Becoming God's Fragrance

 

WHEN you walk into a room with fresh flowers, they are essentially just sitting there. Yet, their fragrance reaches you and fills your senses with delight. So too, a holy man or woman may not need to say or do much in another’s presence, for the aroma of their holiness is enough to touch one’s spirit.

There is a great difference between the talented-alone, and the holy. There are many people in the body of Christ bursting with gifts… but who make very little impact on other’s lives. And then there are those who, despite their talents or even lack of, leave the “aroma of Christ” lingering in another’s soul. That is because they are people who are in union with God, who is love, who then imbues their every word, action, and presence with the Holy Spirit. [1]cf. Authentic Holiness Just as a husband and wife become one flesh, so too, a Christian who abides in Jesus becomes truly one body with Him, thus taking on His aroma, the fragrance of love.

…if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. (1 Cor 13:2)

For this love is more than just good works, necessary as they are. It is the supernatural life of God that manifests the very character of Christ:

Love is patient and kind; love is not jealous or boastful; it is not arrogant or rude. Love does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrong, but rejoices in the right… (1 Cor 13:4-6)

This love is the holiness of Christ. And we must leave this supernatural fragrance wherever we go, whether it is in the office, home, school, locker room, marketplace, or pew.

The Church needs saints. All are called to holiness, and holy people alone can renew humanity. —SAINT JOHN PAUL II, World Youth Day Message for 2005, Vatican City, Aug. 27th, 2004, Zenit.org

 

EVANGELIZING IN POWER

The perfect model and pattern of becoming God’s fragrance is found in the Joyful Mysteries of the Rosary.

Mary, despite her “weakness” as a young, fifteen year old girl, gives her complete “fiat” to God. As such, the Holy Spirit overshadows her, and she begins to carry within her the presence of Jesus, the “Word made flesh.” Mary is so obedient, so docile, so humble, so abandoned to God’s will, so ready to love her neighbour, that her very presence becomes a “word.” It becomes the fragrance of God. So when she arrives at her cousin Elizabeth’s home, her simple greeting is enough to ignite a flame of love in her cousin’s heart:

When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the infant leaped in her womb, and Elizabeth, filled with the Holy Spirit, cried out in a loud voice and said, “Most blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb. And how does this happen to me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me? For at the moment the sound of your greeting reached my ears, the infant in my womb leaped for joy. Blessed are you who believed that what was spoken to you by the Lord would be fulfilled.” (Luke 1:41-44)

We are not told how Elizabeth knows that the Savior is within Mary. But her spirit knows and detects the presence of God, and fills Elizabeth with joy.

This is a whole different level of evangelization that transcends words—it is the witness of a saint. And we see this occurring over and over again in the life of Jesus. “Follow me,” He says to this man or that woman, and they leave everything! I mean, this is irrational! To leave one’s comfort zone, to leave one’s job security, to expose oneself to mockery or to expose one’s sins publically is not what “reasonable” people do. But this is precisely what Matthew, Peter, Magdalene, Zacchaeus, Paul, etc. did. Why? Because their spirits were drawn by the pure fragrance of God. They were drawn to the source of living water, which every human being thirsts for. We thirst for God, and when we find Him in another, we want more. This alone should give you and I confidence to go with courage into the hearts of men: we have something they want, or rather, Someone… and the world waits and waits for this aroma of Christ to pass by once again.

Of course, when others may encounter God in us, their response is not always like the aforementioned. Sometimes, they will utterly reject us because the fragrance of holiness convicts them of the stench of sin in their own hearts. Thus, St. Paul writes:

…thanks be to God, who in Christ always leads us in triumph, and through us spreads the fragrance of the knowledge of him everywhere. For we are the aroma of Christ to God among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing, to one a fragrance from death to death, to the other a fragrance from life to life… we speak in Christ. (2 Cor 2:14-17)

Yes, we must be “in Christ” in order to bring about this divine aroma…

 

PURITY OF HEART

How do we become the aroma of God? Well, if we too carry about the stench of sin, who will be attracted to us? If our speech, actions, and moods reflect one who is “in the flesh”, then we have nothing to offer the world, except perhaps, scandal.

