Category: Baptism

Archimandrite Vasileios of Iveron on baptism by immersion 

by Andrea Elizabeth

“In the Orthodox Church, a baby, and Orthodox child, is fully immersed, enveloped by the water, and the baptism in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. He is not sprinkled. And this symbolism, this practice has a theological significance. Saint Cosmas of Aitolia used to tell his priests to baptize the child by complete immersion in the water, because the tiniest part of his body that is not covered by the water, that is where the devil will try to enter him. This sanctification of the soul and body is not spoken of among the Roman Catholics.”

from The Thunderbolt of Ever-Living Fire

7th GGF Rev. David Mossum married George and Martha Washington

by Andrea Elizabeth

Rev. David Mossum

“The Anglican Ministry in Virginia, 1723-1766 A Study of Social Class.by Joan Gunderson’s

David Mossom was born in London, the son of a chandler, educated at Lewisham, came to Virginia to live with relatives, while finishing studies for ministry after Cambridge. He returned to London for ordination. He was a member of the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel minister in Massachusetts 1718-1726, He then returned to Virginia to avoid Anglican factionalism in Massachusetts. He was for forty years the rector of St. Peter’s Parish. He had married Elizabeth in England, who died in 1737. Next, he married Mary Claiborne, who died in 1745; finally, he married Elizabeth Sloan Marston who died in 1759.

On a plaque; On the Inside Wall of St. Peter’s Episcopal church; Reverends David Mossom prope Jacet[…] Translation; Reverend David Mossom reposes nearby an alumnus student of ancient Saint John College at Cambridge, Rector of this parish during forty years. He was the first one among the Americans to be admitted into the order of priesthood and to take the rank among all the priests of the Anglican Church; He was second to few (people) in Literature; Finally consumed by old age and worry, caused by varied hard works that he had accomplished. and in view of the day of his death: then being youthful and healthy, he had indicated by testament this place for his sepulcher (burial) and he had chosen that same locality for the sepulcher of his wives Elizabeth and Mary near to his tomb where he reposes until the day he will be resurrected (resuscitated) to the eternal life by Jesus Christ, our Savior. Those words inscribed above not to indicate this stony tomb but to make remembering the man well known who was born in London on the twenty fifth day of March in the year 1690 and who died on the 4th day of January in the year 1767.

On Jan 6, 1759, Reverend David Mosson performed the marriage of Col. George Washington and Martha Dandridge Custis, in New Kent County, VA.


Article XXXIV.
Nevertheless, from the long continuance of Mossom in this parish, we doubt not that he was a more respectable man than many of his day. He was married four times, and much harassed by his last wife, as Colonel Bassett has often told me, which may account for and somewhat excuse a little peevishness. He came from Newburyport, Massachusetts, and was, according to his epitaph in St. Peter’s Church, the first native American admitted to the office of Presbyter in the Church of England.


“Virginia Soldiers of 1776″, Compiled from Documents on File in the Virginia Land Office,
David Mossums English ancestry is given on page 206, W. and M. Quar. Vol. V. Rev. David Mossom was Rector of St. Peters Parish for forty years, in spite of his determination to tell the truth, and the reputation he had of being Peevish. He was born in New England, and though he still adhered to the Church of England, he probably had imbibed some of the puritan strict moralities. He came to Virginia at a time when some of the clergy were somewhat to be criticized for their little slips and slides; becoming Rector of Saint Peters 1727, where he remained forty years. He officiated at the nuptial [p.29] of General George Washington, at the White House, a few miles from the church.
Built in 1701, the church is believed to be the location of the marriage between George and Martha Washington on January 6, 1759. One of the oldest churches in the Commonwealth, the site was originally purchased for 146,000 pounds of tobacco. In 1862, Union soldiers marching from Fort Monroe toward Richmond used the building as a stable. The original portion of the church is one of the few Jacobean baroque style structures in America; the 1740s stump tower is also unusual. Located on S.R. 642 (St. Peter’s Lane) off S.R. 609 (Old Church Road) near Talleysville. Church grounds are open to the public every day, but the interior is open only by appointment. Regular worship services are held at 9 and 11 a.m. Sundays. Call (804) 932-4846 for information.


