The Breath of God
“In the beginning, when God created the heavens and the earth, the earth was a formless wasteland, and darkness covered the abyss, while a mighty wind swept over the waters. cf Gen. 1: 1-2.
This mighty wind was the breath of God’s Holy Spirit and Life was created. How significant one breath from the Holy Spirit brings into being new life, individually and the world we have inherited.
When a baby is born the first thing we await is the cry, a sign that he/she has drawn their first breath.
Once this new child is ready for the life in the church, a very prominent event takes place at the Cathedral which will prepare the newly born to receive life from God’s Church and occurs on Holy Thursday during the Chrism Mass.
Oils used at all parishes are brought forth and accepted by the bishop. During the blessing of the oils the bishop breathes on the Chrism oil symbolizing the Holy Spirit of God moving over the face of the earth. Chrism is used at baptism, confirmation, and during the ordination of priests. It is the crux of holiness found throughout the history of salvation when someone of importance is anointed with God’s special blessings. This includes all of us when we are accepted into the Church as in baptism.
After the Resurrection, Jesus appeared to the disciples and said; “Peace be with you” “As the Father has sent me, so I send you,” And when he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit. Whose sins you forgive are forgiven them, and whose sins you retain are retained.” (Jn. 20: 20 - 23).
At baptism Chrism is applied on the crown of the head in silence. At confirmation the bishop places his thumb in the Chrism and making the sign of the cross on the candidates forehead saying; “be sealed with the gift of the Holy Spirit”
The ordination of a priest has to be a culmination of Chrism as the bishop anoints the candidates hands conferring these will lift the sacred host with the words; “This is my Body” among other sacred actions of the office of priest.
Jesus gave the Holy Spirit to his disciples by breathing on them, and the Sacred Chrism used for Sacraments both external signs of the internal essence of God’s Holy Spirit within each through the same spirit that hovered over the formless wasteland.
Throughout human history the mighty wind continues to sweep across a now formed land filled with the followers of Jesus Christ; fulfilling the plan of Almighty God to call all into His Kingdom.
Ralph B. Hathaway, Breathe on me O Lord.