Monday, June 30, 2008

The meaning of the excorcism in Baptism

"When the learner is determined to become a free man in the kingdom of the Lord, the Church undertakes certain actions. What would be the good of asking a slave, who is still in the power of his master, whether he wants to be free? If he dares ask for the freedom which is offered, he knows he will be cruelly punished the moment he is left alone again with his master. Through fear and from a habit of slavery, a man cannot ask for freedom until he is delivered from the authority of the devil. Therefore, before any question is asked of the one who stand there, with a new hope in divine salvation, he is made free from the power of Satan. This is the meaning of the exorcisms which are read at the outset of the baptismal service both in the Orthodox and Roman Catholic Churches. It is only when a man is free from the bonds of slavery that he is asked if he renounces the devil and if he wants to join Christ. And only after a free answer does the Church integrate him into herself, into the Body of Christ. The devil wants slaves, but God wants free men in harmony of will with him. The evil one in terms was Exodus was Egypt and Pharaoh, and all the values attached to them, namely, to be fed and kept alive, on condition that they were submissive slaves. And for us the act of prayer, which is a more essential, final act of rebellion against slavery than taking up arms, is at the same time a sort of return into our sense of responsibility and relatedness to God."

Living Prayer, by Metropolitan Anthony, pps. 22-23

No comments: