St. Mary Orthodox Church

Cambridge, MA

On Chrismation

Sermon preached by Nadia Kaldas on Sunday, March 20, 2011

IN THE NAME OF THE FATHER AND THE SON AND THE HOLY SPIRIT

Today we will talk about CHRISMATION which is the anointing of the oil.

In the Old Testament anointing was used to set people apart for God’s service.  Each Priest, Prophet and King of Israel was anointed with oil.  This commissioned them as God’s representative to the nation.  It happened when Moses anointed Aaron to be the high priest of Israel. Also Samuel anointed Saul to be a king, and then he anointed David to be the king of Israel.

Today in the Orthodox Church we know that the Sacrament of Chrismation is the holy mystery by which a baptized person is sealed with the gift of the Holy Spirit through anointing with the Chrism [Myron].

While Baptism is a personal participation in the death and the Resurrection of Christ, Chrismation is a personal participation in the coming of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost.

Chrismation in the Orthodox Church is normally done immediately after Baptism, the Priest anoints the new Christian with the holy chrism [Myron] which is a mixture of 40 sweet smelling substances and a very pure olive oil.  This Myron is usually consecrated by the Bishops of the church on Holy Thursday.  It is believed that the chrism [Myron] contain a remnant of the same Myron that was consecrated by the Apostles in the first century. Even the Coptic Orthodox church witness the same sacrament when St. Mark brought this Myron to Egypt and later at the time of Athanasis that a new Myron was mixed with the original one made by the Apostles.

IN THE NEW TESTEMENTS St. Paul wrote about the Holy Chrismation [2 Cor. 1- 21-22] when he said: Now He which establishes us with you in Christ, and anointed us, is God who has sealed us and put His Spirit in our hearts.   St. Paul in this text says anointing with Holy Chrism put us in Christ. And it is from here that the church takes its formula for this Sacrament.

THE SEAL OF THE GIFT OF THE HOLY SPIRIT

The Christian is anointed with the Myron in the sign of the Cross.

  • On the forehead which signifies the sanctification of the mind and thoughts.
  • On the chest signifies the sanctification of the heart and desires.
  • On the eyes, ears and lips signify the sanctification of the senses.
  • On the hands and feets signifies the sanctification to good deeds and the walk in the way of his Commandments.

I just found out that in some cases Chrismation alone may be used to receive converts to Orthodoxy if they undergone a rite of baptism by immersion in the Trinitarian Formula [IN THE NAME OF THE FATHER, AND OF THE SON, AND OF THE HOLY SPIRIT] They may be received into the Orthodox Church through the sacrament of Chrismation, after receiving the Holy Eucharist.  By being anointed with the Myron we are given and sealed by the gift of the Holy Spirit, just as Christ the Messiah is the Anointed One of God...

THE HIGH PRIEST, THE PROPHET AND THE KING

Don’t forget that the Seal of the Holy Spirit stays with us all our life, it is up to us to use it or loose it.   After the Christmation, the person newly received into God’s Family is tonsured. The tonsure is the cutting of hair from head in the sign of the Cross; it is the sign that the person completely offers himself to God, as we know hair being the symbol of strength in the Old Testament. 

After that the person receives the Eucharist [Holy Communion] ST.Cyril of Jerusalem said that we become priests, prophets and kings through these sacraments which bring us to our faith in  JESUS CHRIST. The same faith we heard in the reading of theGospel today that impressed Jesus when he saw the men that carried their paralyzed friend on a stretcher and head out to see this miracle worker JESUS.  They got there, they couldn’t get in, the door was blocked.

How many times we face a blocked door in our life and we gave up very fast. However these friends didn’t take no for an answer, they got up on the roof, removed part of the roof [which was a mixture of mud and straw that is how they built homes at the time] and lowered their friend down to Jesus.

Can you imagine what is the owner of the house thinks, he invites Jesus over and before he knows it, a whole crowd showed up, he looks up and sees a whole in his roof with a man being dropped down from it?

Good thing for the paralyzed man that his friends didn’t say “oh well we tried, I guess it wasn’t meant to be, may be next time” I guess I would have done that myself if I was in their place. Instead they found a way to make it happen.

When Jesus saw their incredible persistence and their faith, he said to the paralytic “Son, your sins are forgiven”

Among the crowd there were Pharisees and teachers of the law, they didn’t like what Jesus said and they were questioning, in their hearts, Jesus’ authority because he was implying he was God when He forgave the man’s sins.  Only God could forgive sins, they didn’t mind Jesus as a teacher, but as God forgiver of sins?  No way Jesus knew exactly their thoughts and challenges them as he asked, which is easier to say, your sins are forgiven or to say get up and walk?  But that you may know that the “Son of Man” has authority on earth to forgive sins. (This was the first time in Mark that Jesus referred to as the Son of Man, this emphasizes that Jesus is fully human, while Son Of God in john 20:31 emphasizes that He is fully God. Also the Son of Man has been used in the book of Daniel 7:13-14 in the Old Testament).

The religious leaders couldn’t believe that Jesus claming to be God. But Jesus’ action showed them that He had the power to forgive and heal.  He is God.  We often get our priorities backwards regarding forgiveness and healing, we value healing from pain and sickness more than we do the forgiveness of sins.  Forgiveness is something we all need.

Just like the paralyzed man, the same for us, we are carried to Jesus by others, by our circumstances, whether sickness, difficulties, or struggles in life, he forgives us and heal us.   After all we have the Seal of the Gift of the HOLY SPIRIT through the Sacrament of Chrismation.

You know what really bother me is how passive was the paralytic man, he doesn’t say anything, meanwhile he experiences physical and spiritual healing, he is changed, he get up, take his mat, walk home without thanking Jesus, it is amazing isn’t it ? I think if I were in his place I would have hugged and kissed Jesus from his feet to his head several times.

In reality we are no different than him, we all have been blessed in so many ways, but usually we take it for granted, and we don’t stop to thank God.  We are really blessed in this country, we can say that we are Christian, we can wear our Cross, and meantime in Egypt wearing a cross or saying I am Christian is a good reason to be killed.  Please pray for all the Christian’s people in Egypt and all the Middle East after all, we are all brothers and sisters and we belong to the same family, The Family of GOD.