The Sacraments of Initiation

"The sacraments of Christian Initiation - Baptism, Confirmation and the Eucharist - lay the foundations of every Christian life. 'The sharing in the divine nature given to men through the grace of Christ bears a certain likeness to the origin, development and nourishing of natural life. The faithful are born anew by Baptism, strengthened by the sacrament of Confirmation, and receive in the Eucharist the food of eternal life. By means of these sacraments of Christian initiation, they thus receive in increasing measure the treasures of the divine life and advance toward the perfection of charity.'" Catechism of the Catholic Church 1212


"In the Roman Rite ... [Baptism] is followed by years of catachesis before being completed later by Confirmation and the Eucharist, the summit of Christian initiation." CCC 1233

In the Diocese of Salford Confirmation and First Communion are explicitly linked as the culmination of the journey of Christian initiation, both being received sometime around Pentecost at the age of eight. Confirmation comes before First Communion, in a restoration of the original order of these sacraments; this is authorised by the Holy See. The children are sealed with the Spirit, and receive this completion of baptismal graces to enable them to take their place in the community of Christ's faithful, praying with the Church and receiving the gift of the Body and Blood of the Lord in the Eucharist.


The primary symbol of Confirmation is the Sacred Chrism, consecrated by the Bishop on Maundy Thursday. It is by the anointing with this holy oil and the laying on of hands that this sacrament is conferred. It is to be emphasised that the graces received in this sacrament are a gift - Confirmation is not a sacrament of maturity that must be merited, but a completion of the free gift of grace in Baptism, conforming the candidates more closely to Jesus Christ in the family of the Church. They are strengthened by this grace and the gift of the Holy Spirit so that they may bear witness to Christ for the building of His body in faith and love.

The Bishop is the ordinary minister of the Sacrament of Confirmation, although in the Diocese of Salford the bishop grants the faculty of administering Confirmation to Parish priests in those Parishes he is unable to visit.

First Holy Communion

"The holy Eucharist completes Christian initiation. Those who have been raised to the dignity of the royal priesthood by Baptism, and configured more deeply to Christ by Confirmation, participate with the whole community in the Lord's own sacrifice by means of the Eucharist." CCC 1322

"Those who receive the Eucharist are united more closely to Christ. Through it Christ unites them to all the faithful in one body - the Church. Communion renews, strengthens and deepens this incorporation into the Chruch, already achieved by Baptism." CCC 1396

Sealed with the gift of the Holy Spirit in Confirmation, the children are sent almost immediately to the altar, there to celebrate the fullness of the Body of Christ, sharing both in the prayer of the Chruch and in receiving the Eucharist for the first time. This completes their initiation, making them full members of the Church, and charging them with the Church's mission to be the Body of Christ for the world.