From the Instructions to Catechumens by St Cyril of Jerusalem
|Prepare for the Holy Spirit|
Let the heavens sing for joy and the earth exult! For these people who are about to be sprinkled with hyssop will be cleansed spiritually. His power will purify them, for during his passion the hyssop touched his lips. Let the heavenly angels rejoice! Let those who are to be wedded to a spiritual spouse prepare themselves. A voice cries in the wilderness: Prepare the way of the Lord And so, children of justice, follow John’s exhortation: Make straight the way of the Lord. Remove all obstacles and stumbling blocks so that you will be able to go straight along the road to eternal life. Through a sincere faith prepare yourselves so that you may be free to receive the Holy Spirit. Through your penance begin to wash your garments; then, summoned to the spouse’s bedchamber, you will be found spotless.
Heralds proclaim the bridegroom’s invitation. All mankind is called to the wedding feast, for he is a generous lover. Once the crowd has assembled, the bridegroom decides who will enter the wedding feast. This is a figure for baptism.
Give your name at his gate and enter. I hope that none of you will later hear the words: Friend, how did you enter without a wedding garment? Rather may all of you hear the words: Well done, my good and faithful servant. You have been faithful in small things, I shall put you in charge of many things. Enter into the joy of your Lord.
Up to this point in the history of salvation you have stood outside the gate. Now I hope you will all hear the words: The king has brought me into his chambers. My soul rejoices in my God. He has clothed me in the garment of salvation and in the cloak of joy. He has made me a bridegroom by placing a crown on my head. He has made me a bride by adorning me with jewels and golden ornaments.
I do not say these things so that your souls will be found without stain or wrinkle or any other defect. Indeed, before you have received this grace, how could this happen to you who are called to receive forgiveness of sin? Rather, I ask that once you have received his grace you do nothing to deserve damnation. Even more, I ask you to hasten toward the fulfilment of his grace.
My brothers, this is a truly great occasion. Approach it with caution. You are standing in front of God and in the presence of the hosts of angels. The Holy Spirit is about to impress his seal on each of your souls You are about to be pressed into the service of a great king.
And so prepare yourselves to receive the sacrament. The gleaming white garments you are about to put on are not the preparation I am speaking of, but rather the devotion of a clean conscience.