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Friday, March 03, 2006

Aaron's clarty beard

As one of the estimable local Doggies o' the Laird Maist Hee put it.

Not an image I'd ever found conducive to understanding the point, to be honest. Light, however, has recently dawned.

'Like the precious ointment running from Aaron's brow to his beard and into his garments, supernatural happiness streams from the ascended Christ into His members in Paradise.'
- John Saward, Sweet and Blessed Country: The Christian Hope for Heaven (Oxford, 2005), p. 22

and n.25 (p.161): 'Like the ointment on the head that came down on to Aaron's beard, we have all received from His fulness (cf John 1:16). FIrst, then, we are anointed with a priestly unction as a figure of the Kingdom to come, for we shall be kings and free men. And since we still suffer from our enemies, we shall be afterwards anointed with actual glory, namely, the robe of glory in soul and body' (St Thomas, In psalmos, pars 26 n.1).

This is from Thomas's commentary on Ps 26, which is 'a Psalm of David before he was anointed' - Thomas is trying to work out which anointing is referred to.

Said canis Domini further provided this:

''/See how good and pleasant it is for brothers to dwell in unity/. The psalmist who bade us, /See!/ wanted us to see, and see we do brothers and sisters, and we bless God and pray that we too may be able to invite others, "See!"Now let the psalm tell us what these brothers are like. /Like fragrant oil upon the head, flowing down upon the beard, Aaron's beard, the oil that flowed down to the border of his tunic./ What was Aaron? A priest. But who is the true priest if not the one priest who has entered once and for all into the holy of holies? Who is the real priest if not he who was both priest and victim? Who, if not he who could find nothing pure in the world to offer and therefore offered himself? The fragrant oil is upon the head because Christ is one whole with the Church, and the oil flows from the head. Our head is Christ; crucified and buried, who was raised from the dead and ascended into heaven. And the Holy Spirit came from our head. To what did he come? To the beard. A beard is the sign of strong men; a beard is typical of young, vigorous, energetic, eager people. That is why we say "He is a bearded fellow", when we describe someone of this character. The fragrant oil first fell upon the Apostles, upon those who withstood the first attacks from the world: the Holy Spirit came down upon them for this reason. Those who first began to live in unity suffered persecution. Yet, because the oil had flowed down to the beard, they suffered but were not overcome. Their head had preceded them on the path of suffering, and from him the oil flowed. Who could conquer the beard when such an example had gone before?....../it flowed down to the border of his tunic/. That is why the Church could follow the martyrs, and oil from the Lord's garment engendered monasteries, for the priestly garment symbolises the Church'
- from Augustine's commentary on the Psalms.

Big mantilla-tug to fray N (who is responsible for said mantilla as well; multas gratias!).