Baptism Part I
There are so many spiritual things to write about. One could write a book (hint). Since I can’t write a book in the bulletin we’ll have to settle for a series. This one will be on the Sacraments…Deacon Phil style. Ready? Here we go! I love baptizing children, the smiles, the cooing, sigh…and the crying. The joy of the parents and God parents, it’s just wonderful. It’s also one of the most misunderstood, least respected and easily forgotten of the Sacraments. Yet, all the other sacraments begin with it. I’d like to take my time with this one and share some insight.
Misunderstood …Why do we ask for baptism? Um yes you heard right… ask. Most people do not realize that although baptism is a Rite, it is not a Right. Even as I speak (or write), hundreds of thousands of Catholics all over the world are demanding, not asking, demanding, that their children be baptized into a faith that they don’t even participate in. Wow, now why would we want someone baptized into a faith we don’t even believe in, or participate in? In the Rite of Baptism for Children (here after abbreviated as ROBFC), the second question asked by the Priest or Deacon is, “What do you ask of God’s Church for…?” C’mon folks any light bulbs clicking on? This is a challenge question! Did Jesus “demand” baptism from John the Baptist or did he ask? Baptism at that time was a public denouncement of sin and a turn to repentance. From the Apostles time to today amongst most Christian faiths it includes accepting Jesus as the risen Lord and Savior and publicly denouncing sin. In the case of a baby, Mom, Dad, the God Parents and the Church community are proxy for the child since the baby can’t speak for itself. The idea is that the parents, God Parents and Church community are going to help raise this child in faith. Um, by the way, those present at a private Baptism are the Church community. (Shucks, and here we thought we were just guests with no responsibility). Actually that baby becomes all our responsibility in helping raise him or her in the faith. It’s a Club and not everyone’s invited. (Remember the Pharisees?) Don’t forget, to become a Christian one had to believe in Jesus Christ as Savior and be baptized. For those who were martyred it was a steep price to pay and wasn’t taken lightly. It wasn’t by them and shouldn’t be by us.
Until next time…may Jesus keep you smiling, may God’s grace shine on you and always pray for our Pastor …he loves us and so do I!
So what’s up? I want to thank all of you for reading the Beacon. For your input, feedback and “gentle” criticism, I truly appreciate it. Please remember that I write the Beacon to help us spiritually to grow, have thoughts and insights to “chew” on and get a feel for where we are in our lives as Christians. Please feel free to pass it on to your family, friends and neighbors of any faith.
I’m the “Guy”
The following is a reflection I gave during one of my formation classes, it was called, “I’m the guy.” I’m the guy who has to have a front row seat at a concert, game or show…but sits all the way in the back during Mass. I’m the guy who will be 30 min. early for a meeting, or an hour early for a movie…but show up 30 min. late for Mass.
I’m the guy who doesn’t mind dropping a few hundred “dead” presidents on the lottery, or football pool…but drops a dollar in the collection basket…yep, I’m the guy. I’m the guy who spends an hour looking for the finest threads to wear for clubbing or going out on a date…but throws on the first thing I see to wear to Mass. I’m the guy who’ll sing along with the radio, or knows the top 10 songs on the Billboard chart by heart…but won’t open my mouth to sing in church. I’m the guy who’ll volunteer for everything…but won’t volunteer any time to my parish, I’m way too busy…yep, I’m the guy. I’m the guy who’ll repeat a dirty joke, or talk about my Boss…but won’t repeat a homily, or talk about my faith. I’m the guy who stays until the last credit falls at a movie…but leaves right after the Eucharist at Mass. I’m the guy who’ll run my kids to baseball, cheerleading or soccer…but won’t run them to church…yep, I’m the guy. I’m the guy who can get myself up to go to work or the gym…but has to be woken up for church. Sigh, yes I’m the guy. Then like Mary in the gospel…I sat beside the Lord at his feet and he spoke to me (Luke 10: 38-42). He reminded me of all the times He wasn’t late, but right on time. How He sat in the front row of my birth, baptism, heartbreaks and joys. How He blessed me so I had what I needed. How He constantly prays for me before His Father. How He waits for me all the time and so much more…yep, He’s the guy. Praise God I’m no longer “that” guy… So, what kind of guy, or gal are you?
Until next time…may Jesus keep you smiling, may God’s grace shine on you and always remember to pray for each other. Luv ya!
