Easter deepens and renews our own baptisms

Dear Little Flower parish,

Peace!

When I made my first pilgrimage to the Holy Land in 2000 (which was the Jubilee Year), I had the chance to concelebrate at the mass of Saint Pope John Paul II. I was also fortunate to see places connected with our Savior. I stood in silent wonder at the River Jordan where our Lord was baptized, contemplating the value and significance of that moment.

Since ancient times, Baptism has been associated with resurrection and, because the church’s great celebration of resurrection occurs on Easter, Easter has been an important occasion for Christians to remember and celebrate baptism. The link between Easter and Baptism is very significant.

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The significance of baptism

Easter is an appropriate moment for us to ponder again just what the sacrament of baptism is all about. Re-forging a link between Baptism, resurrection and Easter could help us understand each with a new profundity. All three call us into the new life that we profess in Jesus Christ.

Scholars have long debated whether the ancient church baptized infants or only adult converts. The reformers justified infant Baptism by drawing a parallel with Israel’s practice of circumcision and by appealing to those passages in Acts that speak of entire households being baptized.  But the Bible and other early Christian writings only refer explicitly to adult Baptism.

What we do know is that the ancient church asked adult converts to undergo a long process of preparation for baptism. They were enrolled as “catechumens” in a program of preparation known as the ‘catechumenate,” which in some parts of the Roman Empire lasted as long as three years.  During this time, the catechumens were carefully mentored in the Christian way of life. They learned how to live by the ethic of the Sermon on the Mount and Jesus’ great commandment of love.

It is striking that the catechumens were first asked not to master ideas, but rather to practice the faith. Their first lessons were not in the doctrines of the trinity, the two natures of Christ, or Jesus’ atoning death. Instead, they learned how to pray, fast and give alms. They first learned to walk before they learned how to teach others to walk.

Participating in worship was especially important, but even here what they received was not so much instruction in what they should believe, but rather in what they were called to do. A person learned the faith by living the faith.

The sermon (or lesson) was followed by prayers of the people, after which the catechumens were dismissed. Not until their baptism would they be permitted to remain for the great mystery known as the Eucharist. Baptism would first join them to the body of Christ, and then the Lord’s Supper would nourish their communion with Christ and one another.

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The Rite of Election with Bishop Bill Wack

The final and most intensive period of preparation took place during the 40 days of Lent. Now, at last, the catechumens received instruction in the Church’s creed. The creed taught the candidates (and all of us) that the sacraments that we received become more meaningful if we accept them with trust and faith. For this reason the creed starts with, “I believe.”

I am very fortunate that I became part of the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults (RCIA) Program here in our parish of Little Flower. My co-facilitators and all the participants in the RCIA are very encouraging and inspiring.  Many times they are the ones teaching us the inspirations based on their experiences.

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It is a joy to walk with the catechumens of Little Flower Catholic Church

My personal involvement  in the preparations of candidates makes me feel blessed and helps me look back on my own encounter of Christ. Having the chance to work and prepare the candidates help me to renew my own commitments to God and his people.

In the RCIA, some candidates are not just prepared to receive the sacraments of Baptism and Eucharist but also the sacrament of confirmation. In the confirmation, Catholics receive a special outpouring of the Holy Spirit. Through Confirmation, the Holy Spirit gives them the increased ability to practice their Catholic faith in every aspect of their lives and to witness Christ in every situation.

It also deepens and strengthens of the grace received at Baptism, which is considered the presence of God in the soul. Confirmation invites the candidates to have an intimate relationship with Jesus and a closer bond with the Catholic Church. It’s a special mark or character on the soul that can never be erased.

Each person’s ability to embrace the effects of Baptism, Eucharist and Confirmation depends on his or her openness to the sacraments and willingness to accept it as God’s personal gifts. 

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Join us for the liturgies of Holy Week

Palm Sunday

Masses at 8:30AM, 10:30AM, 5:30PM (Español), and 7:00PM

Holy Thursday Mass of the Lord’s Supper

Mass at 7:00PM

Good Friday Celebration of the Lord’s Passion

Celebration at 3:00PM

Easter Vigil Mass

Mass at 7:45PM

Easter Sunday Mass

Masses at 8:30AM, 10:30AM, 5:30PM (Español), and 7:00PM

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