The Baptism of Christ

The Baptism of Christ
Ottavio Vannini, c. 1640
The Baptism of Christ Ottavio Vannini, c. 1640

From a Sermon by Saint Gregory of Nazianzus, bishop
The baptism of Christ
Christ is bathed in light; let us also be bathed in light. Christ is baptized; let us also go down with him, and rise with him.
John is baptizing when Jesus draws near. Perhaps he comes to sanctify his baptizer; certainly he comes to bury sinful humanity in the waters. He comes to sanctify the Jordan for our sake and in readiness for us; he who is spirit and flesh comes to begin a new creation through the Spirit and water.
The Baptist protests; Jesus insists. Then John says: I ought to be baptized by you. He is the lamp in the presence of the sun, the voice in the presence of the Word, the friend in the presence of the Bridegroom, the greatest of all born of woman in the presence of the firstborn of all creation, the one who leapt in his mother’s womb in the presence of him who was adored in the womb, the forerunner and future forerunner in the presence of him who has already come and is to come again. I ought to be baptized by you: we should also add, “and for you,” for John is to be baptized in blood, washed clean like Peter, not only by the washing of his feet.
Jesus rises from the waters; the world rises with him. The heavens like Paradise with its flaming sword, closed by Adam for himself and his descendants, are rent open. The Spirit comes to him as to an equal, bearing witness to his Godhead. A voice bears witness to him from heaven, his place of origin. The Spirit descends in bodily form like the dove that so long ago announced the ending of the flood and so gives honor to the body that is one with God.
Today let us do honor to Christ’s baptism and celebrate this feast in holiness. Be cleansed entirely and continue to be cleansed. Nothing gives such pleasure to God as the conversion and salvation of men, for whom his every word and every revelation exist. He wants you to become a living force for all mankind, lights shining in the world. You are to be radiant lights as you stand beside Christ, the great light, bathed in the glory of him who is the light of heaven. You are to enjoy more and more the pure and dazzling light of the Trinity, as now you have received – though not in its fullness – a ray of its splendor, proceeding from the one God, in Christ Jesus our Lord, to whom be glory and power for ever and ever. Amen.

Via divine office.org

IN BAPTISM

The flood waters of heaven
Pour over me.
Your Death holds me fast,
Drawing body and soul,
Down in Your Dying.

Flood gates open,
And yet, the sea parts.
By Your Spirit I pass over.
The soul that gives life to my body,
Now rises,
Your Spirit, giving Life to my soul.

More than a corpse
Raised from the dead,
I rise a priest, a prophet and a king,
Betrothed and free to be
What You would make of me.

copyright 2015 Joann Nelander

Why do Catholics baptize babies? – jonsorensen.net.

Why do Catholics baptize babies? – jonsorensen.net.

“I have heard some of my non-Catholic Christian friends say that they believe people should only be baptized into the Christian faith at the “age of reason,” when they are old enough to understand what is being done. Obviously, infants have no clue what is going on when they are being baptized, and for this reason, infant baptism makes no sense to them. So if babies don’t get what’s going on, then why do we bother?

In Colossians 2, St. Paul explains that baptism is the “circumcision of Christ.”

“and in Him you were also circumcised with a circumcision made without hands, in the removal of the body of the flesh by the circumcision of Christ; having been buried with Him in baptism, in which you were also raised up with Him through faith in the working of God, who raised Him from the dead.” -Col 2:11-12

What do we know from Scripture about circumcision? Let’s look at the deal God made with Abraham in the Old Testament:

“God said further to Abraham, “Now as for you, you shall keep My covenant, you and your descendants after you throughout their generations. This is My covenant, which you shall keep, between Me and you and your descendants after you: every male among you shall be circumcised. And you shall be circumcised in the flesh of your foreskin, and it shall be the sign of the covenant between Me and you. And every male among you who is eight days old shall be circumcised throughout your generations” -Gen 17:9-12

We know from the Bible that baptism is the first step in attaining salvation  (Titus 3:5, 1 Pet 3:21), and that it is the “circumcision of Christ.” Notice in Genesis 17 that circumcision of the 8-day-old babies is a sign of the covenant between God and Abraham, rather than each individual circumcision being only a sign between the circumcised and God.

