The Baptism of the Lord
With today’s celebration of the Baptism of the Lord, our Christmas season comes to an end. Our Lord chooses to be baptized not because he needs baptism, but to give us an example of what we must do and in order to sanctify the waters by descending into them. Baptism was already a ritual symbol in the ancient Jewish world. Though “baptism” is a Greek word, it is a translation from the Hebrew and both words mean “washing.” In Jewish culture, ceremonial and ritual washing was an important custom. It was used not only for hygienic reasons, but also as a sign of becoming spiritually clean. By Christ’s baptism, the symbol becomes a reality and the washing of baptism becomes a sacrament that really washes away original sin.
Consider the antitypes (foreshadowing events) of Baptism. In the beginning, God’s Spirit hovered over the waters and he began from that primordial environment of water covering the earth to create the world and all that is in it. Now, the waters of baptism imbued with the Spirit by the priest’s blessing recreate the human soul and make the baptized a child of God. The waters of the flood washed away the unrighteousness from the face of the earth. The Israelites in the Exodus passed through the waters of the Red Sea which brought about an end to slavery. Christ himself was baptized by John. Finally, from the cross, Christ willed that water and blood should flow from his side, and as soon as those waters touched the centurion Longinus, he was immediately converted. At last, when Christ ascended to his Father, his one command to the Apostles was go, teach all nations, and baptize them in the name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit.
Baptism is the beginning of the Christian life. It is our spiritual birthday in a sense! I encourage everyone to look up the date of your baptism if you do not recall it. We should give great thanks to God each year for the gift of our baptism.
PLEASE DO NOT MOVE CHAIRS - In the back of the church are free-standing chairs. It is important that individuals do not move these chairs. When they are frequently moved, dragged, lifted, and repositioned, the joints become weak and we must repair them. It is also a liability issue if someone is injured while moving chairs, which are not light. It is also important that we keep the back wall by the confessional clear for the confession line. It is not permitted to move chairs and reposition them. Thank you for your cooperation.
RESERVED PEWS - You will notice that the pews in the back of each section have new “reserved” signs on them. These signs are there to indicate that these pews are prioritized for parishioners who are disabled, handicapped, or otherwise not able to come up for Communion. After discussions with the Liturgy Commission in the Spring, we wanted to streamline Communion for those parishioners who cannot come forward. This allows for a quicker distribution of Holy Communion. As a reminder, those who need Communion brought to them are asked to sit in these reserved pews, or in the front of the two center sections. This is the ordinary way that we distribute Holy Communion to our handicap parishioners.
VISITING PRIESTS - A number of parishioners have lamented the fact that I regularly celebrate the Spanish Mass on Sundays, but not the morning Masses. Available priests to assist me during my recovery are very difficult to find. Unfortunately, none of the priests that have responded to my requests speak Spanish. Therefore, our visiting priests have been assisting with the English Masses while I attend to the Spanish-speaking parishioners. Thank you for understanding this practical limitation. And please pray for more vocations to the priesthood!
LOW GLUTEN HOSTS – An increasing number of parishioners have been asking about gluten-free hosts. To be clear, the Catholic Church does not use gluten-free hosts because no gluten means that it is not real bread and, therefore, cannot be consecrated for Holy Communion. However, the Church does allow for “low-gluten” hosts for those who have Celiac disease. These hosts have less than 0.01% gluten content. In 2004, a Celiac disease specialist wrote that a patient with Celiac disease would have to consume 270 low-gluten wafers in a day to reach any point of danger or even discomfort. Those who have Celiac disease and would like to receive a low-gluten host for Holy Communion should arrive to Mass 15 minutes early and request from the Mass sacristan to prepare a low-gluten host. Please also introduce yourself to the priest. You will go to him for Holy Communion, so he needs to know who you are in order to give you the low-gluten host, which is kept in a dish separate from the regular hosts.