Wednesday, July 04, 2007

On the Chrism

After baptism, the newly illumined is annointed with the chrism

"But beware of supposing this to be plain ointment. For as the Bread of the Eucharist, after the invocation of the Holy Spirit, is mere bread no longer, but the Body of Christ, so also this holy ointment is no longer simple ointment, nor (so to say) common, after the invocation, but the gift of Christ; and by the presence of His Godhead, it causes in us the Holy Spirit. It is symbolically applied to thy forehead and thy other senses; and while thy body is annointed with visible ointment, thy soul is sanctified by the Holy and life-giving Spirit.

And ye were first anointed on your forehead, that ye might be delivered from the shame, which the first man, when he had transgressed, bore about with him everywhere; and that with open face ye might behold as in a glass the glory of the Lord. Then on your ears; that ye might receive ears quick to hear the Divine Mysteries, of which Esaias has said, 'The Lord wakened mine ear to hear'; and the Lord Jesus in the Gospel, 'He that hath ears to hear let him hear.' Then on your nostrils; that receiving the sacred ointment ye may say, 'We are to God a sweet savour of Christ, in them that are saved.' Then on your breast; that having put on the breastplate of righteousness, ye may stand against the wiles of the devil. For as Christ after His baptism, and the descent of the Holy Spirit, went forth and vanquished the adversary, so likewise, having, after Holy Baptism and the Mystical Chrism, put on the whole armour of the Holy Spirit, do ye stand against the power of the enemy, and vanquish it, saying, 'I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.'

When ye are counted worthy of this Holy Chrism, ye are called Christians, verifying also the name by your new birth. For before you were vouchsafed this grace, ye had properly no right to this title, but were advancing on your way towards being Christians.

Moreover, you should know that this Chrism has its symbol in the old Scripture. For what time Moses imparted to his brother the command of God, and made him High Priest, after bathing in water, he anointed him; and Aaron was called "Christ" or "Anointed," from the emblematical Chrism. So also the High Priest raising Solomon to the kingdom, anointed him after he had bathed in Gihon. To them, however, these things happened in a figure, but to you not in a figure, but in truth; because ye were truly anointed by the Holy Spirit. . . .

. . .

For this holy thing is a spiritual preservative of the body, and safeguard of the soul. Of this in ancient times the blessed Esaias prophesying said . . . : 'And in this mountain shall the Lord make unto all people a feast; they shall drink wine, they shall drink gladness, they shall be anointed with ointment.' . . . Having been anointed, therefore, with this holy ointment, keep it unspotted and unblemished in you, pressing forward by good works, and becoming well-pleasing to the Captain of your salvation, Christ Jesus, to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen."

St. Cyril of Jerusalem, c. 348 AD


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