RCIA The Sacraments and Baptism

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					RCIA The Sacraments and Baptism


Gospel Reading for Sunday next.
Reflection on the Gospel

Later this month we will be celebrating Thanksgiving.
How would you describe this experience? Pause

Many of you might say, family, friends, thankfulness, love, a sense of
      belonging, a celebration.
Everyone describes it differently.
These same words or experiences can be applied to the word Sacraments.
Sacraments affect the thoughts and feelings of those who believe in them. Just like
the Thanksgiving experience, your experience is interpreted thru
      your own lens and perceptions and what you bring with you.

Let us now talk a little about the origin and history of the sacraments.
Sacraments are celebrated in all faiths and religions.
The Latin word for Sacrament is Sacramentum.
St Augustine defined sacramentum as a sign of a sacred reality.
The word sacramentum was an initiation used by the Romans for their
The word Sacrament is used by the Christian church as an initiation or
      acceptance into the Christian way of life.

Every religion has signs and symbols of the sacred, such as:
      Sacred places which could be: temples, churches, mountains, rivers,
             shrines or cities.
      Sacred actions which could be: praying, singing, eating or fasting,
             dancing or meditating, rituals.
      Sacred objects which could be: tools writings, food drink, vestments,
             scrolls pictures, statues.
      Sacred persons which could be: priests, kings, saints, shamans,
             virgins, gurus.

If you think of all the religions of the world, they all have special places and
       actions that speak of their faith in God.
We in the Catholic Church have many signs and symbols and we also have
      the outward signs of God’s presence in the sacraments.
They point or symbolize something beyond ourselves.

There are many sacramental rites of passage in our society today.
Some examples are:
       When Kings and Queens become monarchs
       When people get married
       When people are initiated into clubs or organizations
       When people die
       When children are born
All these rituals demonstrate a change in social status.

Sacramental ceremonies are recognized by those who participate in the
     rituals and rites as something that brings about some change in their
     lives and that change involves God.

Sacraments allow a person to enter into a religious dimension of human
     existence and to experience the sacred.

There are three main features of a sacramental experience and they are:

Sacred space, this space is different from the ordinary space we occupy.
     Sacred space is where you experience something special and
           meaningful, like when you go to Church and you can feel the
           holiness of the space.

Sacred Time is also different from our ordinary time.
     Have your ever started to tell a story and immediately you are back to
           that time?
     Like where you were and what you were doing when those airplanes
           crashed into the Towers on Sept 11.
     Sacred Time is experienced during Prayer, meditation, Baptisms or
           weddings, during Mass, and even, when we are all together.

Sacred Meaning is how you experience what the sacrament is all about.
     Sacred meaning is experienced each time we receive the body of
           Christ at the Eucharist.

We have many rituals in our lives.
These rituals are expressions of values and attitudes in the form of symbolic
Some of the symbols in our lives are:
     Water rituals: express the values of life and purity.
     Rituals of initiation: express the values of belonging and
     Ritual meals: represent the attitudes of acceptance and sharing
     Atonement rituals: affirm the value of forgiveness, and being
     Healing rituals: embody rituals of hope and health.
     Funeral rituals: allow for honoring the person and setting time apart
            to grieve and share memories.
     Marriage rituals: incorporate the attitudes about man and woman
            and family
     Ordination rituals attest to the value of ensuring the continuance of
            sacred ritual in society and valuing the centering of one’s life
            around sacred meaning.

We in the Catholic Church talk about sacraments, the seven sacraments.
These sacraments are a valid human way of entering into a sacred
      experience that reaffirms the person and deepens one’s understanding
      of them.
We share the meaning of belonging, forgiveness, hope, and fidelity.
We try to experience God’s love and acceptance here on earth.
These sacraments give us many graces to live our lives as followers of Jesus
Thru the centuries, these experiences or sacraments have gone thru many
      different ideas, thinking, theory and practices.

The Church celebrates Seven Sacraments which are classified into three
     Sacraments of Initiation:
           Baptism, Confirmation, and Eucharist
     Sacraments of Healing:
           Reconciliation and Anointing of the Sick
     Sacraments of the Service of Communion:
           Holy Orders and Matrimony

The three Sacraments of Initiation (Baptism, Confirmation, and Holy
      Orders) each imprint those who receive these sacraments with an
      indelible, or permanent, character that remains forever.
This is the reason why a person can only receive these sacraments once in
        their lifetime-------the Sacraments of Eucharist, Reconciliation, and
       Anointing of the Sick may be received many times throughout our
       lives-----the Sacrament of Marriage may be received more than once
       only with the permission of the Church.
Tonight, we will briefly discuss Baptism (we will discuss the other
       Sacraments at later classes).

Christians have been baptized from the very beginning, John baptized
      believers in the Jordan River, Jesus himself was baptized by John the
      Baptist before he began his public ministry.
To the followers of Jesus, baptism assumed a special significance and it
      became a symbol of salvation and a transforming power to change
Those who are baptized became members of the Christian community.

Baptism is a sacrament of Christian Initiation that gives our souls the new
      life of sanctifying grace by which we become children of God,
      members of the church, and heirs of Heaven.
The sacrament of Baptism is the immersing of man into the mystery of
      Christ’s death and resurrection, which makes him a child of God and
      incorporates him in the Church.
Baptism is the first step on our faith journey.
      Through Baptism, we become Christians.
We are baptized with Water: Water is death --- because we cannot breathe
      in it.
      Water is also life—because our bodies need water to live.
The water used in Baptism symbolizes our passage from spiritual death to
      spiritual rebirth, so that we can share with Jesus ‘s death and

When we are baptized, we are given a new life and our previous sins are
     washed away and we now start with a clean slate.

We can only be baptized once------the Catholic Church recognizes Baptism
     from other Churches as long as one has been baptized by immersion
     or by the pouring of water over the person with the following words
     being pronounced by the minister or priest: “I baptize you in the
     name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.”
Some baptisms the Catholic Church does not recognized are: Mormon,
      Jehovah Witnesses, Unitarian, Quaker, Christian Science, and
      Salvation Army.
The Sacramentals or symbols used for Baptism are:
      Water-------death and resurrection
      Baptismal Font-----vessel to hold water and to baptize with
      White garment-------new life or to put on Christ
      Candle-----light of Christ, light of the world
      Oils------Oil of Initiation: signifies cleansing and strengthening
                Sacred Chrism: signifies the gift of the Holy Spirit to the
                    newly baptized who has become a Christian.
As a Christian, you are anointed Priest, Prophet, and King which means to
      take over ownership of your faith.

Baptism is necessary for the salvation of all men because of what Jesus said:
“unless a man is born through water and the Holy Spirit, he cannot enter into the
Kingdom of God.”

In very simple terms; Baptism opens the door into a new life of faith in
      Jesus Christ.

Sacraments are and were an extension of Jesus’ life and we copy these
     examples and actions and try to bring Jesus closer to us.

Well, after all of that, I must say on a more personal note that the
      Sacraments to me are a celebration of an outward sign of Jesus’s
      presence in the world.
When I receive Eucharist I realize that I must strive harder to be like Jesus. When
I experience the sacraments I can feel God’s hand reaching down and
      touching me---I felt this especially so at my Ordination.
At Mass, I feel a sense of wholeness and togetherness, and a sense of peace
      and joy.
When I witness or perform a baptism, I can feel a sense of the sacred, of
      being in communion with the Lord.

      Closing Prayer of Thankfulness

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