4 th -6 th C CE Christian Initiation: Italy. Rome. Jerome (c. 342-420 CE): Altercation of a Luciferian with an Orthodox.
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6. Orthodox: …So, I ask you, allow their ability to sacrifice, since you accept their baptism, or reject their baptism, if you do not believe they have the priesthood. For it is impossible to be holy at baptism and a sinner at the altar.
Orthodox: …Therefore if the Arian cannot give the Holy Spirit, he cannot baptize at all, because the Church’s baptism is void without the Holy Spirit. But when you receive a baptized person from Arianism, and then invoke the Holy Spirit, either you must baptize him, because without the Holy Spirit he cannot have been baptized; or, if he is baptized in the Spirit, do not invoke the Spirit on him, since he received it when he was baptized.
8. Luciferian: Do you not know that this is a custom of the churches, to lay hands on people after their baptism, and thus to invoke the Holy Spirit? Do you ask where it is written in scripture? In the Acts of the Apostles. Even if the authority of scripture were not to hand, the universal consensus would provide an effective precept in this regard. And many other things which are observed by tradition in the churches have taken for themselves the authority of a law of scripture: for example to immerse the head three times in the laver; of for those who have come out to taste the mixture of milk and honey to symbolize their being newly born; not to worship kneeling or to practice fasting on the Lord’s Day and the whole of Pentecost; and many other things not written which have been justified by reason and custom.
9. Orthodox: I agree that it is the Church’s custom that when people are baptized by presbyters and deacons far from the major cities the bishop hurries round to lay his hand on them for the invocation of the Holy Spirit. But to transfer the laws of the Church to heretics is like exposing the integrity of your virgin in the whore’s brothel….
If at this point you ask why anyone baptized in the church only receives the Holy Spirit by the hands of the bishop, while we assert that it is given in true baptism, learn that the source of this custom is that the Holy Spirit descended on the apostles after our Lord’s ascension. We learn the same practice in many places, more to the honor of the ministry than for the principle of necessity. Otherwise, if the Holy Spirit only came down in answer to the bishop’s prayers, one may single out those who were baptized by presbyters and deacons in farms and villages or in remote places and have fallen asleep before they were discovered by the bishop.
The well-being of the church depends on the supremacy of the bishop, and if he does not possess an extraordinary and distinct power then there would result in the Church as many schisms as there are ministers. Hence it comes about that neither priest nor deacon has the right of baptizing without chrism and the bishop’s order. Though often, in case of necessity, we know that even lay people may baptize. For what anyone receives he can give.
“Do you believe in God the Father almighty, creator of heaven and earth? Do you believe also in Jesus Christ his Son?”
Again they refuse to place the Father over the Son in their writings; indeed they damn those who place the Father over the son, and yet they themselves in their blessings place the Father over the Son when they say:
2. On the first page of your letter you indicated that very many people who were baptized by the godless Arians are hastening to the Catholic faith, and that some of our brethren want to baptize them again. This is not allowed, since the Apostle himself forbids it, and the canons condemn it, and it is prohibited by a general decree sent to the provinces by Liberius my predecessor of venerable memory after the annulled council of Rimini.
3. There follows the matter of people performing baptisms each according to his whim, a disorder which lacks any justification and needs to be rectified. I am troubled to say that it is not by reason of anyone’s authority but simply by the presumption of our fellow bishops that, as you claim, innumerable crowds are receiving the mystery of baptism indiscriminately at Christmas or Epiphany and even the feasts of Apostles and martyrs.
Here and in all the churches, the Pasch of the Lord retains the privilege for itself and the Pentecost following that on those days alone in the year it is right to administer the sacraments of baptism to all who flock to the faith, at any rate to those elect who gave in their names forty days or more previously, and who have been expiated by exorcism and daily prayer and fasting, so that the Apostolic precept is fulfilled, that the old leaven be removed, and there begins to be a new dough. Since we declare that the reverence for the sacred feast of Easter should not be diminished in any way, infants who cannot yet speak because of their age and those who because of some distress need the water of sacred baptism should come with all haste, lest it should be for the ruin of our souls that the saving font is denied to any who desire it, and that anyone who departs from this world should lose the kingdom and life.
