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The Celebration of the Christian Mystery

313

II.

B

aptism

in

the

E

conomy of

S

alvation

Prefigurations of Baptism in the Old Covenant

1217

In the liturgy of the Easter Vigil, during the

blessing of the

baptismal water,

the Church solemnly commemorates the great events

in salvation history that already prefigured the mystery of Baptism:

O God, who by invisible power

accomplish a wondrous effect

through sacramental signs

and who in many ways have prepared water, your creation,

to show forth the grace of Baptism;

11

1218

Since the beginning of the world, water, so humble and

wonderful a creature, has been the source of life and fruitfulness.

Sacred Scripture sees it as “overshadowed” by the Spirit of God:

12

O God, whose Spirit

in the first moments of the world’s creation

hovered over the waters,

so that the very substance of water

would even then take to itself the power to sanctify;

13

1219

The Church has seen in Noah’s ark a prefiguring of salva-

tion by Baptism, for by it “a few, that is, eight persons, were saved

through water”:

14

O God, who by the outpouring of the flood

foreshadowed regeneration,

so that from the mystery of one and the same element of water

would come an end to vice and a beginning of virtue;

15

1220

If water springing up from the earth symbolizes life, the

water of the sea is a symbol of death and so can represent the

mystery of the cross. By this symbolismBaptismsignifies commun­

ion with Christ’s death.

1221

But above all, the crossing of the Red Sea, literally the

liberation of Israel from the slavery of Egypt, announces the libera­

tion wrought by Baptism:

O God, who caused the children of Abraham

to pass dry-shod through the Red Sea,

so that the chosen people, set free from slavery to Pharaoh,

would prefigure the people of the baptized;

16

1222

Finally, Baptism is prefigured in the crossing of the Jordan

River by which the People of God received the gift of the land

11

Roman Missal,

Easter Vigil 44: Blessing of Water.

12 Cf.

Gen

1:2.

13

Roman Missal,

Easter Vigil 44: Blessing of Water.

14

1 Pet

3:20.

15

Roman Missal,

Easter Vigil 45: Blessing of Water.

16

Roman Missal,

Easter Vigil 44: Blessing of Water: “

Abrahae filios per mare

Rubrum sicco vestigio transire fecisti, ut plebs, a Pharaonis servitute liberata,

populum baptizatorum præfiguraret

.”

344

694

701, 845

1010