2009 - Vol. 30
the Holy Spirit
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 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.
was born in Jerusalem around 315 AD. He was ordained deacon, then presbyter,
and then bishop of Jerusalem around 349. During a time of great division
in the church, between the Council of Nicea in 325 and the Council of Constantinople
in 381, Cyril labored to reconcile the disputes between church leaders.
He was exiled from his bishopric three times, for a total of sixteen years,
for his bold proclamation of faith in Christ's full divinity during a time
when many bishops and emperors favored various forms of the Arian heresy.
In 381 he attended the Council of Constantinople and voted in favor of
the formula which completed the Creed often known as the Nicene Creed.
He died around 386.
Cyril is author of the Catecheses, or Catechetical Lectures
on the Christian faith – a series of eighteen lectures delivered during
Lent to those about to be baptized at Easter, and then a series of five
lectures on the sacraments which were delivered after Easter to the newly
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