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Blood and Water
Orant: What is the significance of the blood and water that flow from Jesus' side on the cross?
I know that the catholic church says that the church is born out of his side... I'd like to understand why they teach that... any thoughts
Fr. Ed Fride: That is a more symbolic reference, the actual birth of the Church is ascribed to the descent of God the Holy Spirit on Pentecost. On the Cross, from His side flowed blood (emblematic of the Eucharist--the Precious Blood) and water (emblematic of the gift of Baptism).
Aaron Harburg: Just as Eve was born from the side of Adam so is the new Eve, the bride of Christ, born of the side of the new Adam, Christ.
Kester Bain: I have heard that it represents Christ's dual nature, humanity and divinity. St. Cyprian of Carthage who, speaking of the mixing of water and wine in the cup, gives an extended meaning to this mixing: "The people are designated by water, the blood of Christ by wine. Mixing water and wine in the cup shows the people's union with Christ, the believers' union with Him in Whom they believe. Water and wine after mixing in the Lord's Cup are so inseparably and closely united that they cannot be separated one from another. In just this way nothing can separate from Christ the Church, that is, the people that make up the Church, firmly and unshakeably abiding in faith and joined by eternal, indivisible love" [Letter to Cacaelius].
Kester Bain: (This is from the Catholic Encyclopedia): With regard to the water mingled with the wine in the Mass, the Fathers from the earliest times have tried to find reasons why the Church uses a mixed chalice though the Gospel narrative implies that Christ consecrated pure wine. The Council of Trent points out (Sess. XXII, De Missa, vii), there is a reference to the flowing of blood and water from Christ's side, from which the Church, the dispensatrix of the sacraments, was formed, like a new Eve from the side of the new Adam. It was probably in allusion to the former symbolism (i.e. the union of the people with Christ) that the earlier "Ordines romani" directed the choir (schola cantorum) to present water at the Offertory of the Mass. We may note also that it has long been the practice of the Greek Orthodox Church to pour a little hot water into the chalice immediately before the Communion, and though there seems no reliable evidence for any such custom in the early centuries, the absence of this usage among the Latins is made by the Greeks a serious ground of reproach.
Kester Bain: As an aside, the Celtic Catholic Church says the Church began when Jesus gave Mary to St. John and vice versa. I like that.
Joseph Anthony Dominic Gryniewicz: Aaron Harburg and Fr. Ed Fride have given several reasons why the Church and the Church Fathers have meditated His pierced side, and have often times stated that the Church was born from it. Related to Fr. Ed's statements: the Church is a "communio sanctorum", a communion of holy things--of Jesus, of sacraments, of men. The Christological and Sacramental aspect of the Church is prior to the understanding of her as a communion of Christians or of Churches. The symbolism of her being born at the Cross emphasizes precisely this, that the Church is more than just an assembly of people united by faith and animated by the Holy Spirit, that she is, in fact, a mystery. "Ecclesia ex Eucharistia", and she is entered through baptism. Thus the symbols of the blood and the water are quite suitable to express this mystery. This is all summarized by St. John Christosom: "From these two sacraments the Church is born: from baptism, 'the cleansing water that gives rebirth and renewal through the Holy Spirit,' and from the holy Eucharist."
Aaron adds the parallelism between Adam and Eve. At the moment of Christ's death, his immolation for His Bride was complete. He had completed the Old Law, and the New Law took its place. The Israel of the flesh becomes the Israel of faith because of the Sacrifice of Christ. There is a parallelism between the old Eve and her children, and the new Eve and her Children.
Both Fr. Ed's and Aaron's references are found in CCC 766.
Carson Weber: John is most likely using Temple imagery.. From the blood that flowed with the water in the Kidron, from the Temple sacrifices
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