Rev. David Mossom was born March 25, 1690 and died January 4, 1767. The youngest child above of the first marriage, Elizabeth Mossom {6th GGM}, born in 1722, married Captain William Reynolds, owner of a vessel plying in the tobacco trade. their daughter, Elizabeth {5th GGM}, married Richard Chapman, Jr., and the births of their children are entered in an old prayer book which I have been permitted to see: Jane Chapman was born 29 Feb. 1776. [Mrs. Price, of Hanover, d.s.p.] Reynolds Chapman was born 22 July 1778 [died February 1844. Succeeded George C. Taylor as clerk of Orange in 1802. He married Rebecca Conway Madison, daughter of General William Madison and his wife Frances Throckmorton. One of their children was Judge John Madison Chapman, who married August 3, 1841, Susannah Digges Cole.] Johnson Chapman was born 26 Dec. 1780. [Signed] Sunday mar. 1781, Rich. Chapman {4th GGF}”.

Son of Thomas Mossom, chandler, was born at Greenwich, Kent, England, March 25, 1690, schooled at Lewisham, admitted sizar at St. John’s College, Cambridge, June 5, 1705. He became rector of St. Peter’s Church, New Kent County, Virginia, in 1727, and continued forty years. On January 6, 1759, he performed the marriage of George Washington to Martha Custis, widow of Colonel Daniel Parke Custis, and daughter of Colonel John Dandridge. He died January 4, 1767, leaving issue. Reverend David Mossom occasionally served at Queen Anne’s Chapel



Source: Register of St. Peter’s parish YEAR 1736. page 125

Vital Info: Phebe Negro Girl belonging to David Mossom, born Nov 20, 1736 and baptized Jan 30, 1736.

Source: Register of St. Peter’s parish YEAR 1737. page 132
Vital Info: Greenwich Negro man belonging to the Reverend David Mossom died Feb 17, 1736.

Source: Register of St. Peter’s parish YEAR 1739. page 142
Vital Info: Esther Mulatto girl belonging to Reverend David Mossom, born Sept 17, 1739 and baptized November 11, 1739.

Source: Register of St. Peter’s parish YEAR 1739. page 144
Vital Info: Esther Negro girl belonging to David Mossom born July 3, 1739 baptized Aug 17, 1739.”

from http://familytreemaker.genealogy.com

Thoughts while driving home from Matins in the fog

by Andrea Elizabeth

What if the thick, dense flog pushed all of the pollution down onto the ground? Isn’t it better for the pollution to be on the ground than in the air, killing the high altitude trees and obscuring beautiful views? But it could kill the vegetation in the low lying areas. Maybe not if it rained. But then it, or at least most of it as there will probably remain trace elements of evidence, would get into the streams and hurt the fish and water-life. I wonder if it could be diluted to sufficient amounts that would render it unharmful in the ocean. This could be since all of the elements existed before they were combined into pollution anyway. Pollution isn’t totally corrupt. This is how water is cleansing. It puts things back into perspective.

Life in the Spirit

by Andrea Elizabeth

Thus life in the spirit means gradually becoming aware of ‘baptismal grace’, and this awareness transforms the whole person. The baptismal sequence of death and resurrection is repeated throughout our pilgrimage, enlightening its ‘initiatory’ moments. When everything seems lost, baptismal grace, if we pay heed to it, can convert a situation of death into one of resurrection, an apparent deadlock into a necessary breakthrough. We have to learn – and this is the whole meaning of ascesis – to get round obstacles, to tear away dead skin, to let the very life of Christ arise in us by the power of his resurrection. Each present moment has to become baptismal: a moment of anguish and death if I seek to cling to it and so experience its non-existence, but a moment of resurrection if I accept it humbly as ‘present’ in both senses of the word, almost like the gift of manna – but here we pass from the mystery of baptism to that of the Eucharist. We come finally to the moment of agony when we are overwhelmed by the waters of death. Through our baptism, according to the measure of our faith, they will be transformed into the womb of eternity.

