History of Baptism, Confirmation, and Communion

History of Baptism, Confirmation, and Communion

Many churches, particularly in the Christian faith, have specific ceremonies, or sacraments, that mark important moments in the lives of members. The three mentioned here are among the most common, and trace their origins back to the beginning of the church.

Communion is a regularly observed tradition, normally repeated monthly or quarterly, depending on the Christian church. Also called Eucharist, it refers to the Last Supper, in which Jesus declared to his disciples that the bread and wine he gave them was his body and blood. As such, the churches have adopted a belief in the ritual of giving bread and wine, or specially prepared wafers, or other items depending on the church in question. As Christian churches are a diverse religion, with many small or major changes in belief, these experiences will always vary slightly. Many churches believe that the Last Supper rite only is undertaken by those who have already been baptized. As such, the First Communion of a new member or child of age is a moment of celebration.

The earliest sacrament in the lives of people in most of the different Christian faiths is the rite of Baptism. This traces itself back to the stories of John the Baptist from the bible. A precursor (and relative) of Jesus, he preached of the arrival of the other, and when Jesus appeared before him, John was asked to baptize him as well. This is considered the source of the tradition. Baptism consists of an immersion or anointment in water, varying somewhat from church to church, each with its own tradition. Likewise, the age at which baptism occurs differs, with some waiting until adulthood, many during the childhood, and some versions during infanthood. The baptism represents a rebirth, a washing away of sins that are believed to be inherent in all men.

Confirmation varies much as baptism does. A connected sacrament, it consists of the laying on of hands by a priest, and a prayer. The purpose is to confirm, as the name implies, the covenant that baptism is meant to invoke. It is also described as the “receiving of the Holy Spirit.”

Both of these events are considered milestones in the life of a member of the church, particularly churches that choose to have them occur in early childhood. Because of this, there is often a sense of celebration, of passing a threshold in life. Families and friends in many churches give traditional gifts, such as items specific to the faith such as rosaries, or money and cards. First communion, as well, is a matter of celebration and congratulations.

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