Apr 15 2016

Part25: The First Stage: The Baptizing Christ P.9, 6- The Spring of the Soul; followed by Table of the 6 parts of Chapter 4, and Saying of St. Cyril on the Incarnation.

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ORTHODOX SPIRITUALITY

Dr. Nos’hi Abdel-Shaheed

Part Twenty Five

CHAPTER 4

The first stage: The Baptizing Christ.

The stage of purification and

The beginning of the process of spiritual renewal for man

(Part 9)

6- The Spring of the Soul

This relationship that has developed between the Lord Jesus Christ and the soul is a very intimate one. But we should not confuse it with the full summer of spiritual life. This first relationship represents the transition from the winter of sin to the spring of the redeemed existence. The green buds sprout and the flowers bloom, but the fruits have not ripened yet. It is a spiritual adolescence, sometimes characterized by anxiety, emotions, ecstasies, and outbursts, but also has feelings of timidity and hesitation. It is rarely free of stumbling. Nonetheless it is characterized by a sense of enthusiasm for exploring the truth, and usually has great hope. Thus piety at this stage is of vulnerable and emotional nature. The words of the Song of Songs (those expressing the quest rather than the full union) become actual, “Draw me away! we will run after you …. We will be glad and rejoice in you. We will remember your love more than wine.” (Song 1: 4), “Like a lily among thorns, so is my love among the daughters. Like an apple tree among the trees of the woods, so is my beloved among the sons. I sat down in his shade with great delight, and his fruit was sweet to my taste. He brought me to the banqueting house, and his banner over me was love. … The voice of my beloved behold, he comes… For lo, the winter is past, the rain is over and gone; the flowers appear on earth “(Songs 2: 2, 3, 4, 8, 11 and 12).

These times, times of Baptism and Repentance, times of conversion, healing and forgiveness, are blessed and happy times for the first encounter with the Lord Jesus Christ or for a new meeting with Him. Thus shortly after His own Baptism, our Lord met His first two disciples: “What do you seek? … Rabbi (which is to say, when translated, Teacher), where are You staying? … Come and see… They came and saw where He was staying, and remained with Him that day ..” (John 1:38, 39). But, as St. Basil reminds us, “It is not you, who had seized Christ by your virtue, but Christ seized you by His coming.” 1

The early Church expressed this baptismal newness and freshness of life in joyful symbols: the white dress for the newly baptized, the milk and honey offered to them, and the lighted candles placed in their hands.

To this spring of the soul belongs the image of tender and handsome Shepherd (ho poimen ho kalos2) who brings back the lost sheep on his shoulders.

But the regeneration through water, or rather the gift which water signifies, is usually expressed through the divine fish 3 which we find on so many of the ancient Christian monuments:

“Celestial race of the divine Fish, support and strengthen your heart, since you have received, amidst the mortals, the immortal source of the divine water.   Therefore, let your soul be gladdened with the ever-springing water of the Wisdom that gives the treasuries.   Take this food, sweet as the honey of the Savior of the saints; eat with delight, holding the Ichthys in your hands.4

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From the Sayings of St. Cyril the Pillar of Faith on the Incarnation

The Mystery that is in Christ,

Is a Beginning of Our Union with God.

The Only-begotten, then, proceeding from the very Substance of God the Father, and having entirely in His own nature Him That begat Him, became Flesh according to the Scripture, blending Himself, as it were, with our nature by an unspeakable combination and union with this body that is earthly; and thus He That is God by nature became, and is in truth, a Man from heaven… in order that, uniting as it were in Himself things widely opposed by nature, and adverse to fusion with each other, He might enable man to share and partake of the nature of God. For even unto us has reached the fellowship and abiding Presence of the Spirit, which originated through Christ and in Christ first, when He is in fact become even as we are, that is, a Man, receiving unction and sanctification, though He is by nature God. …

The Mystery, then, that is in Christ is become, as it were, a beginning and a way whereby we may partake of the Holy Spirit and union with God. On John 17, 20-21;.LFC 2, 549

 

Saint Mark’s Orthodox Fellowship urges you to study the Bible and encourage others to do the same. Please feel free to make copies of these notes to distribute them. The Fellowship welcomes any questions, or comments.
Write to us (or comment/email on SMOF websites):PO Box 6192, Columbia, MD 21045

 

Footnotes:

  1. Hom. 20
  2. “Handsome” here is another meaning for the Greek word “Kalos.”
  3. “Ichthys” is a Greek word composed of the first letters of the Greek words for Jesus Christ, the Son of God, the Savior.
  4. A part of the famous ancient Christian inscription in Greek, named “Inscription of Pectorius”, and located in Autun, France.

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