Have you been confirmed? Made your first Holy Communion? Do you or someone you know need to be baptized?
A pastor at a nearby Catholic parish asked his people these questions in the past year. He was asking more to double-check that everyone in his parish had received all three of the Sacraments of Initiation (Baptism, Confirmation, and Holy Eucharist). He didn’t expect many of his parishioners who have been filling the pews of his parish for decades to let him know that they still needed to be confirmed. Some even needed to be baptized! He was surprised – pleasantly, I guess – that twenty or thirty people came to the classes at the parish in order to be confirmed, etc. He seemed quite happy to be able to have the conversation with these courageous folks not just about the sacraments, but about faith and life in general. He was a proud spiritual papa!
So, of course, I will ask you all the same questions. (Well, I already did in the first few lines here). If you need to be confirmed or baptized or make your first Holy Communion, then please attend our RCIA classes starting in January. The “classes” are more like discussion groups that I will lead after 10 am Mass on Sundays from January through April. We’ll use a book that will be a very good resource for you and will help facilitate our discussions on Catholic teachings and practices. As you might have noticed, I don’t like to waste anyone’s time, so our talks will be informative and substantial, but not boring. There won’t be any tests; we just need your commitment to attend the meetings.
Even if you don’t need to receive any of these sacraments, it would be good to attend the discussions and learn more about your Catholic faith. RCIA is normally for adults who are preparing to become Catholic. But even non-Catholics have said that every Catholic should attend RCIA classes!
To see what one of these classes would look like, here are some of the notes from the discussion on Baptism (in today’s Gospel, St. John the Baptist offers his “class” on Baptism to the Pharisees and Sadducees):
Can someone get to Heaven without being baptized?
“Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved; whoever does not believe will be condemned” – Mark 16:16
Does baptism in the Spirit only occur through water?
1) By desire – the good thief on the cross, e.g.
“Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom”
“in truth I tell you, today you will be with me in paradise” – Lk 23:42-43
2) By blood – sharing in Jesus’ baptism by blood
“The cup that I shall drink you shall drink, and with the baptism with
which I shall be baptized, you shall be baptized” – Mk 10:39
What do we receive at Baptism?
● Life in Christ
● Indwelling of the Holy Trinity
“I baptize you in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit”
Real (vs Protestants who say Baptism is merely symbolic)
“For all of you are children of God, through faith, in Christ Jesus, since every one of you that has been baptized has been clothed in Christ” – Gal 3:26-27
● Forgiveness of sins
“by Baptism all sins are forgiven, original sin and all personal sins, as well as all punishment for sin”
● Gifts of the Holy Spirit
Wisdom, knowledge, understanding, reverence, fear of the Lord, right judgement, courage
● Incorporation into the Church, the Body of Christ
“For by one Spirit, we were all baptized into one body” – 1 Cor 12:13
● An indelible spiritual mark
“Baptism seals the Christian with the indelible spiritual mark (character) of his belonging to Christ. Given once for all, Baptism cannot be repeated.”
(Catechism, # 1272)
May you know the peace of Christ,