The third great symbol which the Church uses in payer at the Easter Vigil is water.
Water is used in baptism, and as a reminder of baptism when baptismal promises are renewed.
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;
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;
O God, who by the outpouring of the flood
so that from the mystery of one and the same element of water
would come an end to vice and a beginning of virtue;
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;
O God, whose Son,
baptized by John in the waters of the Jordan,
was anointed with the Holy Spirit,
and, as he hung upon the Cross,
gave forth water from his side along with blood,
and after his Resurrection, commanded his disciples:
“Go forth, teach all nations, baptizing them
in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,”
look now, we pray, upon the face of your Church
and graciously unseal for her the fountain of Baptism.
May this water receive by the Holy Spirit
the grace of your Only Begotten Son,
so that human nature, created in your image
and washed clean through the Sacrament of Baptism
from all the squalor of the life of old,
may be found worthy to rise to the life of newborn children
through water and the Holy Spirit.
And, if appropriate, lowering the paschal candle into the water either once or three times, he continues:
May the power of the Holy Spirit,
O Lord, we pray,
come down through your Son
into the fullness of this font,
and, holding the candle in the water, he continues:
so that all who have been buried with Christ
by Baptism into death
may rise again to life with him.
Who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever.
The images of water reach back to the beginnings of Creation; they punctuate Salvation History, and they drive us forward into new life, our continuing re-creation in Christby his grace and at his invitation.
The waters symbolise birth and death. They signify the radical choice each human being is invited to make – life apart from the one who makes life possible; or life with the One who enriches our lives in unimaginable ways. It should be a no-brainer but often we are damaged goods and we need the repeated offer of the living waters to help us on.
Living waters – Notre Dame, IN. (c) Allen Morris 1998.