Sacramental Principle – Divine Perspective Everything is, in principle, capable of embodying and communicating the divine. God is at once everywhere and all powerful. There is no finite instrument that God cannot put to use.
Sacramental Principle – Human Perspective human beings have nothing else apart from finite instruments to express our own response to God's self-communication. the divine reaches us through the finite we reach the divine through the finite. This is the sacramental encounter – for Christians the ultimate sacramental encounter with God is Jesus Christ.
Relationships Primarily God relates at a communal level not a private and individual one Never simply transactions between the divine and this person – clearly that as well – but not primarily or exclusively God touches all of humankind, and the human community as a whole responds to its experience of the divine through a sacramental mode.
Sacramental Definition Widest Sense: – Any finite reality through which the divine is perceived to be disclosed and communicated, and through which our human response to the divine assumes some measure of shape, form and structure.
Ecclesiological events Finite realities – through which God is communicated to the Church and through which the Church responds to God's self- communication. Sacraments are directly ecclesiological in character. – Christ is mediated through the Church. – The Church is the sign and instrument of God’s Reign Christian moral life is Christian existence, i.e., our way of being Church.
Actions of Christ through the Church The Church is “The Sacrament of Universal Salvation” (LG 48) – the fundamental sacrament of God's promise and deliverance of the Kingdom of God in Jesus Christ. The sacraments are acts of God – acts of Christ Immediately acts of the Church
Manifestions of the Church Sacraments are expressions of the nature and mission of the Church. – The sacraments are not simply actions which the Church performs, or means by which the Church makes grace available. They are moments when the Church becomes Church, manifesting itself as Church to itself and to others. Sacraments do not only relate participants to God they also relate them immediately to the Church. – The lasting effect of the sacrament is one of relationship to the Church.
Baptism Baptism allowed Christians to break with their life histories up to that point. The newly baptised felt that their lives were starting all over again. In baptism they surrendered their old identity and discovered a new one in Jesus Christ.
Baptism – a new birth A new self – defined by God A liberation – from everything else but God An immersion into God’s redeeming love So a totally changed person and... A new family of brothers and sisters
New Testament origins Within Judaism there were initiatory rites associated with water. When gentiles became Jews part of the ceremony was a water bath (and circumcision for males) John’s baptism emphasised repentance to prepare for the coming of the Messiah – and he saw it as temporary
Jesus’ baptism By water and the Holy Spirit Mt 3:11 and Lk 3:16
Transition from Judaism to Christianity Pre-paschal baptisms - see Jn 3:22 and 4: 1-4 An apparent rift between disciples of Jesus and those of John Pentecost: the outpouring of the Holy Spirit Acts 2: 1-39
Early initiatory experience Water baptism remained as well as baptism in the Spirit Normal initiation followed a sequence... Gospel proclaimed; conversion; water bath; post-baptismal teaching; fellowship in the Spirit; breaking of bread; prayers Acts 2:42
Early practice of baptism Didache ; Justin’s Apology; Tertullian; Hippolytus d c 236 - Apostolic Tradition – Baptism 3 years preparation; evangelisation, moral formation, sponsorship; gradual inclusion in the liturgical life of the community Ceremony: fasting, prayer, scrutiny, oil of exorcism, profession of faith, water baptism by immersion, imposition of hands, anointing by bishop
Baptismal ceremony Preparation: severe fasting, intense prayer Examination by the Bishop Oil of exorcism, profession of faith, water baptism by immersion, imposition of hands, anointing by Bishop
Theology of Baptism Is a later development in Paul and 1 John and 1 Peter Col 2:12; Eph 2:1-6; Phil 3:10-11 Baptism incorporates us into the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus 1 Cor 12:12-14, 27 And into the Body of Christ
Theology cont Acts 2:38 - a baptism of repentance Acts 8:37 – expresses belief in the Good News Eph 5:26 – baptism purifies Rom 6:11 - we become dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus
And it requires of us Rom 6:12-23 - we must lead a different kind of life, ‘not under law but under grace’ 2 Cor 4:10 - the Christ life is a living out of the Paschal mystery that our baptism celebrates
Council of Trent 1547 - doctrine Baptism is valid whoever administers it Necessary for salvation Imposes obligations to lead a holy life Its grace can be lost though serious sin It can never be repeated – indelible Can be administered to infants and children
Vatican 2 LG – Baptism incorporates us into the Church Orients us to the worship of God Gives us rebirth as sons and daughters of God (LG 11) Is our initiation into the Paschal mystery (n7)
Vatican 2 Calls us to witness as a priestly, apostolic and holy people ( Decree on the Laity n11,2,3) Baptism is a bond of unity and a source of potentially full unity among the divided Christian communities ( Decree on Ecumenism n 22) Reintroduced the Catechumenate - RCIA
Ceremony today Ideally Holy Saturday night Instruction by the celebrant A litany Blessing of the water Renunciation of satan Anointing with the oil of catechumens profession of faith
Ceremony cont Profession of faith Pouring of the water Invocation of the Trinity [name] I baptise you in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit Anointing Clothing with white garment Presentation of lighted candle
Baptism Uses symbols of oil, water, light, white garment Links with the story of the Pasch, Jesus’ life, death and resurrection Engages us in themes of rebirth, new life, forgiveness of sin, worship of God, the mission of the Church
Baptism and the Church Is also about the Church which shows itself as a community, the Body of Christ rather than an institution Identified with the suffering and death of Christ so that it can point the way to Christ’s glory A forgiving community in need of forgiveness “ a holy people”
A sharing in God The glorious goodness of God shines forth in Jesus - “It is through him that God’s greatest and most precious promises have become available to human beings, making it possible for you to escape the inevitable disintegration that lust produces in the world and to share in God’s essential nature” 2 Pet 1:4
Baptism Makes us free to seek God Enables us to become partakers of the divine nature To become fully human To share in the life of God
What is the challenge today? Infant baptism? A meaningful ceremony ?