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They should also be in the state of grace; for the Holy Ghost is not given for the purpose of taking away sin but of conferring additional grace.
This condition, however, refers only to lawful reception; the sacrament is validly received even by those in mortal sin.
The Eastern Church omits the imposition of hands and the prayer at the beginning, and accompanies the anointing with the words: "the sign [or seal ] of the gift of the Holy Ghost." These several actions symbolize the nature and purpose of the sacrament : the anointing signifies the strength given for the spiritual conflict; the balsam contained in the chrism, the fragrance of virtue and the good odor of Christ ; the sign of the cross on the forehead, the courage to confess Christ, before all men; the imposition of hands and the blow on the cheek, enrollment in the service of Christ which brings true peace to the soul. In such cases, however, the priest cannot wear pontifical vestments, and he is obliged to use chrism blessed by a Catholic bishop.
In the Greek Church, confirmation is given by simple priests without special delegation, and their ministration is accepted by the Western Church as valid.
Under certain circumstances, however, as, for instance, danger of death, or when the opportunity of receiving the sacrament is but rarely offered, even younger children may be confirmed.Recipient Confirmation can be conferred only on those who have already been baptized and have not yet been confirmed. Thomas says: Confirmation is to baptism what growth is to generation.Now it is clear that a man cannot advance to a perfect age unless he has first been born; in like manner, unless he has first been baptized he cannot receive the Sacrament of Confirmation (ST III:72:6).In the early ages of the Church, confirmation was part of the rite of initiation, and consequently was administered immediately after baptism.When, however, baptism came to be conferred by simple priests, the two ceremonies were separated in the Western Church.
On the other hand, its reception is obligatory ( necessitate præcepti ) "for all those who are able to understand and fulfill the Commandments of God and of the Church. Apart, however, from such controversies the importance of confirmation as a means of grace is so obvious that no earnest Christian will neglect it, and in particular that Christian parents will not fail to see that their children are confirmed.