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Toward a chrismatic ecclesiology as a theological basis for primacy.

Ever since Fr. Nicolas Afanassieff in the mid-twentieth century evinced the eucharistic theology underlying the early Church's ecclesiology, Eastern Orthodox theologians and bishops have enhanced their respective Churches' appreciation for such an ecclesiology. (1) Recent Roman Catholic theologians have independently developed a comparable eucharistic ecclesiology. (2) On the ecumenical front, this has led to a congruence regarding ecclesiology between these Churches. Nevertheless, the issue of how primacy operates within a eucharistic ecclesiology has given pause to discussions between these two groups. Many theologians recognize the need for understanding what the theological basis for primacy itself is. That various bishops have exercised primacy within the early Church to varying degrees is without dispute; yet, while situating primacy within the episcopal office, the exact theological underpinning for it has been less than clearly articulated. The highest widespread service of primacy was eventually exercised through the patriarchates that arose out of the metropolitan structure of the Church. The function of the Roman primacy must be understood within this broader context, especially because numerous popes of Rome upheld the Petrine origins as well as the ecclesial authority and duties of the Patriarchates of Antioch and Alexandria, along with that of their own respective Apostolic See. (3)

Recent historical theologians have provided a great service to the Church catholic (4) by presenting major comprehensive works on the subject within their own delimited studies. (5) One such theologian, Michael Magee, acknowledged, "There is a serious need today for a new study of the patriarchal institution extending beyond historical and canonical description and employing more properly theological criteria and methodology." (6) Recounting the historical development of the various patriarchates, he admitted, "The question of a theological foundation for the Patriarchal institution is inseparable from the concrete facts of history, even if it does transcend them." (7) Apart from grounding the patriarchal office in that of the episcopal office, a clear theological foundation appears to be wanting in his presentation, at least to this reader. Likewise, the renowned canonist Ladislas Orsy, when reflecting upon the rise of the metropolitan structure of the Church and the exercise of primacy, concluded, "Accordingly, the explanation must be a theological one; it cannot come from canon law." (8)

While the need is recognized, the theological basis has not been that recognizable, or it needs to be stated explicitly. Pope John Paul II, in his now famous encyclical Ut unum sint, invited

Church leaders and their theologians to engage with me in a patient and fraternal dialogue on this subject, a dialogue in which, leaving useless controversies behind, we could listen to one another, keeping before us only the will of Christ for his Church and allowing ourselves to be deeply moved by his plea "that they may all be one ... so that the world may believe that you have sent me" (Jn 17:21). (9)

With this in mind, I, as an individual theologian, am proposing a possible theological basis for the exercise of primacy within the Church catholic. Orsy remarked:

"In the early church rarely did an evolution take place from an abstract concept to a concrete reality; that is, from theory to practice. The early communities, blessed with an instinct of faith, created structures and institutions according to emerging needs, and reflected on them later." (10) I wholeheartedly agree. It is with an "instinct of faith," sensus fidei, that I attempt to elucidate what I perceive--namely, that the Holy Mystery (sacrament) of chrismation is the theological and liturgical basis for the exercise of primacy within the Church. I term this "chrismatic ecclesiology" and believe it to be grounded in the deposit of faith, perceivable as operative in the early Church. Just as the eucharist is fundamental to the Body of Christ, so too, I believe, is the mystery of chrismation, later known in the West as a separate sacrament called confirmation. I set forth this reflection regarding ecclesiology so that theologians, canonists, and particularly the bishops of the various churches may discern to what extent that which I am presenting is a valid articulation of the one, holy, catholic, and apostolic faith. In short, I am attempting an exegesis of the deposit of faith in light of the liturgical praxis of the Church catholic, following the dictum: lex orandi--lex credendi (the rule of prayer indicates the rule of belief). (11) As Jeremy Driscoll noted, "In the patristic period the relation between liturgy and theology was much tighter than it is today, functioning at first almost unconsciously, very naturally." (12)

The Pneumatological Infusion of a Hierarchical Structure

The holy chrism, especially in the Eastern traditions, has always been connected with imparting the Holy Spirit to the newly baptized. As is well known, in the universal early Church, the mysteries of baptism, chrismation, and the eucharist were all imparted together as one initiatory event and reality. To become a member of the Body of Christ, the Church of God, meant becoming a participant in the life of the Holy Trinity. All orthodox theology must be trinitarian; consequently, when I focus below on the role of the Holy Spirit within the Church, this is not to the exclusion of the other two Persons.

Such a trinitarian dynamic, albeit embryonic, can be construed within the Scriptures. The Apostle Paul, having instructed about "the Body and Blood of the Lord" in 1 Corinthians 11, went on to discourse about the role of the Holy Spirit in the Body. Note the triadic structure of the following text--which in the early Church was understood in a trinitarian sense: "Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit; there are varieties of service, but the same Lord;and there are varieties of working, but it is the same God who inspires them all in every one" (1 Cor. 12:4-6; emphasis added). (13) The Apostle then noted, "To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good" (v. 7). Paul subsequently listed the various gifts and stressed how the body, though one, is made up of many members, stating, "For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body" (v. 13). Here we encounter the interplay among the mysteries of baptism, chrismation, and the eucharist-the Body of Christ: Jesus the Anointed One. Paul enumerated various parts of the body: foot, hand, ear, eye, and nose. In the East, immediately after baptism the person is explicitly chrismated on all of these bodily parts, as well as mouth and breast. The priest proclaims: "The Seal of the Gift of the Holy Spirit. The sacramental praxis of the Churches in the East, whether consciously or unconsciously, appears to ground itself in this biblical text and theological understanding regarding incorporation into the Body of Christ animated by the Holy Spirit to the glory of God. (14)

Significantly, Paul then pointed out, "God arranged the organs in the body, each one of them, as he chose" (v. 18), and summed up: "Now you are the body of Christ and individually members of it. And God has appointed in the church first apostles, second prophets, third teachers, then workers of miracles, then healers ..." (vv. 27-28, emphasis added). The reading from the New American Bible Revised for v. 28 is closer to the Greek: "Some people God has designated in the church to be, first (proton), apostles; second (deuteron), prophets; third (triton), teachers; then ..." (emphasis added to reflect the Greek). "Are all apostles? Are all prophets? Are all teachers?" (v. 29; note that Paul kept the same order). Because these various charisms are from the Holy Spirit, it necessarily follows that it is the Holy Spirit who establishes the hierarchical ordering of first, second, third, etc., within the Body of Christ. The Spirit appoints someone as "protos," as the first one. Demonstrably, a hierarchical dynamic flowing from the Holy Spirit is operative from the Church's very foundation. As successors to the Apostles, (15) bishops (episkopoi = overseers) carry out the ministry of being first within the community to oversee the welfare of the Body of Christ, preeminently manifested in the eucharist, as Ignatius of Antioch appreciated early on.

Having solicitude for "the Church of God that is in Corinth" (1 Cor. 1:2), Paul concluded: "Anyone who claims to be a prophet, or to have spiritual powers, must acknowledge that what 1 am writing to you is a command of the Lord.... all things should be done decently and in order (euschemonos kai kata taxin)" (1 Cor. 14:37 and 40). The Holy Spirit establishes and maintains order within the Body of Christ. This order, taxis, also connotes designating rank. This is emphasized by the adverb euschemonos, which means "with grace and dignity," "also, noble, honorable, in rank." (16) Consequently, the Holy Spirit establishes rank within the Body of Christ in order to safeguard order and to promote all things to be done with grace and dignity. This rank eventually evolved into bishop, priest, and deacon.

Reestablishing Order through the Chrism

Because a person is consecrated a member of the Body of Christ through chrismation, Cyprian and the Synod of Carthage, over which he presided in 255, stipulated that schismatics and heretics reconciled to the Church need to be chrismated. (17) Canon 7 of the Second Ecumenical Council, Constantinople I (381), provided for the reception of Arians, Macedonians, Sabbatians, Novatians, Cathars, Aristeri, Quartodecimans, and Apollinarians who renounced their heretical ways, likewise by having them chrismated. Canon 8 of the First Ecumenical Council, Nicaea I (325), had already laid down that converted Cathars (or Novatians?) were to be received by "an imposition of hands," perhaps implying chrismation. Theodoret reported several sources that required chrismation of Novatians. (18) Of course, there were debates early on regarding the validity of baptism and who needed to be baptized. Once a schismatic or heretical baptism was considered valid, chrismation was all that was deemed necessary. The schismatic or heretic had disrupted the order established by the Spirit within the community and thus needed to be resealed so that the Spirit's governance could be operative. Bernard Dupuy speculated that the later restriction of the consecration of the chrism to the patriarch is connected with its use in the reconciliation of schismatics and heretics. "The myron, thus, took on a particular characteristic signifying the unity of the Church." (19)

This is because canon 9 of the Second Council of Antioch 341 seems to suggest that reception of a heretic necessitated the confirmation by the metropolitan who exercised pastoral care for those within the regional synod. (20) Furthermore, canon 20 of the same council allows those who are unjustly accused or maltreated to have their case heard by the regional synod presided over by the metropolitan, the head of the regional church. Similarly, canon 3 of the Council of Carthage (held in either 387 or 390) forbids priests to consecrate the chrism and reconcile penitents; clearly, the two are connected, and the penitence must refer to theological error rather than a minor moral lapse. (21) Likewise, canon 7 of the Council of Laodicea, convened between 343 and 381, provided for reception of heretics after chrismation, and canon 12 then refers to the metropolitan structure of the Church. Consequently, the protos (primate) works with the synod to establish unity of faith within the regional church, and the reunion of the estranged is sealed with the Sacred Chrism.

The koinonia of the Church, local and regional, naturally flows from the Holy Spirit. Paul had encouraged the Church at Corinth and the Christians of the region of Achaia, of which Corinth was the capital (2 Cor. 1:1): "Mend your ways, heed my appeal, agree with one another, live in peace, and the God of peace will be with you ... The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ and the love of God and the fellowship [koinonia] of the Holy Spirit be with you all (2 Cor. 13.11 and 14). Once again, we are confronted with a triadic formula, but a formula purposefully used to address disunity within a community (local as well as regional). It is the Holy Spirit who sustains the believer in communion with the Holy Trinity and, consequently, the community of faith, for as Tertullian (one of the earliest witnesses to baptismal anointing) (22) said in De baptismo, "For where there are the Three, namely the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, there is the Church which is the body of the Three." (23) Significantly, at the time of chrismation, Cyril of Jerusalem pronounced the words, "The Seal of the koinonia of the Holy Spirit." (24) The Ecumenical Council of Constantinople in 381 stipulated that the converted heretic be "sealed or anointed with the holy chrism on the forehead, eyes, nostrils, mouth and ears. "As we seal them we say: 'Seal of the gift of the holy Spirit,'" clearly reduplicating chrismation. (25)

According to the Apostolic Constitutions, after saying the Lord's Prayer the neophyte faced the East and prayed, "O God Almighty, the Father of your Christ, your Only-begotten Son, give me an undefiled body, a clean heart, a vigilant mind, an unerring knowledge, the influence [epiphoitesin] of the Holy Spirit for the acquisition and full assurance of the truth, through your Christ through whom be glory to You in the Holy Spirit for ever. Amen." (26) Koinonia is a gift of the Spirit of Truth, who empowers believers to acquire the truth of the faith. Consequently, in the liturgies of both St. Basil and St. John Chrysostom, before praying the Lord's Prayer for the forgiveness of sins, the priest leads the People of God, saying, "Asking for unity in the faith and for communion of the Holy Spirit, let us commit ourselves and one another and our whole life to Christ our God." Koinonia in the Spirit of Truth preserves the Body of Christ in unity.

In the Alexandrian tradition, as found in the mid-fourth-century Sacramentary of Serapion, the priest prays that the newly chrismated, "being safeguarded by this seal, may remain steadfast and unchangeable, unharmed and safe, blameless and unassailable, dwelling in the faith and knowledge of the truth to the end." (27) Demonstrably, chrismation was seen as imparting a dynamic of being sealed and preserved in the orthodox faith.

