1 June 2020

“Be Sealed in the Holy Spirit”

In the early 1600’s French Philosopher Rene Descartes sought shelter from the onset of winter in a stove-heated barracks, alone with his thoughts.  He puzzled over a small cube of wax, noting its smell, taste, coldness to the touch, and its firm shape.  As he brought the wax closer to the stove, every bit of the wax perceptible to the senses changed – it became hot, lost its aroma, lost its’ shape, and became liquid.  Despite changes to every sense perception, nonetheless he knew it was the same wax.  Descartes concluded there must be something beyond perception, the “thing in itself” which we cannot interpret through our senses, that is the true essence and reality of the wax.

Philosophers from Plato to Kant, and to the present day, puzzle over the “the thing in itself” beyond the senses, most especially when it is applied to the human person.  Look in a mirror.  You will rightly say, “I see me.”  Yet the “me” you see is interpreted through our senses, and, like the wax, undergoes an infinite variety of change.  You are quite different from the baby in the cradle you used to be.  Everything about you has changed.  Yet you do not doubt the “I” that is seeing the “me” in the mirror is the same “I” through all the years of your existence, and all the changes!  You see a tree through the changes of the seasons, but do not doubt the existence of its unseen roots.

While philosophers may be stumped, early Church writers recognized this unchanging, timeless, core of our essence to be our soul.  St. Augustine reflected although he has never seen his soul with his eyes, nevertheless he knows nothing more intimately than the existence of his own soul.  For the soul is constant and present in every perception, through every change.

It is into this unchanging, timeless essence of our being, our soul, our “roots”, that the Holy Spirit seals us with the image of Christ.

A “seal” is the symbol of a person, a mark of belonging.  Just as Jesus is marked with His Fathter’s seal (John 6:27), the Holy Spirit indelibly marks us with Christ’s seal on the very unchanging core of our existence.

The indwelling of the Spirit irrevocably marks us as Christ’s, prepares the indwelling of the Trinity, completes the graces of Baptism, and empowers us with the seven gifts of the Spirit to defend and proclaim our belief in Christ.

Indelible and permanent, the seal of Holy Spirit remains on our soul, fresh and unchanged, even when we forget.

Wait, there’s more!  Jesus’ anointing in the Spirit (Luke 4:18-19) sends Him to bring glad tidings to the poor, liberty to captives, sight to the blind, and freedom to the oppressed.  Jesus shares this anointing which gives Him the name Christ (“anointed one”) with us, and commissions us to do the same.  Conformed to Christ glorified through consecrated oil, Saint Cyril of Jerusalem tells us, we are rightly called Christians, images of Christ.  We are anointed and sealed in the Holy Spirit, marked for Christ at our very essence, our very soul, our unseen roots, and sent to be the sweet aroma of Christ in the world.

This weekend we were invited to wear red as an outward sign of Pentecost, our being sealed in the Holy Spirit, our souls indelibly marked for Christ.  May you be the sweet aroma of Christ in your corner of our world, today and always.

Christ’s peace,

Deacon Jeff

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