Thoughts on the Holy Spirit and the Oil

Reflection from the ‘Soul Institute’ Teaching on oil of Chrism, Oil of Gladness St Cyril of Jerusalem

“When we were baptized into Christ and clothed ourselves in him, we were transformed into the likeness of the Son of God. Having destined us to be his adopted sons, God gave us a likeness to Christ in his glory, and living as we do in communion with Christ, God’s anointed, we ourselves are rightly called “the anointed ones”. When he said: Do not touch my anointed ones, God was speaking of us.

We became “the anointed ones” when we received the sign of the Holy Spirit. Indeed, everything took place in us by means of images, because we ourselves are images of Christ. Christ bathed in the river Jordan, imparting to its waters the fragrance of his divinity, and when he came up from them the Holy Spirit descended upon him, like resting upon like. So we also, after coming up from the sacred waters of baptism, were anointed with chrism, which signifies the Holy Spirit, by whom Christ was anointed and of whom blessed Isaiah prophesied in the name of the Lord: The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me. He has sent me to preach good news to the poor.

Christ’s anointing was not by human hands, nor was it with ordinary oil. On the contrary, having destined him to be the Savior of the whole world, the Father himself anointed him with the Holy Spirit. The words of Peter bear witness to this: Jesus of Nazareth, whom God anointed with the Holy Spirit. And David the prophet proclaimed: Your throne, O God, shall endure for ever; your royal sceptre is a sceptre of justice. You have loved righteousness and hated iniquity; therefore God, your God, has anointed you with the oil of gladness above all your fellows.

The Holy Spirit, Confirmation, St Cyril of Jerusalem
The oil of gladness with which Christ was anointed was a spiritual oil; it was in fact the Holy Spirit himself, who is called the oil of gladness because he is the source of spiritual joy. But we too have been anointed with oil, and by this anointing we have entered into fellowship with Christ and have received a share in his life. Beware of thinking that this holy oil is simply ordinary oil and nothing else. After the invocation of the Spirit it is no longer ordinary oil but the gift of Christ, and by the presence of his divinity it becomes the instrument through which we receive the Holy Spirit. While symbolically, on our foreheads and senses, our bodies are anointed with this oil that we see, our souls are sanctified by the holy and life-giving Spirit.”

Saint Cyril in another sermon on the theology of the oil chrism writes, ” For as the Bread of the Eucharist, after the invocation of the Holy Ghost, is mere bread no longer, but the Body of Christ, so also this holy ointment is no more simple ointment, nor (so to say) common, after invocation, but it is Christ’s gift of grace, and, by the advent of the Holy Ghost, is made fit to impart His Divine Nature.” The Church venerates the holy oils especially chrism because they possess the sacredness of God. In a real way the charism is similar to the Eucharist.

The catechism of the Catholic Church tells us, “Anointing, in Biblical and in other ancient symbolism, is rich in meaning: oil is a sign of abundance and joy. It cleanses (anointing before and after a bath) and limbers (the anointing of athletes and wrestlers); oil is a sign of healing, since it is soothing to bruises and wounds; it makes radiant with beauty, health and strength.”(CCC 1293)

Some scripture to reflect on. In Psalm 22 we read, “You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; you anoint my head with oil my cup overflows.” In Psalm 105 we read, “Wine to gladden the heart of man, oil to make his face shine.”

The oil of the Holy Spirit makes us smell good. St Paul writes, “For we are the aroma of Christ…to one a fragrance from death to death, to the other a fragrance from life to life.”(2 Cor 2:15) Raniero Cantalamessa in his book ‘The Holy Spirit in the Life of Jesus’ writes, “We are those disciples sent throughout the world to spread the ‘sweet smell of Christ!’ To succeed, we too must ‘shatter’ the alabaster vessel of our human nature: we must mortify the works of the flesh, the old Adam which acts as an inner barrier to the rays of the Spirit. The perfume of Christ is given off by ‘the fruits of the Spirit’ (according to St Paul, love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, self control’ (Gal 5;22) if these are in us, then, without realizing (and of course while we by contrast only smell ourselves giving off the stink of our sins), someone around us may get a whiff of the fragrance of the Spirit of Christ. The world has a great need to smell the perfume of Christ.”

Prayer for the day by Father Stefan

Jesus pour out on me the Oil of the Holy Spirit

As a mother pour oil on her child to make her child smell good

Jesus pour the sweet smelling oil of roses on me today

May this oil of the Holy Spirit make me have the aroma of Christ.


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