Denying baptism to an infant is depriving them of this grace. It was Jesus who said “Let the children come to me, do not hinder them, for to such belongs the Kingdom of God.” (Mark 10:14)

This outward sign of grace is important for the parents and godparents also. The Catechism explains it this way:

“For the grace of Baptism to unfold, the parents’ help is important. So too is the role of the godfather and godmother, who must be firm believers, able and ready to help the newly baptized – child or adult on the road of Christian life. Their task is a truly ecclesial function (officium).” -CCC #1255

Much like the act of circumcision of male descendants being a sign of the covenant (binding agreement) between God and Abraham, so then infant baptism is also a sign of the covenant between God and the parents who have been entrusted with raising their children in the faith.

via Why do Catholics baptize babies? – jonsorensen.net.

Sing Your Song

 

Sing your baptism
You have been given the song
The Wind of the Spirit will fill your lungs
But the notes are yours to form.

Copyright 2013 Joann Nelander

Forever in Your Love

You are the sun
At the center of the Cross.
I have polluted the waters of my baptism,
And come again
To the foot of Your Cross.

As my prayer rises
From the dust of my fall,
Into the heaven,
Which is with You,
Stretch out Your arms eternally,
To embrace me yet again,

Bring me to Your Heart,
At the crossing
Of heaven and earth
To be transformed
By You,
And in You,
And through You,
Becoming new man,
A holy man.

Silenced for three days on earth,
That heart of Yours,
Beating now eternally,
Lives in me,
Who will live now
Forever in Your love.

© 2013 Joann Nelander
All rights reserved

The Lord’s Command to Baptize

From the treatise On the Trinity by Saint Hilary, bishop

The Father’s gift in Christ

Our Lord commanded us to baptize in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. In baptism, then, we profess faith in the Creator, in the only-begotten Son and in the gift which is the Spirit. There is one Creator of all things, for in God there is one Father from whom all things have their being. And there is one only-begotten Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom all things exist. And there is one Spirit, the gift who is in all. So all follow their due order, according to the proper operation of each: one power, which brings all things into being, one Son, through whom all things come to be, and one gift of perfect hope. Nothing is wanting to this flawless union: in Father, Son and Holy Spirit, there is infinity of endless being, perfect reflection of the divine image, and mutual enjoyment of the gift.

Our Lord has described the purpose of the Spirit’s presence in us. Let us listen to his words: I have yet many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. It is to your advantage that I go away; if I go, I will send you the Advocate. And also: I will ask the Father and he will give you another Counselor to be with you for ever, the Spirit of truth. He will guide you into all the truth; for he will not speak on his own authority, but whatever he hears he will speak, and he will declare to you the things that are to come. He will glorify me, for he will take what is mine.

From among many of our Lord’s sayings, these have been chosen to guide our understanding, for they reveal to us the intention of the giver, the nature of the gift and the condition for its reception. Since our weak minds cannot comprehend the Father or the Son, we have been given the Holy Spirit as our intermediary and advocate, to shed light on that hard doctrine of our faith, the incarnation of God.

We receive the Spirit of truth so that we can know the things of God. In order to grasp this, consider how useless the faculties of the human body would become if they were denied their exercise. Our eyes cannot fulfill their task without light, either natural or artificial; our ears cannot react without sound vibrations, and in the absence of any odor our nostrils are ignorant of their function. Not that these senses would lose their own nature if they were not used; rather, they demand objects of experience in order to function. It is the same with the human soul. Unless it absorbs the gift of the Spirit through faith, the mind has the ability to know God but lacks the light necessary for that knowledge.