8. Concerning the exorcized oil, whether it should be administered on a few days or many matters less than its meaning. For who shall be cleansed by the sufficiency of his faith? For if the chrism poured upon the head imparts its grace to the whole body, in the same way also if he who is scrutinized at the third scrutiny is touched with the oil only once and not many time, God acts upon his whole life.
If the sacred ministers of the Lord wished to preserve the institutions of the Church in their integrity as they have been handed down by the blessed Apostles, there would be no diversity or variation in the forms of rites (ordines) and the liturgical prayers (consecrationes). But when each person reckons to observe not what was handed down but what seems good to himself, then different observances and liturgies appear in different places and churches. This becomes a scandal for the people.
Who does not know or will not acknowledge that what was handed down to the Church of Rome by Peter the first of the Apostles, and is kept to the present day, must be observed by all, and that nothing can be added or introduced which either lacks authority or apparently receives its model from elsewhere?
It is clear, after all, that no one founded any churches in all of Italy, Gaul, Spain, Africa and Sicily and the islands in between, except those people whom the venerable Apostle Peter or his successors appointed as sacred ministers. Let anyone who doubts this read to see whether any other of the Apostles is to be found in these provinces or if there is any record of their teaching. If they find nothing, because it never has been found, they must follow what is kept by the Roman church from which there is no doubt that they take their origin, lest, in their interest in claims from elsewhere, they may appear to neglect the source of their institutions.
No doubt Your Grace has often come to the City and attended services with us, and that you have known the customs one observes in the consecration of the mysteries (consecranda mysteria) and other sacred rites (arcana). I would have thought that would be sufficient for informing your church – or reforming it if your predecessors were in any way remiss or deviant in their observances – quite enough, I would have reckoned, if you had not thought good to consult us on various points. And so we reply to those questions, not because we believe that you lack knowledge of them, but so that you can instruct your people with greater authority or, if there are any who stray from the institutions of the Roman Church, so that you would warn them or notify us without delay so that we may know who they are who are introducing novelties or who believe they should observe the custom of some other church than Rome….
About the signing of the newly baptized: it is quite clear than no one may perform it except the bishop. For although presbyters are priests (sacerdotes), they do not have the highest degree of the priesthood (pontificatus). It is not only the custom of the church which demonstrated that the signing and the gift of the Holy Spirit is restricted to bishops (pontifices), but the passage in the Acts of the Apostles which declares the Peter and John were sent to give the Holy Spirit to those already baptized. For when presbyters baptize, whether in the absence of a bishop or in his presence, they may anoint the baptized with chrism (provided that it is consecrated by the bishop), but they do not sign the forehead with this same oil. That is reserved to the bishops when they give the Spirit, the Paraclete.
So dearest brother, we have taken care to reply as far as we were able to everything Your Grace wished us to explain, so that your church may be able to observe and keep the custom of Rome from which it takes its origin. The remainder which it was not lawful to put in writing, we will be able to explain if you ask me when you are here. It will be in the Lord’s power to grant that you instruct well both your church and our clergy who are under your episcopal charge, so that they may serve at the divine services, and you will provide for others a pattern to be imitated….
…Hence it is apparent from the spirit of this teaching [Romans 6:3-5] that, for baptizing the sons of men and adopting them as sons of God, that day and that season were chosen on which the actions performed on the members might be, through symbolism and mystical rite, in harmony with what was done in the Head itself. For in the rite of baptism death comes from the slaying of sin, and the triple immersion imitates the three days of burial, and the rising out of the water is like his rising from the tomb.
