On the Holy Mystery of Baptism

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When you will go down into the water, do not represent to yourself water alone, but await salvation from the operation of the Holy Spirit; because without the one and the other it is impossible for thee to attain perfection. It is not I who say this, but the Lord Jesus Christ, Who has authority over this. He says: "Except a man be born from above," and He adds to this: "of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God" (John 3:3, 5).

Saint Cyril of Alexandria

Since two aims are assumed in baptism - to exterminate the sinful body, so that it would no longer bear the fruits of death, and to revive the spirit, in order to have fruit in holiness - the water depicts death, receiving the body as though into the grave, while the Spirit communicates life-creating power, raising our souls up from sinful deadness to the original life - which also means to be born from above by water and the Spirit.

Saint Basil the Great

Since we consist of two natures, that is, of soul and body, of natures visible and invisible, so also the cleansing is two-fold, namely by water and the Spirit. And one is received visibly and bodily, while the other at the same time is performed invisibly and non-bodily; one is figurative, while the other is true and cleanses the very depths.

Saint Gregory the Theologian

Once, in the presence of the Emperor Julian the Apostate, a pagan, Porphyrius by name, wanted to amuse him with a mockery of Christian rites. Mimicking the Christians, he got into the water, immersed himself and pronounced: "The servant of God, Porphyrius, is baptized in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit". And then what happened? By the grace of God, he suddenly confessed Christ as the true God, came to believe in Him and for his firm confession of the Christian faith endured torture and was put to death by command of Julian the Apostate. So powerful and great is the grace of the Holy Spirit that is communicated in Christian baptism, that it was well pleased to have mercy on even a most sacrilegious blasphemer of God, to enlighten him with the true knowledge of God and to crown him with the crown of blessed immortality for his martyric end.

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