Rite of Confirmation: Laying on of Hands/Anointing with Chrism

For our next (and final) Confirmation Intensive, we are focusing on the Rite of Confirmation which includes the following:

  • the Presentation of the Candidates
  • the Bishop’s Homily
  • the Renewal of Baptismal Promises
  • the Laying on of Hands and the Anointing with Chrism
  • the General Intercessions

I’m currently sharing with you what I’m developing for each of these 5 elements of the Rite (the kids will experience five, 15-minute mini-sessions, one on each of the 5 elements). We continue today with the Laying on of Hands and the Anointing with Chrism.

Laying on of Hands and Anointing



  • Explain that following the Renewal of Baptismal Promises at Confirmation, 2 very important things take place: the laying on of hands and the anointing with chrism.
  • For the laying on of hands, ask the young people to recall playing “tag” when they were children. Invite a volunteer to explain in simple terms how the game is played. Emphasize that the key to the game is the idea that somehow you can transfer a quality (e.g. being “it”) to someone else simply by touching them with your hand. Tell them they are going to see how this idea of transferring a quality can be found in the Bible.
  • Make sure all the young people have Bibles. Divide the class into 3 groups and have each group look up and read one of the following passages: Group 1: Numbers 27:15-23 (Moses lays his hands on Joshua to make him his successor); Group 2: Mark 8:22-25 (Jesus lays his hands on a blind man’s eyes); Group 3: Acts of the Apostles 8:14-17 (the apostles lay hands on people to call down the Holy Spirit).
  • Ask for a volunteer from each group to describe from their passage who laid hands on who and why…comment as needed.
  • Explain that in the Rite of Confirmation, the bishop and priests will extend their hands over the entire group (instead of laying hands on each Confirmand individually) as the bishop prays the following words (invite a student to come forward and read this):  “All-powerful God, Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, by water and the Holy Spirit you freed your sons and daughters from sin and gave them new life. Send your Holy Spirit upon them to be their helper and guide. Give them the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of right judgment and courage, the spirit of knowledge and reverence. Fill them with the spirit of wonder and awe in your presence. We ask this through Christ our Lord. Amen.”
  • Point out how the Gifts of the Holy Spirit are being “transferred” to them in this ritual.
  • For the anointing with chrism, provide each young person with a small index card and a pencil with an eraser. Then, give half of the group PERMANENT MARKERS. Tell them all to write the words Be Sealed with the Gift of the Holy Spirit on the index card but have half do so in pencil and the other half with their permanent marker.
  • Then, tell all of them to take a pencil and to try to erase the words they’ve just written. Of course, within seconds the ones written in pencil will have been erased while the ones in marker will not.
  • Write the word INDELIBLE on the board and explain that it means a “mark that cannot be erased” – it is permanent
  • Explain that when the bishop anoints them with oil and says the words “Be sealed with the gift of the Holy Spirit” they are receiving an indelible effect – a permanent relationship. It’s like being born into a family: you become a son, daughter, niece, nephew, cousin, etc. You can’t stop being that…it’s a permanent relationship. In the same way, they will be in permanent relationship with the Holy Spirit.
  • Finally, distribute samples of colognes and perfumes from magazines. BE SURE TO CHECK IF ANYONE HAS FRAGRANCE ALLERGIES/SENSITIVITIES. Ask them to give a thumbs up or thumbs down on the fragrance they’ve been given. Collect the samples.
  • Explain that the chrism they will be anointed with is perfumed – it has a slight fragrance. People wear colognes and perfumes to make an impression on others – a good impression. Confirmation calls you to make an impression on others. Just as a fragrance spreads, we too are called to spread the Good News of Jesus and to leave a good impression on others by living the Fruits of the Holy Spirit (option: see page 83 of the Confirmed In the Spirit book, “Fruits of the Holy Spirit”).
About Joe Paprocki 2742 Articles
Joe Paprocki, DMin, is National Consultant for Faith Formation at Loyola Press, where, in addition to his traveling/speaking responsibilities, he works on the development team for faith formation curriculum resources including Finding God: Our Response to God’s Gifts and God’s Gift: Reconciliation and Eucharist. Joe has more than 35 years of experience in ministry and has presented keynotes, presentations, and workshops in more than 100 dioceses in North America. Joe is a frequent presenter at national conferences including the Los Angeles Religious Education Congress, the Mid-Atlantic Congress, and the National Conference for Catechetical Leadership. He is the author of numerous books, including the best seller The Catechist’s Toolbox, A Church on the Move, Under the Influence of Jesus, and Called to Be Catholic—a bilingual, foundational supplemental program that helps young people know their faith and grow in their relationship with God. Joe is also the series editor for the Effective Catechetical Leader and blogs about his experiences in faith formation at www.catechistsjourney.com.


  1. Hi! Wow. Thank you so much for your unbelievable ideas! I was hired LAST Friday by my church to be the Director of Youth Ministry. Confirmation is one of my responsibilities….I will be using many of your ideas. Thank you so much for the inspiration. You have no idea how much this has helped and calmed me down!! God bless.

  2. Joe,

    Thank you so much for this! This is such a good idea!!!!
    I was wondering where I could access the 15 minute lessons for
    1) the Presentation of the Candidates
    2) the Bishop

  3. Why are the laying of hands not actually laying on of hands as they always were? It feels so cheap to just reach out in the air his hands over a big group of kids…it feels like sprinkling the baby with holy water or just not even using holy water at a baptism. I can’t figure out why this beautiful and important sacrament is being allowed to be less reverent.

    • Hi Marie and thanks for sharing. I hear you. All too often, we seem to find ways to make things more convenient and, since confirmations often involve large groups of confirmands, the laying on of hands is done in the manner you describe for convenience sake. I, for one, prefer sacramental actions to be done “robustly” so as to experience the full impact of the ritual. Perhaps when we finally move away from grade-level catechesis and marching children through the sacraments like a factory assembly line and, instead, focus on true readiness for reception of a sacrament, we won’t have to deal with huge groups of confirmands at one celebration, especially when so many of those young people plan on “leaving” the Church right after confirmation because they had no real interest in the first place. The laying on of hands is an example of a powerful symbol being diluted because it is viewed as inconvenient for both the presider (usually the bishop) and the assembly to endure individual laying on of hands of dozens (if not, hundreds) of confirmands soon followed by individual anointings/sign of peace of the same group of confirmands. It is an unfortunate quagmire for which there is presently no easy solution that would satisfy everyone.

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