St Francis lesson 1

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LESSON 1:                             Baptism – Promise and Potential

                             Goal: Develop an understanding of the continuing relevance of
                             Baptism. Through Baptism, we are cleansed from original sin, but
                             there’s more. We are also called to live holy lives.

                             Core Concepts:
                             – Another word for vocation is a calling. In Baptism, we are called
                               by God to holiness. It is the beginning of a person’s sharing in
                               the sacramental graces and mission of the Church. As we get
                               older, He also calls us to a more specific vocation: ordained or
                               religious life, marriage and family life, or life as a single layperson
                               doing good works in the world.
  Opening Prayer
       Loving God,           – A sacrament is not just a symbol; it effects a real spiritual
   we call you “Father”        change in us. (This isn’t hocus-pocus; it is grace freely given by
                               God through the Holy Spirit.)
  because we are part of
       Your family.          – Baptism of adults was the norm for the early Christians, but as
                               time went on, more and more Christians were baptized as infants.
   You create each of us
to uniquely meet some of     Activities:
 the needs of our world.
                             ACTIVITY 1
Help us to see where needs   In this activity, students will discover the meaning of
 exist and where we can      baptism – our initial call to holiness.
help – whether at home,
                             Step 1
    school, church, or       Talk about the core concepts listed above.
    in the community.
                             Step 2
          Amen.              Have students individually complete Worksheet 1A, “Baptism:
                             Symbols and Spiritual Change,” which asks them to write their
                             ideas of what four symbols used at baptisms represent.

                             Step 3
                             Using your chalkboard, white board, or newsprint, make four lists:

                             •   Water
                             •   Oil
                             •   White clothing
                             •   Candle

                             Write down students’ ideas on what these items symbolize.
Baptism – Promise and Potential (continued)

Step 4                                               D. The child is clothed with a white garment,
Using the following outline and your students’          a symbol of being clothed in Christ. Looking
ideas, talk about what happens during Baptism.          at a Christian, people should be able to see
(The outline is for Baptism of an infant, rather        something noticeably different and good, just
than an adult.) Remind your class that sacraments       as a new outfit is noticeable.
are not only symbols; they bring about a real
change in the person by an outpouring of grace.      E. A candle lit from the flame of the Easter
This grace is the presence of the Holy Spirit           candle is given to the parents and godparents.
within us.                                              The celebrant prays that the child will be
                                                        enlightened by Christ. Fire can spread rapidly,
A. The presiding priest, deacon, or chaplain            and as believers, we hope that the flame of
   asks that God give the child new life                our faith will consume us and spread to others
   through water and the Holy Spirit. Water is          around us.
   a powerful symbol in Scripture. For example,
   the Red Sea parted, and the Israelites escaped    ACTIVITY 2
   from slavery to freedom. In the New Testament,    Time permitting, have students break into small
   Jesus changed water into wine, beginning          groups to discuss the questions on worksheets
   His earthly ministry of making God’s presence     1B-E. One person from each group should
   visible. Immersion and coming up out of the       summarize the discussion for the entire class.
   water symbolized dying and new life.

B. The parents and godparents renew the
   vows of their own Baptisms, rejecting sin
   and professing their faith. The celebrant            HOMEWORK:
   then welcomes the child being baptized
   into the faith and anoints him/her on the            Find two Scripture passages that deal
   head with chrism oil, symbol of strength.            with one of the symbols (water, oil, white
   Athletes used oils on their muscles to prepare       clothing, candle/light) used in the Rite of
   for Olympic competition in ancient times. It         Baptism, and write a paragraph about how
   sometimes takes a lot of strength to stand up        the passages relate to our understanding
   for Christian ideals! Oil has also been used in      of this sacrament.
   the past to anoint kings. We recognize that in
   Baptism a person becomes part of the Church,
   which is the Body of Christ (our high priest,
   prophet, and king).
Worksheet 1A
                   In Baptism, we see four symbols, each with something to tell us
                   about what is really happening in this sacrament:
Symbols and
Spiritual Change   •   Water
                   •   Oil
                   •   White clothing
                   •   Candle

                   In the space below, write your ideas about what each of these
                   things could symbolize and why it is part of the Rite of Baptism.

                   During the Rite of Baptism, the presiding priest, deacon, or
                   chaplain asks that God give the child new life through water
                   and the Holy Spirit. What do you think the water symbolizes?
                   (It may help you to consider some scripture passages in which
                   water is important.)
Worksheet 1A            (continued)

        After the parents and godparents renew their own baptismal
        vows, the celebrant welcomes the child being baptized into the
        faith and anoints him/her with chrism oil. Certain oils are believed
        to nurish and strengthen muscles. Oil has been used to anoint
        kings. Thinking of these and other uses, why do you think anointing
        with oil is one of the symbolic gestures in the rite of Baptism?

        The child is clothed with a white garment. What we wear tells
        people something about us and our personal style. What could a
        white garment say about someone newly baptized?

        A candle lit from the flame of the Easter candle is given to the
        parents and godparents. Fire and light appear frequently in scripture.
        What are the positive images that come to mind, and which of
        these do you think relate to use of a candle in Baptism?
Worksheet 1B                                     Discussion Questions

Name five ways that parents and godparents can follow up once a baby is baptized. Of these, which do
you think is the most important, and why?

Check the most important follow-up.

❑ 1.

❑ 2.

❑ 3.

❑ 4.

❑ 5.

Explain why the item you checked above is the most important follow-up for parents and/or godparents
to do once a child has been baptized.
Worksheet 1C                                         Discussion Questions

In Baptism, we receive our fundamental vocation to holiness by becoming members of the faith
community whose task is to carry on the ministry that Jesus began, knowing that God will give us
whatever grace we need.

As we begin to make career and life choices, God calls us to a particular way of life: ordained/vowed
religious, married, or single life as a layperson doing good works in the world.

For each vocational choice listed below, identify how that way of life can be a path to holiness.

1. Ordained (priest or deacon*) or religious life as a priest, brother or sister in a religious
   community can be a path to holiness because

2. Marriage and family life can be a path to holiness because

3. Single life as a layperson can be a path to holiness because

Do you think that any one of the three vocational choices above is holier than the others? Why?

* Note that a deacon is ordained but may be married or single.
Worksheet 1D                                       Discussion Questions

Do you think that parents who disagree with some of the Church’s teachings should have their children
baptized anyway?

❑ Yes, because

❑ No, because

❑ It depends on the particular Church teachings with which they disagree.   For example,
Worksheet 1E                                       Discussion Questions

What change(s) happen to a person through Baptism?

Are there any differences in the changes that happen to an adult versus an infant who is baptized?