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Born Again in the Water of Baptism

Jesus answered, “Amen, amen, I say to you, unless a man be born again of water and the Holy Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God (John 3:5)“.

Saint Cyprian of CarthageCaecilius Cyprian to Donatus sends, greeting:  “While I was still lying in darkness and gloomy night, wavering here and there, tossed about on the foam of this boastful age, and uncertain of my wandering steps, knowing nothing of my real life, and remote from truth and light, I regarded it a difficult matter, especially difficult in respect of my character at that time, that a man should be capable of being born again (Jn 3:3-8)a truth which the divine mercy had announced for my salvation. How is it that a man, quickened to a new life in the laver of saving water, should be able to put off what he had previously been and still retaining all his bodily structure, should himself be changed in heart and soul. How, said I, is such a conversion possible, that there should be a sudden and rapid divestment of all which, either innate in us has hardened in the corruption of our material nature, or acquired by us has become addictive by long accustomed use? These things have become deeply and radically engrained within us. For as I myself was held in bonds by the innumerable errors of my previous life, from which I did not believe that I could be delivered, I despaired of better things. I was inclined to give in to my clinging vices and indulge my sins as if they were actually parts of me and indigenous to me. These were my frequent thoughts.

“But after that, by the help of the water of new birth, the stain of former years had been washed away, and a light from above, serene and pure, had been infused into my reconciled heart. By the agency of the Spirit breathed from heaven, a second birth had restored me to a new man. Then, in a wondrous manner, doubtful things at once began to become sure to me, hidden things to be revealed, dark things to be enlightened. What before had seemed difficult began to suggest a means of accomplishment; what had been thought impossible, to be capable of being achieved. I was enabled to acknowledge that what previously, being born of the flesh, had been living in the practice of sins, was of the earth and earthly, had now begun to be of God, and was animated by the Spirit of holiness…

“That we sinned before was the result of human error whereas now that we do not sin it is the beginning of the work of faith. All our power is of God; I say, of God. From Him we have life, from Him we have strength. By power derived and conceived from Him we do, while yet in this world, foreknow the indications of things to come. Only let fear be the keeper of innocence, that the Lord, Who of His mercy has flowed into our hearts…may be kept by righteous submissiveness in the frame of a grateful mind, that the assurance we have gained may not lead to carelessness, and so the old enemy creep upon us again.” (St. Cyprian of Carthage (190-258 AD). Excerpts from his 1st Epistle “To Donatus” shortly after his Baptism about 246 AD. Bishop of Carthage, AD 248 until his martyrdom in 258.)

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