This unique gift which is in Christ is offered in its fullness to everyone. It is everywhere available, but it is given to each man in proportion to his readiness to receive it. Its presence is the fuller, the greater a man’s desire to be worthy of it. This gift will remain with us until the end of the world, and will be our comfort in the time of waiting. By the favors it bestows, it is the pledge of our hope for the future, the light of our minds, and the splendor that irradiates our understanding.

You are God

You are God
Wholly Other,
Yet Your humanity
Embraces me
By sacrament.

You are the Head,
The Church, Your Mystical Body,
And in it
I wash my robes,
To take on
The Infant Life of Christ,
Wholly dependent,
Yet gifted
With abundant blessing.

You are God,
Wholly Other,
My Father receives me,
Clothed in the living Flesh
Of the beloved Son.

Copyright 2012 Joann Nelander
All rights reserved

Bath Waters

Heavenly Mother,
It is told,
You allowed a leper babe,
To be washed in your Baby’s bath,
And, immediately, the infant was healed,
His skin, supple and pink,
By an act of God,
A miraculous gift.

Plunge those forgotten in life,
Into that water of refreshment,
In which, to remove the dust of the world,
You bathed your Babe.

It is God, Who hears,
The cry of the poor.
God, Who, is not far off.
He sent His Christ,
To enter that sea,
The Jordan of Man’s Sin.

One day, it’s waters
Would wash the multitudes,
And it’s streams
Flow over the Ages.

God, indeed, hears
The cry of the poor,
As He heard the wail
Of the leper babe.

“This is my beloved Son.”,
He announces in loving unity,
As an open invitation for us to enter in,
And lay our claim in holy hope.

Mother, do for the disabled,
What they cannot
Do for themselves.
Meet us in our leprosy,
And, bathing us, say
With the Father,
“This is my son,
In whom I am well pleased.”

© 2012 Joann Nelander
All rights reserved

Mother of Our Re-Creation – the New Eve

John the Baptist baptizing Christ

Image via Wikipedia

Mother of our re-creation, Chosen One,
Queen Mother of Our Savior and Salvation,
Through You The Father has restored
Life and beauty to Creation.

The poison of Adam’s Fall
Has now an antidote and more.
Your humility lifts Eve to her feet,
And sets her wailing heart at peace,
For her children have a Remedy.

The punishment of Death decreed,
Which we suffer in this life,
And at its end,
Because of Father Adam’s Sin,
That Death is now a Door.

God made us like Himself,
So we, too, have a choice.
We may enter the waters of Baptism
As Christ entered the waters of Mary’s womb,
Clothing Himself in human form,
And the waters of the Jordan,
Preparing a way for our resurrection.

Jesus despised not our wretchedness,
But invested Himself in our plight,
By taking flesh as a mantle,
Worn into battle for the fight.

At the beginning of His earthly life,
Jesus entered the water of humanity
In the womb of Mary.
At the beginning of His earthly ministry,
Christ’s purifying presence
Entered the Sea of Man and Sin
In the waters of the Jordan.

Jesus, Son of Mary, the New Eve,
Blessed the Jordan waters.
By entering our pollution,
The Sinless Savior made it a symbol
Of the endless stream,
That washes sin away
And joins us to Himself.

Christ has offered us
His Life and Resurrection
In bidding us, ‘Come to the Water.’
This Water is for all the Children of Eve
Both womb, and tomb.

All Creation rejoices at our Restoration.
In Baptism’s holy bath,
We are saved and re-created,
The First Fruit of the glory
Of the Virgin’s First Born Son,

Our new Mother receives us from our dying
As she did the Body of her Son at the Cross.
Mother Mary is rewarded for her sorrow
And crowned for her hope.

By Joann Nelander

This Day For God

John the Baptist baptizing Christ

Image via Wikipedia

Father, I thank you for this day, this holy day.

As I rise from sleep, may my soul arise, leaving sin to seek Your face.

As I wash in preparation for new day, I recall my Baptism

and the cleansing River of Life that flowed from the side of my Redeemer.

As I clothe my body, I remember the dignity of Christ and the Name by which He calls me.