This same emphasis on reconciliation with the Church through the Holy Spirit is operative in the Latin tradition. On February 10, 385, Pope Siricius wrote a decretal in response to the question posed by Himerius, bishop of Tarragona in Spain, regarding the reception of heretics into the Catholic Church. Siricius pointed out that the Novatians were reconciled to the Church by "the single invocation of the sevenfold Spirit," pronounced as the bishop laid his hands on them, the same liturgical action performed at confirmation. (28) Canon 1 of the Council of Orange in 441 likewise mandated chrismation of heretics. (29) Pope Leo I also required the laying on of hands and invocation of the Holy Spirit. (30) The second Council of Arles, held between 442 and 506, stipulated the imposition of hands with the chrism to reconcile the followers of Bonoso. (31) Thus, Pope Gregory I in his Epistle 67 affirmed the ancient practice of reconciliation of heretics either through the imposition of hands, as was the Western custom, or the anointing with the Sacred Chrism as the East practiced. (32) After studying the subject of confirmation, Emmanuel Lanne concluded:
   The structural link of confirmation received through the
   ministration of the bishop, attested since the time of Hippolytus
   and underscored in the subsequent Roman tradition, thus presents to
   us an essential aspect of its significance inasmuch as its differs
   from that of baptism. Confirmation situates the Christian in the
   ecclesial communion through the sevenfold Spirit who is conferred.
   (33)


Ergo, the early Church, both East and West, believed that the invocation of the Holy Spirit reestablishes order within the Body of Christ.

Metropolitan and Patriarchal Authority of Primacy

As noted above, Dupuy held that the function of protos, primate, within the regional church evolved out of the connection between the chrism and the reintegration of schismatics and heretics into the Body of Christ so that they could be in eucharistic communion, I concur. Concomitantly, other factors came into play. The coction, that is, the boiling and confection, of the holy chrism was a prolonged and involved activity, mixing various fragrances into the olive oil. (34) Patriarch Barhebraeus (d. 1286) of the Syrian Orthodox Church, in his Nomocanon III.3, specified how the Holy Myron is to be confected. Sebastian Brock said that this elaborate process led to the consecration's being the exclusive prerogative of the patriarch. (35) The consecration of the chrism usually took place on Holy Thursday, as mentioned in canon 20 of the First Council of Toledo, 398. (36) In the East, the consecration of the chrism is not done annually but happens sporadically on Holy Thursday, mindful of when the supply begins to run low.

The earliest testimony of a reservation of the confection and consecration of the Holy Myron to a metropolitan or patriarch comes from Patriarch Photius of Constantinople in the ninth century. (37) This is also attested to in 1254 when Pope Innocent IV of Rome acknowledged the "ancient usage" of reserving the consecration to the patriarch, the protos of the respective patriarchate. (38) George Wagner gave the fifteenth century as the earliest textual witness to the coction of the myron on Holy Thursday at Constantinople. This was described by Symeon of Thessalonika, the fifteenth-century bishop. (39) At some point in time, contrary to traditional practice, the Ecumenical Patriarch had also consecrated the Holy Myron for the Patriarchates of Alexandria, Antioch, and Jerusalem. (40) This appears to be after the Fall of Constantinople (1453), once the patriarch became ethnarch of the Christian millet in the Ottoman Empire. Dupuy interpreted this as a simple sign of ecclesial communion. (41) While this might be the case, political accommodation to the Ottoman Empire could be an underlying reason. Presuming that the patriarchs of Alexandria, Antioch, and Jerusalem previously enjoyed the privilege of consecrating the Holy Myron before being absorbed into the Ottoman Empire, one can understand their request to have that right restored. The Mamluk sultanate of Antioch fell to the Ottoman Empire in 1516, as did that of Egypt in 1517. Given that the Sacred Chrism is only rarely confected and consecrated, the consecration of the myron by Joachim V, Patriarch of Antioch (1580-92), might indicate a reversal of a temporary right of the Ecumenical Patriarch granted by the Ottoman sultan, the reversal's being based upon previous practice under the Mamluk regime. The same possibility applies to the actions of Meletios Pigas, Patriarch of Alexandria (1590-1601). Apparently, the earliest evidence for this regarding the Patriarchate of Jerusalem is 1670, but documentation is piecemeal. (42)

The other Apostolic See with an early witness to restriction to the patriarch is that of Rome, dating to the tenth century. Martin Dudley noted, "In the first true Pontifical, that of the tenth century, Roman and Germanic traditions met and mixed, and the Roman practice, which allowed the priests of titular churches to bless the other oils while the pope alone consecrated the chrism, gave way to the Germanic reservation of all three blessings to the mitred pontiff." (43) The Gelasian Sacramentary laid down the rubrics for the blessing of holy oil. (44) Already canon 7 of the Council of Toledo (653) restricted the confection and consecration of the chrism to "the summit of episcopal eminence [episcopalis eminentiae culmen]." (45) In the West, the Ordo ecclesiarum Lateran, dating around 1140, strictly reserved the blessing of the holy chrism to the pope. (46) Likewise, on February 25, 1204, Pope Innocent III sent a bull to the new Tsar of Bulgaria regarding the pope's recognition of his Church's autocephaly and the customary right of the new metropolitan to consecrate the Sacred Chrism. L. Petit concluded, "This demonstrates that at this period the heads of the autocephalous churches, primates or patriarchs, were already in full possession of the privilege" to consecrate the chrism. (47)

A pious Alexandrian legend regarding the coction of the Holy Myron takes it back to the Apostles, then next to Athanasius (328-73) in Alexandria, followed by the pontificate of Theophilus (384-412). (48) According to the Coptic tradition, Patriarch Theophilus was the first to reserve the consecration of the chrism to Alexandria--and on Holy Thursday. (49) The earliest verifiable witness to a Maundy Thursday consecration, however, dates to Patriarch Macarius I (932-52). Ever since his second successor, Ephraim (975-78), the Coptic Church consecrates the myron on Holy Thursday. (50)

In his tome The Orthodox Confession, written around 1640, Peter Moghila, Metropolitan of Kiev, stated that the right of consecrating the holy chrism in the Orthodox Churches is reserved "to the most elevated bishop in the hierarchical order." (51) His Confession received official approbation from the patriarchs of Constantinople, Alexandria, Antioch, and Jerusalem in 1643.

The present liturgical praxis of confecting and consecrating the myron in the Eastern Orthodox Churches can be tabulated as follows:

1. The patriarch of Constantinople for his patriarchate including the autocephalous churches of Cyprus, Greece, and Bulgaria, as well as the autonomous churches (Sinai, Georgia, Czech Republic, Slovakia, and Finland) or the semi-autonomous church of Crete;

2. The patriarch of Alexandria for his patriarchate;

3. The patriarch of Antioch and all the East, for his patriarchate;

4. The patriarch of Jerusalem for his patriarchate;

5. The patriarch of Moscow for his patriarchate since 1675;

6. The metropolitan of Kiev, now "patriarchal exarch of Moscow of the Ukraine," since the fourteenth century;

7. The catholicos-patriarch of Georgia for his church, exercised throughout various periods of history;

8. The patriarch of Serbia for his church since 1920;

9. The patriarch of Rumania for his church since 1925.

Thus, in the Eastern Orthodox Churches, the consecration of the Holy Myron is reserved to the patriarch or highest authority, that is, the metropolitan. This is likewise the case in the Oriental Orthodox Churches, as well as the Assyrian Church of the East. (52) According to John of Mardin (d. 1165), metropolitan of the Oriental Syrian Orthodox Church, the practice of reserving consecration to the patriarch was of recent origin due to Latin influence, with the goal of obligating bishops to remain dependent on their patriarch. (53) Furthermore, the practice endures in the Maronite and Melkite Churches that are in communion with Rome. (54)

One can safely surmise from the present liturgical and juridical praxis of the Eastern Churches that profess the one, holy, catholic, and apostolic faith (as well as the former practice of the Patriarchate of Rome), that the creation, consecration, and distribution of the holy chrism is integrally connected with the office and ministry of the patriarch, catholicos, or metropolitan--in short, the protos of the largest juridic ecclesial body. As such, one can postulate that the function of primacy flows from the mystery of the chrism, which for Eastern Christians appears to be the sacramental presence of the Holy Spirit, the very One who establishes within the Church the office of protos.

The Sacramental Nature of the Chrism Itself

Up to this point, I have been reviewing the praxis of the Church, but one must now consider the early Church's theological views regarding the chrism itself. The earliest extant testimony to a belief that common oil was transformed after the invocation of the Holy Spirit upon the oil comes from Cyril of Jerusalem:
      are of supposing that this ointment is mere ointment. Just as
   after the invocation of the Holy Spirit the eucharistic bread is no
   longer ordinary bread, but the Body of Christ, so this holy oil, in
   conjunction with the invocation, is no longer simple or common oil,
   but becomes the gracious gift of Christ and the Holy Spirit,
   producing the advent [presence?] of His deity. (55)


Here the chrism is not only clearly paralleled with the eucharist but with a transformation of the elements as well. Just as the Holy Eucharist is the presence of Christ, the Holy Myron appears to be the presence of the Holy Spirit. Auguste Piedagnel in his critical translation rendered this as "la presence de l'Esprit-Saint. After studying Cyril of Jerusalem's theology of chrismation, Joseph Torchia concluded, "A profound transformation of the myron occurs at the invocation of the Holy Spirit, described by Cyril in a manner analogous to eucharistic transubstantiation, whereby what was formerly ordinary ointment now manifests the presence of God." (57)

Alexander Schmemann stressed that "the radical uniqueness of this sacrament is that it bestows on [human beings] not any particular gift or gifts of the Holy Spirit, but the Holy Spirit Himself as gift." (58) The presence of the Holy Spirit is conferred to the baptized by the Holy Spirit who functionally is present with (and possibly within) the holy chrism, ordinary olive oil mixed with fragrances and transformed by consecration. Schmemann explained that "in the sacrament of anointment we receive the Holy Spirit Himself, and not merely 'grace': such has always been the teaching of the Church. It is the Holy Spirit, and not some divine power, that descended on the apostles on the day of Pentecost." (59)

Gregory of Nyssa made the same parallel between the eucharist and the chrism. The bread again is at first common bread, but when the sacramental action consecrates it, it is called, and becomes, the Body of Christ. So with the sacramental oil; so with the wine: though before the benediction they are of little value, each of them, after the sanctification bestowed by the Spirit, has its several operations." (60) There is a "before" and an "after" with a transformation effected by the Holy Spirit. Because the Sacred Chrism is contextualized between the Body of Christ and the Blood of Christ, presuming a sacramental Divine Presence seems natural, given that this was the historical belief regarding the eucharist.

To continue the historical theological analysis, Irenaeus had earlier equated unction itself with the Spirit when arguing against heretics in the second century. 1 His contemporary, Theophilus of Antioch, likewise spoke of the divine oil, theou here being taken in an adjectival sense. (62) The Council of Laodicea (370) did not refrain from calling the Holy Myron the "supercelestial chrism," in canon 48. Pseudo-Dionysius later referred to the Sacred Chrism as "divine ointment four times and once as the "most divine ointment." (63) In his work he expounded on "the way the divine ointment is sacredly handled." (64) The mystic held the chrism in the same regard as the eucharist; "in dignity and effectiveness it is on a level with the sacred rite of the synaxis." (65) Nicholas Cabasilas followed suit, employing the phrase "the most divine Chrism" several times. (56) Clearly an aspect of divinity is ascribed to the Holy Myron that makes recipients "partakers of the Holy Spirit." (67) To my knowledge, all the Orthodox Churches seem to believe that the Holy Spirit is present within the Holy Myron. (68)

The liturgical praxis of the Eastern Orthodox Churches seems to signify this theological understanding. Having cited the above passage from Cyril of Jerusalem and taking the text to mean "presence" rather than simply advent, Anthony Coniaris pointed out, "The special sacredness of the chrism in conveying the presence of the Holy Spirit is seen in the fact that throughout the year it is kept in the tabernacle on the holy altar together with the Eucharist." (69) This is not true of the other oils. Liturgical practices signify beliefs: the theological presuppositions and beliefs in action.

