Sr Margaret joins us on this weeks programme to discuss with us the Sacrament of Baptism. This is the second part of our series on the Sacraments of the Church which we began in Advent with the Sacrament of Reconciliation.
The essence of the Sacrament of Baptism is firstly a celebrating God’s love for this new born life. It is meant to be celebratory, meant to be joyful!
Baptism is the common starting point of all Christians . It means that there is fundamental equality between us all – old and young, rich and poor, men and women, native and stranger. All Christians are graced with the same dignity . As St Paul reminds us in Galatians 3: ‘ there is no longer Jew or Greek, there is no longer slave or free, there is no longer male of female; for all of you are one in Christ Jesus’
When we celebrate Baptism the whole community is called to welcome this new member, be it a child or an adult who has sought baptism. The words of the Rite of Baptism express it, "the Christian community welcomes you with great joy". It is a beautiful moment when a new member, a new life comes among us and the Rite of Baptism is laden with wonderful symbolism to express this. Baptism is initiation into a Community which was very strongly understood and expressed in the early Church. Community involvement was central, with a member of the community who spoke for the person and gave a guarantee that this person seeking Baptism was worthy of their place in the Christian Community. At the time it was mainly adult baptisms and there was a requirement for an adult commitment to Christian life.
The ideal of course is that Community be present at the Baptism which has implications for the timing of the celebration and its appreciation by the wider community. An ideal time for community involvement is at the Easter Vigil. The early Church celebrated Baptism only once a year and at Easter time linking the new life of the newly baptised directly to the death and Resurrection of Jesus.
Bringing the community involvement back into the sacrament means a little amount of creative thinking and encouragement. Examples of ideas would be the inclusion in the prayer of faithful for newly baptised and family, recognition and a mention in the parish bulletin; gathering of all children baptised during the year perhaps during the Easter Vigil of the Feast of the Baptism of the Lord to be presented to the local Christian community of which they are now members by virtue of their baptism.
In a ritual, words almost fail us and we then speak the deeper language of symbol e.g. wedding band, lighting candles, use of incense, oil, water, handshake, hand on the shoulder, a hug - we use symbols because at times words fail us
- The DOOR - the child is met at the door and is welcomed on behalf of the Christian Community. The journey to God is not made alone but in the company of others. It is about a relationship with the Christian community with whom you are named and welcomed.
- The BOOK – The Word of God is proclaimed as part of the rite. The Word is a sign of our relationship with the Holy Spirit. The Word is inspired by the Holy Spirit, the voice of God speaking to us of the relationship of God with us through the ages. The Holy Spirit our helper and guide on our journey if we open our hearts and minds to the prompting of the Spirit.
- The FONT - It is a symbol of our relationship with Jesus. We are baptised into his death (water), anointed like him (Chrism) and then called to be his witness through out the world (Light). Then a White garment is wrapped around the child symbolic of putting on Christ.
- The ALTAR – Final part of the rite occurs near the alter which is our weekly gathering place in relationship with the Father which is demonstrated in the Eucharistic Prayer addressed to the Father and by our praying to ‘our Father'. Jesus spoke of ‘going to the Father’ his final destination and ours – being at he Father’s right hand is the goal of our journey too…beginning in time at the door and ending outside time with the Father in heaven.
- Catechism of the Catholic Church
- Americancatholic.org articles on Baptism
- Resources from Limerick Diocese website
Gospel - Mark: 1:7-11
Other reflections on this weeks gospel:
- Sunday Reflections
- English Dominicans - The Desert becomes a City
- English Dominicans - Into the Promised Land
- Blue Eyed Ennis - check out the links, videos and reflections from Philomena for the feast.
- Word on Fire
- Creighton University Online Ministry
- The Unemployed and those seeking work - St Joseph the Worker
- Emigrants - St Patrick
- Government - St Thomas Moore (or St Jude, patron saint of Lost Causes)
- Vocations - St Alphonsis Ligouri
- Bankers and those in financial services - St Matthew the Evangelist
- Priests - St John Vianney
- Diocese of Limerick and the selection of our new bishop - St Munchin and St Ita
- International Eucharistic Congress - St Colmcille, St Mary McKillop, Blessed Margaret Ball
- Pope Benedict XVI - St Peter, St Benedict, St Joseph
- Youth - St John Bosco, Ss Francesco and Jacinta (Seers of Fatima), Blessed Piero Gergio Frassati
- Cancer patients - St Peregrine
- Media and the Press - St Paul, Blessed James Alberione
- Persecuted Christians - St Stephen, St Edith Stein, the Ugandan Martyrs.