Actually, the feast of Pentecost, which is hallowed by the coming of the Holy Spirit and is attached to the feast of Easter as an appendage, is also used for this rite of baptism. Although other feasts are celebrated on different days, this feast of Pentecost always occurs on that day of the week made famous by the Lord’s resurrection. It somehow extends the hand of helping grace and invites those who were excluded from the Easter day by a troublesome sickness or a long journey or difficulties in sailing, so that those hindered by any necessities whatever may gain the effect they desire as a gift of the Holy Spirit….
Therefore, since it is obviously quite clear that these two times about which we spoke are the right ones for baptizing the elect in the church, we warn Your Charities not to add any other days for this observance. For, although there are also other feast days on which great reverence is due to the honor of God, for the principal and greatest sacrament we must hold to an exception, for which there are reasons and mystical significance.
We are, however, at liberty to assist those in danger by administering baptism at any time. Thus we put off the free vows of those who are well and live in peaceful security to those two connected and related fasts, but not so as to deny at any time to anyone this single source of salvation when there is danger of death, critical times of siege, trials from persecution or fear of shipwreck.
Someone, however, may possibly feel that the feast of the Epiphany, which must be celebrated with the honor due to its rank, also possesses the privilege of baptism, since certain men think that on that same day the Lord approached St. John to be baptized. The man who thinks this should realize that the grace of that baptism by John and the reason for it were of a different order and did not share in that same power whereby regeneration is brought through the Holy Spirit….
Consequently, dearest brothers, because of these real proofs, so many and weighty, which remove all doubt, you see clearly that only two periods, namely Easter and Pentecost, are to be used for baptizing the elect. And according to apostolic regulation, they are to be investigated with exorcism, made holy by fasting, and instructed by frequent discourses. We lay it to Your Charities’ charge not to deviate at all in future from customs initiated by the apostles. For hereafter, no one can be excused if he believes that apostolic regulations can be neglected in any way….
2. You ask me to tell you why before a man is baptized he must first become a catechumen; or what the meaning is of the word or of the word ‘catechizing’; in what rule of the Old Testament it is set out; or whether the rule is a new one, deriving rather from the New Testament. Also you ask what a scrutiny is, and why infants are scrutinized three times before the Pacha: and what purpose is served by this care and preoccupation with these examinations.
3. Here is my reply. I am confident that you are sufficiently versed in such matters as to know that the whole human race, while still so to speak in its cradle, should properly have fallen in death through the waywardness of the first man: and no rescue was possible except by the grace of the Savior; who although he had been begotten of the Father before the worlds yet for our salvation did not disdain to be born in time, man of a virgin mother alone. There cannot therefore be any doubt that before a man is reborn in Christ he is held close by the power of the devil: and unless he is extricated from the devil’s toils, renouncing him among the first beginnings of faith with a true confession, he cannot approach the grace of the saving laver.
And therefore he must enter the classroom of the catechumens. Catechesis is the Greek word for instruction. He is instructed through the Church’s ministry, by the blessing of one laying his hand, that he may know who he is and who he shall be: in other words, that from being one of the damned he becomes holy, from unrighteousness he appears as righteous, and finally, from being a servant he becomes a son: so that a man whose first parentage brought him perdition is restored by the gift of a second parentage and becomes the possessor of a father’s inheritance.
He receives therefore exsufflation and exorcism, in order that the devil may be put to flight and an entrance prepared for Christ our God: so that being delivered from the power of darkness he may be translated to the kingdom of the glory of the love of God: so that a man who until recently had been a vessel of Satan now becomes a dwelling of the Savior.
And so he receives exsufflation because the old deceiver merits such ignominy.
He is exorcised, however, that is to say he is adjured to go out and depart and acknowledge the approach of him whose upright image he had cast down in the bliss of Paradise by his wicked counsel.