The same perspective regarding the presence of the Holy Spirit appears to be held in the Oriental Orthodox Churches. Brock, referring to the Greek version of the Antiochene baptismal service, observed that the coming of the Holy Spirit is associated "with the pouring of the Myron on to the water." He further noted that Moshe bar Kepha in the ninth century, "in his commentary on the baptismal service ([section] 13), says that the myron represents the Holy Spirit hovering ... over the water, and he quotes Severos as stating that 'the Myron represents the Holy Spirit."' (70) In his Commentary on the Consecration of Myron, bar Kepha remarked, "The Father anoints, the Son is anointed, and the Holy Spirit fills the place of the Myron." (71) The Syriac verb ml' is very rich, meaning "fill, replenish, complete, conclude." (72) It appears that by tilling the myron the Holy Spirit brings things to fulfillment, just as the Spirit filled Jesus, making him the Anointed One. In this same work, bar Kepha previously mentioned that Severos taught that "the Myron signifies the Holy Spirit." (73) One modern liturgical comment regarding chrismation states, "This prayer is not for the blessing of the Myron oil, but for asking the Holy Spirit which dwells in the Myron, to also dwell in the baptized person, through the anointment." (74)

A similar belief in the West Syrian tradition is witnessed in the Maronite invocation over the oil. In the following prayer, Brock understood the Holy Spirit as the Power of God. Note the trinitarian dimension of this consecratory prayer over the oil: "May your Power come. Lord, from the uppermost heights and may it reside in this oil, and may the mysteries of your Christ be imprinted in it." (75) The Holy Spirit descended upon Jesus, making him the Anointed One, the Christ; hence, the chrism likewise imparts the same Holy Spirit. Apparently, the Holy Spirit sacramentally resides in the chrism.

Likewise, in the Assyrian Church of the East regarding the sanctification of the oil of anointing as found in the Ktaba d-takse kumrave, Brock translated this prayer, apparently addressed to God the Father: "... and may you come to us, in your compassion, and bless this oil with your grace and sanctify it by your compassion; and may your Holy Spirit hover over it, and your Divinity reside in it." (76) It would seem that the Holy Spirit is the Divine Presence subsequently residing within the consecrated chrism.

Thus, the liturgical praxis of the East suggests a theological understanding regarding the chrism and the real presence of the Holy Spirit, even though there is no formal teaching to this effect. Apparently, through the Mystery of the Holy Myron the Holy Spirit can be understood as sacramentally present in the Church, the Body of Christ.

What is the understanding within the Latin tradition, then? The Roman Catholic Church has made no formal doctrinal declaration concerning the Sacred Chrism and the Divine Presence, as it has done with regard to the Holy Eucharist and the Divine Presence. Nevertheless, within the Latin tradition there are various adumbrations that might support such a theological understanding or at least suggest a previous one.

In the fourth century, Bishop Optatus complained against the Donatists, who desecrated both the eucharist and the holy chrism. (77) The act of desecration is meaningful only if the subject of desecration is already regarded as holy. Optatus claimed that desecration of the chrism is just as blasphemous as desecration of the eucharist. The tenth-century Romano-Germanic Pontifical lays down the liturgical rubrics for the "most holy sacrament of chrism," recognizing its exalted status. (78) A few centuries later, canon 20 of Lateran IV (1215) stipulated, We decree that the chrism and the eucharist are to be kept locked away in a safe place in all churches, so that no audacious hand can reach them to do anything horrible or impious." (79) It seems that the chrism is held in comparable, if not the same, honor as the eucharist and can be desecrated in the same fashion as the eucharist would be. Given that desecration of the eucharist is distinguished from that of a church building or statue--because according to Catholic thought the Real Presence abides in the eucharist--the listing of the chrism not only with, but even before, the eucharist might connote a presumption of the Divine Presence in the Sacred Chrism as well.

In fact, in presenting the traditional teaching the Catechism of Trent refers to the chrism as "sacred and truly divine ointment." The Council of Trent (1545-63) itself declared, "If anyone says that they are slighting the holy Spirit who assign some special power to the holy chrism of confirmation: let him be anathema." (80) What is important in this canon is that the chrism itself is under discussion rather than the rite of confirmation. The Sacred Chrism in se holds some special power (indisputably a divine power). This divine activity appears to be permanent and is proper to the Sacred Chrism itself and pertains to the Holy Spirit. The consecratory prayer from the seventh-century Gelasian Sacramentary (reaffirmed as prayer A in the 1970 Pontifical) states: "And so, Father, we ask you to bless this oil you have created. Fill it with the power of your Holy Spirit through Christ your Son." The consecrated chrism is filled with the power of the Holy Spirit. It would seem to stand to reason that the power of the Spirit cannot exist apart from the Presence of the Holy Spirit unless one views the chrism in a mechanistic sense.

In fact, Augustine succinctly declared that "the chrism ... is the sacrament of the Holy Spirit." (81) In this sense, the chrism and the Holy Spirit are inseparable, and reverence given to the chrism is reverence given to the Spirit. Optatus had even charged the Donatists with blasphemy against the Holy Spirit because they rejected the validity of the Catholic chrism. (82) He noted, "Before consecration it is still by nature simple oil; it becomes sweet, when it is seasoned from the Name of Christ." Optatus envisioned some sort of transformation of the oil even though he was not explicit about the presence of the Holy Spirit within the Sacred Chrism. Nevertheless, there is a before and an "after." The Venerable Bede also accorded the chrism an exalted status when he commented that the Lord took the Apostles to the Mount of Olives and instructed them "that all who are baptized into his death were to be confirmed with the highest chrism of the Holy Spirit." (84)

The exalted nature accorded the chrism in the medieval Latin tradition is reflected in its liturgical rubrics. At the conclusion of the Chrism Mass, William Durand in his twelfth-century Pontifical directed the bishop to prostrate and say three times "Ave sanctum crisma" and then reverently kiss the vessel containing the Sacred Chrism. The assembled clergy would then one by one repeat the same reverence. (85) Significantly, one only bowed the head to the oil of catechumens, rather than give a prostration. (86) The Tridentine liturgical rubrics reflect the same sense of reverence. After the oil is consecrated on Holy Thursday, the priests would make a triple genuflection, saying "Ave sanctum chrisma." Accordingly, only the Sacred Chrism received the triple genuflection, not the oil of catechumens. (87) This liturgical praxis of triple genuflection, reaffirmed by the Tridentine rubrics, or at the very least established immediately after Trent, seems to recognize a Divine Presence. Apparently, after the revisions of Vatican II, the triple genuflection is no longer done.

Writing in 1892, Herman Schell noted, "The exalted rites employed in consecrating the sacred chrism, the reverence with which it is handled, and the express declaration of the "^ridentine Council, Sess. VII, De Confirm., can. 2 ... presuppose a special dignity and power which the Church attributed to the sacred chrism." (88)

William J. Turner averred, "Until the thirteenth century, it would not have been surprising to find the holy oils kept in a tabernacle with the hosts." (89) In fact, from the Middle Ages, both the Sacred Chrism and the Holy Eucharist were housed in a vessel known as the chrismal or chrismarium. (90) Understandably, giving equal reverence to both would be natural; (91) thus, it appears to me that in the liturgical praxis of the Roman tradition the chrism was instinctually accorded recognition as probably containing the Presence of the Holy Spirit, even if this sensus fidei was never articulated consciously in an explicit fashion, especially in scholastic terms.

Notwithstanding, for Orthodox and Catholic theology the chrism possesses a pneumatological character. Wagner stated, "The Byzantine rite has always underscored the pneumatological character of the myron which is composed of a multitude of different sweet-smelling substances mixed into the holy chrism in order to indicate the fullness of the multiple gifts of the Holy Spirit." (93) The same theological interpretation is found in the Roman Catechism of Trent. (94) There is One Spirit, but there are many gifts. The One Spirit has a multiform dimension, the sevenfold aspect as expressed in the Septuagint version of Is. 11:2 and reiterated by Fathers of the Church both East and West. (95) As God, the Person of the Holy Spirit reflects the mystery of the Trinity in a particular way, the one and the many. This dynamic of "one and many" finds its ecclesial expression in primacy and synodality, a bishop serving as protos, working collegially with his body of bishops.

Primacy and Synodality

Having mined a historical theology of Sacred Chrism, one can now begin to reevaluate the praxis of the Church with regard to ecclesiology. The metropolitan structure of the Church evolved for numerous reasons: Missionary activity usually targeted the largest population centers, and these cities naturally became apostolic centers. Admittedly, the largest population centers as such developed along secular administrative lines and perpetuated their civic importance. Such political and economic centers made it more advantageous for bishops in outlying cities and towns to congregate for synods in the metropolis. (96) As a metropolis, the Church with its bishop exercised maternal solicitude for the welfare of its offspring churches founded by missionary outreach and pastoral care. (97) As sociopolitical development occurred, the Church naturally accommodated to the new secular configurations. Enough evidence exists, however, to show that the Church with its diocesan territories did not always conform to evolving imperial diocesan configurations. (98)

In reference to the establishment of patriarchates, in 452 Pope Leo I acknowledged these as "canonical arrangements, set up under the guidance of the Spirit of God by the holy Fathers at the Council of Nicaea for the governing of the entire Church." (99) More succinctly, he saw the privileges and responsibilities of the patriarchates as according to "the canons of the Fathers, the precepts of the Holy Spirit, and precedents set in antiquity." (100) The same idea was reinforced in his letter to Patriarch Anatolius, wherein Leo referred to the patriarchal arrangement found in the Nicene canons [as] "actually ordained through the Holy Spirit." (101) He further argued, "The rights of the provincial bishops are not to be snatched from them, nor are the metropolitan bishops to be robbed of the privileges assigned to them in antiquity," highlighting how the Sees of Alexandria and Antioch had a Petrine foundation. Arguably, Pope Leo the Great understood the metropolitan and patriarchal structure of the Church involving primacy, operative in the entire Body of Christ, as ordained by the Holy Spirit. However, he was astute enough to note, "Now, the sees and those who preside over them are two different things." (103) The patriarchal office and the service of primacy are the will of the Holy Spirit, but that does not guarantee that the occupants are obedient to the Holy Spirit.

When metropolitan territories did overlap with secular districts, this can be attributed to the incarnational dynamic of the Word of God that adapts itself to various peoples, cultures, and situations. Even the ancient Churches in the East lying outside the Byzantine Empire (the Armenian as well as the Assyrian Church of the East centered in Seleucia-Ctesiphon) developed the same metropolitan ecclesiology or chrismatic ecclesiology. (104) This can be interpreted as testifying to the universal operation of the Holy Spirit in the life and governance of the regional college of bishops. Patriarch Timothy I (780-823) of the Assyrian Church of the East appears to have reflected this chrismatic ecclesiology when he wrote, "One and the same Spirit perfects the Catholic Church which exists in all the heavenly regions through these five Sees" (Seleucia-Ctesiphon, Rome, Alexandria, Antioch, and Constantinople). (105) In short, the ideal was that the city on earth be transformed into a City of God and that the human community be transformed so that it could participate in the Divine Community of Love, the Holy Trinity. (106)

It is precisely in this trinitarian context that primacy is exercised. The Father, God Almighty, holds a primacy within the Trinity, being in a real (though not temporal) sense the First Person, the Source from whom the other Persons eternally come forth. Notwithstanding, all three Persons are equal. God Almighty is primus inter pares. Precisely as Spirit of the Father (and Spirit of the Son who is from the Father), the Spirit instills within the Body of Christ the charism of primacy within synodality so that it can be in communion with God. One can only be protos, primus, first, in relation to another. The synod can validly assemble only when it is gathered together by its head; neither can act apart from the other. The spirit of collegiality connotes, within its very dynamism, attentive listening to one another so as to discern what "the Spirit is saying to the churches" (Rev. 2:7, etc.). Such, indeed, is the root meaning of obedience: hupakouo and oboedire. Obedience--to the bishop, to the metropolitan, to the patriarch, to the Ecumenical Councils, to the Scriptures and Apostolic Tradition--necessitates attentive listening to the Holy Spirit. The Petrine office of the Pope of Rome would need to be understood and appreciated within such a chrismatic ecclesiology, if my articulation were to be accepted.

