Friday, October 5, 2007

The Mystery of Holy Chrismation

On Sunday at 9 AM, the action will begin at the back of the church, just inside the door. After breathing on the catechumens and making the sign of the Cross on them, the priest will lay his hand on the heads of the catechumens and recite the Prayers at the Reception of the Catechumens:

In thy Name, O Lord God of truth, and in the Name of thine Only-begotten Son, and of thy Holy Spirit, I lay my hand upon thy servants, N1. and N2., who have been found worthy to flee unto thy holy Name, and to take refuge under the shelter of thy wings. Remove far from them their former delusion, and fill them with the faith, hope and love which are in thee; that they may know that thou art the only true God, with thine Only-begotten Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, and thy Holy Spirit. Enable them to walk in all thy commandments, and to fulfil those things, which are well pleasing unto thee; for if a man do those things, he shall find life in them. Inscribe them in thy Book of Life, and unite them to the flock of thine inheritance. And may thy holy Name be glorified in them, together with that of thy beloved Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, and of thy life-giving Spirit. Let thine eyes ever regard them with mercy, and let thine ears attend unto the voice of his hands, and in all their generation; that they may render praise unto thee, may sing, worship and glorify thy great and exalted Name always, all the days of their life. For all the Powers of Heaven sing praises unto thee, and thine is the glory, of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, now, and ever, and unto ages of ages.
This prayer will be followed by the Scrutiny. The priest will ask the catechumens if they believe in the teachings and sacraments of the Church and promise to obey her clergy, and they will respond in the affirmative.

Next comes the Exorcism. The priest will say two prayers of exorcism (listed in most books as the Third Exorcism and a Fourth Prayer − we skip the first two exorcisms). The priest then breathes on each catechumen again, saying thrice, "Expel from him every evil and impure spirit which hideth and maketh its lair in his heart." He will then expand on this:

The spirit of error, the spirit of guile, the spirit of idolatry and of every concupiscence; the spirit of deceit and of every uncleanness, which operateth through the prompting of the Devil. And make him a reason-endowed sheep in the holy flock of thy Christ, an honorable member of thy Church, a consecrated vessel, a child of the light, and an heir of thy kingdom; that having lived in accordance with thy commandments, and preserved inviolate the seal, and kept his garment undefiled, he may receive the blessedness of the Saints in thy kingdom. Through the grace, and bounties, and love towards mankind of thine Only-begotten Son, with whom thou art blessed, together with thy most holy, and good, and life-giving Spirit, now, and ever, and unto ages of ages.
The catechumens will then turn and face the back of the church, and the priest will then ask them thrice, "Dost thou renounce Satan, and all his Angels, and all his works, and all his service, and all his pride?" (Response: I do.) He will then ask them thrice, "Hast thou renounced Satan?" (I have.) He will then instruct them, "Breathe and spit upon him." The catechumens then turn and face the front of the church, and the priest asks them three more questions, thrice each: "Dost thou unite thyself unto Christ?" (I do.) "Hast thou united thyself unto Christ?" (I have.) "Dost thou believe in him?" (I believe in him as King and God.) Then the catechumens recite the Nicene Creed. The priest asks them again thrice, "Hast thou united thyself unto Christ?" (I have.) He then instructs them, "Bow down before him." (I bow down before the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit: the Trinity, one in Essence and undivided.) The priest concludes, "Blessed is God, who willeth that all men should be saved, and should come to the knowledge of the truth: now and ever, and unto ages of ages."

After this, the priest, deacon, catechumens, and sponsors move to the front of the church, where the first order of business is the Absolution. The catechumens made their confessions earlier in the week, but their absolution was delayed until now. They kneel before the book of the Gospels as the priest prays for them once again. Then they stand and make this declaration:

This true faith of the Holy Orthodox-Catholic Church, which I now voluntarily confess and unfeignedly hold, I will firmly maintain and confess whole and in its fullness and integrity, until my last breath, God being my helper; and will teach it and proclaim it, so far as in me lieth; and will strive to fulfill its obligations cheerfully and with joy, preserving my heart in purity and virtue. And in confirmation of this, my true and sincere profession of faith, I now kiss the Word and Cross of my Savior. Amen.
The catechumens then kiss the Gospel book and the Cross, after which they kneel again, and the priest proncounces the absolution.

Then it is finally time for the Sacrament of Holy Chrismation. The priest says a prayer for the catechumens, and then he anoints them with Holy Chrism, making the sign of the Cross on the brow, the eyes, the nostrils, the lips, the ears, the breast, the hands, the feet, and between the shoulders. With each anointing, he says, "The seal of the gift of the Holy Spirit," and the congregation responds, "Seal."

The priest then says a prayer for the illumination of the newly chrismated. And then this prayer:
He who hath put on thee, O Christ, our God, boweth also his head with us, unto thee. Keep him ever a warrior invincible in every attack of those who assail him and us; and make us all victors, even unto the end, through thy crown incorruptible. For thine it is to show mercy and to save us, and unto thee do we send up glory together with thine everlasting Father, and with thine all-holy, and good, and life-creating Spirit, now, and ever, and unto ages of ages.
At the Ablution, the priest dips a sponge in water, sprinkles the newly illumined with water, and then washes off the Chrism. Next comes the Tonsure. After saying a prayer, the priest cuts the hair of the newly illumined using a small pair of scissors. With the Chrismation concluded, the congregation sings to the newly illumined, "God Grant You Many Years."


Trevor said...

I get excited just reading about it :-) See you Sunday!

Sara K. said...

It was such a beautiful ceremony. It was such an honor to be there. I couldn't hold in my tears when you were surrounded by the congregation and we all sang "God grant you many year." Amazing! -S

Sorry we had to leave early...we both had obligations for the Capital campaign kick-off meeting at St. Paul's.

Kevin P. Edgecomb said...

Many years, brother in Christ!