The catechumen receives blessed salt also, to signify that just as all flesh is kept healthy by salt, so the mind which is drenched and weakened by the waves of this world is held steady by the salt of wisdom and by the preaching of the word of God: so that it may come to stability and permanence, after the distemper of corruption is thoroughly settled by the gentle action of the divine salt.
This then is achieved by frequent laying on of the hand, and by the blessing of his Creator called over his head three times in honor of the Trinity.
4. And so by the efforts of himself and others the man who recently had received exsufflation and had renounced the toils and the pomps of the devil is next permitted to receive the words of the Creed [symbolum] which was handed down by the apostles: so that he who a short time before was called simply a catechumen may now be called a seeker [competens] or elect. For he was conceived in the womb of Mother Church and now he begins to live, even though the time of the sacred birth is not yet fulfilled.
Then follow those occasions which according to the church’s custom are commonly called scrutinies. For we scrutinize their hearts through faith, to ascertain whether since the renunciation of the devil the sacred words have fastened themselves on his mind: whether they acknowledge the future grace of the Redeemer: whether they confess that they believe in God the Father almighty.
And when by their replies it becomes clear that it is so, according as it is written: [Romans 10:10]: their ears are touched with the oil of sanctification, and their nostrils also are touched: the ears because through them faith enters the mind, according as the apostle says: [Romans 10:17]: so that, the ears being as it were fortified by a kind of wall of sanctification, may permit entrance to nothing harmful, nothing which might entice them back.
5. When their nostrils are touched, they are thus without doubt admonished that for as long as they draw the breath of life through their nostrils they must abide in the service and the commandments of God. For that holy man says: [Job 27:2-4]. The unction of the nostrils signifies this also, that since the oil is blessed in the Name of the Savior, they may be led unto his spiritual odor by the inner perception of a certain ineffable sweetness, so that in delight they may sing: [Canticle of Canticles 1:3]. And so the nostrils, being fortified by this mystery, can give no admittance to the pleasures of this world, nor anything which might weaken their minds.
6. Next the old of consecration is used to anoint their breast, in which is the seat and dwelling place of the heart: so that they may understand that they promise with a firm mind and a pure heart eagerly to follow after the commandments of Christ, now that the devil has been driven out.
They are commanded to go in naked even down to their feet, so that having put aside the carnal garments of mortality they may acknowledge that they make their journey upon a road upon which nothing harsh and nothing harmful can be found. The Church has ordained these things with watchful care over many years, although the old books may not show traces of them.
And then when the elect or catechumen has advanced in faith by these spiritual conveyances, so to speak, it is necessary to be consecrated in the baptism of the one laver, in which sacrament his baptism is effected by a threefold immersion, and must acknowledge his debt to the bounty of him who upon the third day rose from the dead.
He is next arrayed in white vesture,
and his head is anointed with the unction of the sacred chrism: that the baptized person may understand that in his person a kingdom and a priestly ministry have met. For priests and princes used to be anointed with the oil of chrism, priests that they might offer sacrifices to God, princes that they might rule their people.
All the neophytes are arrayed in white vesture to symbolize the resurgent Church, just as out Lord and Savior himself in the sight of certain disciples and prophets was thus transfigured on the mount, so that it was said: [Matthew 17:2]. This prefigured for the future the splendor of the resurgent Church, of which it is written: ‘Who is this who rises up’ [Canticle of Canticles 3:6; 8:5] all in white? And so they wear white raiment so that though the ragged dress of ancient error has darkened the infancy of their first birth, the costume of their second birth should display the raiment of glory, so that clad in a wedding garment he may approach the table of the heavenly bridegroom as a new man.
7. I must say plainly and at once, in case I seem to have overlooked the point, that all these things are done even to infants, who by reason of their youth understand nothing. And by this you may know that when they are presented by their parents or others, it is necessary that their salvation should come through other people’s profession, since their damnation came by another’s fault.
