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The Message
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April 28, 1995     The Message
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April 28, 1995

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The Message --for Catholics of Southwestern Indiana Part two: The Celebration of the Christian Mystery , The Sacraments of Christian Initiation: By DAVID M. THOMAS AND MARY JOYCE CALNAN A Moment from life She sat with her head in her hands. It was a shock. She was thirty-eight! Another baby would be so hard. The baby (that is, the one she thought would be "the baby" was only fifteen months old. That meant that she would be almost sixty when he left home! Now, an- other one! "Oh God," she sighed "this is so hard." She had to get home -- get the baby from the sitter, pick up some meat, and hit the house by about 5:30. "Everybody will be starved!" she thought. "And crabby! And all I want to do is go to my room and go to sleep!" It didn't matter. When she picked up the baby, she found out he'd been crying all after- noon, teething. When she got home she found the girls "making din- ner." The kitchen was a mess. Their father nowhere in sight! "Oh, God I can't do this." She "helped with the rest of dinner, rescuing the eggs and cold toast by warming them in the oven. She gave her "Eat and don't say a word!" stare, just daring anybody to complain about her silence. Knowing something was wrong, he organized the family to clean up, and retreated to the TV. Distracted with her newly discovered pregnancy, she quickly went out the front door for a walk. It was then that it happened. She suddenly real- ized she was walking with her hands supporting her ab- domen. The sacraments provide us some- thing real: God's life in us; what we call "grace." "My God!" she said "there's a baby in here!" "Oh welcome, baby! Wel- come! We'll be fine. I'm so glad you're coming! Forgive my hesitancy I was feeling at first. Life is like this sometimes. But I am so glad you're com- ing." A Connection with be Catechism Life is a precious gift from God. When we welcome life, es- pecially human life, we wel- come its source, its author. We welcome God. Whenever new life enters a family, it is a holy event. Entering a family is similar to those events that the church celebrates that we call the sacraments. Part Two of the Catechism of the Catholic Church, entitled "The Celebration of the Chris- tian Mystery," is based on an appreciation of the rich sacra- mental life of the church. The seven sacraments form the structure of Part Two. The first three sacraments -- bap- tism, confirmation, and Eu- charist -- are called Sacra- ments of Christian Initiation. They establish a path into the very center of church life; and the Eucharist is ongoing nour- ishment for our life of faith. A sacrament is a sign -- bet- ter still a symbol -- a visible event through which we expe- rience a deeper reality: the re- ality of God's presence and power. The sacraments provide us something real: God's life in us; what we call "grace." We were not with Jesus on the dusty roads of Palestine or at the foot of the cross on Cal- vary. But Christ comes into our time and our space through the sacraments -- sa- cred events relating directly to the major human events of Our lives, from birth to death! Welcome to the Church The door to a stranger's house can feel more like a bar- rier than an entrance. We may knock with hesitancy, unsure of what may be on the other side of the door. And if the door is opened, we may still wonder how safe it is on the inside. Finding ourselves inside the mysterious drama that one calls "my life," we can experi- ence similar fears. Is this place safe? Entrance through the door to the life of the church tells us that life is good and we can feel safe. We are wanted and welcome. We enter the life of the church through a ritual called the sacrament of Baptism. The most obvious action used in the celebration of the rite of bap- tism is the use of water. This miraculous substance (which we in this country can easily take for granted because of its abundance here) is the most important life-supporting sub- stance in creation. When tech- nology explores other planets in our solar system, seeking water is a primary mission. Where none is found, there is no life. Christian life is based on Jesus -- on his coming, on his example, on his teaching, on his dying and his rising -- all neces- sary for us to become adopted daughters and sons of God. We are escorted to our new life through the waters of baptism. Living Waters, Living People All the sacraments of the church are communal happen- ings. In baptism, this means we enter a community, a fam- ily of believers who are en- riched by our presence. We, in turn, are aided in our new Christian life by the support of the community. Infants brought to the parish community for baptism are welcomed by the Christian community. But there is more to it than that. Parents are en- trusted with an awesome role that of nurturing their child in the faith. We enter a commu- nity when we are baptized, a family of believers who are enriched by our presence. i Parents and godparents are often invited to participate in the ritual of baptism, as are older sisters and brothers. This is because members of Christian families share not only natural life, but life in Christ too. The more that the family plays a major role in the celebration of the rites of baptism, the more clearly the church symbolizes that we are the People of God and the body of Christ. The baptismal ritual usually begins at the door of the church, with a welcoming -- much like the one you give to someone coming into your home. In a sense, the Christian family is stretching out its arms and smiling, saying, "Come in! We're glad you're here! Come, join us! We are having a special celebration, a party, a fiesta! And you are the guest of honor!" The early church usually per- formed the baptismal rite by plunging, or immersing, the per- son being baptized into the water. The person would then rise from the water, gasping for breath -- as a symbol of being born again, and of rising with Christ to new life. Death to life! The struggle of the pregnant woman in our opening story was a struggle between life and death. Her welcoming of the new life within her came as a ing that--n Life starts all e the time, as ! through stageS! life cycle. First family) there is the family might teenagers. The home sore (again) derly parents to care Often t alone. Change u day we are ence death own lives family come both the new life. lishing, with permission" St. Vincent de Paul to cele On Sunday, May 7, mem- bers of the Society of St. Vin- cent de Paul will meet in Vin- cennes to celebrate the feast of Frederic Ozanani, which is April 30, and the one-hundred- fiftieth anniversary of the founding of the Society in the United States. The organiza- tion has grown from a small beginning at the Old Cathe- dral in St. Louis, Mo., in 1845 to a nation-wide social service agency with over 60,000 mem- bers. Last year alone the soci- ety in the United States pro- vided over $100 million in di- rect aid to the poor. Here in the Diocese of Evansville, which includes Jasper, Washington, Vin- cennes and Evansville, there are over 600 active members who actually make the home visits and help those in need. They also visit nursing homes and the homebound. The soci- ety is also blessed with approx- imately 1400 associate and contributing members who help with their prayers and fi- nancial assistance. All members of the Society and all Daughters of Charity are invited to attend this cele- bration in the Green Audito- rium at Vincennes University, on May 7. Mass will be cele- brated at 9 a.m.' f brunch ($6 main of Charity Brown, who Advisor for Council. She is of the sub the 150th national leve, Sept. 27 --" Oct. biennual should be 904 47591. For further t Lucie cil President, MILLER & MILLER "A family name you can trust" 424-9274 MUSIC DIRECT POSITION OPEN FOR DIRECTOR MUSIC SEND RES00 TO: 608 CHERRY STI00E"I', EV,0000IS1flZJ00' ATTENTION: HELEN BO00I'TCI'00R