June/July 2013 - Vol. 68
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.The Living Water of the Holy Spirit.
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by Cyril of Jerusalem (313-386 AD)
The water that I shall give him will become in him a fountain of living water, welling up into eternal life.   - John 7:38
This is a new kind of water, a living, leaping water, welling up for those who are worthy. But why did Christ call the grace of the Spirit water? Because all things are dependent on water; plants and animals have their origin in water. Water comes down from heaven as rain, and although it is always the same in itself, it produces many different effects, one in the palm tree, another in the vine, and so on throughout the whole of creation. It does not come down, now as one thing, now as another, but while remaining essentially the same, it adapts itself to the needs of every creature that receives it. 

In the same way the Holy Spirit, whose nature is always the same, simple and indivisible, apportions grace to each person as he wills. Like a dry tree which puts forth shoots when watered, the soul bears the fruit of holiness when repentance has made it worthy of receiving the Holy Spirit. Although the Spirit never changes, the effects of his action, by the will of God and in the name of Christ, are both many and marvelous. 

The Spirit makes one person a teacher of divine truth, inspires another to prophesy, gives another the power of casting out devils, enables another to interpret holy Scripture. The Spirit strengthens one person's self-control, shows another how to help the poor, teaches another to fast and lead a life of asceticism, makes another oblivious to the need of the body, trains another for martyrdom. His action is different in different people, but the Spirit himself is always the same. In each person, Scripture says, the Spirit reveals his presence in a particular way for the common good.

The Spirit comes gently and makes himself known by his fragrance. He is not felt as a burden, for he is light, very light. Rays of light and knowledge stream before him as he approaches. The Spirit comes with the tenderness of a true friend and protector to save, to heal, to teach, to counsel, to strengthen, to console. The Spirit comes to enlighten the mind first of the one who receives him, and then, through him, the minds of others as well. 

As light strikes the eyes of one who comes out of darkness into the sunshine and enables that person to see clearly things he or she could not discern before, so light floods the soul of the one counted worthy of receiving the Holy Spirit and enables that person to see things beyond the range of human vision, things hitherto undreamed of.


Cyril was born in Jerusalem around 315 AD. He was ordained deacon, then presbyter, and then bishop of Jerusalem around 349. During a time of great division in the church, between the Council of Nicea in 325 and the Council of Constantinople in 381, Cyril labored to reconcile the disputes between church leaders. He was exiled from his bishopric three times, for a total of sixteen years, for his bold proclamation of faith in Christ's full divinity during a time when many bishops and emperors favored various forms of the Arian heresy. In 381 he attended the Council of Constantinople and voted in favor of the formula which completed the Creed often known as the Nicene Creed. He died around 386.

Cyril is author of the Catecheses, or Catechetical Lectures on the Christian faith a series of eighteen lectures delivered during Lent to those about to be baptized at Easter, and then a series of five lectures on the sacraments which were delivered after Easter to the newly baptized.


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