November 20, 2021

Homilies on the Holy Mysteries - The Mystery of Chrismation (Metr. Hierotheos of Nafpaktos)

 The Mystery of Chrismation

By Metropolitan Hierotheos of Nafpaktos and Agiou Vlasiou

Immediately after emerging from the Font, my beloved brethren, in which the Christian was baptized in the "name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit", the mystery of Chrismation takes place, that is, the priest anoints the neophyte Christian with the Holy Myrrh in the central parts of his body, saying the phrase “The seal of the gift of the Holy Spirit. Amen".

This action is found in the Acts of the Apostles, since there we see that people were baptized and then the Apostles who had received the Holy Spirit from Christ put their hands on their heads, and so began to prophesy after receiving the Holy Spirit.

According to the interpretation of Nicholas Cabasilas, Holy Chrismation gives man movement. If man is spiritually born through Holy Baptism, he moves with Holy Chrismation. It is not enough for the baby to be born, but it must also have action, movement. This work is performed by the Holy Chrismation.

Apart from these, Holy Chrismation is also called a "seal". That is why when the priest chrismates the baptized, he says the phrase "The seal of the gift of the Holy Spirit. Amen". The seal on a public document validates its contents, even the signature itself. So here too the Holy Chrismation is the confirmation of the spiritual birth that took place with the Baptism. This validation also has the meaning that it validates the spiritual condition of man, that is, that the purification of the heart from passions preceded and then man reached the illumination of the nous, whereupon he acquired noetic prayer of the heart. Thus Holy Chrismation is a confirmation of this spiritual state.

The material element of nature used in Baptism, in which the Christian is immersed, is water. And the material element of the mystery of Chrismation through which the gifts of the Holy Spirit are transmitted is the Holy Myrrh, which consists of various fragrant materials and is made, when needed, at the Ecumenical Patriarchate and is blessed by the Ecumenical Patriarch. In fact, it is granted by the Ecumenical Patriarchate to the other Churches and is a visible element of the spiritual unity of the Orthodox Church.

Great is the gift of Holy Chrismation which we feel in critical moments of our lives, when after committing a sin repentance develops in our hearts and we shed hot tears, asking for the mercy of God. Then the Grace of Holy Chrismation acts, as Nicholas Cabasilas says. A monk told me that when he committed a sin, during his sleep he heard a voice in his heart: "And take not your Holy Spirit from me." This is the gift of the Grace of Holy Chrismation.

Of course, when one denies Christ or joins other religions and heresies, then when one returns to the Orthodox Church, Holy Baptism does not take place, since it is done once, but Holy Chrismation is repeated. And this is a sign that through Holy Chrismation it is confirmed that we are members of the Body of Christ.

In general we must emphasize that the Holy Chrismation is manifested through repentance, the tears of repentance, love of God, noetic prayer of the heart and all the apparent energies of the Holy Spirit. Saint Symeon the New Theologian says that in order to be saved one must be baptized but also be firm in faith. The baptized, if they do not correspond to the whole perspective of the Christian life, are not saved, while the baptized who are firm in faith, that is, those who have been baptized and in whom the Holy Spirit is energized, are saved.

We must strive to, by the Grace of God, keep in our hearts the seal of the Holy Spirit, the Grace of the Holy Chrismation, in an active state.

Source: Translated by John Sanidopoulos.