Franciscan Moments @ Saint Miriam: October 22, 2018

 

This past Sunday, we had the honor of baptizing four new Christians into God’s holy Church. I am always overwhelmed at the prospect of doing everything just right because of the importance of the day! We are blessed to be in a parish large enough that we baptize over 60 children and adults annually, and every one of them is accorded the ritual and respect they deserve. After all, we are about to wipe away original sin and make them a part of ‘Christ’s own forever’!

Our Baptism Sunday Mass is something extraordinary to behold! Our liturgy was designed from the ground up and includes singing, a special beginning Introductory Rite, a grand procession, and a ‘baby procession’ after the baptisms! We sing, pray, throw water, anoint with oil, and celebrate with our entire being because this is a miracle day in the life of every parish community, and in the life of God’s church, too!

As I reminded everyone yesterday, the solemn procession from the Bell Tower entry doors into the Sanctuary is a reminder of the baptismal vocation of every Christian, to carry on the mission of Jesus Christ, through His Church, until He returns. Interiorly, this also symbolizes the universal call to holiness for each of us and toward each of us to others. We who are baptized are called into communion with God and with all of God’s created. God comes to dwell within us and we live our lives now in Him. We are invited to become “living monstrances”, enthroning the Lord in our “hearts”, which is, in biblical language, the center of the person. Then we are called to carry Him into the world of our daily lives.

That is why the recent denial of human rights to journalists, reporters, and immigrants, gay and lesbians, as well as the abuse of police officers and those of different race or ethnicity, and the administrations current love affair with hate by considering narrowly defining gender as a biological, immutable condition determined by genitalia at birth, is simply wrong and is deeply abhorrent to me. It also should be to each of us, as Catholics, because IF we believe in the Inherent Dignity of the human person than that dignity is found in all of God’s created, even those we may not agree with, dislike, or perhaps in our greatest weakness, even despise.

A good friend and fellow priest, Father Daniel, wrote to me this week on Facebook asking me to ‘help us to walk in compassionate love with one another, Lord!’ This is my attempt to bring our attention to the fact that inherent dignity and personhood are inescapable from the covenant founded at adoption of Baptism and continues in the manner in which we view and treat others.

As the years have unfolded in my life, and my age has brought the richness of deeper reflection and temperance to my mood and stride, the true beauty and profound symbolism of our Catholic customs continue to capture and invigorate me. There is such richness and beauty in the experience of our liturgy, but none has meaning absent respect for all life. As we march with the Body of Jesus Christ, the Eucharistic Host, enthroned in a “monstrance” or gently encased in our own hands at Communion next Sunday, let us remind ourselves that worship not only occurs in the Church sanctuary, but is intended to spread out into the “city streets” of the entire world in all whom we meet in our journey. In this act of public procession we are reminded that God still loves the world so much that He still sends His Son even to those we abhor.

St. Francis once said, “While you are proclaiming peace with your lips, be careful to have it even more fully in your heart.” 

Do you hold all of God’s children in your heart or do you live a life of superiority and exile which is contrary to the Christ we follow?

 

 

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