Post-baptismal anointing

In Paul Turner's Blog by Paul Turner

Q: You never seem to slow down, even during a pandemic!

I have a question – really it is coming from my pastor – about post-baptismal anointing. We know that chrism used when a child is baptized has a Christological focus – priest, prophet, king. Chrism used for Confirmation is Holy Spirit centered. So, when an adult is baptized, they are immediately confirmed. My pastor says that after the baptism (water), there should be the Chriostological anointing, and then move to the rite of Confirmation. This means a double anointing. He challenged me a year ago when we were walking through the Easter Vigil rite, but left it as the RCIA spells it out. Since then, we have had a few young people (grade school age) baptized and confirmed during the same rite. Each time, he questions using only the one anointing. Our Faith Formation coordinator is also wondering about it, because the reference to anyone’s baptism can often include the citation from Hebrews, “assuming” that all who have been baptized have received that specific anointing with chrism.  Can you please help me?


A: The rites of initiation for adults and children of catechetical age explicitly exclude the christological anointing on the crown of the head with chrism before the confirmation of adults on the forehead with the same chrism.

I’m not convinced it was a good decision, but them’s the rules.

The Apostolic Tradition gives testimony of such a double anointing from the 3rd or 4th century, one done by a priest and the other by a bishop. But in the postconciliar revisions, in a sweep of decisions that reduced duplications, the Vatican eliminated the first anointing in favor of the second when all the initiation rites are celebrated together.