Servants of Christ Jesus of the Catholic Faith

Apostolic See of St. John

             His Eminence Archbishop-Primate +John Paul Hozvicka SCJ, D.D.

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Water & Spirit

Rebirth of the Human Soul

 

     In the teaching of Jesus to Nicodemus on the rebirth of the human soul Jesus says “Verily, verily, I say unto thee, except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God. Nicodemus saith unto him, How can a man be born when he is old? can he enter the second time into his mother's womb, and be born? Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.” John 3:3-6 KJV


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     Baptism is the door, the gateway to rebirth, cleaning & sanctifying the Soul and having a spiritual union with God. To be born again is to undergo a "spiritual rebirth" a regeneration of the human soul by the Holy Spirit. This regeneration of being born again is the transformation of life from a death of sin to a new life of righteousness that occurs in our souls when we first come to God and are justified through Jesus Christ sacrifice.

 

      In the teaching of the Eastern Orthodox Church, baptism is the water Jesus is talking about and after baptism the priest will anoint the baby or adult with holy oil (Chrismation) to seal and give them the Holy Spirit (Eph. 1:13); now their souls are reborn. In the Roman Catholic Church baptism is the water Jesus is talking about, and the anointing with holy oil is done at the age of 9, the age of understanding and reasoning of consent and accountability. This is called Confirmation because the Church is confirming upon the person the Holy Spirit. (Eph. 4:30).

 

     I have personally visited and witness many Protestant baptism in my days (40 years) and in the Protestant Churches there is only baptism there is no anointing or giving of the Holy Spirit, so their rebirth is incomplete. At no time have I seen or heard the minister announce, proclaim, or administer the Holy Spirit to the person being baptized; only baptism was performed. It is incorrect teaching to say that the moment you accept Jesus as your savor you immediately receive the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is given to the person of faith by an ordained priest and/or bishop as a separate act, by the laying on of hands, separate from that of Baptism. “When they arrived, they prayed for the new believers there that they might receive the Holy Spirit, because the Holy Spirit had not yet come on any of them; they had simply been baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. Then Peter and John placed their hands on them, and they received the Holy Spirit.” Acts 8:15-17 NIV Jesus twelve disciples  were baptized by John the Baptist and Jesus, but did not receive the Holy Spirit until Pentecost, again showing two separate acts. The Apostles continued this practice after Jesus went to Heaven.

 

Two Separate Actions

 

     To be born of the water and of the spirit as Jesus teaches is done in two separate actions, 1.) To be born of the water means to be baptism (Matt. 28:19) and 2.) To be born of the spirit is to receive the Holy Spirit and in tradition of the Roman Catholic Church this is when the bishop makes the sign of the cross on your forehead (laying on of hands) and says “receive the Holy Spirit.” Here the bishop seals you with the gifts of the Holy Spirit, this is the holy sacrament called “confirmation” because the bishop is confirming upon you the Holy Spirit. In the Orthodox tradition the priest give the Holy Spirit right after baptism, be it an infant or an adult, it is the holy sacrament called chrismation. Both actions are holy sacraments of the Church, baptism and confirmation/chrismation. It is not enough to learn about Jesus and then declare that he is your Lord and savor and be baptized. After you are baptized in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, then you become sealed with the Holy Spirit and you are now fully reborn in Christ Jesus our Lord.


Water:

 

     Now water has several symbolic meaning within the Church and they are 1.) It has the power to wash away the stain of original sin (Roman Catholic teaching) or ancestral sin (Orthodox teaching) (Rev.1:5) and 2.) It’s a symbol of our death and burial with Jesus and our resurrection to everlasting life through him (Romans 6:3-5). The water is the physical outward sign of our inward change of rebirth on our soul, in Christ Jesus our Lord.

 

Spirit:

 

     The receiving of the Holy Spirit is receiving the divine gifts of the Spirit as a seed (young or old) and as the seed grows or time passes we become aware of one or more gifts of the Holy Spirit which are words of Wisdom, the words of knowledge (Holy Scriptures), the gift of Healing, the gift of Prophecy, the gift of Miracles, distinguishing between spirits, the gift of various kinds of languages (human not angelic), and the gift to interpretation of those human languages of the earth. These gifts are present in their fullness in Jesus Christ and are found in all Christians who are in a state of grace. We receive them when we are infused with sanctifying grace by the bishop at confirmation or at Chrismation.

 

Once Reborn?

 

Sanctifying Grace: Sanctifying grace is that state of being which makes the soul holy and pleasing to God. This is a supernatural gift of God given to intellectual creatures (humans and Angels) for their eternal salvation which is obtained through our Lord Jesus Christ by the shedding of his blood that brings us into a state of holiness through our faith. Eternal salvation in itself is a heavenly bliss resulting from our intuitive knowledge of the Holy Trinity. Who only hath immortality, dwelling in the light which no man can approach unto, whom no one has seen or can see; to him be honor and might forever. Amen.  I Timothy 6:16

 

     The real nature of sanctifying grace, by reason of its invisibility, and that it is veiled in mystery, it is better to learn of its nature through the observation and the study of its transforming ability and benefits upon the human Soul rather than the study of grace itself. Sanctifying Grace is a continuous on going process of righteousness that edifies the Soul.  

 

Early Church Father Writings:

 

     The writings of the early Church Father is very important because from them we learn what was taught and practice by the Church of the first three centuries, and many of these fathers new the apostles and studied under them.

 

Theophilus of Antioch


"Are you unwilling to be anointed with the oil of God? It is on this account that we are called Christians: because we are anointed with the oil of God" (To Autolycus 1:12 [A.D. 181]). 


Tertullian


"After coming from the place of washing we are thoroughly anointed with a blessed unction, from the ancient discipline by which [those] in the priesthood . . . were accustomed to be anointed with a horn of oil, ever since Aaron was anointed by Moses. . . . So also with us, the unction runs on the body and profits us spiritually, in the same way that baptism itself is a corporal act by which we are plunged in water, while its effect is spiritual, in that we are freed from sins. After this, the hand is imposed for a blessing, invoking and inviting the Holy Spirit" (Baptism 7:1–2, 8:1 [A.D. 203]).

 

Hippolytus


"The bishop, imposing his hand on them, shall make an invocation, saying, ‘O Lord God, who made them worthy of the remission of sins through the Holy Spirit’s washing unto rebirth, send into them your grace so that they may serve you according to your will, for there is glory to you, to the Father and the Son with the Holy Spirit, in the holy Church, both now and through the ages of ages. Amen.’ Then, pouring the consecrated oil into his hand and imposing it on the head of the baptized, he shall say, ‘I anoint you with holy oil in the Lord, the Father Almighty, and Christ Jesus and the Holy Spirit.’ Signing them on the forehead, he shall kiss them and say, ‘The Lord be with you.’ He that has been signed shall say, ‘And with your spirit.’ Thus shall he do to each" (The Apostolic Tradition 21–22 [A.D. 215]).


Note: Always remember, the early Church Fathers existed in a time when there was no Roman Catholic Church, no Eastern Orthodox Church and no reformed Protestants Churches, only one true Church of Jesus Christ existed at this time.