Thursday, May 19, 2011

Experiencing Baptism

As we end youth retreats, or any retreats for that matter, we often caution folks that the same exuberance and feelings of exaltation experienced during the retreat, are not going to be around for long, nor will they be affirmed out there. That last part is always the scariest. We have to leave now. But it is the world around us, the place where we live and work, that we are made for, or better, what we are baptized for. We have been entrusted with a mission. "What do I do after I say I believe?"

Once upon a time Catholics were told to pay, pray, and obey. Or at least that seemed like the lifestyle of the Catholic. Father and Sister did everything else. By baptism and confirmation we are gifted by the Holy Spirit and challenged to be active in our faith response. As a baptized community, and men and women therein, we give thanks and praise to the Father in heaven. We are full of care for others and the world around us. We are called to be generous with our gifts and our very selves. We are accountable for our faith and our faith community.

I remember a young lady in my freshman class who was convinced that there should not be rules, guidance, or direction. If everyone would be allowed to do what pleased them everything would be okay. I had asked if it was okay to hit her on the head with a stick, since that is what I wanted to do. Slowly she came to understand that there are some general "dos" and don ts." Relativism pervades much of our culture today. When we accept the gift of salvation we also accept the certainty of a moral code and a conscience.

The Church is itself the recipient of God's gifts in faith, tradition, and scripture. We do not live our faith in a vacuum, but within the community of the Body of Christ. You might notice how as Easter moves along the daily readings become more and more challenging. Like going home after retreat the early Christians realized that it was a lot of work to maintain that Easter joy. We too need to gather together to reflect carefully at the gifts of Baptism, Confirmation, and the Eucharist, and how they work into our lives.

We come out of the baptism experience together and share in the signs of God's reign. Hopefulness and joy certainly ought to be part of our Church experience. "The main thing to know ... What the main thing is."

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