Olivier Clément, The Roots of Christian Mysticism, p. 106

St. Gregory Palamas

by Andrea Elizabeth

I thought I’d get back to The Saving Work of Christ, Sermons by St. Gregory Palamas in commemoration of his Sunday during Lent, which was yesterday. The only Lenten sermon is on Palm Sunday, so I’m reading his “On Epiphany I”. I’ve explored before the distinction between Christ’s uniting Himself to all of creation and taking on human nature in His Incarnation and what baptism into Christ accomplishes. I still don’t want to place a legalistic demand on baptism into Christ, which is influenced probably by my non-sacramental Protestant upbringing, God’s mercy, the saying, ‘we know where the Spirit is, but not where He is not’, the Scripture, ‘even if I made my bed in hell, You are there”, and being somewhat convinced by some non-Orthodox people’s relationship with God, even if they don’t have all the facts or procedures straight. Still, I don’t want to throw out the bathwater. Without further ado, here’s some quotes,

Repentance is the beginning, middle and end of the Christian way of life, so it is both sought and required before holy baptism, in holy baptism, and after holy baptism. We are asked to express our repentance in words at the time of our baptism, when we are questioned about our good conscience towards God, make a covenant with Him and promise to live a God-pleasing life that bears witness to our love for Him. For, having believed, we promise allegiance to Christ, who is good and surpasses all goodness, renouncing the evil and thoroughly depraved enemy, and we take it upon ourselves to hold with all our strength to God’s commandments, which bring about what is good, and to abstain from every evil thought and deed. When asked, we reply, either in person or, as happens in the case of infants being baptized, through our godparents, concerning what we have believed, inwardly accepted and agreed to with our minds. And since, according to the apostle, “With the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation” (Rom. 10:10), when we make this good confession with our mouth we receive salvation through the washing of regeneration (Titus 3:5). (p. 19)

This reminds me that in my daughter’s Protestant 4th grade Bible class, when teaching on Nicodemus, the teacher in paraphrasing the verse that says you must be born of water and spirit, said that you only need to be born of the spirit. So much for Sola Scriptura. Back to St. Gregory:

Water is a means of cleansing, but not for souls. It can remove dirt from those being baptized, but not the grime that comes from sin. For that reason the Healer of souls, the Father of spirits (Heb. 12:9), Christ, who takes away the sin of the world (John 1:29), enters the water before us to be baptized, as we celebrate today in advance. He draws the grace of the all-holy Spirit from above to dwell in the water with Him, so that later when those being baptized as He was enter the water, He is there, clothing them ineffably with His Spirit, attaching Himself to them, and filling them with the grace that purifies and illumines reasonable spirits. And this is what the divine Paul is referring to: “As many as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ” (Gal. 3:27). (p. 21,22)

On Chrismation:

For this reason, the bishop, having clothed the person who has been baptized in a radiant white garment, and anointed him with holy chrism, and having made him a communicant of Christ’s body and blood, then sends him on is way, showing that he has thenceforth become a child of light, both united in one body with Christ and a partaker of the Holy Spirit. For we are born again (cf. John 3:3-5) and become heavenly sons of God (cf. Rom 8:14-19, Phil 2:15, 1 John 3:1-2) instead of earthly beings, eternal instead of transient. God has mystically implanted heavenly grace in our hearts and set the seal of adoption as sons upon us through anointing with this holy chrism, sealing us by means of the all-holy Spirit for the day of redemption (cf. Eph. 4:30), provided we keep this confession firm to the end and fulfil our promise through deeds, though we may renew it through repentance if it drifts a little off course. That is why works of repentance are necessary even after baptism. But if they are absent the words of our promise to God are not only useless but also condemn us. “Better is it that thou shouldest not vow, than that thou shouldest vow and not pay” (Eccles. 5:5).

[…] Repentance means hating sin and loving virtue, turning away from evil and doing good (Ps. 34:14, 1 Pet. 3:11). These acts are preceded however, by condemning ourselves for our faults, being penitent before God, fleeing to Him for refuge with a contrite heart, and casting ourselves into the ocean of His mercy, considering ourselves unworthy to be counted among His sons. As the prodigal son said when he repented, “Lord, I am not worthy to be called thy son: make me as one of thy hired servants” (cf. Luke 15:19) (p. 22,23)

Why we die

by Andrea Elizabeth

Though distracted by life, the Olympics and Pysanky, still in my mind is finding the source for the idea that we now die, not because of sin, but because Christ died. From today’s Scripture reading I came across the following, but it seems to point to Christians, and not all mankind.