Regarding canon 6 of the Council of Carthage in 418-419, in the Pedalion one reads a note that "bishops ... to be sure, can prepare the myron by themselves, but, for the sake of showing obedience and submission to the Patriarch, they assemble in the Great Church and prepare it there." (107) The preparation and consecration of the Holy Myron is a collegial act, presided over by the patriarch, who exercises the sole prerogative of consecration on behalf of his Church. The patriarch likewise exercises certain jurisdictional duties for the welfare of the Church that is committed into his pastoral care. Wilhelm de Vries summed it up this way: "At the head of each patriarchate stands a bishop who embodies the fullness of episcopal power and in whose favor the other bishops have renounced part of their rights for the sake of better government in the Church." (108) The patriarch's primacy is not merely one of honor in an honorific sense but also one of functional responsibility, as Brian E. Daley so cogently demonstrated in his discussion of the historical meaning of the phrase primacy of honor." (109) Likewise, Adam DeVille has provided a very useful synopsis of how the patriarchal office functions as protos and has evolved differently in the various churches of the one, holy, catholic, and apostolic faith." (110)

The earliest canonical pronouncement on synodality and the function of a protos is found in canon 34 of the Apostolic Canons from the early fourth century:
   The bishops of each nation should recognize the one among them who
   is first and acknowledge him as head, and should do nothing
   extraordinary without his consent, each one doing only those things
   that pertain to his own community and the territories around it.
   Yet neither should the one who is first do anything without the
   consent of all; for thus there will be oneness of mind, and God
   will be glorified through Christ in the Holy Spirit. (111)


John Zizioulas remarked, "The canon, significantly enough, ends with reference to the Holy Trinity, thereby indicating indirectly that canonical provisions of this kind are not a matter of mere organization but have a theological, indeed a triadological, basis." (112) Life within the Triune God is the very raison d'etre of the Church, the People of God. This union comes about through oneness in mind, which ultimately is achieved by "participation in the Spirit" (cf. Phil. 2:1-2). Here, theology informs praxis; doing flows out of being.

Commenting on this canon, Dimitrios Salachas underscored the "doxological" dynamic of synodality. (113) This canon bears a very close resemblance to canon 9 of the Council of Antioch (341), which claims that its ruling is "in accordance with the ancient Canon of the Fathers." Magee summarized the impact of canon 34 in history:
   The principle expressed in this canon will be reiterated numerous
   times in the various synods of the first millennium, though with
   variations in terminology. The protos (i.e., "the one who is
   first") of the Apostolic Canon 34 is called "Bishop of the
   Metropolitan See" and "Exarch of the province" in canon 6 of
   Sardica. In canon 34 of the Synod of Carthage he is called the
   "primordial Bishop", while canon 56 of the same synod calls him
   "Bishop of the first See". The "Canons of the Holy Apostles" would
   be introduced into the Church of Constantinople by Patriarch John
   III Scholasticus (565-577), and endorsed by the Synod of Trullo in
   692. (114)


For the Eastern Orthodox Churches, the Synod of Trullo has binding authority. In short, koinonia requires a center, and the positive action of constellating around a common center finds its expression through the episcopal office, especially that found in the metropolis. Schmemann remarked: "A local Church cut from this universal 'koinonia' is indeed a contradictio in adjecto, for this koinonia is the very essence of the Church. And it ... has, therefore, its form and expression: primacy. Primacy is the necessary expression of the unity in faith and life of all local Churches, of their living and efficient koinonia." (115) The local church possesses the fullness of the Body of Christ, thanks to its eucharistic communion with its bishop, and at the same time it shares in a more comprehensive koinonia of catholicity and apostolicity through its sharing in the holy chrism flowing from its metropolitan or patriarchal center. The patriarch or head of the autocephalous Church distributes the holy chrism to the metropolitans, who in turn distribute it to the bishops, who subsequently distribute it to their priests. This liturgical action becomes a profound and concrete witness to Apostolic Succession, ecclesial unity, and the operation of the Holy Spirit in each local Body of Christ. As early as the close of the fourth century, priests were forbidden to request chrism from whichever bishop they pleased; they needed to receive it from their own bishop and maintain a hierarchical chain of passing on the chrism." (116) Given this praxis, the chrism plays an important ecclesiological function regarding primacy and synodality.

Likewise, the patriarchates share in a koinonia when each newly elected patriarch sends a letter of profession of faith to his brother patriarchs, asking to be recognized in the diptychs. (117) By this profession of faith, based on the profession of faith coming from Peter, the chief of the Apostles, the Church (the Body of Christ) is assured of its oneness, for Peter's profession of faith came from a revelation of God the Father, most assuredly through the Holy Spirit (compare Mt. 16:17 in conjunction with Mt. 10:20). The synodality exercised on the patriarchal level finds its resonance when this same dynamic of synodality and primacy is expressed through Ecumenical Councils, which require the representative presence and assent of all patriarchs. (118) Pope Celestine 1 wrote to the Council of Ephesus:
   The assembly of the Bishops testifies to the presence of the Holy
   Spirit. What we have read is true (for the truth, whose words are
   found in the Gospel cannot lie): "Where two or three are gathered
   in my name, there am I in their midst". If it was true that the
   Holy Spirit was not absent from among even such a small number, how
   much more do we believe him to be present when so many holy men
   come together?" (119)


From the early days, even as the Apostles deliberated together at the Council of Jerusalem, when they promulgated their decisions, they allegedly proclaimed, "It has seemed good to the Holy Spirit and to us" (Acts 15:28). Synodality and conciliarity are manifestations of the Holy Spirit. De Vries has shown how this consciousness of bishops assembled in synod and council, deliberating with the aid of the Holy Spirit, pervaded the history of the early Church. (120) The church historians Socrates and Sozomen, both writing in the fifth century, expressed the firm belief that the Holy Spirit operated through the bishops gathered in the Ecumenical Councils. (121) Socrates even declared concerning the bishops thus assembled, "Being illuminated by God and the grace of the Holy Spirit, they were utterly unable to err from the truth." (122) The exercise of collegial infallibility flows from the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of Truth, whose charge it is to preserve the Church in truth and to remind the believers of all that the One Incarnate Word of God preached. Filled with the Holy Spirit, Peter acted as leader of the Twelve on the day of Pentecost and played a leading role at the Council of Jerusalem. It would be interesting to review the early descriptions of Peter and those who were successors to the Petrine office (in the various Sees) to see to what extent the Holy Spirit figures as operative in the accounts. I recall at least that at the Sixth Ecumenical Council, Eastern Bishop Domitian of Prusias declared that Pope Agatho's letter to the Council was "as if dictated by the Holy Spirit through the mouth of the holy and blessed prince of the Apostles Peter." (123)

Concerning the Syrian Orthodox Church, Emmanuel Siman remarked: "The superiority of the Patriarch which is the fruition and expression of the collegiality of bishops in his jurisdiction, situates itself within the framework of hierarchical governance. But from whence does the Patriarch derive this function of primacy, this dignity, and this ecclesial responsibility? Without doubt from the Spirit who is the very author." (124) Siman came to this conclusion based on the liturgical texts for the consecration of the patriarch, which state that the election happened under the direction of the Holy Spirit. (125)

Lex orandi--Lex credendi

What do the words of the consecratory prayer of the chrism say? The liturgical prayers are quite involved, but significant for the present study are these lines, pronounced by the patriarch or head of the autocephalous Churches within the Byzantine tradition. The ancient consecratory prayer as found in the majority of manuscripts reads, "For by it were anointed priests and high priests, prophets and kings, and your holy apostles, and all who have been reborn through the washing of new birth, by them, and by the bishops and priests who have followed them, even to this day." (126) Although the words "and kings" are omitted in the current Greek text, they perdured through at least the sixteenth century. Noteworthy is the mention of priests and high priests, a hierarchical structure, prophets (who many times led a federation of prophets), and kings who exercised a hierarchical power, culminating in the Apostles (who hold the first place) within the Church. All of this is passed down to the bishops and then to the priests so that the baptized person may become part of "the chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation" (lines 31-33, obviously quoting 1 Pet. 2:9).

This consecratory prayer can be connected to the mystery that Christians are "built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the cornerstone. In him the whole structure is joined together and grows into a holy temple in the Lord; in whom you also are built together in the Spirit into a dwelling place for God" (Eph. 2:20-22, emphasis added; note the triadic structure). The consecratory prayer over the chrism in line 24 denotes Christians as "household members and citizens," a parallel to Eph. 2:19, wherein they are called the same. (127) Consequently, the Holy Spirit, operating through the holy chrism, builds up the Body of Christ and coordinates the various ministries in the Church for the good of the Church. Centuries earlier, Irenaeus made a strong link among this anointing with oil, the Holy Spirit, and the prophets and apostles. (128)

The same fundamental formula is contained in the Coptic ritual (thus bearing witness to the Alexandrian tradition): "Send the grace of the working of the Holy Spirit upon this Holy Myron which he hath sanctified as the holy oil with which Thou didst sanctify priests and high priests and prophets and kings." (129) In fact, this can be traced to the Apostolic Tradition from the third or fourth century that states "with which you have anointed kings, priests, and prophets," (130) which is still found in the Roman Sacramentary. (131) I would not be surprised if the rituals of the other churches of the one, holy, catholic, and apostolic faith corroborate the same under standing.

In light of the foregoing presentation, it appears to me that there is an inherent sacramental and theological connection between the chrism and primacy. I believe that the chrismatic ecclesiology that I have elucidated unfolded gradually within the Church--at times instinctually and perhaps not always consciously. Indeed, none of the Seven Ecumenical Councils devoted itself to a reflection on ecclesiology--or a developed pneumatology either, for that matter.

A Eucharistic and Chrismatic Ecclesiology

How does a chrismatic ecclesiology correspond to a eucharistic ecclesiology? Zizioulas remarked:
   If she [the Church] is the "body of Christ" and the "Temple of the
   Spirit," her nature cannot but depend on a Christology conditioned
   fundamentally by Pneumatology. If, finally, the Church is revealed
   in its fullness in the sacrament of the Holy Eucharist, we cannot
   form our view of her structure and ministries without taking into
   consideration the structure of the Eucharist itself. All these
   considerations are fundamental presuppositions in a theological
   approach to the question of primacy. (132)


Indeed, there is no intrinsic conflict between a eucharistic ecclesiology and a chrismatic one for several reasons: First, in the Eastern tradition the bread and wine become the Body and Blood of Christ, because the Holy Spirit descends upon the elements and changes them, making Christ present just as he descended upon the Theotokos and made the Word flesh and blood within her womb. For both Orthodox and Catholics, there can be no eucharist without the Holy Spirit. Second, from early centuries in both the East and the West, the Sacred Chrism was consecrated on Holy Thursday, the Feast of the Institution of the Eucharist. Third, from the Middle Ages, in the West, both the Sacred Chrism and the eucharist were housed in a vessel known as the chrismal or chrismarium. (133) The pyx most often was in the shape of a dove. In the East, the Holy Myron was reserved in the tabernacle, and the earliest evidence of a tabernacle, interestingly enough, was in the shape of a dove, clearly signifying the Holy Spirit. This was a gift from Emperor Constantine to the Pope of Rome. Fourth, likewise, the eucharist is normally required to be celebrated on a consecrated altar. The antimension is anointed with the Sacred Chrism. Cyprian of Carthage relayed the decisions of the Council of Carthage in 255: "[I]t is by the Eucharist that the oil by which the baptized are anointed is sanctified on the altar. But he who has neither altar nor Church cannot sanctify the creature of oil." (134)

Symeon of Thessalonika taught that the altar "is anointed with chrism (1) because it is full of the energy of the Spirit, and (2) because it possesses the living consecrated chrism." (135) Significantly, Symeon referred to the Sacred Chrism as living, to zon muron. How can a mere object be living? Once again, one is confronted with a theology that appears to presume the indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit--the Lord, the Giver of Life. (136) By being anointed with the chrism, the eucharistic altar becomes "full of the energy of the Spirit," replete with the dynamic transformative operation of the Holy Spirit. Thus, the Holy Eucharist and the Sacred Chrism are inseparably connected. The fifth reason is that, in the Eastern Orthodox Churches, priests and bishops are not consecrated with the chrism when ordained, because their sacerdotal priesthood arises out of their royal priesthood conferred at chrismation. Nevertheless, Eusebius of Caesarea spoke of the "sacerdotal garment of the Holy Spirit." (137) The sacerdotal ministry does not operate apart from the Holy Spirit. Accordingly, in the Armenian tradition, as well as the Latin, priests and bishops are consecrated with the holy chrism. (138) Unquestionably, in the Catholic-Orthodox tradition there can be no valid eucharist without a valid priesthood, and that priesthood is dependent on being signed with the Sacred Chrism (whether at the initiatory rites or at ordination).

