Malankara World

What Shall I Do To Be Saved?

By Rev. Dr. Curian Kaniyamparambil


Question 59. Is anointing of the Holy Spirit (Chrism) only a psychological feeling?

Never, because we see that:

1) The Holy Spirit abided upon our Lord in the form of a dove and on the apostles in the form of fire.

2) Our Lord gave the Holy Spirit to the apostles by breathing on them.

3) The apostles gave the Holy Spirit by laying their hands on the recipient.

Therefore the recipient receives the Holy Spirit by a visible act by an authorized person and is not a mere psychological feeling.

From 1 John 2:27 (quoted above) it is clear that the apostles used chrism for the Gift of the Holy Spirit. The word used in the Peshitta Bible is Maseehooso, meaning unction. John's language was Aramaic (Syriac).

What the early Church Fathers said about Anointing

Let us see what the early Church Fathers said

St. Theophilus (AD 181): Are you willing to be anointed with the oil of God? It is on this account that we are called Christians: because we are anointed with the oil of God." (174)

Tertullian (AD 160-240): After coming from the place of washing we are thoroughly anointed with a blessed unction, from ancient discipline by which in the priest hood they were accustomed to be anointed with a horn of oil, ever since Aaron was anointed by Moses. So also with us, the unction runs on the body but profits us spiritually, in the same way that Baptism is itself a corporal act by which we are plunged in water, while its effect is spiritual we are freed from sins. After this hand is imposed for a blessing, invoking and inviting the Holy Spirit (304)

St. Hippolytumus (AD 204) Indeed, faith and love prepare oil and cleansing unguents for those who are washed. But what were these unguents if not the commandment of Holy Word? And what oil, if not the power of Holy Spirit? It is with these, after washing, that believers are anointed as with sweet smelling oil. (390)

Apostolic tradition: - After baptizing, The presbyter says I anoint you with holy oil in the name of Jesus Christ. Then, pouring the consecrated oil into his hand and imposing it on the head of the baptized, he shall say: I anoint you with holy oil in the Lord, Father Almighty and Christ Jesus and the Holy Spirit. And signing on the forehead he shall kiss them and say The Lord be with you(394I)

St. Cornelius: (AD 252) (referring to Novatian, a heretic). As [Novatian] seemed to die, he received Baptism in the bed where he lay, by pouring if, indeed, such a man can be said to have received it at all. And when he recovered from his illness he did not receive the other things, which in accord with the law of Church, it is necessary to have; nor he was sealed by the bishop. And since this was not done, how could he have the Holy Spirit? (547)

St. Cyprian (AD 254) It is necessary for him that has been baptized also to be anointed, so that by his having received chrism, that is, anointing, he can be anointed of God and have in himself the grace of Christ. But in turn, it is by the Eucharist that the oil with which the baptized are anointed is sanctified on the altar. He that has neither altar nor church, however, is not able to sanctify that creature, oil (592)

St. Ephraim (AD 308): - the oil is the sweet unguent with which those who are baptized are signed, being clothed with the armaments of the Holy Spirit (725)

Laodicea council: - (Canon 48) That those who have been illuminated are, after baptism, to be anointed with celestial chrism, and thus become partakers in the kingdom of Christ (745q)

St. Cyril (AD 315): - And to you in like manner, after you had come up form the pool of sacred streams, there was given chrism, the anti-type of that which Christ was anointed: and is the Holy Spirit. (841) Beware of supposing this is ordinary ointment. For just as the Bread of Eucharist after the invocation of the Holy Spirit is the simple bread no longer, but the Body of the Christ, so also this holy ointment is no longer plain ointment, nor, so to speak, common after the invocation. Rather it is the gracious gift of Christ and it is made fit for the imparting of His Godhead by the coming of the Holy Spirit. This ointment is symbolically applied to your forehead and to your other senses; and while your body is anointed with the visible ointment, your soul is sanctified by the Holy and Life-creating Spirit (842). Just as Christ, after His Baptism and the coming upon Him of the Holy Spirit, went forth and defeated the adversary, so also with you; after Holy Baptism and the Mystical Chrism, having put on the panoply of the Holy Spirit, you are to withstand the power of the adversary and defeat him, saying I am able to do all things in Christ, who strengthens me. (842a)

Those who ridicule anointing, which is in vogue from the time of the apostles by saying that "it is not in the scriptures" have to think carefully. From the above discussion and quotes it is clear that the Holy Chrism was used for anointing from the time of St. John. All ancient churches especially the Syrian Orthodox, the Coptic's, etc., continue this till this date.

Here is the prayer of the Syrian Orthodox Church (Name of the receiver) is sealed for the eternal life in the name of Father, Son and living Holy Spirit, by chrism, which is the incense of Christ seal and sign of true faith, and completion of the gift of Holy Spirit.

"The confirmation (anointing) done by laying hands by the apostles (Acts 8:17, 19; Heb. 6:2) is still followed by the ancient eastern Churches at the time of baptism with a prayer for the gift of the Holy Spirit. (The Christian faith)

TOC Section 1 (Q 1-26) | Section 2 (Q 27-56) | Section 3 (Q 57-81) | Previous Chapter | Next Chapter

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