This weekend we bring the Christmas season to a close with the Feast of the Baptism of the Lord. While many of us remember when Epiphany marked the end of this season, the Church – since just after Vatican II – has extended her celebration of Christmas to today’s Feast of the Baptism of the Lord. Ending the Christmas Season with this celebration reminds us that the same Jesus Who was born as a Child in the manger chose to be baptized and to make baptism one of His holy sacraments.
That Jesus made Baptism one of the seven sacraments speaks to its importance. Indeed, the Church has always held that Baptism, received sacramentally, or by blood or desire, is necessary for salvation. As Jesus said: “unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot see the Kingdom of God.” (John 3:5)
This is why Catholic families have their children Baptized as soon as possible. It’s also why most parishes, including our own, have a Baptismal Preparation program to help parents appreciate the wonderful blessing that Baptism is, and the responsibilities that come with having a child Baptized. It’s also why we run an RCIA program for unbaptized adults who wish to receive this wonderful sacrament.
As a priest, I truly love celebrating the Sacrament of Baptism. It is such a pleasure to confer this sacrament – on children and adults. The Truth that Jesus cleanses them from sin, fills their souls with His Grace, and unites them to His spiritual family in Baptism makes it a truly awesome occasion.
If you – or a family you know – has children who need to be Baptized, please direct them to our parish office or one of our priests. We would be happy to help them prepare for and celebrate this wonderful sacrament. The same goes for unbaptized adults. Helping someone be Baptized is one of the best ways you can fulfill Jesus’ command to spread the Gospel.
Since I had to write the articles for the past few weeks early due to bulletin deadlines, I have not yet been able to tell you much about my Christmas. On Christmas Day I went, as planned, to my sister Christine’s home and had a wonderful time. I saw my other sister, Natalie, on the Thursday after Christmas. My mother was with us on both occasions, which was great.
I also fully enjoyed celebrating Christmas Mass with so many of you – especially at Midnight Mass. Thanks to everyone who came out to celebrate Jesus’ birth at Holy Mass this Christmas. I know that some people still cannot join us – and want to assure all of you that I held you in my prayers at my Christmas Masses.
Please know that our parish has been asked to host Forty Hours Devotions later this month. As many of you know, this devotion entails having adoration of the Most Blessed Sacrament for 40 consecutive hours. We will do this from January 23 – 25. Please watch the bulletin for further details. We will need a lot of people willing to spend an hour or so with our Lord in prayer during that time, something I am sure we can do!
Please remember to pray a Hail Mary for me each day, and trust that I pray for you daily. Let’s also pray for the sick and all those in need as this New Year unfolds.
Have a great week!