commissioning in the special way, however, in which the responsibility is bared more heavily. This is why it is also called the “Sacrament of Christian Maturity.” It is not just the commissioning, but the sanctifying grace required to live that commissioning out. This matter of responsibility is why it is acceptable to delay the Sacrament until age of reason, but pressing it farther into the teenage years seems to be a disservice to young Catholics in my opinion.

Feel free to disagree with that last point, but all else I truly do not feel that I am saying anything contrary to Church teaching.

I would note that they were meant to be two Sacraments. In the Beginning of the Church they often where celebrated together. But often I imagine not. Both were the way things happened in the earliest days. (I was there…;))

The Church has chosen that in the west they are to give them together in the case of adult catechumens (along with the Eucharist). And to give them at different times in the case of infants. And in the east to be usually given at the same time largely in both cases. (of course in both east and west…there is much history …but no need to go through all that…my point is that they are two sacraments …



The Catechism of the Catholic Church (west and east) of course gives a nice summary of the effects of each (though of course more than a summary)

Of course though I love that the celebration of all three Sacraments on the Easter Vigil! And all the ancient texts of the various rites!

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