Tuesday, April 18, 2006

HFH Reading Group: On-Line RCIA

The Second Lecture, on repentance and forgiveness; and the Third Lecture, on baptism:

"This is in truth a serious matter, brethren, and you must approach it with good heed. Each one of you is about to be presented to God before tens of thousands of the Angelic Hosts: the Holy Ghost is about to seal your souls: ye are to be enrolled in the army of the Great King. Therefore make you ready, and equip yourselves, by putting on I mean, not bright apparel, but piety of soul with a good conscience. Regard not the Laver as simple water, but rather regard the spiritual grace that is given with the water. For just as the offerings brought to the heathen altars, though simple in their nature, become defiled by the invocation of the idols, so contrariwise the simple water having received the invocation of the Holy Ghost, and of Christ, and of the Father, acquires a new power of holiness."

Cyril has an interesting discussion of the sacramental nature of baptismal water. He clearly adheres to the orthodox understanding of the regenerative nature of the sacrament, via the sign of the water itself, but then has this odd dualistic-sounding statement: "Peter commanded them to be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ; in order that, the soul having been born again by faith, the body also might by the water partake of the grace." Not a theology, if we take him literally here, that is either strictly orthodox nor likely to satisfy those who see baptism as only a token of a spiritual regeneration that has already occurred.

Okay, a stupid pedantic note; but whoever scanned in all these books from the ANF series seems to have let the spell-checker systematically change the word "laver" (from Latin, lavare, to wash) to "layer." And it bugs me.

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