“By your immersion you imitated the burial of the Lord, but when you came out of the water you were conscious only of the reality of the Resurrection”

Christ descended into hell to liberate its captives. In one instant he destroyed all record of our ancient debt incurred under the Law, in order to lead us to heaven where there is no death but only eternal life and righteousness.

By the Baptism which you, the newly-enlightened, have just received, you now share in these blessings. Your initiation into the life of grace is the pledge of your resurrection. Your Baptism is the promise of the life of heaven. By your immersion you imitated the burial of the Lord, but when you came out of the water you were conscious only of the reality of the Resurrection. Believe in this reality, of which previously you saw only the outward signs. Accept the assurance of Paul when he says: If we have been united to Christ in a death like his, we shall be united to him also in a resurrection like his.

Baptism is the planting of the seed of immortality, a planting which takes place in the font and bears fruit in heaven. The grace of the Spirit works in a mysterious way in the font, and the outward appearance must not obscure the wonder of it. Although water serves as the instrument, it is grace which gives rebirth. Grace transforms all who are placed in the font just as the seed is transformed in the womb. It refashions all who go down into the water as metal is recast in a furnace. It reveals to them the mysteries of immortality; it seals them with the pledge of resurrection

These wonderful mysteries are symbolized for you, the newly-enlightened, even in the garments you wear. See how you are clothed in the outward signs of these blessings.

The radiant brightness of your robe stands for incorruptibility. The white band encircling your head like a diadem proclaims your liberty. In your hand you hold the sign of your victory over the devil. Christ is showing you that you have risen from the dead. He does this now in a symbolic way, but soon he will reveal the full reality if we keep the garment of faith undefiled and do not let sin extinguish the lamp of grace.

If we preserve the crown of the Spirit, the Lord will call from heaven in a voice of tremendous majesty, yet full of tenderness: Come, blessed of my Father, take possession of the kingdom prepared for you since the beginning of the world. To him be glory and power forever, through endless ages. Amen.

Basil of Seleucia

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7 Responses to “By your immersion you imitated the burial of the Lord, but when you came out of the water you were conscious only of the reality of the Resurrection”

  1. Matthew Hryniewicz says:

    The role and importance of baptism is something that I’m having difficulty getting a handle on in my catechumen instruction. I’m hearing a fair amount of statements similar to “Your Baptism is the promise of the life of heaven” or “Baptism is the planting of the seed of immortality…” as you quoted Basil of Seleucia saying. I was instructed that baptism represents the beginning of our relationship with the Father, yet I was also told that it is not ultimately necessary for salvation (some martyrs died as catechumens, etc.). I was told that baptism is an intentional beginning and yet infants are baptized into the church.

    Perhaps it’s my Protestant upbringing holding me back, but just a few months ago I felt like I ‘got’ the sacraments and now I’m just finding myself confused and unable to fully believe. I don’t understand what’s supposed to be going on during baptism, communion, etc. and why these things are necessary.

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    • Fr Aidan Kimel says:

      Matthew, have you read Alexander Schmemann? If not, begin with For the Life of the World.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Matthew Hryniewicz says:

        Thanks for the recommendation. To be frank I hadn’t even heard of him. I’ll take a look at this book for sure. I definitely feel like I need good reading material and time to meditate/contemplate.

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        • Fr Aidan Kimel says:

          May I also suggest that if one wishes to begin to understand the mysteries, one really needs to visit (several times) a church that practices and lives a sacramental life, with the Eucharist at its center. After you have read the Schmemann book, may I recommend that you visit the local Orthodox Church (preferably OCA or Antiochian, as their liturgies will be probably celebrated in English) a few times. You will then begin to see, I think, the importance of the Eucharist in Orthodox life. The risen Christ communicates to us his Body and Blood. Baptism is our initiation into this mystery.

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          • Matthew Hryniewicz says:

            I’ve actually been attending an Orthodox Church here in Hartford CT for about 9 months now. Of course, I must admit that I didn’t take full advantage of all the Lenten and Paschal services.

            When I first began attending I found myself feeling strangely at home and at peace during the liturgy despite how foreign it all felt. I didn’t know what was going on, but I was able to enter into worship and be ministered to in a very real way. All I wanted was to be present with my God and savior. Now keeping myself truly present is beginning to feel like work (which, I’ve been informed, turns what the word liturgy means).

            I’m trying to sort out what I believe, what I accept, what the church teaches and the ‘why’ for each of them. Since the honest answer to the first one is not always the same as the last, I’m struggling to determine how best to proceed. I think my head is lagging behind my heart.

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  2. I love that they have crowns — literal crowns. Like the imagery in the Odes of Solomon. If we want to recover the priesthood of the laity, we should probably move towards recovering the full range of this biblical imagery in the liturgical use and mystical theology.

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