Thursday, January 13, 2011

Sacred Meditations - Second Edition

Thank you for all of your support of Magdeburg Press. We are pleased to announce that the second edition of the Sacred Meditations will be available soon. The translation remains almost entirely the same, but a good deal of formatting has been done for a cleaner appearance and easier reading experience. For those of you who have read the Meditations before, or haven't read them in a while, here's a taste:

XVII. Concerning the fruits of Baptism.
Baptism is a holy washing.

Remember, faithful soul, the great grace granted you in the salutary washing of Baptism. Baptism is a washing of regeneration (Titus 3:5). Whoever has therefore been moistened in the washing of Baptism is no longer completely lost1 in the former ways of his carnal birth. Rather, because he has been born of God, that is, through water and the Spirit (John 3:5), he is also a son of God, and because he is a son, he is also likewise an heir of eternal blessedness (Romans 14:17). Thus,2 the eternal Father proclaimed the following words at Christ’s Baptism: “This is my beloved Son” (Matthew 3:17). Therefore, he adopts all who believe and are baptized as sons. In Christ’s Baptism, the Holy Spirit appeared as a dove. So also, the Holy Spirit is present in our Baptism, giving it its power. Yes indeed, he confers himself to those who believe and affects a new impulse within them so that they are as shrewd as serpents and as innocent as doves (Matthew 10:16). Just as he acted in creation, so also he acts in our own regeneration. In the beginning of creation, the Spirit of the Lord rested upon the waters and conferred upon them a vital power. So also, in the water of Baptism the Holy Spirit is present and works to save us by this means of regeneration. Jesus Christ himself, our Savior, chose to be baptized to testify to us that we are made his members through Baptism. Frequently medicine is applied to the head to heal other members of the body. Our spiritual head is Christ. He received the baptismal medicine for the salvation of his mystical body.3 In circumcision, God entered a covenant with his people in the Old Testament (Genesis 17:11). Similarly, we are received into the covenant of God in the New Testament through Baptism since Baptism has taken the place of circumcision (Colossians 2:11). Therefore, whoever is in the covenant of God should not fear the accusations of the devil. The Christian is clothed with Christ in Baptism (Galatians 3:27). Hence, the saints are said to have washed their robes in the blood of the Lamb (Revelation 7:14). The righteousness of Christ is that most beautiful of clothing. Whoever has thus been clothed with this clothing should not fear the stain of sin.

There was a pool near the sheep gate4 in Jerusalem. At certain times, an angel used to descend and turn the waters of it. Whoever descended into it5 first after the waters were turned was healed of whatever disease he had suffered (John 5:2-4). The water of Baptism is that pool which heals us from all the disease of sins when the Holy Spirit descends into it and turns it with the blood of Christ, who was made the [sacrificial] victim for us, just as the sheep to be sacrificed were also washed in that pool in Jerusalem. At Christ’s Baptism, the heavens were opened. Likewise, in our Baptism, the doors of heaven are opened. In Christ’s Baptism, the entire Most Holy Trinity was present (Matthew 3:16). So also, it is present in our Baptism. And so, in the words of promise that are joined with the element of water, faith receives the grace of the Father who adopts6 us, the merits of the Son who cleanses us, and the efficacy of the Holy Spirit who regenerates us.

When Pharaoh and all his armies were submerged7 in the Red Sea, the Israelites were saved and passed through it unscathed (Exodus 14:28). Thus, in Baptism, all the armies of sin are submerged and the faithful pass safely through to the promise of the inheritance of the heavenly kingdom. For this reason Baptism is also like that sea of glass which John saw (Revelation 4:6). Through it, like through a glass, the splendor of the Son of Righteousness enters into our minds. That sea was before the throne of the Lamb. The throne of the Lamb is the Church, in which alone the grace of Holy Baptism is held. The prophet Ezekiel saw waters flowing from the temple, making all alive and healing them (Ezekiel 47:1). Likewise in God’s spiritual temple, that is, in the Church, the saving waters of Baptism, in whose depths our sins are cast, still gush (Micah 7:19). All who come to this stream are healed and live. Baptism is the spiritual flood in which our sinful flesh is drowned. The unclean raven exits and the dove, the Holy Spirit, brings back the olive branch, that is, inspires peace and tranquility for the soul. Therefore, remember, faithful soul, this highest grace made yours in Baptism and give due thanks to God.

Even more, the more plentiful the grace that has been conferred upon us through Baptism, the more diligently we ought to guard that gift that has been given. “We have been buried with Christ through Baptism into death, therefore, so that, just as Christ was raised from the dead in the glory of the Father, we also should enter into a new life” (Romans 6:4). We were healed. Therefore, let us sin no more lest something more detrimental happen to us (John 5:14). We have been clothed with the righteousness of Christ, by far the most precious clothing there is. Therefore, let us not stain it with the blemish of sins. Our old man was crucified and died in Baptism. Let the new man now live. We have been regenerated and the attitude of our minds has been renewed in Baptism (Ephesians 4:23). For this reason, do not let the flesh dominate the spirit. “The old has passed away. Behold, everything has been made new” (2 Corinthians 5:17). Let not the oldness of the flesh prevail upon the newness of the spirit. We have been made sons of God through spiritual regeneration. Let us then lead a life worthy of such a Father. We have been made the temple of the Holy Spirit. Let us thus prepare a hospitable seat for such a great guest. We have been received into the covenant of God. Let us therefore take care that we do not labor for the wage of the devil and thus be cut off from the grace of the covenant.
Work all this in us, O Blessed Trinity, one God, who has given such great grace in Baptism, and grant that we may persevere in this great grace.

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