The Shepherd, January 2005

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FROM THE FATHERS

“‘AND DIPPED HIMSELF,’ says Scripture, ‘seven times in Jordan’ (2 Kings 5:14). It was not for nothing that Naaman of old, when suffering from leprosy, was purified upon his being baptised, but it served as an indication to us. For as we are lepers in sin, we are made clean by means of the sacred water and the invocation of the Lord, from our old transgressions, being spiritually regenerated as new-born babes, even as the Lord has declared: ‘Except a man be born again through water and the Spirit, he shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven’ (John 3:5).”

Holy Hieromartyr Irenæus of Lyons, + 202 A.D

“OUR SAVIOUR did not simply command to baptise, but first says, ‘Teach;’ and then: ‘Baptise in the name of the Father, and Son, and Holy Spirit;’ that the right Faith might follow upon learning, and together with faith might come the consecration of Baptism. There are many other heresies too, which use the words only, but not in the right sense, as I have said, not with sound faith, and in consequence the water which they administer is unprofitable as deficient in piety.”

Saint Athanasius the Great of Alexandria, + 373 A.D.

“THE SAME KIND of benefit which catechumens receive from instruction before they are baptised, the same did John’s baptism convey before Christ’s. As John preached repentance, announced Christ’s baptism, and drew all men to the knowledge of the truth now made manifest to the world; so the ministers of the Church first instruct those who come to the faith, then reprove their sins; and lastly, drawing them to the knowledge and love of the truth, offer them remission by Christ’s baptism.”

Venerable Bede of Jarrow, + 735 A.D.

“WE ALL RECEIVED grace in Baptism and Chrismation. Therefore we should burn in our spirit, which is animated by the grace of the HolySpirit. Why is it, then, that we do not burn in the spirit? Because we are occupied largely or even exclusively with our own personal affairs, with worldly business and public life, so that the spirit, although it still makes itself felt, is choked. In order to kindle the spirit, we must be aware of the unsatisfactory direction of our activities, especially their orientation towards earthly and material things; and we must enter deeply into the contemplation of what is divine, holy, heavenly and eternal. The most important thing is to begin to act in a manner that is truly spiritual. And then the spirit will start to burn: for as a result of this, the gift of grace which lives within us will begin to grow in warmth.”

Saint Theophan the Recluse, +1894 A.D.

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