Gregory_of_NyssaThe descent into the water, and the trine immersion of the person in it, involves another mystery.

The method of our salvation was made effectual not so much by His precepts in the way of teaching as by the deeds of Him Who has realized an actual fellowship with man.

He has effected life as a living fact, so that by means of the flesh which He has assumed, and at the same time deified, everything kindred and related may be saved along with it.

Accordingly, it was necessary that some means should be devised by which there might be, in the baptismal process, a kind of affinity and likeness between him who follows and Him Who leads the way.

Therefore we need to see what features are to be observed in the Author of our life, in order that the imitation on the part of those that follow may be regulated, as the Apostle says, after the pattern of the Captain of our salvation (Heb. 2;10; 12:2).

Those who are actually drilled into measured and orderly movements in arms by skilled drill-masters, who are advanced to dexterity in handling their weapons by what they see with their eyes, whereas those who do not practise what is shown them remain devoid of such dexterity.

In the same way, it is imperative that all those who have an equally earnest desire for the Good as He [Jesus Christ] has should be followers by the path of an exact imitation of Him Who leads the way to salvation, and should carry into action what He has shown them.

It is, in fact, impossible for persons to reach the same goal unless they travel by the same ways.

Persons who are at a loss how to thread the turns of mazes, when they happen to fall in with someone who has experience of them, get to the end of those various misleading turnings in the chambers by following him behind, which they could not do, did they not follow him their leader step by step.

So too, I pray you mark, the labyrinth of this our life cannot be threaded by the faculties of human nature unless a man pursues that same path as He did Who, though once in it, yet got beyond the difficulties which hemmed Him in.

I apply this figure of a labyrinth to that prison of death, which is without an egress and environs the wretched race of mankind. What, then, have we beheld in the case of the Captain of our salvation? A three days’ state of death and then life again.

Gregory of Nyssa (c 335 – after 394): The Great Catechism, 35 (slightly adapted).

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