The Sacraments: Baptism

Outline:

Remember our definition of a Sacrament: outward sign instituted by Christ to give grace.

Outward sign

What is the sign of baptism?

  • Well, what happens?
    • Water is poured over someone’s head or a person is dunked in water. 
  • A sign points to the deeper reality and matches up with that deeper reality.
    • The sign here is the water being poured over a person or the person being dunked. There are a couple of deeper realities we could point toward:
      • What happens, for example, when a person takes a bath?
        • Their body gets cleaned. Or even just a simple washing of the hands, the water cleans the hands.
        • So, the cleaning of the body is an outward sign that points to something beneath the surface being cleansed. That something is the human soul.
          • A person doesn’t typically bathe if s/he isn’t dirty. Rather, it is because of the filth that a bath is necessary.
          • So, too, when we are born, our souls have on them an invisible stain – what we call the stain of original sin. We are filthy and need to be cleansed of this sin.
            • The waters of baptism are an outward sign of the Holy Spirit washing our souls clean.
      • What else does water do for a person?
        • It gives life. People can’t live without water.
          • At baptism, no one typically drinks any water, yet the water being used is a sign of new life being given to the one being baptized.
          • Because of original sin, we are born separated from God’s family. At baptism, we are adopted into his family, given a new life that wasn’t possible without the waters of baptism.
            • The waters of baptism are an outward sign of the new life God gives us in Jesus.

Instituted by Christ

Matthew 28:18-20 – “And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything that I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”

John 3:5 – “Jesus said, “Very truly, I tell you, no one can enter the Kingdom of God without being born of water and Spirit.”

Acts 2:38… – “Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.”

1 Peter 3:21-22 – “Baptism now saves you, not as a removal of dirt from the body but as an appeal to God for a clear conscience, through the resurrection of Jesus Christ, who has gone into heaven and is at the right hand of God, with angels, authorities, and powers subjected to him.

To give grace

Two kinds of grace: Sanctifying Grace and Sacramental Grace. We can look at those two kinds of grace that this Sacrament gives us.

  • Sanctifying Grace: This is the kind of grace that allows us to share in the divine life. It makes us members of the Body of Christ.
    • Unbaptized people have not received this grace. Baptism initiates someone into the Christian life.
    • Every Sacrament either gives Sanctifying Grace or restores the Sanctifying Grace lost by sin.
  • Sacramental Grace: This is the kind of grace that aids us to excel in living out the divine life.
    • In many ways, a person could simply think about the Sacrament they are receiving to see what that Sacrament can do for them:
      • With Baptism, we are initiated into the life of Jesus. An entirely new way of life is opened up to us that wasn’t open before.
      • Baptism gives us the grace to pursue virtue and maintain our dignity as children of God. It gives us the grace to live like Jesus and share in his life.
        • With Baptism, the Sacramental Grace sounds a lot like Sanctifying Grace.
        • The Book of Revelation tells us, “Nothing unclean shall enter heaven.” Yet we are born with the stain of original sin. We are born unclean. Baptism cleanses our souls, thus making it possible to enter heaven.

How is it validly given?

Matter: Water and an unbaptized, living person

Form: Water poured/person dunked, reciting the trinitarian formula: I baptize you in the name of…

Minister: ANYONE! (Ordinarily, it’s done by a bishop, priest, or deacon.)

Intention: To give new life by water and the Holy Spirit.

“What shall we do?”

Upon hearing the proclamation of the Gospel in Acts 2, the people around Peter asked, “What shall we do?” Peter’s response: Repent and be baptized.
This video looks at the surrender to Jesus’ authority, repentance, and baptism.

Life & Death

Posted by: zealoussheep

Sometimes, I am tempted to think that the world, societies, and cultures are caught in a downward spiral toward darkness and destruction. I look around and wonder if my fellow human beings are taking care to cultivate Life in their souls or are they hurtling towards death. On a whim as I began to type this, I pulled up the Patheos Catholic Channel and clicked on one of my favorite bloggers, Elizabeth Scalia, and one of her most recent posts confirmed that my temptation toward this line of thought is not held in isolation.

[We are in] a unique ‘time’ of global crisis: governments failing at every level, everywhere; churches are divided, their freedoms challenged; citizens are distracted, dissatisfied and distrustful, their election mechanisms in doubt; schools are losing sight of the primary mission of education; families are deconstructed and the whole concept ripe for dissolution; respect for human dignity is doled out in qualified measures; there is a lack of privacy; a lack of time to think, to process and to incarnate; a lack of silence… the ugly landscape [is] all around us; the one we have wanted to pretend was neither so vast nor so damaged and fragile.

