Originally posted by PinkFloyd
I met someone last week who grew up Catholic, but said she never went through some kind of confirmation. She described it by saying that, at around 12 years of age, the child goes through some litany of exercises and then GETS SLAPPED IN THE FACE.
I'm 50 years old, and thought I'd heard every possible anti------- (fill-in-the-blank with your favorit ...[text shortened]... uld possibly be talking about? Is there some truth that this barbaric practice really exists?
She is probably describing the Sacrament of Confirmation, which is celebrated in Orthodox churches and in some anglo-catholic churches as well as in the Catholic Church. It is supposed to be based on the Pentecost, when the Holy Spirit descended upon the apostles and gave them the gifts of preaching and to speak in tongues. The sacrament is supposed to confirm upon baptised Christians the gifts to continue in their Catholic faith.
Your friend is wrong on a number of points, however. It is not always given at 12 years of age. Eastern Catholics receive it usually when still infants along with Baptism. In some places, it is not given until adulthood. The slap is not 'barbaric', either. Normally the bishop just pats the cheek of the person as a symbol of Christ's call to 'turn the other cheek' and the persecution suffered by the early Christians; it is intended to remind the Christian that along with the gifts of the Holy Spirit comes responsibility and persecution. It is not painful; it is merely symbolic. It is also customary for the bishop to say 'Peace be with you' at the time of the slap.