Catechism of the Catholic Church

The Celebration of the Christian Mystery 313 II. B aptism in the E conomy of S alvation Prefigurations of Baptism in the Old Covenant 1217 In the liturgy of the Easter Vigil, during the blessing of the baptismal water, the Church solemnly commemorates the great events in salvation history that already prefigured the mystery of Baptism: 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; 11 1218 Since the beginning of the world, water, so humble and wonderful a creature, has been the source of life and fruitfulness. Sacred Scripture sees it as “overshadowed” by the Spirit of God: 12 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; 13 1219 The Church has seen in Noah’s ark a prefiguring of salva- tion by Baptism, for by it “a few, that is, eight persons, were saved through water”: 14 O God, who by the outpouring of the flood foreshadowed regeneration, so that from the mystery of one and the same element of water would come an end to vice and a beginning of virtue; 15 1220 If water springing up from the earth symbolizes life, the water of the sea is a symbol of death and so can represent the mystery of the cross. By this symbolismBaptismsignifies commun­ ion with Christ’s death. 1221 But above all, the crossing of the Red Sea, literally the liberation of Israel from the slavery of Egypt, announces the libera­ tion wrought by Baptism: 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; 16 1222 Finally, Baptism is prefigured in the crossing of the Jordan River by which the People of God received the gift of the land 11 Roman Missal, Easter Vigil 44: Blessing of Water. 12 Cf. Gen 1:2. 13 Roman Missal, Easter Vigil 44: Blessing of Water. 14 1 Pet 3:20. 15 Roman Missal, Easter Vigil 45: Blessing of Water. 16 Roman Missal, Easter Vigil 44: Blessing of Water: “ Abrahae filios per mare Rubrum sicco vestigio transire fecisti, ut plebs, a Pharaonis servitute liberata, populum baptizatorum præfiguraret .” 344 694 701, 845 1010