Consequently, a eucharistic ecclesiology and a chrismatic one are closely bound to one another; they are two dimensions of one reality: the Church as Body of Christ--the Anointed One. In short, 1 perceive eucharistic ecclesiology as primarily the horizontal, or communal, dimension of the Body of Christ; chrismatic ecclesiology, as primarily the vertical, or hierarchical, dimension. (139) It is precisely the hierarchical dimension of ecclesiology itself that necessitates primacy for the good of the whole apostolic community. There can be no authentic primacy apart from the apostolic college, nor can there be an apostolic college devoid of authentic primacy.

Continuity of Apostolicity through Apostolic Succession

An important distinction must be made between apostolicity, which is a fundamental mark of the whole Church (thus including all the faithful), and Apostolic Succession, which furthers the apostolic mission of the Church through an episcopacy that oversees the clergy. (140) In the Catholic-Orthodox tradition, the validity of priesthood is inseparably entwined with the idea of Apostolic Succession. The laying on of hands is a tangible symbol of handing on the apostolic faith and apostolic authority. Of particular interest is what Clement of Alexandria related:
   [L]isten to a tale, which is not a tale but a narrative, handed
   down and committed to the custody of memory, about the Apostle
   John. For when, on the tyrant's death, he returned to Ephesus from
   the isle of Patmos, he went away, being invited, to the contiguous
   territories of the nations, here to appoint bishops, there to set
   in order whole Churches, there to ordain such as were marked out by
   the Spirit. (141)


According to Clement, the Apostle John appointed bishops and brought order (taxis) to the churches in contiguous territories under the impulse of the Holy Spirit. In other words, erecting churches and establishing order among these churches within a geographical region was understood to be at the direction of the Holy Spirit. Even in the New Testament the exercise of the apostolic ministry, restricted to a geographical territory, seems to be understood as under the administration of the Holy Spirit (cf. Acts 16:6--7 and 13:2-4). Yet, even if Clement were retrojecting his contemporary situation upon the past, this ecclesiological paradigm dates from the end of the second century.

In the False Decretals by Pseudo-Isidore, one finds a forged letter of Pope Fabian of Rome (236-250). Notwithstanding its authorship, this is an important mid-ninth-century testimony to the Latin belief that "the Lord Jesus, after supping with His disciples, and washing their feet, according to the tradition which our predecessors received from the holy apostles and left to us, taught them to prepare the chrism." (142) This understanding became widespread, being repeated in William Durand's twelfth-century Pontifical for the Chrism Mass. (143) The Roman Catechism of Trent, published in 1566, reaffirmed this Latin tradition. (144) According to this belief, the institution of the chrism comes from Jesus Christ and was handed to the Apostles. The consecratory prayer over the Sacred Chrism in the Byzantine Rite also professes that "this great and life-creating Mystery" was committed "to your holy Apostles." (145)

Perhaps with a little more theological realism, the East Syrian tradition as presented by Moshe bar Kepha claims that the Holy Spirit taught the Apostles about the chrism on the day of Pentecost when the Church was constituted, under the direction of the Lord who sent the Spirit who "will take what is mine and declare it to you" (Jn. 16:14). (146)

The Alexandrian perspective likewise relates the Holy Myron back to Jesus, but in a different fashion, to the spices and ointment used on his body for burial. (147) As the pious legend has it, the Apostles kept this ointment and added to it, sharing it with the churches of Rome, Alexandria, Antioch, and finally Constantinople. But, after 300 years only Alexandria had preserved enough to mix the myron with a new coction and then distribute it to the other Apostolic Sees. (148) This idea can be dated back to before 1234, when Ibn Kabar died, because it is mentioned in his book, The Lamp of Darkness of the Explanation of the Service. The text is worth quoting:
   Our fathers the Apostles, the disciples, took from the perfumes and
   pure ointment, with which Joseph of Aramithea and Nicodemus wound
   the body of our Lord--its weight was a hundred of the Syrian
   pounds--and they added pure Palestinian oil and prayed in the upper
   room. They made it as a seal for baptism, and the disciples who had
   dispersed for the preaching of Christianity used it to sign with it
   whomever believes and gets baptized. (149)


Here, the myron is also closely associated with the Pentecost event. Youhanna Youssef has shown how the above text impacted the Coptic Psalis for the myron composed during the pontificate of John X (1363-69). (150) Despite the legendary nature of this Alexandrian tradition, three main elements can be perceived: rootedness in the apostolic basis of the chrism, the sharing of the chrism among churches, and the act of mixing the remaining myron with the new chrism. It is to this latter point that I now turn.

Referring to what is presently done in the Orthodox Church in America, Alexander Golubov reported:
   In the repository, some of the old chrism is poured into each of
   the vessels containing the newly consecrated chrism, and the vessel
   which originally held the old chrism is then filled with new
   chrism. This is done as a sign of an uninterrupted continuity of
   grace of the Holy Spirit acting through the bishops of the Church
   from the earliest times to this day. (151)


This practice was inherited from the Russian Orthodox Church, which claims that it received its original ampule of the myron from Constantinople. (152) Presumably, the practice of mixing the old chrism with the new is also practiced in all the other Eastern Churches of the one, holy, catholic, and apostolic faith as well. If indeed, this be the case, we encounter here a beautifully profound and powerful symbol of the continuity of apostolicity and being members of One Temple consecrated to God (153)--albeit, in Catholic and Orthodox thought priests and bishops by their ordination are a concrete witness to apostolicity and an unbroken Apostolic Succession; the laity do not share in this reality. The Eastern laity, however, are chrismated with a Holy Myron that theoretically should have flowing within it the very Holy Myron of at least the Patristic age, because as a sacrament, a Divine Mystery, the Holy Myron cannot be disposed of casually; it is blended with the new.

According to Dupuy, the rite of consecration of the holy chrism dates back to the end of the fourth century, and even though "one cannot properly regard it as an apostolic tradition ... this doesn't mean that this custom cannot have very ancient roots." (154) Arranz likewise noted, "If the transmission of holy chrism to the Apostles is apocryphal--since the New Testament only knows of the anointing of the sick--such a transmission, nevertheless, remains within the realm of possibility and even probability, especially in the perspective of the importance given to a certain epoch regarding Myron." (155) I am not trained in the liturgical practices of the various churches (past or present), but, if my "instinct of faith" is correct, and all present chrism can be traced back to a time when all Metropolitan Churches shared the Holy Myron, even before the Councils of Chalcedon (451) and Ephesus (431), then all Christians of the Eastern Orthodox Churches, Oriental Orthodox Churches, Assyrian Church of the East, and Eastern Catholic Churches are concretely sacramentally connected, even though they do not enjoy a eucharistic communion. (156) This is not to disparage the reality that all Christians (of whatever affiliation) are joined in the Body of Christ by virtue of a trinitarian baptism, but no Church, to my knowledge, has claimed an ecclesial continuity of Apostolic Succession through baptism.

The close correspondence between the chrism and Apostolic Succession is even found in the present Byzantine liturgy with the following prayer over the chrism to be consecrated: "At this very moment, by the Divine Will, the entire choir of Apostles comes to extend hands with us." (157) In a mystagogical manner, the Holy Myron is consecrated by the Apostolic College in heaven and on earth. The depth of this theological perspective is further symbolically enacted when the Ecumenical Patriarch pours into twelve huge amphorae the previously consecrated chrism that remains and then pours in the newly consecrated chrism. The twelve sacred vessels represent the Twelve Apostles. (158) The same is done in the Russian Orthodox Church and the Orthodox Church in America. (159) do not know what other churches do, but 1 presume it to correspond. (160) (In the Latin tradition, twelve priests needed to accompany the pope at the Chrism Mass, presumably signifying the Apostolic College.) (161)

Some Final Observations

My intention has not been to propound some new theological basis of ecclesiology; there can be no such authentic thing. Rather, I have tried to expound on a theology that I perceive as possibly having been operative within the Church catholic. I have attempted to bring into focused consciousness what I believe once might have operated within the mind of the Church, whether unconsciously or consciously. It is now for the Church catholic to discern if a chrismatic ecclesiology resonates with the deposit of faith and can be embraced.

John Paul 11 invited theologians to reflect upon the mystery of primacy so that eventually we all might be one. 1 am heartened by the words of the Council Fathers of Vatican II with regard to the operation of the Holy Spirit within the life of the Church: "The Holy Catholic Church, which is the Mystical Body of Christ, is made up of the faithful who are organically united in the Holy Spirit by the same faith, the same sacraments and the same government and who, combining together into various groups which are held together by a hierarchy, form separate Churches." (162) The Catholic Church is a communion of Churches both Western and Eastern, even though this communion is an imperfect one at present, because there is no full and equal communion with the respective sibling Churches. (163) Nevertheless, the Catholic Church recognizes:
   By divine Providence it has come about that various churches,
   established in various places by the apostles and their successors,
   have in the course of time coalesced into several groups,
   organically united, which, preserving the unity of faith and the
   unique divine constitution of the universal Church, enjoy their own
   discipline, their own liturgical usage, and their own theological
   and spiritual heritage. Some of these churches, notably the ancient
   patriarchal churches, as parent-stocks of the Faith, so to speak,
   have begotten others as daughter churches, with which they are
   connected down to our own time by a close bond of charity in their
   sacramental life and in their mutual respect for their rights and
   duties. This variety of local churches with one common aspiration
   is splendid evidence of the catholicity of the undivided Church.
   (164)


This divine Providence was effected by the Holy Spirit, who "directs with hierarchical and charismatic gifts," establishing the episcopal college as reflecting the Apostolic College (Gaudium et spes, 4 and 20-21). The bishops further affirmed that "the Holy Spirit unfailingly preserves the form of government established by Christ the Lord in His Church." (165) May the charisms of synodality and primacy enjoyed by the early Church be renewed to a greater extent in the power and grace of the Holy Spirit. (166)

(1) See Nicolas Lossky, "Conciliarity-Primacy in a Russian Orthodox Perspective," in James F. Puglisi, ed., Petrine Ministry and the Unity of the Church: "Toward a Patient and Fraternal Dialogue " (Collegeville, MN: Liturgical Press, 1999), pp. 127-131.

(2) See J. M. R. Tillard, Chairde l'Eglise, chair du Christ, Cogitatio Fidei 168 (Paris: Cerf, 1992); and idem, L 'Eglise locale: ecclesiologie de communion et catholicite, Cogitatio Fidei 191 (Paris: Cerf, 1995).