You ask why milk and honey are placed in a most sacred cup and offered with the sacrifice at the Pascal Sabbath. The reason is that it is written in the Old Testament and in a figure promised to the New People: [Leviticus 20:24]. The land of promise, then, is the land of resurrection to everlasting bliss, it is nothing else than the land of our body, which in the resurrection of the dead shall attain to the glory of incorruption and peace. This kind of sacrament, then, is offered to the newly-baptized so that they may realize that no others but they, who partake of the body and blood of the Lord, shall receive the land of promise: and as they start upon the journey thither, they are nourished like little children with milk and honey, so that they may sing: [Psalm 119:103; 19:11].
As new men, therefore, abandoning the bitterness of sin, they drink milk and honey: so that they who in their first birth were nourished with the milk of corruption and first shed tears of bitterness, in their second birth may taste the sweetness of milk and honey in the lap of the Church, so that being nourished upon such sacraments they may be dedicated to the mysteries of perpetual incorruption.
… Bishops must not presume to sign the newly baptized on the forehead twice with chrism, but let the presbyter anoint the candidates on the breast, so that afterwards the bishop should anoint them on the forehead.
…It has also reached us that certain people have been scandalized because we prohibited presbyters from anointing the baptismal candidates. And indeed we acted according to the ancient custom of our church. But if they are completely saddened by this thing, we concede that, when bishops are lacking, the presbyters ought to anoint the candidates with chrism even on the forehead.
1. Brethren,exult with joy in Christ. Borne on the wings of your every yearning, receive the gifts of heaven. For now the saving warmth of the eternal font invites you. Now your Mother adopts you to make you her child. You are to be born not by the ordinary rules of childbirth – mothers groaning in the pains of labor and bringing you into the miseries of this world, weeping, sullied, and wrapped in sullied swaddling clothes – but exulting in joy, children of heaven, children free from sin, to be bountifully nourished, nor in the foul-smelling cradles, but at the altar rails in the midst of sweet perfumes….
2. Brethren, without delay and with more speed than words, enter the heavenly gates. Do not believe that in immersing yourselves in the pool of regeneration, the source of eternal life, that a grace is conferred on you that is an acceptor of persons. Your regeneration is brought about by your judgment alone, in the knowledge that you have that nobility of soul which is measured by the greatness of your faith. Therefore, with faith and fortitude, put off that old man with his foul-smelling rags, all you who presently are to take part in the procession, regenerated and clothed in white garments, having been enriched with the gifts of the Holy Spirit.
3. Brethren, why do you hesitate? Thanks to your faith, the wave of rebirth has already begotten you. It is bringing you forth through the sacraments. Hasten with all speed to the center of your desire. Lo, a solemn hymn is being chanted. Lo, the sweet wail of the new-born is heard. Lo, the most illustrious brood of the begotten proceeds from the one womb. A new thing, that each one is born spiritually! Run, then, forward to the Mother who experiences no pains of labor though she cannot count the number of those to whom she gives birth. Enter, then! Enter! Happily you are going to drink the new milk together.
4. Why do you delay? Though differing in age, sex, and state in life, you are soon going to be joined in unity. Fly to the fountain, to the sweet womb of your virgin Mother. It is where you belong, thanks to your divine nobility and your faith. Realize that your future happiness will be proportioned to your faith. O admirable and most holy benevolence of God, that birth takes place without maternal labor, that our spiritual birth is free from tears! This regeneration, this resurrection, this eternal life, our Mother has given to all. She incorporates us in one body after assembling us from every race and from every nation.
5. Brethren, exult. Your own faith has given you birth. You have fled the snares of this world, its sin, its wounds, its death. You have invoked the assistance of your Father in majesty. Fly, then, not with swiftness of foot, but on wings of thought, to the water of the saving font. Immerse yourselves with confidence. Fortunately, by the death of your old man, you are destined to be victorious.
