The imposition, or laying on of hands, is a common practice in the Catholic faith, used in the administration of the sacraments of baptism, confirmation, anointing of the sick and holy orders, as well as other rites, including exorcism. 

The history of the imposition of hands dates to the patriarchs in the Old Testament to convey power, blessing or consecration. It was used in blessing children, consecrating priests and in sacrifice. 

The imposition first appears in a religious sense in the consecration of Aaron and his sons to the priesthood. Prior to sacrificing animals, the priests would lay hands upon the head of the scapegoat and pray the sins of the people would descent onto the animal.

Jacob used the laying on of hands to bequeath a blessing and inheritance to his two sons, Ephraim and Manasses. In a similar manner, Moses conferred on Joshua the hegemony of the Hebrew people.

In the New Testament the Lord imposed hands to cure the sick and restore life. And the apostles used the imposition of hands to confer authority and powers. Quickly, this gesture was generally accepted as the means of ordaining and conferring office.

Today, during reconciliation, the priest extends his right hand forward when imparting absolution. During the Mass, imposition of hands is employed when the priest extends his hands over the bread and wine.

During confirmation, the imposition of hands is used during the actual application of the charism.

The laying of hands by the bishop during ordination of priests or deacons is perhaps one of the most moving moments of what is a beautiful ceremony. After the bishop lays hands on the new priest or deacon, fellow clergy members follow.

Away from the sacraments, the imposition of hands is used in a variety of blessings of individuals and of things.