Sunday, January 10, 2016

HOMILY 1-10-16



It must have been a practice for a long time because here is a detailed description of a baptism service in 215 AD by St. Hippolytus of Rome in his work "Tradition of the Apostles." In fact, children were baptized first, then men and last of all women. It is amazingly similar to what we do today. 
At the hour in which the cock crows, they shall first pray over the water. 2When 
they come to the water, the water shall be pure and flowing, that is, the water of a spring 

or a flowing body of water. 3Then they shall take off all their clothes. 4The children shall be 

baptized first. All of the children who can answer for themselves, let them answer. If there 

are any children who cannot answer for themselves, let their parents answer for them, or 

someone else from their family5After this, the men will be baptized. Finally, the women, 

after they have unbound their hair, and removed their jewelry. No one shall take any 

foreign object with themselves down into the water.

6At the time determined for baptism, the bishop shall give thanks over some oil, which he puts in a vessel. It is called the Oil of Thanksgiving. 7He shall take some more oil and exorcise it. It is called the Oil of Exorcism. 8A deacon shall hold the Oil of Exorcism and stand on the left. Another deacon shall hold the Oil of Thanksgiving and stand on the right.

9When the elder takes hold of each of them who are to receive baptism, he shall tell each 
of them to renounce, saying, "I renounce you Satan, all your servicea, and all your works."  

10After he has said this, he shall anoint each with the Oil of Exorcism, saying, "Let every 

evil spirit depart from you." 11Then, after these things, the bishop passes each of them on 

nude to the elder who stands at the water. They shall stand in the water naked. A deacon, 

likewise, will go down with them into the water. 12When each of them to be baptized has 

gone down into the water, the one baptizing shall lay hands on each of them, asking, "Do 

you believe in God the Father Almighty?" 13And the one being baptized shall answer, "I 

believe." 14He shall then baptize each of them once, laying his hand upon each of their 

heads. 15Then he shall ask, "Do you believe in Jesus Christ, the Son of God, who was 

born of the Holy Spirit and the Virgin Mary, who was crucified under Pontius Pilate, and 

died, and rose on the third day living from the dead, and ascended into heaven, and sat 

down at the right hand of the Father, the one coming to judge the living and the dead?"  

16When each has answered, "I believe," he shall baptize a second time. 17Then he shall 

ask, "Do you believe in the Holy Spirit and the Holy Church and the resurrection of the 

flesh?" 18Then each being baptized shall answer, "I believe." And thus let him baptize the 

third time.

19Afterward, when they have come up out of the water, they shall be anointed by the  elder with the Oil of Thanksgiving, saying, "I anoint you with holy oil in the name of Jesus Christ." 20Then, drying themselves, they shall dress and afterwards gather in the church.

21The bishop will then lay his hand upon them, invoking, saying, 
"Lord God, you who have made these worthy 

of the removal of sins through the bath of regeneration, 

make them worthy to be filled with your Holy Spirit, 

grant to them your grace, 

that they might serve you according to your will,

for to you is the glory,

Father and Son 

with the Holy Spirit,

in the Holy Church,

now and throughout the ages of the ages.


22After this he pours the oil into his hand, and laying his hand on each of their heads, says,
"I anoint you with holy oil

in God the Father Almighty,

and Christ Jesus,

and the Holy Spirit."

23Then, after sealingb each of them on the forehead, he shall give them the kiss of peace and say,

"The Lord be with you."

And the one who has been baptized shall say, 

"And with your spirit." 



To Baptise or Not to Baptise, That is the Question?




You are my beloved Son; with you I am well pleased.
Luke 3

I don't actually know how many people I have baptized over the last 46 years, but I do know that there have been several hundred for sure! Every once in a while, one of them will show up here in this very chapel, reminding me just how old I am getting! Are any of you here today? If so, raise your hand!

The pouring of, or immersion in, water in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit is the essence of the baptismal ritual. Every time you enter a Catholic Church, from then on, you are invited to dip your hand into baptismal water and cross yourself to remind you that you are forever an adopted child of God and to remind you of your mission to the world.  Just as God's voice from heaven said to Jesus "You are my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased," at  your baptism the Church said to you, "Your are, from this day forward, God's adopted son or daughter, in whom He is well pleased."  After the water is poured over you, the priest or deacon anoints you on the top of the head with chrism - the oil used in the Bible to anoint priests, prophets and kings - and says that you and Christ are bound together, from now on and forever!

Just as Jesus' baptism marked the beginning of his ministry of love and service to the world, as his adopted children and heirs, our baptisms marked the beginning of our commission to carry on that ministry of love and service to the world until he returns in glory.  Our baptisms, not just ordinations, are initiations into ministry.  In a certain sense, we all become priests at baptism, all off us were given some share of Christ's ministry to the world.

After a lifetime of being his ambassadors, representing Christ in the world, when we have drawn our last breath and have been prepared for burial, our family and friends will bring our bodies back into the church one last time. Our baptisms and our funerals are two bookends to our lives. Just as was done at our baptism, the priest will meet your casket at the door, sprinkle it with baptismal water and dress your casket in a white pall  reminiscent of that little white dress they put on you at your baptism so many years before.  This moment at the door of the church is especially poignant for me on those occasions when I can remember baptizing the deceased many years before, as I have actually done on occasion.

Students! Today is the day we remember the baptism of Jesus, the day he officially began his public ministry. Today is also one of those days when we are asked to remember our own baptisms, the day we were officially charged with carrying on his ministry. In a few minutes, we will again renew our profession of faith in the Trinity and repeat again the vows that made for us our baptisms and vows we confirmed at our Confirmations - vows to be a force for good in the world.  To seal the deal on this renewal, I will sprinkle you again with the water used for baptisms to remind you once again that you are indeed a child of God, with whom he is well pleased!
  Students! In the next several years, many of you will get married and have children. One of the things I try to do in here is to help you start getting ready for that - help you  to make remote preparation to become serious marriage partners and parents - so that you will be ready when that time comes!  To do that, you need to be serious spiritual seekers now!   Now is the time to begin preparing yourselves for marriage and parenting. That is why renewing your own baptismal vows is so important!

Since this is the week we pray for vocations in general - vocations to carry on some part of Christ's ministry - hopefully some of you will search your hearts to see if God is calling you to lead others to holiness as a priest, deacon or religious brother or sister - to assist and support those who have been called to marriage and parenting and to bring the gospel to those who do not believe or whose faith is in crisis!   If you are called to ministry, respond like Isaiah, "Here I am, Lord, send me! I will hold your people in my heart,"  rather than try to run from it like Jonah!  

If you are called to marriage and parenting, decide today that you will break the cycle of going through a showy Catholic wedding with no intention of practicing the Catholic faith afterwards that is so common these days! Decide today that you will break the cycle of demanding the baptisms of your children with no intention of bringing those children up in the practice of the faith that is all too common today! Nemo dat quod non habet. If you don't have it yourself, you cannot give it!  Repeating the vows of your baptism and sprinkling you with the water of baptism today is just a hollow ritual if there is no intention in the heart  to renew your commitment to be a serious follow of Christ! If you are not a serious disciple yourself, going into it, there is no way you can be a serious partner in a Christian marriage, no way can you be a serious Christian parent, no way can you answer a call to ministry!  Decide today to be who you really are - a child of God, with whom he is well pleased!



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