Sometimes, as a people we have a tendency of forgetting what and who is the Church. Hopefully, this will help… It was my first homily after ordination and it was about The Church: “During formation one of my classmates asked me what I thought about Church, I told him to let me sleep on it and I’d give him an answer the next time we had class. That night I had a dream. In my dream I walked into a beautiful church. The floor was made of diamonds; the walls, windows and ceiling were made from beautiful jewels. The altar was made from solid gold, and on the altar was a golden chalice; levitating above the chalice was the Holy Eucharist. In the front pew was a man, a woman, a child, a levitating infant, an old man and a woman in a wheelchair. As I was admiring the beautiful church a voice boomed from the altar, “Son of man, what do you think of my Church? I answered, “Lord, it’s beautiful with diamond floors, with walls, windows and ceilings made of beautiful jewels and a golden altar with a gold chalice.” “Enough!!” Boomed the voice; “is that what you see? Have I taught you nothing?” At these very words there was a huge explosion! The stained glass windows exploded outward, the ceiling started to fall and crumble, fire broke out and destroyed everything in sight. After the smoke cleared, all I saw was a broken down altar made from clay, the gold chalice was now a tin can, but the Eucharist was still levitating above it, and untouched was the man, woman, child, infant, old man and woman in the wheelchair. The voice came again from the altar, “now son of man…what do you see?” I replied, “I see a man and a woman. I see a child and an infant. I see an elderly man and a woman in a wheelchair, worshiping you O Lord.” “Yes”, the voice replied, “this is my Church, not a building or structure, but the very people that stand before me, that cry out to me, that praise me, that receive my body and blood. That are baptized as my children, with water and the Holy Spirit. This is what my Son has taught; this is The Church. My spirit does not come upon brick, stone or wood…but into the heart and soul of men and women…as one body; and so I am with them, as they are with me”. So you see, churches are nice to look at and worship in…but the focus should be on God and his Son, and the real Church…is in the pews.
Until next time…may Jesus keep you smiling, may God’s grace shine on you and always remember to pray for one another. Luv ya!
“In the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit”. The Bible Connection… When I was growing up we had one of those huge, white Catholic Bibles. You know the one with the pictures showing you the breakdown of the Mass. Oh come on, you remember. It was a great centerpiece, that held certificates for baptism, Confirmation, etc. but it was never opened to be read…ever. I don’t think today’s Catholic households are much different either. My children each received a bible as a gift from the parish when they received the Sacrament of Confirmation. You’d be surprised at all the wonderful uses, none of which include reading. Examples are: a door stop, a window stand, a leveler, a dust collector…you get the picture. Unlike yesterday, today’s Catholics are encouraged to “break” open the word of God. Where prayer helps us to communicate with God, the Bible helps us to learn about Him, as well as Jesus and the Holy Spirit. We’ve always thought that our Protestant brothers and sisters had one up on us when it comes to scripture reading…phooey! The truth is that anyone through prayer and consistent reading can unlock the secrets of scripture and see how they pertain to us today. It’s like breathing, once you start, it becomes a part of your life. Even reading the great stories can enhance us spiritually, we just need the desire to learn about God. If you’re stuck and want help, I’m around. How about our teens? You guys up for a Bible study? Look my peeps…even if you read a verse, sentence, or a chapter…God’s word will enhance your spiritual life. Here’s the trick: pick a time of day to read and stick with it. Usually the morning works best, along with prayer. Read a verse, sentence, paragraph or chapter. There are also scripture guides, the daily readings, and scripture meditation books and magazines that help. Always, always…pray before you read. The Bible was “inspired” by the Holy Spirit, so it’s only fitting to pray for the Spirit to guide you and reveal God’s mysteries. There is so much that can be said about this subject…hmmm sounds like a sequel coming.
Until next time… may Jesus keep you smiling, may God’s grace shine on you and always pray to God our Father, in the name of Jesus His son, through the Holy Spirit…luv ya!
So here’s the final T of the three T’s of Stewardship…
Treasure: Many of us have treasure, some, more than others, and they can be different. God asks the same of all of us…the best of all we have; our time, our talents and our treasures. This was the case of Cain and Abel. “In the course of time Cain brought an offering to the Lord from the fruit of the soil, while Abel, for his part brought one of the best firstlings of his flock” (Gn 4: 3-4). Do we see what’s going on here? Cain gave of his fruit, while Abel gave of his best. This is what God is asking for, the best of whom we are and what we have. Not only as it concerns Him but as it concerns each other. He asks us to offer a tithe of our worldly goods, but not just a tithe, but the best. This is hard for some of us, to give 10% of our income and give to him first. This is what Jesus calls out in the parable of the “Widow’s mite”. You may be saying, “Well Deacon Phil, you don’t know my situation”… and you’re right, I don’t, that’s between you and God. Just understand that whenever you give the best of yourself the Lord blesses you with great abundance and never leaves you wanting. All He asks is that we trust Him in this.