(3) See Damasus (366-384), Decretum Gelasianum, and modern scholars' comments as cited in Michael K. Magee, The Patriarchal Institution in the Church: Ecclesiological Perspectives in the Light of the Second Vatican Council (Rome: Herder, 2006), pp. 134 and 167; Innocent I (410-17), letter to Patriarch Alexander of Antioch, PL 20:548; Leo I (440-61), letter of Patriarch Anatolius of Constantinople, PL 54:1007; Gelasius I (492-96), letter to Bishop Dardanius, CSEL 35.1:387-88; Gregory 1 (590-604), letter to Patriarch Eulogius of Alexandria, PL 77:899; and Nicholas I (858-67), Epistola 86 ad Michaelem Imperatorem, PL 119:926-62. For studies on this issue, see Rudolf Schieffer, "Der Papst als Patriarch von Rom," in M. Maccarone, ed., II Primato del Vescovo di Roma nel primo millennio: Richer-che e testimonianze, Atti del Symposium Storico-Teologico, Roma 9-13 Ottobre 1989 (Rome: Libreria Editrice Vaticana, 1991), pp. 433-451; Neophytos Edelby, "Troisieme Partie: Commentaire, Section IV--Les Patriarchies Orientaux," in Les Eglises Orientates Catholiques, Unam Sanctam, vol. 76 (Paris: Editions du Cerf, 1970), pp. 276-277; and Magee, Patriarchal Institution, pp. 165-194.

(4) I use the designation "Church catholic" to refer to those Churches that espouse the need for a catholic and orthodox sacramental faith maintained by Apostolic Succession, namely, the Roman Catholic Church and the Eastern Catholic Churches in communion with it, the Eastern Orthodox Churches, the Oriental Orthodox Churches, and the Assyrian Church of the East. I do not wish to ignore those churches in the Anglican communion, but there are various ecclesial hurdles to be managed, far beyond the scope of the present essay. Likewise, Protestant communities have varying degrees and concepts of what it means to be "Church," so they are also not addressed herein.

(5) See Wilhelm de Vries, Orient et Occident: Les structures Ecclesiales vues dans l'histoire des sept premiers Conciles Oecumeniques (Paris: Cerf, 1974); Magee, Patriarchal Institution; and Adam A. J. DeVille, Orthodoxy and the Roman Papacy: Ut unum sint and the Prospects of East-West Unity (Notre Dame; IN: University of Notre Dame Press, 2011); as well as Paulos Menevisoglou, To Agion Myron en te orthodoxo anatolike ekklesia (Thessalonika: Patriarchikon Paterikon Meleton, 1972).

(6) Magee, Patriarchal Institution, p. 5.

(7) Ibid., p. 99.

(8) Ladislas Orey, "The Development of the Concept of 'Protos' in the Ancient Church," Kanon, vol. 9 (1989), p. 92. Magee agreed; see Patriarchal Institution, p. 111.

(9) John Paul II, Ut unum sint: That They May Be One: On Commitment to Ecumenism (Washington, DC: United States Catholic Conference, 1995), 96; also available at http://www.vatican.va/holy_father /john_paul_ii/encyclicals/documents/hf_jp-ii_enc_25051995_ut-unum-sint_en.html.

(10) Orsy, "Development of the Concept of 'Protos,'" p. 84; emphasis added.

(11) As early as the mid-fourth century, Basil of Caesarea referred to liturgical praxis to indicate theological belief; see Basil of Caesarea, De Spiritu Sancto 27. A century later, Prosper of Aquitaine reflected the same principle in Epislula 8. The principle is endorsed in the current Catechism of the Catholic Church, 1124; available at http://www.vatiean.va/archive/ENG0015/_P32.HTM.

(12) Jeremy Driscoll, "Uncovering the Dynamic Lex Orandi-Lex Credendi in the Baptismal Theology of Irenaeus," Pro Ecclesia 12 (Spring, 2003): 214.

(13) All translations are from the NRSV unless noted otherwise.

(14) Cyril of Jerusalem, in his Mystagogy 3.4, mentioned the anointing on all of these members but did not relate it back to 1 Corinthians 12.

(15) Admittedly, Apostolic Succession is not accepted by all churches, but because this essay focuses on the Roman Catholic Church, Eastern Orthodox Churches, Oriental Orthodox Churches, Assyrian Church of the East, and Eastern Catholic Churches, all of which accept Apostolic Succession, the belief obtains in the present argumentation. For a recent study of 1 Clement (mentioning Apostles' appointing bishops as successors) and various models of interpretation, see W. Moriarty, "1 Clement's View of Ministerial Appointments in the Early Church," Vigiliae Christiame, vol. 66, no. 2 (2012), pp. 115-138.

(16) Henry George Liddell and Robert Scott, eds., A Greek-English Lexicon (Oxford, U.K.: Clarendon Press, 1978 [orig., 1925-1940]), p. 734.

(17) See Cyprian, Epistulae, 70.2; PL 3; 1041 A. See also George Wagner, "La consecration du myron," in A. M. Triacca and A. Pistoia, eds., Les benedictiom et les sacramentawc dans la liturgie (Rome' Edizione Liturgiche, 1988), pp, 286-287.

(18) See Theodoret, Haereticarumfabularum compendium, 3.5; PG 83:408B.

(19) Bernard Dupuy, "La concession du saint Myron a la metropolie de Kiev (XIVes.) et ses aspects actuels," Istina, vol. 35, no. 1 (1990), p. 95. All translations from the French are mine, unless otherwise noted.

(20) Unfortunately, I have not been able to locate the original Greek text. The translation of the Pedalion states: "undertake the cure of the entire province"; see D. Cummings, tr., The Rudder (Pedalion) of the Metaphorical Ship of the One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church of the Orthodox Christians, or All the Sacred and Divine Canons ... as Embodied in the Original Greek Text ... and Explained ... by Agapius, A. Hieromonach and Nicodemus (tr. from the 5th ed., Athens: John Nicolaides, 1908) (Chicago IL: Orthodox Christian Educational Society, 1957), p. 539.

(21) Concilium Carthaginense, c. 3; Corpus Christianorum Series Latina 149:13. See Charles Joseph Hefele, A History of the Councils of the Church (Edinburgh. T. & T. Clark, 1876), vol. 2, p. 390.

(22) See Tertullian, De baptismo 7, CCL 1:282.

(23) Tertullian, De baptismo 6, CCL 1:282; my translation. Of course, all of this depends on the person's free will and cooperation with grace.

(24) Cyril of Jerusalem, Catechesis 18.33.

(25) Norman P. Tanner, Decrees of the Ecumenical Councils, vol. 1: Nicaea I to Lateran V (London: Sheed & Ward Ltd.; Washington, DC: Georgetown University Press, 1990), p. 35.

(26) Constimtiones Apostolorum 7.45; my translation, emphasis added; see Francis Xavier Funk, Didascalia et Constitutiones Apostolorum (Paderborn: Schoeningh, 1905), p. 452.

(27) Sacramentary of Serapion 16, in R. J. S. Barret-Lennard, tr., The Sacramentary of Sarapion of Thumis (Nottingham, U.K.: Grove Books Ltd., 1993), p. 41.

(28) See Siricius, Directa ad decessorem, PL 13:1131-1147.

(29) See Concilium Arausicanum 1; Corpus Christianorum Series Latina 148:78

(30) See Leo I, Epistulae 159.7; PL 54:1138.

(31) See Concilium Arelatense II c. 17; Corpus Christianorum Series Latina 148:117.

(32) Gregory I, Epistulae 67.II; Corpus luris Canonici 1:1380. For an E.T., see Paul Turner, Sources of Confirmation: From the Fathers through the Reformers (Collegeville, MN: Liturgical Press, 1993), pp.

(33) Emmanuel Lanne, Les sacrements de 1 'initiation chretienne et la confirmation dans l'Eglise d'Occident," Irenikon, vol. 57, no. 3 (1984), p. 332; emphasis added.

(34) See Christine Hall, "The Use of the Holy Oils in the Orthodox Churches of the Byzantine Tradition," in Martin Dudley and Geoffrey Rowell, eds., The Oil of Gladness: Anointing in the Christian Tradition (London: SPCK, 1993), p. 104.

(35) See Sebastian Brock, "Anointing in the Syriac Tradition," in Dudley and Rowell, Oil of Gladness, p. 96

(36) See Dupuy, "La concession," p. 95, n. 5.

(37) See Ion Dura, "La consecration du saint Chreme dans l'Eglise Orthodoxe Roumaine," Ephemerides Theologicae Lovanienses, vol. 62, no. 4 (1986), p. 283.

(38) See L. Petit, "Du pouvoir de consacrer le saint Chreme," Echos d'Orient, vol. 3, no. 1 (1899), p. 3.

(39) Symeon of Thessalonika, De sancto unguento 71: PG 155:240. See Wagner, "La consecration du myron," p. 293.

(40) See Dura, "La consecration du saint Chreme," p. 283.

(41) See Dupuy, "La concession," p. 99.

(42) For all the above patriarchates, see Dura, "La consecration du saint Chreme," pp. 283-285.

(43) Martin Dudley, "Holy Joys in Store: Oils and Anointing in the Catholic Church," in Dudley and Rowell, Oil of Gladness, p. 114. Barhebraeus legislated the same for the Syrian Orthodox Church in his Nomocanon II 1.4.

(44) See Antoine Chavasse, Le Sacramentaire Gelasien (Toumai: Desclee & Cie, 1958), pp. 133-139.

(45) See Concilium Toletanensis VIII c. 7; Giovanni Domenico Mansi, Sacroram conciliorum nova et amplissima colleciio (Arnhem and Leipzig: Welter, 1927; orig., 18th century), 10:1217B; hereafter, Mansi. For the E.T., see Turner, Sources of Confirmation, pp. 77-78.

(46) See Chavasse, Le Sacramentaire Gelasien, pp. 128 and 138-139.

(47) Petit, "Du pouvoir de consacrer," p, 3.

(48) See Otto Meinardus, "About the Coction and Consecration of the Holy Myron in the Coptic Church, Coptic Church Review, vol. 12, no. 3 (1991), pp. 78-79. Meinardus dated the consecration of the oil by the Apostles to around 34 C.E. without explaining the date.

(49) See Dupuy, "La concession," p. 95, n. 5.

(50) See Meinardus, "About the Coction," p. 79; and O. H. E. Khs-Burmester, The Egyptian or Coptic Church (Cairo: Publications de la societe d'archeologie copte, 1967), pp. 219-230.

(51) Peter Moghila, The Orthodox Confession, Pars prima, q. 105, ed. A. Malvy and M. Viller (Paris: Beauchesne, 1927), p. 59.

(52) Already by the eighth century, the consecration of the chrism was reserved to the catholicos in the Armenian Church. According to Gerard Austin, in the Syrian Orthodox Church, allegedly the patriarchal privilege did not obtain until the thirteenth century; see Gerard Austin, Anointing with the Spirit--The Rite of Confirmation: The Use of Oil and Chrism (New York: Pueblo Publishing Co., 1985), p. 120 n. 13. However, already by the twelfth century the metropolitan alone consecrated the chrism; see below.

(53) See Paul Hindo, Disciplina Antiochena antica, Siri 3 Textes concemant les sacraments (Rome: Tipografia Poliglotta Vaticana, 1941), p. 29. For the Syrian perspective on the chrism, see Emmanuel-Pataq Siman, L'Experience de l'Esprit par l'eglise d'apres la tradition syrienne d'Antioche (Paris: Beauchesne, 1971), pp. 87-104.

(54) I am indebted to Dupuy's list, upon which I have expanded; see Dupuy, "La concession," pp. 99-101.

(55) Cyril of Jerusalem, Mystagogae 3.3, tr. Leo P. McCauley and Anthony A. Stephenson, The Works of Saint Cyril of Jerusalem, vol. 2, The Fathers of the Church: A New Translation 64 (Washington, DC: Catholic University of America Press, 1970), p. 170.

(56) See Auguste Piedagnel, Cyrille de Jerusalem: Catechese Mystagogiques, Sources chretiennes 126 (Paris: Editions du Cerf, 1966), p. 125. For comments on this difficult text, see McCauley and Stephenson, Works of Saint Cyril, pp. 170--171, n. 17.

(57) Joseph Torchia, The Significance of Chrismation in the Kiystagogical Lectures of Cyril of Jerusalem, Diakonia, vol. 32, no. 2 (1999), pp. 140-141; emphasis in original.

(58) Alexander Schmemann, Of Water and the Spirit: A Liturgical Study of Baptism (Crestwood, NY: St. Vladimir's Theological Seminary Press, 1974), p. 79; emphasis in original

(59) Ibid., p. 104.

