Monday, January 3, 2011

Spirit and Water

Why does water serve as the means for the blessing we receive at Baptism? The obvious one is that we use water as a common thing to cleanse our bodies when solids. There is it logical that we would use it also in a sacramental way.

Also, man is not a simple being being a compound of elements both physical and spiritual.

St Gregory of Nyssa says,
Man, as we know full well, is compound, not simple: and therefore the cognate and similar medicines are assigned for healing to him who is twofold and conglomerate: --for his visible body, water, the sensible element--for his soul, which we cannot see, the Spirit invisible, invoked by faith, present unspeakably.
We must not think lightly of this holy water. The power it contains is most great, no less than that which transforms the wine and bread into the body and blood of Christ. It is common that God uses what is common to us to give us spiritual gifts. Man himself is mostly made of water and it is commingled with spirit in the image and likeness of God. The sacraments of the Church are all great mysteries.

St Gregory says,
Now God and Savior, in fulfilling the Dispensation for our sakes, went beneath the fourth of these, the earth, that He might raise up life from thence. And we in receiving baptism, in imitation of our Lord and Teacher and Guide, are we not indeed buried in the earth..., but coming to the element akin to earth, to water, we conceal ourselves in that as the Savior did in the earth: and by doing this thrice we represent for ourselves that grace of the Resurrection which was wrought in three days: and this we do, not receiving the sacrament in silence, but while there are spoken over us the Names of the Three Sacred Persons on Whom we briefed, in Whom we also hope, from Whom comes to us both the fact of our present and the fact of our future existence.
We do as Jesus commanded, 
"Baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit" (Matthew 28:19).

Reference: A Sermon for the Theophany, St Gregory of Nyssa

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