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Easter and Baptism

  • FR. LEONARD M. PUECH

Since baptism is a rebirth to a new life, a spiritual resurrection, it was most fitting that the Paschal Vigil be chosen for the administration of solemn baptism. This is the reason why during all the Easter octave, the liturgy alludes so often to baptism to remind the newly baptized, but also all of us, of what is baptism and of what it demands from all the baptized.

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Since baptism is a rebirth to a new life, a spiritual resurrection, it was most fitting that the Paschal Vigil be chosen for the administration of solemn baptism. This is the reason why during all the Easter octave, the liturgy alludes so often to baptism to remind the newly baptized, but also all of us, of what is baptism and of what it demands from all the baptized.

Before the liturgical reform, every Sunday, during the aspersion of holy water preceding the high-mass, all through Eastertide, we used to sing a beautiful antiphon, the


Vidi aquam
: "I saw water coming out from the right side of the temple, alleluia! And all those, whom this water reached, were saved and will say: Alleluia, alleluia!" Then followed a verse from Ps. 117: "Praise the Lord for he is good, for eternal is he mercy." It contained a twofold allusion to Ezekiel and to Saint John and applied their texts to baptism.

Ezekiel was a man of great visions. He describes one: he saw a stream coming out from the right side of the future Temple, seen in a series of visions, and it kept growing until it became a river, which it was impossible to cross, teeming with fish, making every kind of fruit tree grow on its banks, bearing abundant fruit in all seasons and flowing into the sea and making its water wholesome (Ez.17,1-2). For his part Saint John insists (Jo. 19,34-35), that he saw blood and water coming out from the side of Jesus, when one of the soldiers pierced it with a lance.

This water, coming out from the right side of the Temple, naturally suggested the water coming out from the right side of Jesus, who said of his body: "Destroy this temple and in three days I will raise it up again" (Jo.2,19). This water from the side of Jesus was for many of the Fathers a symbol of baptism, figured also by the all-curing and life-giving water described by Ezekiel, since it purifies from sin and bestows grace, that we may bear abundant fruit spiritually (Jo.15,8). This was the meaning of the beautiful Vidi aquam: the grace of baptism comes from the Passion and death of Jesus, it purifies us and makes us spiritually fruitful.

The new liturgy has kept another text, which also was repeated in the divine office all through Eastertide: "If you have risen with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. Mind the things that are above, not the things that are on earth"(Col 3,1-2). For Saint Paul baptism was a death to sin, a burial with Christ and a resurrection with Christ to a new life (Rom.6,3-7). He reminds the Colossians what this new life must be; they must no longer live for the things of the earth, their desires and their thoughts must be for the goods of heaven, not for the goods of the earth. We also need to be reminded that we have risen with Christ and that: "If in union with him we have imitated his death, we shall also imitate him in his resurrection" (Rom. 6,5). This is why the Church keeps repeating to us: "If you have risen with Christ (through baptism) seek the things that are above."

dividertop

Acknowledgement

Fr. Leonard M. Puech, O.F.M. "Easter and Baptism." In Spiritual Guidance (Vancouver, B.C.: Vancouver Foundation of Art, Justice and Liberty, 1983), 244-246.

Republished with permission of the Vancouver Foundation of Art, Justice and Liberty.

The Author

The late Fr. Leonard M. Puech wrote a popular column for the B.C. Catholic from 1976 to 1982. Those columns were compiled and published by the Vancouver Foundation of Art, Justice, and Liberty as the book Spiritual Guidance in 1983. The VFAJL is interested in reprinting Spiritual Guidance. Anyone who would like to contribute to this worthy cause please write: Dr. Margherita Oberti, 1170 Eyremount Drive, West Vancouver, B.C. V7S 2C5.

Copyright © 1983 Fr. Leonard M. Puech
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