6. Hasten, brethren, hasten to the bath that will purify you thoroughly. The living water, tempered by the Holy Spirit and fire, most sweet, now invites you with its tender murmur. Already the attendant of the bath is girded, expecting your arrival, ready to give the necessary anointing an drying, and a golden denarius sealed with triple effigy. Therefore, rejoice. For you will plunge naked into the font but you will soon emerge clothed with a heavenly garment, dressed in white. And he who does not soil his baptismal robe will possess the kingdom of heaven.
7. Brethren, you burn with thirst deep and ardent. The sweet murmur of the flowing nectar invites you. Fly without delay to the milk of this genital font. Drink with confidence while you may. Be bathed in the waves of the river flowing over you. Fill your vessels with all urgency and much devotion, so that you will always have enough water, remembering this before all else that you can never spill a drop or come to fetch it again.
Sermon V: “Concerning the Anointing by the Priests of the Neophytes’ Ears and Nostrils with Holy Oil”
Every godly address, dearly beloved brethren, ought to be heard with all attention and diligence of the mind, but especially this one which we will today address to Your Charity. And so, now that the catechumens have been dismissed, we have kept you back in order to hear this, since in addition to those things which it is right for all Christians to observe in common, we shall be speaking specifically about the heavenly mysteries which only they who receive them by our Lord’s grace can hear….
First of all, we anointed your ears with the oil of blessing, but hear the reason why it is done by all the catholic priests of Christ according to the tradition of the Church. Faith and all heavenly teaching gains its entry to the spirit through the ears, and from hearing comes understanding….
But do not think that the performance of the mystery, that we anointed your nostrils with the oil of blessing, was pointless or lacking in purpose. It can be understood to have been done so that those who come to baptism are admonished to keep the sacrament of such a great mystery inviolate and whole even to death, so that they must not desert the worship and service of Christ our Lord God for as long as they draw the breath of this life through their nostrils….
In the first sermon we promised that we would speak about everything that you received through our ministry and the grace of Christ, lest any negligence should arise in you out of ignorance…. So in the first and second sermons [second is missing] we only spoke to you about those things which we conferred on your in accordance with the tradition of the Catholic rule before you came to the holy baptistery: we explained what the anointing signified and what the various meanings are of the anointing of the various parts of your body as our Lord deigned to grant, and we showed how you were prepared through the oil of sanctification to hear the full faith and you were called to the sweet fragrance of Christ….
And you went down into the font: the holy font, the font of life, the font of redemption, the font sanctified with heavenly power, and sanctified so as to sanctify people by washing them after many sins….
So before we baptized your whole body in this font, we asked, “Do you believe in God the Father almighty?” You replied, “I believe.”
Again we asked, “And in the Holy Spirit?” Likewise you replied, “I believe.”…
But when we asked, “Do you believe in the holy Church and the forgiveness of sins and the resurrection of the flesh?” we did not ask so as to mean, that one believes in the Church of God in the same way as one believes in God….
So after you had promised to believe those things which we have explained so far, we immersed your head three times in the sacred font. The rite of baptism which we celebrate signifies a twofold mystery. You were rightly immersed three times, since you received baptism in the name of the Trinity; you were rightly immersed three times, since you received baptism in the name of Jesus Christ who rose from the dead on the third day….
So far we have spoken about the mysteries which are celebrated either before the sacrament of baptism or at the baptism itself. Now we shall deal with those which by holy tradition are performed on the newly baptized.
When the baptism has been completed, we pour chrism, that is the oil of sanctification, on your head. By this oil it is shown that the Lord confers on the newly baptized the dignity of royalty and priesthood….
Now with the completion of all the sacraments, we also gave a command to you by example and word, for we washed the feet of each one of you, to stir you to imitate us, or rather our Lord and Savior himself. Just as we wash your feet, so you must wash the feet of your brethren and strangers, so that we may teach you not only to be hospitable, but also hospitable with humility, and so to honor those whom you receive in your hospitality that you may not blush to fulfill the task of slaves toward them….