Until next time…may Jesus keep you smiling, may God’s grace shine on you and remember…fasting without prayer is “slimfast”…luv ya!
Talent: Everyone has a talent and no it’s not associated with America’s Got Talent, Dancing With The Stars, So You Think You Can Dance and Dance Crew, etc. There are all kinds of talents: music, singing, art, reading, storytelling, cooking, dance, listening, praying etc. just to name a few. Some are everyday things that everyone just can’t do and some are extraordinary. One thing is for certain… all talent is God given. Some of us don’t even know what our talents might be…so we need to pray that the Spirit will help us in discerning them. The other thing that is certain is that God given talents were designed to: 1) Glorify and praise God and 2) edify the Church. Again, I did not make this up, the Old and new Testaments attest to this. Biblical greats such as: Moses, Aaron, David, Daniel, Peter, Paul, etc. and don’t forget the saints had talents that were endowed to them by God. Some, like Peter had to grow into them, but the end result is the same, they glorify God and edify and enhance the Church. Here’s a story to give you an idea of what I’m throwing down…a kid I grew up with was called OOgly. The OO was for Ogle and the gly was for ugly. OOgly wasn’t really ugly, in fact he was handsome…but he had enormous eyes like a gold fish. (Children can be rather unkind with nick names.) There was nothing this kid could do, as far as talent went, he had none…or so we thought. All kids grow up and OOgly was no exception, and although we were in our teens, we still called him OOgly. Well, one Sunday during Mass there was a child who would not stop crying. He cried and cried. OOgly looked at the kid and started whirling his eyes! Now one of two things is going to happen…you see something like this and it scares the living heck out of you or you start laughing you’re head off. Thank God it was the latter. The kid laughed himself quiet and snuggled up to ol’ OOgly! He had finally found his talent. No, it wasn’t whirling his eyes, it was a deep love and concern for children. He became one of the most successful Youth Ministers I’ve ever known. Get the point?
What’s next? Until next time…may Jesus keep you smiling, may God’s grace shine on you and always pray for the Spirit to show us the way…luv ya!
- Deacon Phil
So what’s up? We tend to forget that there are some really, really, good Priests and Pastors out there who truly deserve our support and prayers. Remember, the ones closest to God are attacked the hardest. Let’s continue to pray for their sanctity, and to withstand Satan’s attacks and temptations. Not just them, but all our religious and ministers of the Church of God.
You probably missed me and Deacon Mike this past weekend. We were on our annual Deacons Retreat.
Noise: Have you ever wondered how our parents, grandparents and great grandparents survived without IPODS, cell phones, Xboxes, computers and (gasp!) even the TV? Today it just seems that almost everyone is either plugged in or jacked up to something! I mean, could you imagine great grandma at the dinner table cranking out tunes on her IPOD while you’re sitting there shaking your head? Yet how many of us are doing just that. We are getting out of touch with reality. If I’m on the IPOD blasting out my ears, how do I hear the sounds of life...the birds chirping and singing, the children playing, the stores opening in the morning? We used to associate sounds and smells with growing up. Remember the smell of fresh baked bread as you walked by the Italian bakery, or the sounds of Mr. Sullivan opening up the grocery store? We need some silence…God can’t get through if we can’t hear Him. What would you think if you saw Jesus jamming on his MP3 player, or checking his cell phone while you were trying to pray to him? I figured as much.
Until next time…may Jesus keep you smiling, may God’s grace shine on you and always take the time to thank our Pastor for serving us. Luv ya!
- Deacon Phil
So what’s up?
Questions. Asking this of teenagers is like a prelude to the sinking of the Titanic…be careful what you ask for. Actually it usually goes quite well and the children are satisfied with the answers. Here’s one: If I believe in God, why should I go to church? This is not a question to get angry or frustrated about. At some point in our lives most of us may have asked this. It is a question of discernment. Which is my answer?
