Sunday, January 13, 2019



I was born at home April 28, 1944, having been delivered by my country midwife grandmother. 
I danger of death, my grandmother baptized me right there in the bed where I was born. 


I have no idea how many baptisms I have performed, as a deacon and as a priest, in the parishes I have served in the last fifty years. 

December, two years ago, I had the pleasure of baptizing seven babies in the Cathedral in the Diocese of Kingstown down in Saint Vincent and the Grenadines at Sunday Mass.

December 28, 2028
Norton Children's Hospital

This Christmas, I had the privilege of doing something I did many times when I was pastor of our Cathedral and was a chaplain on call at Children's Hospital. I got to baptize many premature babies in the neonatal unit. This year I was called on again. 


This is her father, Mark. Little Danika's mother, Priscilla, had to stay with their little boy at Ronald McDonald House. Mark is a nephew of my brother-in-law, Paul, who died right before Christmas. Mark and Priscilla are from outside Hardinsburg in Breckenridge County. 

Homily for Feast of the Baptism of Our Lord

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 50 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 church, 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.

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!
Young people! 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 that cycle of going through a showy Catholic wedding with no intention of practicing that Catholic faith afterwards that is so common these days! Decide today that you will break that 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! 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!  

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! Decide today to be who you really are - a child of God, with whom he is well pleased!



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