Dear Parish Faithful & Friends in Christ,
For "blood and water came out." Not simply without a purpose, or by chance, did those founts come forth, but because by means of these two together the Church consists. And the initiated in the Mysteries know it, being by water indeed regenerated, and nourished by the blood and the flesh. Hence the Mysteries take their beginning; that when you approach that awesome Cup, you may so approach, as drinking from the very side. (St. John Chrysostom, Homily 85 on the Gospel of St. John).He caused the fountain of remission to well forth for us out of His holy and immaculate side, water for our regeneration, and the washing away of sin and corruption; and blood to drink as the hostage of life eternal. (St. John of Damascus, Exposition of the Orthodox Faith, Bk. IV, Ch. IX).As His earthly course began with water, so it ended with it. His side is pierced by the spear, and blood and water flow forth, twin emblems of baptism and martyrdom. (St. Jerome, Letter LXIX, to Oceanus).
If any man would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it; and whoever loses his life for my sake and the gospel's will save it. (MK. 8:34-35)
Genuine Orthodox spirituality is always a spirituality of the cross. When the tree of the cross is removed from the center of our lives we find ourselves cast out of paradise and deprived of the joy of communion with God. But when the cross remains planted in our hearts and exalted in our lives, we partake of the tree of life and delight in the fruits of the Spirit, by which we live forever with the Lord. Rejoice, O Lifegiving Cross!