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they cannot act for themselves, it also applies to the support offered more generally by a sponsor. Helping others - like helping those who cannot help themselves - is thus fundamental to the building up of the Christian community, from the very point of entering the community. In this way, baptism joins those baptised to the fellowship of Christians and so has a horizontal dimension. But it also joins them to God, creating vertical connections as well. Together, these connections are for all practical purposes indispensable for the salvation of the Christian. We have noted that Augustine, Fulgentius and others placed great emphasis on belonging to the Catholic church, even though they were prepared to acknowledge that Christ was at work in non-Catholic baptisms. The network of relations, to other Christians and especially to God, that is established in baptism makes sense of Augustine's and Fulgentius' counter-intuitive position: it is the abiding presence of God within the church that makes it possible for the Christian who abides in the church to be saved. But precisely how are Christians joined to God? The answer to this question emerges most clearly when our authors contemplated Christ's baptism at the hands of John and, in the process, allowed their interpretation of Christ's own baptism to inform their understanding of Christian baptism in general.

Celebrating salvation

Meditations on Christ's baptism attain fullest form in the sacred poetry for the feast commemorating that event: Theophany (also called Epiphany in the Byzantine tradition). In reflecting upon what Christ accomplished - not least through his humble submission to baptism - for the human race and how he thus gave rise to a society of believers, Eastern Christians in particular would dwell on the anointment that follows baptism. They considered this anointment (or 'chrismation') an integral part of the rite of baptism, for being anointed with the holy chrism is how mere mortals can participate in the anointing that makes Christ, Christ. We will therefore consider, in turn, two aspects of the liturgical celebration of baptism: the feast of Christ's baptism, and baptismal chrismation.

The feast of Epiphany As Christians thought about the meaning ofbaptism, they frequently returned to the liturgical celebration of Christ's baptism as a source of inspiration. Christ's baptism was not only a point of departure in the tradition for explaining the significance of the baptism of his followers; in time it also provided an

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