Roman Catholics and some Protestant denominations recognize seven sacraments, which are considered to be the means of grace through which God bestows spiritual blessing. The Sacrament of the Eucharist and the Sacrament of Confirmation are considered milestone moments in the lives of young Christians, and those who do not subscribe to a particular religion may want to learn more about what each of these sacraments symbolizes.
Sacrament of the Eucharist
Sometimes referred to as the First Holy Communion or simply Holy Communion, the Sacrament of the Eucharist is when some Christians first receive the body and blood of Christ. Catholics believe Christ is present in the bread and wine offered up during the Eucharist, which is administered near the end of each Mass after it has been consecrated by the priest presiding over the ceremony. Catholics believe that the substance of the bread and wine changes during a process called transubstantiation, which can only be performed by a priest and must be performed before the Eucharist can be administered.
The Eucharist traces its roots to the meal served during Jewish Passover that commemorated the delivery of Israel from slavery in Egypt. Catholics believe that, during the Last Supper, Jesus Christ celebrated the Passover meal, blessing and breaking the bread and wine and declaring that it was His body and blood.
Sacrament of Confirmation
When Catholics receive the Sacrament of Confirmation, they believe they are receiving the Holy Spirit through the anointing with oil and the laying on of hands by the bishop or priest presiding over the administration of the sacrament. The Sacrament of Confirmation is so named because Catholics believe it confirms and strengthens baptismal grace, further strengthening the bond Catholics have with their faith.
Catholics typically receive the Sacrament of Confirmation during the early stages of adolescence, and upon receiving the sacrament, they are then recognized as adult members of the Church. In that light, the Sacrament of Confirmation is often equated with the Jewish ceremonies of bar and bat mitzvah, which initiate Jewish girls and boys, respectively, into the Jewish faith, which now recognizes them as adults. While the Sacrament of Confirmation is most often associated with Roman Catholicism, other denominations of Christianity, including the Eastern Orthodox Church and many Anglicans, participate in the sacrament as well.
Similar to the Sacrament of the Eucharist, the Sacrament of Confirmation is only bestowed on Church members who have previously been baptized.