2 Cor. 4:8 We are hard-pressed on every side, yet not crushed; we are perplexed, but not in despair;
9 persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed-
10 always carrying about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our body.
11 For we who live are always delivered to death for Jesus’ sake, that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our mortal flesh.
12 So then death is working in us, but life in you.
13 And since we have the same spirit of faith, according to what is written, “I believed and therefore I spoke,” we also believe and therefore speak,
14 knowing that He who raised up the Lord Jesus will also raise us up with Jesus, and will present us with you.
15 For all things are for your sakes, that grace, having spread through the many, may cause thanksgiving to abound to the glory of God.


Even so, all are raised because of Christ (I wont say in Christ, even though I think to some extent it is true), but not all attain His likeness or as St. Maximus says, achieve ever well being.

Still hoping to find more in Olivier Clement.

Theophany poem

by Andrea Elizabeth

After the Font

After the font,
When all excuse has been stripped away;
When after we have been given knowledge,
Ignorance becomes impossible;
What is to be done?

When the nature of humanity-
The collective prototype of ourselves-
Has been revealed,
but our self,
Our intrinsic being,
Remains hidden,
How can we awaken to life?

Mere consciousness eludes us-
Merely the knowledge
That I am I and no other

Without this identity,
Without this relationship
To my very being,
All the quintessential verbs of life
Will elude me.

To love,
To worship,
To achieve,
To build and create-
All are impossible without “I”.
When the synergy
Of fulfilled action
Remains half-complete,
What can I do
And where can I turn
To find the other half?

I am shackled to my baptism;
At times resentful
Of this pernicious bond.
I have found the splintered truth of identity

Though I imagined its relation
far more distant.

With each step I have taken
Towards the dawn of my consciousness,
The shackles have brought me back
To stare at my reflection
in the flood waters of the font.

After knowledge,
Ignorance is impossible.

To purge the betrayer
– A now more intimate foe-
From my self.

To love, to build, to create,
Are the virtuous acts of a conscious man
Of fulfilled understanding
Of himself and God;
But the self can serve
And betray this purpose.

The pain of coming to consciousness
Brings further the pain of this duplicity.

That I
Am both enemy and friend.

– by Alexander in issue #21 of Death to the World.

On a different note

by Andrea Elizabeth


When thou, O Lord, wast baptized in the Jordan,

The worship of the Trinity was made manifest!

For the voice of the Father bear witness to thee

and called Thee his beloved son!

And the Spirit, in the form of a dove,

confirmed the truthfulness of his word.

Oh Christ, our God who hast revealed thyself

and hast enlightened the world,

Glory to Thee.

(for some reason new widgets appeared in my sidebar, including duplication of my categories. WordPress must be doing maintenance.)

Death, Burial and Resurrection

by Andrea Elizabeth

Ad Thalassium 64

Background on the Scripture, in which more than twelve myriads of men dwell, who do not know their right hand from their left. (Jonah 4:11)

The prophet Jonah therefore signifies Adam, or our shared human nature, by bearing in himself mystically a figure of the following. Human nature has slipped from divine benefits, as from Joppa, and has descended, as though into a sea, into the misery of the present life, and been plunged into the chaotic and roaring waters of attachment to material objects. It has been swallowed whole by the whale, that spiritual and insatiable beast the devil himself. It has been enveloped with water all around it, the water of temptations to evil, up to the soul, in the sense that human life has been submerged with temptations. So to our nature has been engulfed in the deepest abyss, that is to say, it has been imprisoned by the complete ignorance of the mind and the overwhelming of rational thinking by the sheer pressure of vice. Our nature’s head has sunk into the clefts of the mountains in the sense that its primary principle of unity by faith vis-a-vis the Monad is like the head of the entire body of the virtues, which has become confined within the machinations of the wicked powers, as in the dark clefts of mountains and been dashed into a multiplicity of errant beliefs and illusions. For the Scriptural text calls clefts of mountains the delusional designs of the spirits of wickedness who hover in the depths of the deepest abyss of ignorance. Human nature has descended into the earth, whose bars are its eternal constraints, that is, it has fallen into a virtual desert of all divine sensibility, where its disposition has been deprived of the vital activity of virtue, and where it has no sense at all of goodness or any active desire of the mind for God… Like eternal bars, human nature has ingrained proclivities toward material objects which keep the mind from being freed from the darkness of ignorance to behold the light of true knowledge.