A. It’s biblical. (It is)
B. Jesus went to worship (Synagogue), and if it’s good enough for him, well it’s good enough for me! (He did)
C. As Christians we believe in the “second” baptism, which is baptism by the Holy Spirit. This baptism is given to strengthen and edify the Church. (I didn’t make this up…please read Acts of the Apostles). Imagine the Holy Spirit stopping by and giving us a gift that he asks us to share. Instead we throw it in a chest. Each day he gives us a gift…we throw it in a chest keeping it to ourselves. Who are we strengthening? Who are we edifying? Sure we believe in God, but so did the Pharisees and Sadducees. It may not be today, or tomorrow, next week or even next year that someone may need us to share this gift with them. And when the time comes, where are we? Last year I said these exact words in a homily. After Mass a woman came up to me crying…she said, “thank you so much for preaching that today. I stopped going to church for ten years. A month after coming back a woman standing next to me at Mass was crying. I don’t even know why I did it, but during the sign of peace, I hugged her and said…Jesus loves you and so do I. I’ve never done that before. The young lady hugged her back even more and started crying even harder. Afterward she revealed that she was planning to kill herself that very night and came to church wanting to hear that someone loved her or she would go through with it.” Nuff said.
Until next time…may Jesus keep you smiling, may God’s grace shine on you and always pray for peace…luv ya! Deacon Phil
So what’s up? Stewardship. If you haven’t considered it, please think about it. Just in case you didn’t know, stewardship is at the heart of being a Christian. I can hear the sighs already…”oh no, he’s going to talk about money.” Stewardship is not just about money…it’s about being good care takers of all that God our father has blessed us with. My friends, this includes Mother Earth and all life on this planet, wild as well as human. I refer you to the book of Genesis, chapter 1. We can’t save the world by ourselves, but we can help try, and I’m sorry, this is one of those things where ACTION is just as important as prayer and faith. Here we go!
Time: Have you ever heard someone say, my time is precious? Time is a blessing. Some of us seem to never have enough, and some of us seem to have too much. You will see this distinction with all things that God blesses us with, especially talent and treasure. It is very rare that one hasn’t been blessed with at least one of these, if not all three. There’s a reason for this. Just as the Father, so too can Jesus and the Holy Spirit know and understand what lies in someone’s heart, what and how much we can deal with, what and how much we can be trusted with. Things we don’t even know ourselves. This is where prayer, faith and enlightenment comes in, driven by the Holy Spirit. One of its many jobs is discernment and direction. Now you’re probably saying, “now hold Deacon, my time is my business not God’s”. Really? Once again I refer you to sacred scripture and to writings of the Saints. God pays attention to time, serious attention. Remember what Jesus said to Peter, James and John in the garden? “Could you not keep watch for one hour?” (Mark 14:37). Hmmm…there’s the question to ask about going to Mass on Sunday! You see, He doesn’t ask for much. Whether it’s at Church, or in prayer He just wants some. When a woman he was advising was apprehensive about the amount of time she had to spend in court as concerning her prayer and spiritual time, St. Francis De Sales said this, “For if you are faithful to God, He will never fail you; even though He has to stop the sun and the moon, He will give you enough time to perform your exercises and all else you must do.” Wow, isn’t this awesome? When are we going to realize that when we give Him something, we get more of it back? Yes, that includes time. So remember, we give Him the best of what we have, He continues to bless us with more of it…including time.
Until next time…may Jesus keep you smiling, may God’s grace shine on you and always take the time to pray for your Pastor.
Jesus asked Peter, “Do you love me?” It’s a question he asks each one of us. Notice he asks this three times. To love someone takes a lot of work and sacrifice...I want you to really think about this, because it does. Ultimately Peter would be sacrificing his life, but in this love affair…Jesus does all the work. Making the work joyful, giving us the strength to keep going when we feel we just can’t go on. This is the Jesus we meet in the Sacrament of reconciliation. Jesus doesn’t criticize Peter, nor does he throw in his face what Peter has done to him. He loves Peter and also knows that Peter is bound to his denial of him and needs to be healed. Being in sin binds the fruit of grace that the Spirit will bring…and Peter won’t be ready for it and neither will we. Sometimes we have to keep coming back regularly (just as we do when we go to see a doctor). But we have to be like Peter too. Notice he doesn’t make excuses for what he’s done, nor does he try to run. Jesus already knows. In saying yes to the Lord’s three questions Peter acknowledges his sin, is sorry for it, realizes that he has hurt the Lord and doesn’t want to hurt him again, and is ready to move on. Like I said, Jesus already knows but he wants to hear it from our own lips and we need to hear it too, we need to move on. Satan loves when we wallow in our sins, preventing the Holy Spirit from taking us to the next level. Having us believe that we’re the worst and God wants nothing to do with us. Jesus loves us, and wants everything to do with us. Do we love him?
Until next time…may Jesus keep you smiling, may God’s grace shine on you and always pray for our Pastor …he loves us and so do I!