Speaking of piercing through the clouds, I'd like to share another tidbit from St. Cyril of Jerusalem's mystagogical catechesis. His reflections surely helped his listeners pierce clouds of doubt! Remember that these homilies were being shared with the neophytes and the faithful during the Easter Octave. This is one of his gems as he reflects on the anointing with the oil of exorcism before baptism:
"Then, when ye were stripped, ye were anointed with exorcized oil, from the very hairs of your head, to your feet, and were made partakers of the good olive-tree, Jesus Christ. For ye were cut off from the wild olive-tree, and grafted onto the good one, and were made to share the fatness of the true olive-tree. The exorcized oil therefore was a symbol of the participation of the fatness of Christ, the charm to drive away every trace of hostile influence. For as the breathing of the saints, and the invocation of the Name of God, like fiercest flame, scorch and drive out evil spirits, so also this exorcized oil receives such virtue by the invocation of God and by prayer, as not only to burn and cleanse away the traces of sins, but also to chase away all the invisible powers of the evil one."
One can imagine the newly baptized, those neophytes, sitting there listening attentively. This was the first of the anointings they would have received. One wonders if their hair was still glistening with the oil; if their bodies were still fragrant from the olive oil and the aroma of the Chrism from the post-baptismal anointing.
I guess the question for us is whether or not we, figuratively, still feel the oil in our hair and on our bodies. Do we know what power we received when we were baptized? Tonight I am headed to St. Anne Church in Barrington, Illinois, to give a presentation on the sacraments of baptism and confirmation to their intergenerational catechesis group. The questions I will pose to them are mystagogical in nature: What does it really mean that you have been baptized? What does it really mean that you have been confirmed? This fifty day feast of Easter is the time for each of us to ask those questions.
Rory Cooney, a cherished member of the WLP family, is the music minister at St. Anne's in Barrington. His piece, Christ the Icon, invites us to ponder the mystery of the one on whom we have been grafted. Listen to a snippet here. You can also view sample pages of the octavo here.
I hope these days continue to be filled with the "fatness" of Christ for all of us baptized and anointed in his name. This is surely one of the "good fats."
"Oh, qu'il est bon, le bon Dieu!"
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