The Odor of Sanctity, the Perfume of the Christian Vocation
St. Paul links holiness in Christ to the image of a fragrant aroma:
For we are the aroma of Christ to God among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing, to the one a fragrance from death to death, to the other a fragrance from life to life (2 Cor 2:14-16).
Mahatma Gandhi relates this fragrance to a rose:
Let your life speak to us even as the rose needs no speech but simply spreads its perfume. Even the blind who do not see the rose perceive its fragrance. That is the secret of the rose. But the Gospel that Jesus preached is much more subtle and fragrant than the gospel of the rose. If the rose needs no agent, much less does the Gospel of Christ need any agent (SK George, “Gandhi and the Church,” published on Gandhi’s 75th birthday, 1944).
The top layer shows the externals of a person, how one presents oneself, his or her style of dress and manner of speaking. The heart notes reveal one’s character, attitudes and actions, what his or her priorities and goals are. At the foundation, the constant of the Christian’s vocation is Christ. He is the corner stone of the Christian vocation from infancy to maturity, from bud to flower to fall. For the Catholic, Christ the head and his Body the Church are inseparable because they form the whole Christ living a human and divine life to build up the kingdom in the world.
In Conclusion ...
Seduction is more ancient than the French connection. In the Hebrew Scriptures, we read of images of seduction, betrothal, and covenant-marriage between the Israelites as Bride and the Lord God as her Bridegroom. Two scriptural passages express these images: (1) “You have seduced me, O Lord, and I have allowed myself to be seduced; you were too strong for me, and you prevailed” (Jer 20:7) and (2) “I am going to lure her into the wilderness and speak tenderly to her” (Hos 2:16). In Vatican II, the relationship between Christ and his Church is first described with the image of betrothal, Bridegroom and Bride. Christian mystics often couch their imagery in terms Lover and Beloved. They often quote or paraphrase verses from the Song of Songs (2:13, 14b:4-7), such as:
BELOVED: My lover says to me, ‘Come then, my beloved, my lovely one, come.
Let me hear your voice, for your voice is sweet and your face is lovely.’
LOVER: You are wholly beautiful, my beloved.
(Column continues below)
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The French may claim first prize in the art of perfumery, but the art of seduction belongs first to the Divine Lover.