(60) Gregory of Nyssa, On the Baptism of Christ," Gregory of Nyssa: Dogmatic Treatises, etc., tr. William Moore and Henry Austin Wilson, Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, Series 2, ed. Philip Schaff and Henry Wace (Grand Rapids, MI: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., [1892]), vol. 5, p. 519.

(61) See Irenaeus, Adv. Haer. 3.18.3.

(62) Theophilus of Antioch, Ad Autolycus 1.12. For this E.T., see Arthur Preuss, The Sacraments: A Dogmatic Treatise by the Rt. Rev. Msgr. Joseph Pohle (St. Louis, MO: B. Herder Book Co, 1927), p. 286.

(63) Pseudo-Dionysius, Eccl. Hier. 4; PG 3:473B, 477C, 481C, 484A, 485A.

(64) Ibid., 4.3.1; PG 3: 473B, in Colm Luibheid, tr., Pseudo-Dionysius: The Complete Works, Classics of Western Spirituality (New York: Paulist Press, 1987), p. 225.

(65) ibid., 4.3.3; PG 3: 476C; in Luibheid, Pseudo-Dionysius, p. 227.

(66) See Nicholas Cabasilas, De vita in Christo 3.

(67) Ibid., 3.1, in Carmino J. deCatanzaro, tr., The Life in Christ (Crestwood, NY: St. Vladimir's Theological Seminary Press, 1974), p. 104.

(68) I have conferred with several Orthodox priests and theologians who understand the Sacred Chrism to contain the Presence of the Holy Spirit. The Eastern Orthodox Churches, however, are not wont to make formal doctrinal declarations after the close of the Seventh Ecumenical Council, let alone in terminology comparable to Catholic Thomistic articulations. While I have been assured that I am correct in my understanding that the Holy Myron is the sacramental presence of the Holy Spirit, upon reflection 1 have chosen to be more circumspect in my assertion. This is an issue that Eastern Orthodox and Oriental Orthodox Churches, as well as the Assyrian Church of the East, must clarify for and among themselves respectively, and then choose the manner in which this is to be communicated to other Churches.

(69) Anthony Coniaris, These Are the Sacraments: The Life-Giving Mysteries of the Orthodox Church (Minneapolis, MN: Light and Life Publications, 1981), p. 60.

(70) Sebastian Brock, The Epiklesis in the Antiochene Baptismal Ordines," Orientalia Christiana Analecta, vol. 197 (Rome: Pont. Institutum Orientalum Studiorum, 1974), pp. 191-192, n. 24.

(71) Moshe bar Kepha, Consecration of the Holy Myron, chap. 27; my translation. For the Syriac, see Werner Strothmann, Moses bar Kepha: Myron-Weihe (Wiesbaden: Otto Harrassowitz, 1973), p. 84.

(72) See J. Payne Smith, A Compendious Syriac Dictionary (Oxford, U.K.: Clarendon Press, 1976), p. 273. Werner Strothmann translated this text as "der heilige Geist ertullt den Ort des Myron"; see Strathmann. Moses bar Kepha, p. 85.

(73) bar Kepha, Consecration of the Holy Myron, chap. 5; my translation. For the Syriac, see Strothmann, Moses bar Kepha, p. 42.

(74) "Sacrament of Confirmation" on the official website of the Coptic Orthodox Church Network; emphasis added; available at http://www.copticchurch.net/topics/thecopticchurch/sacraments/2confirma tion.htm.

(75) Sebastian Brock, "Invocations to/for the Holy Spirit in Syriac Liturgical Texts: Some Comparative Approaches, in Robert F. Taft and Gabriele Winkler, Comparative Liturgy Fifty Years after Anton Baumstark (1872-1948), Orientalia Christiana Analecta 265 (Rome: Pontificio Istituto Orientale 2001) p. 405.

(76) Ibid., p. 403.

(77) See Optatus, Adv. Donat., in O. R. Vassall-Phillips, tr., The Work of St. Optatus, Bishop of Milevis, against the Donatists (London: Longmans, Green, and Co., 1917), p. 100.

(78) Pontificate Romano-Germanicum XCIX 268, "sacrosancti chrismalis misterii," in Cyrille Vogel, Le Pontifical Romano-Germanique du dixieme siecle: le texte It, Studie e Testi 227 (Vatican City. Biblioteca Apostolica Vaticana, 1963), p. 72.

(79) Lateran IV can. 20, in Tanner, Decrees of the Ecumenical Councils, vol. 1, p. 244.

(80) Council of Trent Session 7, Sacrament of Confirmation #2, in Norman P. Tanner, Decrees of the Ecumenical Councils, vol. 2: Trent to Vatican H (London: Sheed & Ward Ltd., Washington, DC. Georgetown University Press, 1990), p. 686.

(81) Augustine, Sermon 227, in Edmund Hill, tr., Sermons 111/6, The Works of Saint Augustine: A Translation for the 21st Century, ed. John E. Rotelle (New Rochelle, NY: New City Press, 1993), p. 254.

(82) See Optatus Adv. Donat. 7.4; Vassall-Phillips, p. 293.

(83) See ibid.; Vassall-Phillips, p. 290.

(84) Bede, In Lucam 6.22, PL 92:602A; E.T. in Austin Milner, The Theology of Confirmation (Notre Dame, IN: Fides Publishers, 1971), p. 53.

(85) See Pontificale G Durandi, 3.2.82, in Michel Andrieu, ed., Le Pontifical Romain au moyen-age III: Le Ponlifical de Guillaume Durand (Vatican City: Biblioteca Apostolica Vaticana, 1940), p. 578.

(86) See ibid., 3.2.86; Andrieu, Le Pontifical Romain, p. 579.

(87) See Fernand Cabrol, Huile, in Fernand Cabrol and Henri Leclercq, Dictionnaire d'archeologie chretienne et de liturgie, vol. 6, part 2 (Paris: Letouzey et Ane, 1925), cols. 2788-2789. William Durandus s directive says dicens ter, semper inclinando," suggesting that during one prostration one saluted the chrism thrice. The variant in Text E (Aix-en-Provence, 1329-1348; see Andrieu, Le Pontifical Romain, p. 24) has "inclinando se et genua flectendo semper" (always bowed on bended knee). One can see how this would readily evolve into three genuflections.

(88) Herman Schell, Katholische Dogmatik, vol. 3 (Paderborn, 1892), p. 496, as noted in Preuss, The Sacraments, p. 296 (see note 62, above).

(89) William J. Turner, A Place for the Sacred Oils," Office of Prayer and Worship, Diocese of Albany 9 (July/August, 2007); 1; available at http://www.rcda.org/Offices/prayer and worship/Newsletters/ 2007/PW%20July-Aug%202007.pdf.

(90) See Fernand Cabrol, "Chrismale," in Fernand Cabrol and Henri Leclercq, Dictionmire d'archeologie chretienne et de Uturgie, vol. 3, part 1 (Paris: Letouzey et Ane, 1913), cols. 1478-1481.

(91) Paragraph 1183 of the current Catechism of the Catholic Church states: "The tabernacle is to be situated 'in churches in a most worthy place with the greatest honor.' The dignity, placing, and security of the Eucharistic tabernacle should foster adoration before the Lord really present in the Blessed Sacrament of the altar. The sacred chrism (myron), used in anointings as the sacramental sign of the seal of the gift of the Holy Spirit, is traditionally reserved and venerated in a secure place in the sanctuary. The oil of catechumens and the oil of the sick may also be placed there."

By having this in one paragraph rather than two, the reservation of the Sacred Chrism is connected significantly with that of the Real Presence in the Blessed Sacrament, though it does not specify that the chrism be reserved in the tabernacle with the eucharist (nor does it rule this out). The chrism is to be venerated (at least) and not treated as something common, yet there might be a distinction made between adoring the Real Presence in the Blessed Sacrament and venerating the Sacred Chrism. Be that as it may, I find it most unfortunate that the Catechism says that the other oils may be placed with the Sacred Chrism, thereby not signifying a special differentiation (as the East would do).

(92) The differences in sacramental theology pertaining to the presence of the Holy Spirit in the Sacred Chrism will need to be addressed in ecumenical dialogue. Even if the Roman Catholic theological position might be that the Holy Spirit is made present at the administration of the Sacrament (rather than residing within the chrism at the consecration of the oil), there is enough shared theology by which to establish a chrismatic ecclesiology.

(93) Wagner, "La consecration du myron," p. 293. For the same thought, see Alexander Golubov, "The Seal of the Gift of the Holy Spirit," Sourozh, vol. 55 (1994), p. 38.

(94) Catechismus ex decreto Concilii Tridenti ad Parochos. There is no numbered demarcation of texts. See Part 11 Sacraments, in the section on "Confirmation" and the subsection "Component Parts of Confirmation," the paragraph titled "The Matter," wherein it states that "this mixture of different things ... declares the manifold grace of the Holy Ghost" (John A, McHugh and Charles J. Callan, trs., Catechism of the Council of Trent for Parish Priests, 2nd ed., rev. [London: B. Herder; New York: Joseph F. Wagner, Inc., 1934 (orig., 1923)], p. 203).

(95) Also see Rev. 1:4; 3:1,4:5, and 5:6, interpreted by early Church writers as the sevenfold aspect of the one Holy Spirit.

(96) Canon 9 of the Council of Antioch held in 341 makes this point clear. See Magee, Patriarchal Institution, pp. 108-113.

(97) That a bishop should exercise maternal care for the People of God is predicated upon the Apostles' ministry. E.g., Paul unabashedly said the same about his own ministry; see 1 Thess. 2:3-8. Also cf. 1 Pet 2:2. Jesus himself used feminine imagery to describe his ministry (Mt. 23:37; Jn. 3:3-8 and 16:21). Ultimately, the ecclesial service of a metropolitan or patriarch is grounded in the life-giving maternal and paternal solicitude of God. For early Fathers of the Church and later saints' use of feminine imagery for God, see Daniel F. Stramara, Jr., Praying--with the Saints--to God our Mother, (Eugene, OR: Cascade Books, 2012).

(98) See Magee, Patriarchal Institution, pp. 121-164, for various instances.

(99) Leo I, Epistula 104, in Edmund Hunt, tr., St. Leo the Great: Letters, Fathers of the Church 34 (New York: Fathers of the Church, Inc., 1957), p. 180.

(100) Ibid.; Hunt, St. Leo the Great: Letters, pp. 178-179.

(101) Ibid., Epistula 106; Hunt, St. Leo the Great: Letters, p. 184.

(102) Ibid.; Hunt, St. Leo the Great: Letters, p. 187.

(103) Ibid.

(104) See Magee, Patriarchal Institution, pp. 119-120.

(105) Timothei Patriarchae 1, Epistolae, as quoted in Wilhelm de Vries, "The 'College of Patriarchs,'" Concilium, vol. 1, no. 8 (1965), p. 80,

(106) The metropolis (later Patriarchal See) would reflect our mother, the Heavenly Jerusalem, whose foundations are the Twelve Apostles.

(107) Cummings, The Rudder, note 2 to the "Interpretation," pp. 608-609.

(108) de Vries, "The 'College of Patriarchs,'" p. 65.

(109) See Brian E. Daley, "Position and Patronage in the Early Church: The Original Meaning of 'Primacy of Honour,'" Journal of Theological Studies 44 (October, 1993): 529-553.

(110) See DeVille, Orthodoxy and the Roman Papacy, pp. 78-116.

(111) Greek text in Funk, Didascalia et Constitutiones Apostolorum, pp. 572-574.1 am using the translation in Magee, Patriarchal Institution, p. 110.

(112) Metropolitan John (Zizioulas) of Pergamon, "Primacy in the Church: An Orthodox Approach," in James F. Puglisi, ed., Petrine Ministry and the Unity of the Church: "Toward a Patient and Fraternal Dialogue A Symposium Celebrating the 100th Anniversary of the Foundation of the Society of the Atonement, Rome, December 4-6, 1997, A Michael Glazier Book (Collegeville, MN' Liturgical Press 1999), p. 122.

