SPIRITUALITY: Divine Presents, The Sacramental Mysteries—The Sacramental Mystery of Baptism by Gregory Collins

November 11, 2017

From Meeting Christ in His Mysteries O useful element and clear! My sacred wash and cleanser here, My first consigner unto those Fountains of life, where the Lamb goes! What sublime truths and wholesome themes, Lodge in thy mystical, deep streams! Such as dull man can never find Unless that Spirit lead his mind, Which first upon thy face did move, And hatched all with his quick’ning love. (Henry Vaughan) In holy scripture this mystery has such an overwhelming significance that a great variety of images and metaphors are used to describe it such as illumination (Ephesians 5:8), rebirth and renewal (2 Titus 3:5), and clothing with Christ (Galatians 3:27).  One of the most suggestive images, the one which has most influenced [...]

JESUS: To Live In Christ, by Hubert van Zeller

March 20, 2017

From To Be In Christ To live in Christ is, in the widest sense, to live in a state of grace.  It is a gift but a gift which God does not deny to anyone.  What we are more particularly considering in these pages is the development of the gift.  All are invited to develop the life of Christ in the soul, and those who set themselves to do so are actively and progressively on the way to identification: identification with the divine person so far as is possible in this life, leading to the fullest identification to be enjoyed eternally in Heaven.  Christ incorporates us into his life at baptism, offers his life to us in countless ways as we mature in our religious formation, and finally crowns us with the grace of divine union. Though [...]

JESUS: Baptism Of The Lord—A Tale Of Intimacy by Kathleen Norris

January 9, 2017

From The Cloister Walk True intimacy is frightening, and I was well into my marriage before I realized that I either had to seek it or live a lie.  Intimacy is what makes a marriage, not a ceremony, not a piece of paper from the state.  I have shared great intimacy with several people; my friend dying of cancer for whom I would hold (and later clean) the bowls in which she frequently had to vomit; the monk homosexual and resolutely celibate, with whom I’ve shared the deepest confidences.  But it is only with my husband that I feel the mystery Saint Paul speaks of in Ephesians, our lives so intertwined that they feel like “one flesh.” I had forgotten how much marriage imagery there is in this feast that ends the [...]

PRAYER: Prayer For The Feast Of The Baptism Of The Lord

January 9, 2017

Author unknown Open the heavens, Almighty Father, and pour out your Spirit upon your people. Renew the power of our Baptismal cleansing, and fill us with zeal for good deeds. Let us hear your voice once again, that we may recognize in your beloved son our hope in inheriting eternal life. Grant this through Jesus Christ, your Word made flesh, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, in the splendor of eternal light, God, forever and ever. Amen.   [...]

SACRAMENTS: The Memory Of Baptism by Gertrude the Great of Helfta

November 24, 2015

If, at the close of your life, you wish to present the Lord with the robe of baptismal innocence without reproach and the seal of the Christian faith whole and unbroken, set apart some time in each year to recall the memory of your baptism, if possible around Easter or Pentecost.  To perform this exercise proficiently, you should encourage a sincere desire to be born again to God by the holiness of a renewed life, and to enter once more into a restored infancy.  Say: “God be merciful to me and bless me; look kindly and have mercy on me.  May my heart praise the Lord in sincerity and truth; let the whole Earth of my heart tremble and be moved before the presence of the Lord; may my spirit be recreated and renewed by the Spirit of [...]

BAPTISM: Repent by William Willimon

November 16, 2015

From On a Wild and Windy Mountain John the Baptizer appeared in the wilderness, preaching a baptism of repentance. (Mark 1:4) The church of today lives in an ethically debilitating climate.  Where did we go wrong?  Was it the urbane self-centeredness of Peale’s Power of Positive Thinking and its therapeutic successors?  Was it the liberal, civic-club mentality of the heirs to the Social Gospel?  Now we waver between evangelical TV triumphalism with its Madison Avenue values or live-and-let-live pluralism which urges open-mindedness as the supreme virtue.  And so a recent series of radio sermons on “The Protestant Hour” urged us to “Be Good to Yourself.”  This was followed by an even more innocuous [...]

