Water


The water which washes and purifies,
also restores in the soul the freshness of its youth.

As a vital and familiar element in human existence, water has always been full of significance. In ancient views of the world, it was considered to be at the origin of all things and, in order to serve life, it had to be fecundated by the Breath of God. [Gn. 1:2] If left to its own devices, water could carry everything away into death and primeval chaos (the flood and the sea). Thus, it is an ambivalent symbol which evokes simultaneously life and death, purification and sanctification.

The various uses of water in religious rites, like the blessing and the asperges at the beginning of communion, or the washing of the hands during the offertory, are first and foremost acts of purification, that is to say that they wash away any faults or stains which would be improper to the celebration of the liturgy. [Ezk. 36:25] In its positive aspect, water is the basis of life and a symbol of birth and rebirth. [Ezk. 47:1-2; Rv. 22:1-2]

Liturgical rites are effective only if they involve the action of God. Baptism with water - that of John the Baptist - was merely a preparation for the baptism with water and the Spirit which the Son of God instituted. [Jn. 3:5] When enlivened by the Spirit, water becomes one of its finest symbols. It received this consecration during the baptism of Jesus in the Jordan, becoming that "living water" which is a "gift of God", that is to say the Spirit itself which, being at the heart of the life of the Trinity, can alone come "welling up for eternal life." (John 4:10-14). When plunged into the life and death of Christ through baptism, the sons of God receive the Spirit as a "pledge" which waters and quenches them, while they wait to be immersed in the River of Life which flows from between the throne of God and the Lamb. [1 Cor. 12:13; Rv. 22:1]

The rivers of living water began to flow at the moment of Christ's death on the Cross, at the very hour when Jesus "gave up his spirit" (John 19:30) and let the blood and water spring out of his pierced heart as symbols of the sacraments which would henceforth operate through the force of the Spirit.

The blessing of water, to which holy salts can be added (a symbol of preservation and flavor), is an interdenominational tradition. The sprinkling of holy water is performed during many rites of blessing. It is sprinkled on the mortal remains of Christians, on their coffins, and on their tombs. At the entrance to some churches, the basin of holy water is an invitation to the faithful to cross themselves after wetting the tips of their fingers in it. Holy water can also be requested and taken home. This is an act of faith, linked to the mystery of the Cross, which freed us from the Evil One.

The Prodigal God
A Story Of Two Brothers
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