O God, whose Son, baptized by John in the waters of the Jordan, was anointed with the Holy Spirit, and, as he hung upon the Cross, gave forth water from his side along with blood, and after his Resurrection, commanded his disciples: “Go forth, teach all nations, baptizing them in the name Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,” look now, we pray, upon the face of your Church and graciously unseal for her the fountain of Baptism.”
From the Order of Baptism for Children
On February 19, 2023, I had the honor and joy to baptize 4 beautiful children; welcoming them into the Catholic Church!
Was not able to snap any good pictures, but I would like to share what I did snapped!
There are moments in history that take place near or on rivers. In ancient times, the Roman general Caesar, took his legions across the river Rubicon, challenging the authority of the Roman Senate; and won. The Roman Republic became eventually the Roman Empire! On December 25, 1776, General George Washington took his rag tag army across the Delaware River, and attacked the British Hessian force in Trenton, NJ, the following morning. His victory at that battle saved the Continental Army from falling apart, and laid the groundwork for ultimate victory. And then there is the River Jordan. In ancient times, twelve tribes, after wandering in the desert together, crossed the Jordan, and were transformed into a united people. And during the Roman occupation, there was John the Baptist, who on the shores of the Jordan River, was proclaiming that the hoped for Messiah was coming, that now was the time for repentance, a time for change. And the symbol for that was to be bathed in the River, to be washed clean. And there was a growing expectation that the Messiah was coming soon. And then one day, a man from Nazareth arrived on Jordan’s shore, and John recognized him, knew who he was; and John poured the waters of the Jordan over him. And Jesus, saw the Holy Spirit descending upon him, heard his Father voice acknowledging him, “You are my beloved Son.” And the journey began, the work of proclaiming the Good News began.
And the work of salvation continues, Jesus continues the work through us who have also been baptized. On the day of our own baptism, the wound we suffered from Original Sin was healed; we were given new life as adopted children of God; we were all joined together in the Body of Christ, we are all brothers and sisters, living together in a holy community that is the Church. We all share in it’s mission, given to us by Jesus, to proclaim the Good News, by our words, our actions; and by the example of our own lives; we are all called to give example to others what it means to be a follower of Christ, by the way we ourselves struggle with our faith; how we, as people of faith, relate to others; our families; friends and neighbors, to strangers, the homeless; the disenfranchised in our society; and to people that are not very nice. When I read in Isaiah; when the Lord, through the prophet, declares “I formed you, and set you as a covenant of the people, a light for the nations, to open the eyes of the blind,…” I feel that it is not just the physically blind we are called to open, but also those whose eyes are blinded by prejudice and hatred. To free those who prisoners of greed and selfishness. And to help those who live in the darkness of despair and hopelessness.
That is not to say to that there will not be times when we ourselves may be tempted to give into selfishness, anger, and despair. It is then we should turn to prayer, and the sacraments; namely confession, penance; and the Eucharist, where in we received Jesus Christ through Holy Communion, and are healed and strengthened by his Presence. It is by how we struggle with our own weaknesses and sins; and work to overcome them that we can be at our most prophetic. Our own baptism is the beginning for each of our own journey of faith. That journey continues, for each of us, each with our own calling, our own approach, to living the Gospel, the Good News of Jesus Christ. May the Lord be with all of us on this journey.
‘John heralded his coming by proclaiming a baptism of repentance to all the people of Israel; and as John was completing his course, he would say, ‘What do you suppose that I am? I am not he. Behold, one is coming after me; I am not worthy to unfasten the sandals of his feet.’
‘My brothers, children of the family of Abraham, and those others among you who are God-fearing, to us this word of salvation has been sent.'” (Acts 13)
On this day, Catholics, and Eastern Rite Christians celebrate the Nativity of St. John the Baptist. We remember the birth of St. John, we remember what his role in salvation history was. There are theologians who describe him as the bridge between the Old Testament times and the New Testament times. He is considered the last prophet of the Prophetic Age of Israel.
We do not much of his history; we can suspect that he spent time in the desert, fasting and in prayer. Some scholars theorize that John may have had contact with the Essenes a Jewish ascetic community. At some point, the Holy Spirit called him from the desert to the Jordan River, where he began to proclaim the coming of the Messiah, and the Kingdom of God. He called the people to a life of repentance, symbolized by them receiving baptism in the waters of the river. It was on the Jordan River, that he encountered the promised Messiah, Jesus of Nazareth. And though he felt unworthy, he baptized Jesus, so that all things would be fulfilled. After this meeting, John continued preaching and baptizing. He would call out Herod Antipas, ruler of Galilee, about his lifestyle, and especially his marriage to his brother’s former wife, which violated Jewish law. St. John would pay with his life for being so outspoken.
When we were baptized, we became members of the Body of Christ; as such, we share in his life as priest, prophet, and king. Focusing on our prophetic role; we are called to proclaim the Good News, either by our words or actions. As prophets, we are to speak up for the poor, the persecuted, and the refugee; and speak truth to power. As St. John the Baptist was moved by the Holy Spirit, so we also be open to the promptings of the Spirit, and be true prophets to our world.