One of the stronger themes emerging from Pope Francis’ pontificate is a warning against a “spirit of worldliness” that displaces Christ from one’s heart.

‘When one accumulates sin, you lose your ability to react and you start to rot.’ Even if corruption seems to give you some happiness, power and makes you feel satisfied with yourself, he said, it ultimately doesn’t because it ‘leaves no room for the Lord, for conversion… The worst [form of] corruption is the spirit of worldliness!’ —POPE FRANCIS, Homily, Vatican City, November 27th, 2014; Zenit

So be imitators of God, as beloved children, and live in love, as Christ loved us and handed himself over for us as a sacrificial offering to God for a fragrant aroma. Immorality or any impurity or greed must not even be mentioned among you, as is fitting among holy ones, no obscenity or silly or suggestive talk, which is out of place, but instead, thanksgiving. (Eph 5:1-4)

St. Paul is teaching two aspects of the Christian life, the interior and exterior life that constitute being “in Christ.” Together they form the purity of heart necessary to emit the fragrance of God:

I. Interior Life

One of the great crises in the Church today is that few Christians have an interior life. What is this? A life of friendship, prayer, meditation, and contemplation of God. [2]cf. On Prayer and More On Prayer For some Catholics, their prayer life begins on Sunday morning and ends an hour later. But no more can grapes grow healthily by hanging one hour a week on the vine than a baptized soul can grow in holiness by a perfunctory relationship with the Father. For,

Prayer is the life of the new heart. —Catechism of the Catholic Church, n. 2697

Without a prayer life, without being “connected” to the Vine so that the Sap of the Holy Spirit flows, the baptized heart is dying, and the smell of staleness and eventual rot will be the only scent that soul carries.

II. Exterior Life

On the other hand, one can pray many devotions, go to daily Mass, and attend many spiritual events… but unless there is a mortification of the flesh and its passions, unless the interior is revealed in the exterior, then the wonderful seeds of God’s Word, planted in prayer, will be…

…choked by the anxieties and riches and pleasures of life, and they [will] fail to produce mature fruit. (Luke 8:14)

It is this “mature fruit” that carries the aroma of Christ into the world. Thus, the interior and exterior life combine to form the aroma of authentic holiness.

 

HOW TO BECOME HIS FRAGRANCE…

Allow me to conclude by sharing these sublime words, allegedly from Our Lady, on how to become God’s fragrance in the world…

Let the fragrance of the very life of God be in  you: the fragrance of the grace which clothes you, of the wisdom which enlightens you, of the love which leads you, of the prayer which sustains you, of the mortification which purifies you.

Mortify your senses…

Let the eyes be truly mirrors of the soul. Open them to receive and to give the light of virtue and of grace, and close them to every evil and sinful influence.

Let the tongue free itself to form words of goodness, of love and of truth, and therefore let the most profound silence always surround the formation of each word.

Let the mind open itself only to thoughts of peace and mercy, of understanding and salvation, and never let it be sullied by judgment and criticism, much less by malice and condemnation.

Let the heart be closed firmly to every inordinate attachment to self, to creatures and to the world in which you live, that it may open itself only to the fullness of the love of God and neighbour.

Never, as at the present time have so many of my fallen sons need of your pure and supernatural love, in order to be saved. In my Immaculate Heart I will fashion each of you in the purity of love. This is the penance which I am asking of you, dear sons; this is the mortification which you must perform, in order to prepare yourselves for the task which awaits you and flee the dangerous snares which my Adversary sets for you.

—To the Priests, Our Lady’s Beloved Sons, Fr. Don Stefano Gobbi (with the Imprimatur of Bishop Donald W. Montrose and Archbishop Emeritus Francesco Cuccaresea); n. 221-222, p. 290-292, 18th English Edition. *Note: Please see Prophecy Properly Understood regarding “private revelation” and how to approach prophetic words, such as the above.

   

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1. cf. Authentic Holiness
2. cf. On Prayer and More On Prayer
Posted in HOME, SPIRITUALITY.

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