…His being swallowed by the whale and his impassible submission for three days and three nights indicates the mystery of Christ’s death, burial, and resurrection (Matt 12:40). Thus his name can fittingly be translated “repose of God”, “healing from God”, “God’s grace to them.” And perhaps he is rightly called “labor of God” because of his voluntary suffering. For by his own actions the prophet mystically prefigures the authentic “repose” of those who have labored amid physical pain, the “healing” of those who have been broken, the “grace” of the forgiveness of sins – our God Jesus Christ. For our Lord and God himself became a man and entered into the sea of life like ours, insofar as he descended from the heaven of Joppa (translated “contemplation of joy”) into the ocean of this life. As Scripture says, he is the one who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame (Heb 12:2). He even descended willingly into the heart of the earth, where the evil one had swallowed us through death, and drew us up by his resurrection, leading our whole captive nature up to heaven. Truly he is our “repose”, our “healing”, our “grace”: our repose since, with his timely human life, he freed the law from the situation of its carnal bondage; our healing since, by his resurrection, he cured us of the destruction wrought by death and corruption; our grace insofar as he distributes adoption in the Spirit by our God and Father through faith, and the grace of deification to each who is worthy. For it was necessary, necessary in truth, for him to become the light unto that earth (cf Jonah 1:9), to be the power of our God and Father (cf 1Cor 1:18) in the earth with its abiding darkness and eternal bars, so that, having dispelled the darkness of ignorance – being the Father’s light, as it were – and having crushed the bars of evil insofar as he is the concrete power of God, he might wondrously liberate human nature from its bondage to these things under the evil one, and endow it with the inextinguishable light of true knowledge and the indefatigable power of the virtues.

“On the Grace of Holy Baptism”

by Andrea Elizabeth

Ad Thalassium 6

“Q. If, as St. John says, he who is born of God does not sin, because his seed dwells in God, and he cannot sin (1 Jn 3:9), and yet he who is born of water and Spirit is himself born of God (Jn 3:5-6), then how are we who are born of God through baptism still able to sin?

R. The manner of birth from God within us is two-fold: the one bestows the grace of adoption, which is entirely present in potency in those who are born of God; the other introduces, wholly by active exertion, that grace which deliberately reorients the entire free choice of the one being born of God toward the God who gives birth. [notes: Maximus’s “realized eschatology” informs his whole understanding of the “potentiality” and “actuality” of the grace of deification. The full fruition of the grace of adoption is already present, at least potentially, in the believer, before it becomes actually operative in the spiritual life.] The first bears the grace, present in potency, through faith alone; but the second, beyond faith, also engenders in the knower the sublimely divine likeness of the One known, that likeness being effected precisely through knowledge. Therefore the first manner of birth is observed in some because their will, not yet fully detached from its propensity to the flesh, has yet to be wholly endowed with the Spirit by participation in the divine mysteries that are made known through active endeavor. The inclination to sin does not disappear as long as they will it. For the Spirit does not give birth to an unwilling will, but converts the willing will toward deification. Whoever has participated in this deification through cognizant experience is incapable of reverting from right discernment in truth, once he has achieved this in action, to something else besides, which only pretends to be that same discernment. It is like the eye which, once it has looked upon the sun, cannot mistake it for the moon or any of the other stars in the heavens. With those undergoing the (second mode of ) birth, the Holy Spirit takes the whole of their free choice and translates it completely from earth to heaven, and, through the true knowledge acquired by exertion, transfigures the mind with the blessed light-rays of our God and Father, such that the mind is deemed another “god,” insofar as in its habitude it experiences, by grace, that which God himself does not experience but “is” in his very essence. With those undergoing this second mode of baptism, their free choice clearly becomes sinless in virtue and knowledge, as they are unable to negate what they have actively discerned through experience. So even if we have the Spirit of adoption, who is himself the Seed for enduing those begotten (through baptism) with the likeness of the Sower, but do not present him with a will cleansed of any inclination or disposition to something else, we therefore, even after being born of water and Spirit (Jn 3:5), willingly sin. But were we to prepare our will with knowledge to receive the operation of these agents-water and Spirit, I mean – then the mystical water would, through our practical life, cleanse our conscience, and the life-giving Spirit would bring about unchanging perfection for the good in us through knowledge acquired in experience. Precisely for that reason he leaves, to each of us who are still able to sin, the sheer desire to surrender our whole selves willingly to the Spirit.”