Thursday, August 13, 2009

What is the invisible reality behind the "anointing"?

At our last confirmation class we focused on the use of the Chrism oils in the Sacrament of Confirmation. I could tell by responses and uninterested looks on my student's faces that this truly spiritual anointing had no real significance for them. I threw in the word "spikenard" to peak their interest, I used the analogy of a fighter using oils on his body or a bodybuilder using oils to enhance the appearance of the gleaming muscles, that got a grin. Okay we have cracked the surface somewhat, but still no real interest in their gain from the oil used at Confirmation and what this will mean to them.

It began to dawn on me how in this world of materialism and instant gratification, kids these days probably don't have an interest or real knowledge of "the invisible reality" that takes place in our visible world. That is the Catholic faith, the visible signs of an invisible reality. When we are anointed as Christ was with the oil of Chrism we are set apart, we are consecrated for a sacred use in God's plan of salvation. Christ, the word, means "Anointed One" When the Wise Men appeared before Mary and Jesus in Bethlehem, they brought myrrh, a fragrant oil that prefigured his anointing at his burial. When Mary washed Jesus' feet, she was chastised for using such expensive "spikenard oil". She was humbling herself by performing the most lowly of services, washing his feet. She was "anointing" him. We become associated with this service when we are set apart to continue Christ's mission with our own anointing at Confirmation. It becomes our responsibility to carry on this mission.

At Baptism we are anointed with the Oil of Chrism to set us apart as God's children. We have been washed and marked as Sons and Daughters of Christ. At Confirmation, the anointing sets us apart to continue the mission of Christ, even unto death. Strengthened with the Gifts of the Holy Spirit, we are ready to do battle for Christ. Confirmation has been called the Sacrament of Martyrdom. Why? Because now we are ready to die for Christ, we use our "anointing" as a shield to fight the evils of the secular world. But we have to be open and willing to accept the responsibility given to us.

I pray for the children of this world today and what they have to deal with. I am encouraged to know that the Holy Spirit is with them in such a powerful way and I hope they come to understand just how much supernatural power they have been given to fight this increasingly secular world they live in.

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