(113) Dimitrios Salachas, "L'istituzione patriarcale e sinodale nelle Chiese Orientali Cattoliche," Euntes Docete, vol. 43 (1990), p. 247.

(114) Magee, Patriarchal Institution, p. 111.

(115) Alexander Schmemann, "The Idea of Primacy in Orthodox Ecclesiology," in J. Meyendorff, A. Schmemann, N. Afanassieff, and N. Koulomzine, The Primacy of Peter (London: The Faith Press, 1973), p. 50.

(116) See Concilium Carthaginiensis IV c. 36; Corpus Christianorum Series Latina 149:347 and Concilium Vasense c. 3; Corpus Christianorum Series Latina 148:97.

(117) See de Vries, '"College of Patriarchs,'" pp. 66,69, and 72.

(118) De Vries noted, "We can ... rightly speak of a 'college of patriarchs' although not in a strict juridical sense" (de Vries, "'College of Patriarchs,"' p. 66).

(119) Celestine I, Epistulae 18 Coelestini ad Synodum Ephesimm, PL 50:505A-B, as translated in Magee, Patriarchal Institution, pp. 135-136. Nevertheless, sheer numbers do not guarantee that the participants are obedient to the influence of the Holy Spirit, who also works through the whole Body of Christ. Various synods erred. Reception on the part of the faithful is an important aspect of testifying to the universality of the truth.

(120) See Wilhelm de Vries, Orient et Occident: Les structures ecclesiales vues dans l'histoire des sept premiers conciles oecumeniques (Paris: Editions du Cerf, 1974), p. 16 passim.

(121) See Socrates, Eccl. Hist. 1.9 and 2.40; and Sozomen, Eccl. Hist. 1.25 and 4.18.

(122) See Socrates, Eccl. Hist. 1.9, in A. C. Zenos, tr., Socrates Church History, Nicene and PostNicene Fathers, Series 2, vol. 2, p. 14,

(123) Mansi 11:340A/B, as translated in J. M. R. Tillard, The Bishop of Rome, tr. John de Satge (London: SPCK; Wilmington, DE: Michael Glazier, 1983 [orig.: L'Eveque de Rome (Paris: Cerf, 1982)]), p. 98.

(124) Emmanuel Pataq Siman, L'Experience de l'Esprit par l'Eglise d'apres la tradition syrienne d'Antioche (Paris: Beauchesne, 1971), p. 165.

(125) See ibid., pp. 165-166.

(126) "Translation as provided by W. Jardine Grisbrooke, "Blessings of Oil and Anointings: The Byzantine Rite," in Dudley and Rowell, Oil of Gladness, p. 212. For the Greek text, see Miguel Arranz, "La consecration du saint Myron (les sacrements de l'ancien Euchologe constantinopolitain), pt. 10," Orientalia Christiana periodica, vol. 55, no. 2 (1989), p. 327, ll. 15-18 (in French on p. 326).

(127) According to Dupuy, no commentaries or homilies exist on this liturgical prayer; see Dupuy, "La concession," p. 95.

(128) See Irenaeus, Demonstrations of the Apostolic Teaching, no. 47.

(129) Khs-Burmester, The Egyptian or Coptic Church, p. 230.

(130) "Hippolytus, Apostolic Tradition, Sources chretiennes 11.2 (Paris: Editions du Cerf, 1968), p. 54.

(131) See The Roman Missal: The Sacramentary (New York: Catholic Book Publishing Co, 1974), p. 1019.

(132) Zizioulas, "Primacy in the Church," p. 118.

(133) See Cabrol, "Chrismale" (note 90, above).

(134) "Cyprian of Carthage, Ep. 70.2, in Rose Bernard Donna, tr., Saint Cyprian: Letters (1-81), The Fathers of the Church: A New Translation 51 (Washington, DC: Catholic University of America Press 1964), p.260.

(135) Symeon of Thessalonika, Explanation of the Divine Temple 22, in Steven Hawkes-Teeples, tr., St. Symeon of Thessalonika: The Liturgical Commentaries (Toronto: Pontifical Institute of Mediaeval Studies, 2011). pp. 93-95.

(136) Admittedly, the water poured into the chalice is likewise called "living," but that is because it is "running," and thus stipulated in Eastern liturgical rubrics to have been boiling previously. However, the chrism, while originally poured on the altar, does not remain in a flowing state. Thus it appears that the adjective "living" suggests more than mere movement.

(137) Eusebius of Caesarea, Eccl. Hist. 10.4.

(138) See Khs-Burmester, The Egyptian or Coptic Church, p. 228, n. 1; and DeVille, Orthodoxy and the Roman Papacy, p. 112.

(139) The universal dynamic, i.e., catholicity, of the Church is adumbrated in Paul's prayer found in Eph. 3:14-21.1 simply highlight the dynamic dimension of the Spirit: "that you may be strengthened in your inner being with power through his Spirit" (v. 16). "Now to him who by the power at work within us is able to accomplish abundantly far more than all we can ask or imagine, to him [God Almighty] by glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen" (vv. 20-21; my emphasis).

(140) See Ola Tjarhom, "Apostolicity and Apostolic Succession in the Porvoo Common Statement--Necessary or a Mere "Optional Extra" in the Church's Life?" in Ola Tjorhom, ed., Apostolicity and Unity: Essays on the Porvoo Common Statement (Grand Rapids, MI: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Co 2002), pp. 162-181."

(141) Clement of Alexandria, Who Is the Rich Man that Shall Be Saved? tr. William Wilson, in Alexander Roberts and James Donaldson, eds., Ante-Nicene Fathers: Translations of the Writings of the Fathers down to A.D. 325, vol. 2 (New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1926), p. 603.

(142) Fabian, Epistola II Ad omnes orientates episcopos, Mansi, vol. 1, p. 775, tr. S.D.F. Salmond; E.T. in Ante Nicene Fathers, vol. 8, p. 633. The same idea is implicit in the early-eighth-century Venerable Bede's In Lucam 6.2.

(143) See Pontificale G. Durandi 3.2.82; Andrieu, Le Pontifical Romain, p, 568.

(144) See Catechismus ex decreto Concilii Tridenti ad Parochos, Part II Sacraments, the section on "Confirmation," and the subsection "Institution of Confirmation," in Catechism of the Council of Trent for Parish Priests, p. 202 (see note 94, above).

(145) See Arranz, "La consecration du saint Myron," p. 326 (French), p. 327 (Greek); my translations of lines 3 and 6 of French with reference to unnumbered Greek text.

(146) See Moshe bar Kepha Consecration of the Holy Myron, chap. 1; Strothmann, Moses bar Kepha, pp 34-35.

(147) A similar thought is found in the Latin tradition, but to the oil with which Mary anointed Jesus before his death; see Isidore, De ecclesiasticus officiis 1:29, PL 83:764B; as well as Justin Martyr, Questions and Answers to the Orthodox 137, E.T. in Turner, Sources of Confirmation, p. 29.

(148) See Meinardus, "About the Coction and Consecration of the Holy Myron in the Coptic Church," p. 80.

(149) As translated and quoted by Youhanna Nessim Youssef, "Psalis of the Myron," Orientalia Christiana periodica, vol. 76, no. 1 (2010), pp. 177--178.

(150) See Youssef, "Psalis of the Myron," pp. 175-178, and for the date, p. 164.

(151) Golubov, "The Seal of the Gift of the Holy Spirit," p. 40 (see note 93, above).

(152) See Petit, "Du pouvoir de consacrer," p. 5.

(153) In all traditions, East and West, altars and churches are consecrated with the chrism. The faithful themselves form the Temple of God (Eph. 2:19) as noted above, being part of the prayer of consecration.

(154) Dupuy, "La concession," p. 97.

(155) Arranz, "La consecration du saint myron," p. 337.

(156) In the Roman Catholic Church, each bishop consecrates the new chrism every year, and the old is properly disposed of. The ninth-century forged letter of Pope Fabian states that the previous year's chrism is to be burned; see Fabian, Epistola 11 Ad omnes orientates episcopos, Mansi vol. 1, p. 775. From this theologian 's perspective, this is an unhappy state of affairs in the Roman Catholic Church. Perhaps when reunion of the Churches takes place, the liturgical practice of the East can be appropriated by the West, due to its deep and fecund sacramental symbolism.

(157) L. Petit, "Composition et consecration du Saint Chreme," Echos d'Orient vol 3 no 3 (19003 d 140.

(158) See ibid., p. 142. The old chrism as well as a vessel of the soon-to-be-consecrated chrism were previously placed together on the altar (ibid., p. 140.)

(159) Golubov, "The Seal of the Gift of the Holy Spirit" p. 39.

(160) A variety of practices testifies to the richness of the mystery of the Apostolic Faith, and such practices need to be safeguarded and celebrated; I would not be surprised if in the respective liturgical rubrics lay some indication of an awareness of the intrinsic link between the chrism and apostolicity.

(161) See the tenth-century Pontificale Romano-Germanicum XCIX 268; Vogel, Le Pontifical Romano-Germanique du dixieme siecle, p. 72' and the twelfth-century Pontificale G. Durandi 3.2. 63 and 82; Andrieu, Le Pontifical de Guillaume Durand, pp. 573 and 578.

(162) Orientalium ecclesiarum 2; available at http://www.vatican.va/archive/hist_councils/ii_vatican_council/documents/vat-ii_decree_19641121_orientalium- ecclesiarum_en.html.

(163) Most admittedly, the relations between Catholic-Orthodox Churches and Protestant Churches (covering the spectrum of various ecclesiological models) is an important issue in itself. However, the present essay is focused on one aspect of ecumenical dialogue: a theological basis for primacy among Churches that profess one, holy, catholic, and apostolic faith within an ecclesiological framework built upon Apostolic Succession.

(164) Lumen gentium, no. 23; emphasis added; available at http://www.vatican.va/archive/hist_councils /ii_vatican_council/documents/vat-ii_const_19641121_lumen-gentium en html

(165) Ibid., no. 27.

(166) Given that consecration of the chrism in the Hast is a rare event, which happens as occasion demands, this might suggest that the extraordinary exercise of primacy in a juridical sense should also be a rare event occasioned by pressing needs of the Church. Likewise, because the Chrism Mass is on Holy Thursday, which also includes the washing of feet, the Lord's injunction to wash one another's feet in humble service should also infuse a chrismatic ecclesiology. "The greatest among you must become like the youngest, and the leader like the one who serves" (Lk. 22:26).

Daniel F. Stramara, Jr. (Roman Catholic and Byzantine Catholic), holds B.A.'s in both French and Scripture from Messiah College, Mechanicsburg, PA; an M.A. in French from Universite de Strasbourg; and a Ph.D. (1996) in Historical Theology from Saint Louis (MO) University. He also studied at St. John's University (Collegeville, MN) and the Catholic University of America (Washington, DC). He has chaired the Dept, of Theology and Religious Studies at Rockhurst University, Kansas City, MO, since 2010, where he has taught since 1997, being named Professor of Theology in 2011. He was an adjunct instructor and teaching assistant while at St. Louis University (1992-94). His books include Praying--with the Saints--to God Our Mother (Cascade Books, 2012) and God's Timetable: The Book of Revelation and Feast of Seven Weeks (Pickwick Publications, 2011). He served as a historical consultant on a film about the cathedral tapestries of John Nava (by David Tlapec, 2003). His two dozen theological articles have been published in The Patristic and Byzantine Review, Ecumenical Trends, St. Vladimir's Theological Quarterly, the Greek Orthodox Theological Review, Vigiliae Christianae, the Journal of Early Christian Studies, Studia Monastica, and the Center for Theology and the Natural Sciences Bulletin. Of special ecumenical interest are two in Ecumenical Trends: "Resignation of the Petrine Office and Implications for Ecumenical Dialogue" (April, 2013) and "Collegiality and the Formation of the Apostles' Creed: A Model for Ecumenical Dialogue" (January, 2008). Another ten articles of historical and/or genealogical interest have been published in the Cape May County Magazine of History and Genealogy and the New England Historical and Genealogical Register.
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Date:Mar 22, 2014
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