POETRY: God Girl by Erica Dawson

January 28, 2015

I was born (again?!) two times: Christened, then second dipped in a luke- Warm pool with Satan, I rebuke Thee, saved with pantomimes (Hand down, across) and breath Held with the Holy Ghost before The family and the flock. Once more, Bear me again. In death, I’m good. At church, the hat Appeared as a centerpiece of lace- Wrapped buds. I watched the angel face Stained in the ziggurat— Like tiers of storied glass Go flush in the sun, turn corpse-opaque With clouds. And I, for heaven’s sake, Took heaven’s biomass, Washing feet first in the church— White basement, hosed and pedicured. I held the shot-glassed blood and stirred Beside the Eden birch Weeping to baked-in grass, Green as a crayon. My fingertip Went plum. [...]

SACRAMENTS: I Prefer The Word, Sacred-Ments

August 5, 2014

Let’s face it, the “-ment” in the word is really more significant than the sacred. Not in terms of important importance, of course.  God, the issuer of all things sacred, has the upper hand, importance-wise. But in terms of understanding sacraments, it’s the -ment that really should get our attention. -ment means: (1) the action or process of doing something; (2) the product or result of an action; or (3) the state or condition caused by an action. Get it? -ment always refers to an action.  A thing done. A sacrament is getting the sacred done. Period. Getting it done. I think that’s so cool. So let’s just ask ourselves one little, tiny question: When we participate in a sacrament in church, do [...]

POETRY: The Sacraments by Louise Erdrich

December 13, 2013

1 Baptism As the sun dancers, in their helmets of sage, stopped at the sun’s apogee and stood in the waterless light, so, after loss, it came to this: that for each year the being was destroyed, I was to sacrifice a piece of my flesh. The keen knife hovered and the skin flicked in the bowl. Then the sun, the life that consumes us, burst into agony. We began, the wands and the head crowns of sage, the feathers cocked over our ears. When the bird joined the circle and called, we cried back, shrill breath through the bones in our teeth. Her wings closed over us, her dark red claws drew us upward by the scars, so that we hung by the flesh as in the moment before birth when the spirit is quenched in whole pain, suspended until there is no [...]

SACRAMENTS: Baptism And The Forgiveness Of Sins by Ronald P. Byars

December 5, 2013

From The Sacraments In Biblical Perspective Then Peter said to them, “Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. (Acts 2:38) And now why are you waiting? Arise and be baptized, and wash away your sins, calling on the name of the Lord. (Acts 22:16) Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived. Neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor homosexuals, nor sodomites, nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners will inherit the kingdom of God. And such were some of you. But you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the [...]

CHRISTMAS MEDITATION: The Fullness of the Time by Joan Chittister

January 10, 2013

From The Liturgical Year There’s a popular folk tale about three blind men who walk around an elephant to determine what kind of beast this animal might be.  One takes hold of the elephant’s tail and says, “This creature is very like a rope.”  The second happens to take hold of its tusk and says, “This creature is very like a spear.”  And the third, patting the wide, hard side of the animal, says, “This creature is surely a wall.”  Obviously, if any one of them had all three insights at once, these men would have understood a great deal more about elephants than any one of them could possibly know alone. Liturgical spirituality is a bit like that as well.  Each season has a great consuming centerpiece on which we [...]

JESUS: On His Baptism, with thanks to Evelyn Underhill

May 8, 2012

The other day I was listening to a priest talk on the subject of Eucharistic adoration, when all of a sudden he takes a sharp turn in his talk and starts in on baptism.  As a quick aside he goes, oh, and Jesus, he didn’t need to be baptized. It’s moments like this one that stay with me for years and years, that start the fingers of my mind searching my “files,” stroking the words of scripture, attempting to touch the reality that was the life of Jesus in a way that keeps him both man and God. After walking around harrumphing now and again and becoming increasingly distracted by the thought of Jesus’s  unnecessary baptism, I began to poke around the wonderful world of the internet. Immediately what came [...]