If we were having coffee, I would tell you how sadden I have been about the news of the police shootings and killing of two black men, and then the shootings of 11 police officers in Dallas, TX; resulting in deaths of five officers. There is an air of unease in the country right now; the black communities distrust and fear their police forces; the police feel threatened by the very people they have sworn to protect and serve. And there are politicians, who with their rhetoric are fanning the flames. Communities are becoming divided, hunkering down in their own enclaves, with no interest in dialogue.
It seems ironic that at Catholic Masses celebrated throughout this country, the Gospel proclaimed included these words:
“You shall love the Lord, your God,
with all your heart,
with all your being,
with all your strength,
and with all your mind,
and your neighbor as yourself” (Luke 10: 25-24)
The Gospel call is to see all people as our neighbors, to respect and to love them. And to talk with each other, and find common ground to reduce the stresses that threaten to tear this republic apart; whose 240th anniversary we have just celebrated.
If we were having coffee, I would tell you that my wife and I joined my siblings, and a cousin and his family at a cabin in Maine, which my aunt owns. It is on Lake Sokokis, in Limerick ME. It was too cool for swimming, but we did have a wonderful cookout.
If we were having coffee, I would share with my experience of leading a Sacrament of Baptism catechesis class for new parents who wish to have their infants baptized, and become part of the Catholic Church. I had five couples in attendance; one couple brought their newborn with them. The child slept through the class. I try to help these parents realize that the baptism of their children is not just an encounter with the love of God for the children; but also a special opportunity for them to encounter God, through the Holy Spirit. I tell them that when the priest will ask what they are asking of the Church, and they reply: “Baptism”; they and their child’s lives will be forever changed. The baby will experience a rebirth through the baptismal waters; they will have committed themselves to bring the child in the faith. And not just though placing the child in religious education classes; but by the example of their struggle to live the faith.
Well, my coffee mug is empty; it is almost midnight, and I have a long week to look forward to. See you all next time over a cup of coffee.
If we were sharing a cup of coffee, I would tell you that my wife and I are on Cape Cod this weekend. We are visiting her parents, and celebrating Father’s Day. The weather is beautiful; cool sea breezes, blue skies and bright sunlight. It is a nice break, a nice change of scenery for a bit. And it is a little respite from the feelings that I still have concerning the tragedy in Orlando, FL My in-laws do not have their TV on much, so I have been out of touch with the world. It is a nice break, but only a temporary one. We still have to reflect on, pray over, and act on the events of that terrible night.
Over a cup of coffee, I would tell you that since last we met, I, as a deacon, baptized two little girls into the Catholic Christian faith. One was a relative newborn, the other was a toddler. I preached a short homily, telling the assembled families and friends that we were about to witness something awesome! The power of the Holy Spirit was going to be at work before us. Through the waters of Baptism, they were brought into the Mystical Body of Christ. And their lives will be forever changed. And the lives of their parents are forever changed, for they have made a commitment to the Church to bring their children up in the Faith. I tell them that fulfilling that promise means something more than just seeing to it that their child goes to religious education classes. It means that they must show how the Faith is lived, by the example of their own lives; both the struggles and the joys. They are in my prayers.
Over a cup of coffee, I would tell that many years ago, when I was a young seminarian, I spent a couple of summers in an ecumenical program, called A Christian Ministry in the National Parks. They recruited seminary and college students from all Christian denominations; to go out to various national parks, and lead Sunday worship services for park visitors and employees. We seminarians were called Student Ministers. Those of us who were Catholic, would either assist a visiting priest at Mass, or lead a Service of the Word. I had my first experiences of preaching before people back then. Some of usalso organized Bible study groups, or organized choral singing groups. We earned our keep by working for the park concessionaires; I found myself working in some kitchens in Yellowstone National Park. Recently I signed up to become a ACMNP Prayer Partner for someone who will be going to a park in Alaska. Daily, I remember this young man in my prayers; praying for his safety, and success in his ministry.
Well, the coffee cup is empty, I wish you all wellness and blessings, and hope to see you again over a hot cuppa joe.
If we were having coffee, I would tell you that this is the first time I am writing a post for this. I would also share with that this is first post I have written in over a month! There was a time that I was posting at least monthly. That I really got into the Blogging U. courses. That I now am having a hard time coming up with anything to write about; to share an opinion about, or have the energy to sit myself at the keyboard. That there was a time that I had high hopes for my blog, but now I wonder if all the reading, the posting was worth it.
If we were having coffee, I would let you know that I am an ordained Deacon in the Roman Catholic Church. I would tell you that last Sunday, I baptized three beautiful little babies (Two boys, and a girl), and welcomed them into the Church, into the Body of Christ. How I invited the parents, the godparents, and guests to open their hearts to the miracle that was happening before them; and be aware of the love of God they were witnessing.
If we were having coffee, I would tell that I need to get through this writer’s block soon, because next weekend, I am officiating at a wedding. I will be preaching a homily, and I need to write it this week. I will tell that I turning to the Holy Spirit, and asking her to blow hard and breakdown the roadblocks I have in my head and soul.
As I drain my coffee mug, I would tell you that I am typing this on one of the computers in the parish office. I have a desktop at home and an inherited laptop; both have had long service, and are kinda cranky in their old age. Anyway, I have go back to the church soon, to prepare for the next celebration of Mass.
I hope to be here next weekend, with another cup of coffee.