I am clothed in the robes of a priest to sacrifice with Jesus in my day.

The words of a prophet live on my lips ready to give an account of my hope and joy.

The Kings of Kings proclaims me a king,

and by the power of His throne in heaven,

He rules in my life

and the lives my life touches through all generations.

Through my prayer of faith, covered in humility as the Blood of Christ, angels minister to the people of God,

bringing peace, protection, strength and provision

as I proclaim my “Amen” to His Will and His prayer “Father, forgive them.”

Go before me,Lord. Walk with me, Lord. Be my rearguard, Precious Savior, Warrior King!

You, Who live in me,  suffer in my flesh that which is to be in this hour on Your Cross.

You are “more than a conqueror” as You bring about Your kingdom in this day.

O Love sublime, my life is Thine.

 

By Joann Nelander

The River Whose Streams Gladden the City of God

Holy Spirit,

Image by kelsey_lovefusionphoto via Flickr

From a sermon On Pastors by Saint Augustine, bishop:

The river of God is brimming with water. You have provided their food, for this is your way of preparing them. There can be no doubt about the river referred to, for the prophet says: There is a river whose streams gladden the city of God; and in the gospel the Lord himself says: Streams of living water welling up to eternal life will flow from the heart of anyone who drinks the water I shall give him. He was speaking of the Holy Spirit, whom those who believed in him were to receive. The river of God is brimming with water; that is to say, we are inundated by the gifts of the Holy Spirit and from that fountain of life the river of God pours into us in full flood.

We also have food prepared for us. And who is this food? It is he in whom we are prepared for life with God, for by receiving his holy body we receive a place in the communion of his holy body. This is what is meant by the words of the psalm: You have provided their food, for this is your way of preparing them. For as well as refreshing us now, that food also prepares us for the life to come.

We who have been reborn through the sacrament of baptism experience intense joy when we feel within us the first stirrings of the Holy Spirit. We begin to have an insight into the mysteries of faith, we are able to prophesy and to speak with wisdom. We become steadfast in hope and receive the gift of healing. Demons are made subject to our authority. These gifts enter us like a gentle rain, and once having done so, little by little, they bring forth fruit in abundance.

The Spirit Gives Life

From the book On the Holy Spirit by Saint Basil the Great, bishop

The Spirit Gives Life

Our Lord made a covenant with us through baptism in order to give us eternal life. There is in baptism an image both of death and of life, the water being the symbol of death, the Spirit giving the pledge of life. The association of water and the Spirit is explained by the twofold purpose for which baptism was instituted, namely, to destroy the sin in us so that it could never again give birth to death, and to enable us to live by the Spirit and so win the reward of holiness. The water into which the body enters as into a tomb symbolizes death; the Spirit instills into us his life-giving power, awakening our souls from the death of sin to the life that they had in the beginning. This then is what it means to be born again of water and the Spirit: we die in the water, and we come to life again through the Spirit.

To signify this death and to enlighten the baptized by transmitting to them knowledge of God, the great sacrament of baptism is administered by means of a triple immersion and the invocation of each of the three divine Persons. Whatever grace there is in the water comes not from its own nature but from the presence of the Spirit, since baptism is not a cleansing of the body, but a pledge made to God from a clear conscience.

As a preparation for our life after the resurrection, our Lord tells us in the gospel how we should live here and now. He teaches us to be peaceable, long-suffering, undefiled by desire for pleasure, and detached from worldly wealth. In this way we can achieve, by our own free choice, the kind of life that will be natural in the world to come.

Through the Holy Spirit we are restored to paradise, we ascend to the kingdom of heaven, and we are reinstated as adopted sons. Thanks to the Spirit we obtain the right to call God our Father, we become sharers in the grace of Christ, we are called children of light, blessing is showered upon us, both in this world and in the world to come. As we contemplate them even now, like a reflection in a mirror, it is as though we already possessed the good things our faith tells us that we shall one day enjoy. If this is the pledge, what will the perfection be? If these are the firstfruits, what will the full harvest be?