Let me be clear, in no way do I disagree with The Anchoress. But concurrent to this line of thought, sometimes I carve out for myself silence, privacy and time to think. And I find that in those moments—especially if I’m in a hammock in the backyard—I am overwhelmed by how much LIFE is exploding around me. Untold numbers of crickets chirping, the insects are prolific, trees are taking root and climbing… Since the very beginning life has sprung forth from the earth, and continues even in the harshest conditions. At a much faster rate than the downward death spiral of my thoughts, life is bursting from every crevice.

Perspective is a funny thing.

It took living abroad and studying philosophy to jar my mind out of the doldrums of my previously monotonous life, characterized by the somewhat glazed staring that catches only the biggest action and has lost sight of all the details. Suddenly I was paying attention in great detail to the world around me, and it awakened in me a deeply buried sense of wonder. Since those days, I overwhelm my companions with loud exclamations of joy over the perfect iridescent rainbow of colors that reflects of the wings of insects or the soft bright green burst of brand new pine needles in the spring. I am amazed at creation and creatures.

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There are about 950,000 species of insects on earth.
300,000 species of plants.
1.2 million species of invertebrates.
We really have no idea how many species of animals exist on Earth and some 10,000 species of animals are discovered each year. Projections for the total number of species on Earth range from 2 million to 50 million.
Until very recently, our galaxy, the Milky Way was thought to be part of a cluster of 2,000 galaxies in Virgo. Recent research has shown that the Milky Way’s 100 billion stars are actually part of something 100 times bigger: a supercluster of galaxies astronomers have named Laniakea, which means “immense heavens” in Hawaiian. Laniakea is 520 million light-years across and astronomers say the supercluster is as massive as 100 million billion suns.

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It is a big, big world out there. And it is full of vibrancy and life.

A couple of years before I was born Mount St. Helen erupted in the most deadly volcanic explosion in U.S. history. The destruction was beyond comprehension and the President said the damaged landscape was more desolate than the surface of the moon. In all, Mount St. Helens released 24 megatons of thermal energy, 7 of which were a direct result of the blast. This is equivalent to 1,600 times the size of the atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima. A devastating death-blow.

More than 30 years have passed since the blast. Peter Frenzen is a scientist who studies the blast zone. He says,

“One of things that we’ve learned here at Mount St. Helens is that things that initially look dead are usually anything but dead. Those things that look messy to our eye are in fact the critical ingredients of the next thriving ecosystem.”

Out of the devastation has come incomprehensible richness and Mt. St. Helen is literally teeming with life.

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I think we can learn a lot from the world around us. As far as plants and animals go, we are literally immersed in life in vast and innumerable quantities. The soul of a Christian at baptism is drenched, immersed, inundated with divine life that cannot be compared to the 50 million possible species on earth or the 520 million light years’ wide supercluster of galaxies we live in. We are beyond soaked in life. And when darkness and death seem to crash in on every side, we know that we have the Death-Conquerer, Jesus himself dwelling in our souls. He is able even from the rocks to raise up children. And as centuries of Christianity have shown, the blood of the martyrs is the seed of the Church. And like Mount St. Helens and the Saints who have gone before, it still remains the case that life blooms in deserts and things that initially look dead are usually anything but dead. Those things that look messy and broken beyond repair to our finite eyes, can in fact be the very thing that tills and nourishes the soil for revival, restoration and renewal in the hearts of men longing for their God.

Build the Fire [SERMON]

Listen to Deacon Bryan’s sermon from Sunday, August 3rd. Check out some important readings from Mass:

Romans 8:35, 37-39

Brothers and sisters:
What will separate us from the love of Christ?
Will anguish, or distress, or persecution, or famine,
or nakedness, or peril, or the sword?
No, in all these things we conquer overwhelmingly
through him who loved us.
For I am convinced that neither death, nor life,
nor angels, nor principalities,
nor present things, nor future things,
nor powers, nor height, nor depth,
nor any other creature will be able to separate us
from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Matthew 14:13-21

When Jesus heard of the death of John the Baptist,
he withdrew in a boat to a deserted place by himself.
The crowds heard of this and followed him on foot from their towns.
When he disembarked and saw the vast crowd,
his heart was moved with pity for them, and he cured their sick.
When it was evening, the disciples approached him and said,
“This is a deserted place and it is already late;
dismiss the crowds so that they can go to the villages
and buy food for themselves.”
Jesus said to them, “There is no need for them to go away;
give them some food yourselves.”
But they said to him,
“Five loaves and two fish are all we have here.”
Then he said, “Bring them here to me, ”
and he ordered the crowds to sit down on the grass.
Taking the five loaves and the two fish, and looking up to heaven,
he said the blessing, broke the loaves,
and gave them to the disciples,
who in turn gave them to the crowds.
They all ate and were satisfied,
and they picked up the fragments left over—
twelve wicker baskets full.
Those who ate were about five thousand men,
not counting women and children.

Psalm Response (Ps. 145: 16):

The hand of the Lord feeds us; he answers all our needs.

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