What is your sacramental status?

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”

● Grace

Real (vs Protestants who say Baptism is merely symbolic)

● Faith

“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,

Fr Greg

Peace I leave with you

6th Sunday Easter – “Peace I leave with you”

Directee / FG

Be complete or whole
Not just lack of conflict, but all the good that comes from God in this life or in the next
Peace = share in Heaven

One with the Lord
Only good
Fr Philippe
Do His Will
v 31 – “I do as the Father has commanded me”

Let nothing disturb your peace

Fr Philippe
Only bad reasons for losing peace
Troubled of daily life / needs
Others faults
Our own faults
Fear of suffering

1st holy communion

How do people live without faith?

Do not let your hearts be troubled or afraid.”

The wedding I officiated last weekend was a beautiful experience. It was in San Luis Obispo, California, which is halfway between Los Angeles and San Francisco. It is gorgeous! The young bride and groom are good, fun, and generous Catholics who did it just about all right throughout the process and ceremony. As you may or may not know, California was the site of over 20 Catholic (Franciscan) missions in the late 1700s and early 1800s. So, many of the cities in California have Spanish, Catholic names! For example, San Luis Obispo translates as “St Louis, Bishop” in English. This is from where the bride is. The church was a bit awkward for a wedding, but we made it work. The rehearsal dinner and wedding reception both took place at the beautiful ranch and vineyard on your right. My caption would be, “Wedding reception, California style.”

Flying in and out of San Luis Obispo was refreshing. The airport is not much larger than our church! Passengers use the tarmac and stairs to board and depart from their planes. For the flight home, though, that’s where my fun ended. My plane was late in taking off, so I missed the connecting flight in Phoenix on Sunday afternoon. After spending a few hours in the Phoenix airport eating, walking around, and praying, I caught a plane to Detroit that would get me closer to home Sunday night / Monday morning (given the three hour time difference, it was 1:30 EST Monday morning by the time we arrived in Detroit). The “reflection room” (chapel) in the Detroit airport served as a resting place for a few hours before the final flight brought me home later that morning. (I think that “chapel” was built more for the “spiritual but not religious” crowd). Needless to say, Monday was a long day of rest…!

I knew it would be a ton of travel in a short amount of time, and didn’t like being away from you on a Sunday. But, I still think it was worth it. The Lord gave me several opportunities to evangelize and minister to young adults at the wedding, including a few confessions. In one of the conversations, a young and perfectly healthy woman said she suffers immensely from a fear of death. We talked about life after death, and she revealed she is quite shaky in her Catholic faith about heaven. I asked her if she believes in the Resurrection, and she chose not to answer. Hopefully, our conversation will continue…

I don’t know how people live without faith. How do people without faith in Christ live the Lord’s saying in today’s Gospel: “Do not let your hearts be troubled or afraid”? Fear is the lack of faith, so, of course, people without faith will be afraid (of death, for example). And, their hearts will be troubled, restless, anxious, and desolate. It’s not that we believers don’t struggle with this, although when the young woman asked me of what I was afraid, I could only think of sports-related fears like the Capitals losing again in the playoffs! The Lord’s saying is challenging for all of us, believers included. But, when we come to Him regularly, as our first Holy Communicants come to Him for the first time in the Eucharist, we receive His peace regularly. His Grace begins to work on us and our hearts so that we rest in His peace. Even when we are tested by an illness or injury, loss of a loved one, family or work crisis, traveling nightmare, or sports defeat, our hearts are not troubled or afraid. As St. Augustine beautifully prayed, “our hearts are restless until they rest in you, O Lord”.

Congratulations to our first Holy Communicants!!

May you know the peace of the risen Christ,

Fr Greg