The Mystery of Chrism

The mystery of Chrism is called the baptism of the Spirit in the language of Christ, who said to His own disciples after His re­surrection from the dead: “John truly baptized with water; but ye shall be baptized with the Holy Ghost not many days hence.” (Acts 1:15). John the Baptist, when distinguishing the baptism of water from the baptism of the Spirit, said: “I indeed baptize you with water unto repentance: but he that cometh after me is mightier than I, whose shoes I am not worthy to bear: he shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost,” (Math. 3:11). The Apostles of Christ were bap­tized with these two baptisms at different times, first with water in the Jordan by John, and next with the Spirit in the upper room, on the day of Pentecost, in accordance with the promise of Christ. On that day, when they had heard the teaching of the Apostle Peter about three thousand souls were baptized and received immediately the gift of the Holy Spirit, (Acts 2:37). The Samaritans also, be­lieving the preaching of Philip, one of the seven deacons of the first Church, were baptized without receiving the Holy Spirit. “Now when the apostles which were at Jerusalem heard that Samaria had received the word of God, they sent unto them Peter and John: who when they were come down, prayed for them, that they might re­ceive the Holy Ghost; for as yet he was fallen upon none of them; only they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. Then laid they their hands on them, and they received the Holy Ghost,” (Acts 8:14-17). But they who were of the company of the centurion Cor­nelius received first the Holy Ghost, and then were baptized; be­cause, when Peter spoke to them the word of the faith of Christ, the Holy Spirit fell upon all who heard the word. And Peter said: “Can any man forbid water, that these should not be baptized, which have received the Holy Ghost as well as we? And he commanded them to be baptized in the name of the Lord,” (Acts 10:47).

From these testimonies and many others a distinction is manifest between the two baptisms, that of water and of the Spirit; that the baptism of water preceded and, after that, also the baptism of the Spirit was given either at once or after a lapse of time. Once only was the order reversed – in the case of Cornelius the centurion.

In these two baptisms Christ imparts the regeneration of the innerman, saying: “Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the Kingdom of God,” (John 3:5.) Everyone who believes ought to be baptized with the two baptisms, that he may be regenerated and adopted and receive the right of entrance into the kingdom of God. The regeneration properly takes place through the second baptism of the Spirit. The baptism with water is a preparation for the second baptism, which is superior to the first as the Spirit is superior to the water.

For this reason John the Baptist, as forerunner and preparer for the kingdom of God, baptized only with the baptism of water for the forgiveness of sins, sending the baptized to Christ that they might receive from Him the baptism of the Spirit and be made per­fect. Therefore, the baptism with water is preparatory, but the baptism of the Spirit makes perfect. The baptism of Christ is bap­tism in the Holy Spirit. The baptism of water is a means. The bap­tism of the Spirit is an end and aim. The two baptisms, because they are joined together and inseparable properly constitute one baptism.

The baptism of water, as a type of the death and resurrection of Christ, cleanses and purifies the soul from all sin original and vol­untary. The baptism of the Spirit sanctifies the soul, adorns it through the gifts of the Holy Spirit, and makes it live according to the Spirit and not according to the flesh, as men live who are desti­tute of the Spirit.

By means of these two baptisms he who believes and confesses the dogmas which ought to be believed becomes a Christian; that is, a brother of Christ and a son of God; and, if he keep the promises which he made before the ceremony of the baptism upon the pledge of his own sponsor, he inherits the eternal kingdom and glory of Christ, and is saved from the danger of eternal punishment, which is the portion and inheritance of unbelievers and the unbaptized; but if he transgress them he falls from the rights of his adoption and is condemned to eternal punishment; likewise his sponsor, who pledged for him is responsible, if for his want of care the trans­gression came about; for every surety is responsible for the obli­gation which he took as over against him who was pledged by him.

At the ceremony the baptism of the Spirit takes place and takes form in the Church in two ways, the one immediate and the other mediate. The Spirit comes immediately and directly upon the one who believes and is baptized with the baptism of water, with­out material means. According to the other manner the baptism of the Spirit comes through holy Chrism, through prayers and previous ceremony, and comes immediately after the baptism in water thus: the priest, after the reading of the appointed prayer, anoints the baptized with holy ointment, making the sign of the cross on fore­head, eyes, nostrils, mouth, the two ears, breast, the hands, and the feet, saying with each anointing: “The seal of the gift of the Holy Spirit; Amen,” and through this anointing the baptized becomes a perfect Christian, possessing the right to partake of the body and blood of Christ; because, as he has become a child of God, he has the right to eat the food of eternal life; which right our forefather Adam lost through transgression, and all his descendants. But through the regeneration of water and of the Spirit this last right is recovered; which nevertheless the baptized casts away again if he turns to sin. By means of this mediate way the baptism of the Spirit becomes a mystery, because through a material means the invisible grace of the Holy Spirit is conferred, which is called the grace of adoption. But in the direct manner it is not a mystery, but a demonstration of the communion and unity of the soul with the Holy Spirit, and a demonstration of the truth of the faith of Christ, because only they who believe in Christ receive the Holy Spirit.

For this reason also the Apostle Peter, when reproaching the Jews who had slain Christ, said in their Sanhedrin: “The God of our fathers raised up Jesus, whom ye slew and hanged on a wood crucifix. Him hath God exalted with his right hand to be a Prince and a Saviour, for to give repentance to Israel, and forgiveness of sins. And we are witnesses of these things; and so is also the Holy Ghost, whom God hath given to them that obey him,” (Acts 5:30-32). Because then the Holy Spirit was given openly and not mysti­cally, therefore the Apostle Peter convinced the Jews of their crime in the slaying of Christ through this open manifestation which could not be spoken against. The immediate manner, therefore, and the shewing forth of the unity of the Spirit with the soul preceded. Then the mediate manner and the mystery followed. And Christ pronounced happy those who see not and believe, saying to unbeliev­ing Thomas: “Because thou hast seen me, thou hast believed; blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed,” (John 20:29). For this reason the mediate manner of the mystery prevailed in the Church, receiving its beginning from the same apostolical times. In the immediate manner Christ was first baptized in the Jordan, the Holy Spirit coming down upon Him in the form of a dove. In the immediate manner the Apostles also were baptized on the day of Pentecost, the Holy Spirit coming down upon them in the form of fiery tongues. In the immediate manner also the first Christians were baptized, receiving the Spirit through the lay­ing on of the Apostles’ hands. In the immediate manner also the centurion Cornelius was baptized, the Holy Spirit suddenly falling upon him and upon those who were with him, before they were baptized with the baptism of water, which circumstance awakened surprise in those believers of the circumcision who accompanied Peter. By means of these events and many others the baptism of the Spirit was rendered sure, and the ceremony has been consecrated with material ointment, with which all who have been baptized are anointed and become Christians. After the anointing they become communicants of the sacred body and precious blood of Christ, which have been prepared for us through the third mystery of the Eucharist, concerning which we come to speak what is fitting.

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