In English

Living water (1): A well springing up into everlasting life

13 Απριλίου 2011

Icon of Christ the Life-giving fount

O MOTHER of God, as living and ungrudging source, establish those united in spiritual fellowship who sing you hymns of praise, and in your divine glory grant them crowns of glory.


I’ve been exploring the fascinating Biblical allusions to be found in the Canon of the Akathist. The next line I thought I’d look at reads:

HAIL, Sovereign Lady, never failing spring of the living Water.

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This has proved such a rich source of reflection for me, that I have made it into three posts.

This is the first of them: the key to it is the idea of a new Exodus and a new Covenant.

Icon of Christ the Life-giving fount


The basic allusion in these words “never failing spring of the living Water” is to the Exodus, when Israel escaped from Egypt.

God gave the Israelites Manna in the wilderness, the bread from heaven (Exod 16). Moses also struck a rock, from which water flowed (Exod 17; cf. 1 Cor 10:4).

AND he guided them with a cloud by day, and all the night with a light of fire. He clave a rock in the wilderness, and made them drink as in a great deep. And he brought water out of the rock, and caused waters to flow down as rivers.

Psalm 77(78):15-16. See also Ps 113(114):8, 114(115):40-41.

St John makes reference to this cloven rock in his Gospel, when he writes:

IN the last day, that great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried, saying, If any man thirst, let him come unto me, and drink.

He that believeth on me, as the scripture hath said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water.

John 7:38. Compare also Song of Songs 4:12-16.

Mary’s supreme act of faith,

AND Mary said, Behold the handmaid of the Lord; be it unto me according to thy word.

Luke 1:38; see also the faith of Abraham in Rom 4:1-4,

saw her given the mystical Rock to bear as her own child in her “belly”, in her womb.

So, the Exodus is being retrod, the Covenant is being rewritten: in the womb of the Panagia, Christ the bread from heaven (Jn 6:35) and living rock (1 Cor 10:4) already streams with living water.

In the next post, I’ll be exploring how the mystery of the Panagia as “the never-failing source of the living Water” shows that this New Covenant is superior to the Old.


Of course, the mystical Rock, Manna, and Pillar of fire are Christ himself.

But the Salutations extend that name of Rock — and Manna, and Pillar of fire — to Mary, for a very good reason: because she gave her flesh and blood to Christ to be his own flesh and blood, which he alone then made into a divinely life-giving blessing for us all.

HAIL, sea that drowned the Pharao of the mind,
Hail, rock that gave drink to those thirsting for life.

Hail, pillar of fire, guiding those in darkness,
Hail, protection of the world, wider than the cloud.

Hail, food that replaced the manna,
Hail, minister of holy delight.

Hail, land of promise,
Hail, you from whom milk and honey flow.

Hail, Bride without bridegroom.