This Catholic Journey
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Name: Amber
Location: Reno, Nevada, United States

I am a 34-year-old single mother of three. I am a convert to Catholicism and came into the Church on April 7, 2007. This blog is a collection of thoughts and things I learn in my journey of faith. All comments are welcome!

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

New Creations in Christ

Clay was baptized last Saturday. It was beautiful. It was an emotional moment for me as my first child was brought into the Christian faith, knowing at that moment that the Holy Spirit was descending upon him, washing him clean of all original sin. He was buried with Christ and rising to new life... the heavenly witnesses rejoicing!

I love the Sacrament of Baptism... and I love that it's more than a mere symbol. The misconception is that Catholics think the water is "magical". In reality, we know the water is a symbol of the grace of the Holy Spirit and the means by which the Holy Spirit pours out His grace. It isn't the water itself, but the act of baptism, by which the Holy Spirit causes one to be born again (John 3).

CCC 694 Water. The symbolism of water signifies the Holy Spirit's action in Baptism, since after the invocation of the Holy Spirit it becomes the efficacious sacramental sign of new birth: just as the gestation of our first birth took place in water, so the water of Baptism truly signifies that our birth into the divine life is given to us in the Holy Spirit. As "by one Spirit we were all baptized," so we are also "made to drink of one Spirit." Thus the Spirit is also personally the living water welling up from Christ crucified as its source and welling up in us to eternal life.

All three of my children are now united to the body of Christ through baptism.

Thank you, Holy Spirit, for pouring your grace upon my children.

"For everything must die - to rise again."

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Monday, June 25, 2007

A Very Busy Weekend

Saturday's move went smoothly and we are now living amidst an endless mess of boxes to be unpacked. It's quite an overwhelming task and, once again, this move proved just how big of a pack rat I am. The move took just about six hours and several trips to my new third floor apartment. But before any of that, I had to sign the papers.

When I arrived to sign the papers, I was informed that they were giving me another unit. This news was quite upsetting considering I had verified I'd be moving into that unit before I spent hours on the phone last week, working to have all my utilities switched over at just the right time. I was not too happy about this but what choice did I have? SO, because I refuse to sign papers before I actually SEE the unit, they hand me a key and send me on my way to take a look. I locate the building and climb the stairs to the third floor and when I arrive, I find there is furniture on the balcony... Free furniture? So, I give a little knock because I'm a bit nervous at this point... no response. Put the key in the door, give it a little turn and open it to find a coat hanging on the wall and more furniture! Close the door! Lock the door! Run down the stairs!

I returned to the office and told the girl, "Well, that unit is occupied! What is wrong with the unit I was supposed to move into?" She said, "Well, I don't know but I can't find they key anyway." (I had seen the key sitting on the desk when I came into the office.) I said, "I saw the key sitting right here when first came in." She located the key and freed me to check out the apartment. Everything in the apartment was fine except for some carpet damage that would have to be taken care of but which could be handled after I moved in. SO, I signed the papers for the original apartment and proceeded to move in.

Sunday, the day of the baptism, Clay woke up vomiting... I got all three kids ready anyway and after a lot of rushing around through my maze of boxes and newspaper, Damion, the kids, and I made our way to the church (barf-bags in hand). Clay decided he wasn't up for being baptized the way he was feeling and I definitely couldn't blame him, so I talked to Father Bob about rescheduling when he returned from Lourdes. No problem. Clay missed the whole baptism while he took a snooze in the pew!

But, despite the rough start, I was very pleased because my parents showed up! I'm not sure what got them there but I didn't care. It was wonderful that they came to share this day with the kids and that's all that mattered. My brother-in-law, a former Catholic, also attended. This is just as big as my parents showing up! In addition, Damion's dad came too! We also had a few from my work, some from my RCIA class and some other old friends. I'm truly blessed to know so many wonderful people and to have them share the special event with us. Thank you, also, to all those who were there in prayer!

Christian and Trinity are now baptized! Despite the oil in their hair, I couldn't bring myself to have them shower last night. I love the smell of the chrism oil and wanted it to linger on them today in remembrance.

After the baptism, I decided it was best to get Clay back home and in bed so we weren't able to celebrate properly. Perhaps, after Clay's baptism, we'll celebrate all three!

Until then, I'll be wading through boxes and newspaper...

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Thursday, May 10, 2007

We have a date!

On June 24, 2007 at 5:00 pm, my three children will be baptized in the Catholic Church. We are all excited and I think they sense the significance of the event. My daughter even told my mom the exciting news:

T: Grandma, I'm going to be baptized!
Mom: Oh, yeah?
T: Yeah, and I know what that means! They are going to pour water on my head. Sometimes, if you're a big person, they put your whole body in the water.


Originally, the baptism was scheduled for June 3 but I found out my dad would be in Kenya at that time. I called my dad to ask if I should reschedule, should they choose to attend. He said not to reschedule. I had to reschedule it anyway because, as it turns out, I'll be moving the weekend of June 3. But this let me know that my parents will likely not attend the baptism. This, of course, is what I expected.

My parents show up for EVERYTHING. What will I tell the kids when they don't show up for this?

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Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Preparing For Baptism

I met with the deacon last Sunday about the baptism for the kids. Outside of my children climbing up the walls in the deacon’s office, the meeting went well. He asked about Godparents and I told him I’d have to get back to him. We set a date but I had to leave a message with him to reschedule because I forgot I’ll be out of town that weekend so it looks like it will end up being sometime in June.

We had to attend two classes about baptism. The classes were okay but they didn’t give enough information to the kids about the purpose and importance of baptism. The woman mentioned the use of water and oil. She mentioned some stories in the Bible that symbolize baptism and the kids did some art projects. Not once did she mention original sin and the need to remove it from the soul. Nor did she mention the Holy Spirit’s role in baptism.

No problem, however, because religious education comes first from the home and I have been talking about these things with my children myself. But what about the families who are not telling this to their children? I think it’s important, if they’re going to have a mandatory class prior to baptism, that it actually teaches the kids these very important aspects of the sacrament.

The kids are really excited about being baptized... They keep asking me, "Are we going to be baptized today?" My oldest keeps telling everyone he wants to be "dunked" because "that’s the way Grandpa was baptized". I explained that they don’t do it that way at our parish but he seems insistent. I’ll have to spend a little more time talking with him about this, I think, so he understands it’s just as effective either way.

Please pray for my children as they get closer to this sacrament. Please also pray that my family will be open to attending. My family never misses events for the kids but I fear they may choose not to attend this one and I worry that my children may not understand their absence.

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Monday, February 05, 2007

Confused about the order of things

I added a chat box through Meebo... If you see me online, don't be shy! I appreciate the private messages I've received when I've been off-line as well... I thank those of you who've left messages, for your kind words of encouragement and your much needed prayers!

Based on the fact that I have no record of baptism, that the church I was baptized in no longer exists and the fact that my mom is terribly reluctant, if not unwilling, to sign a piece of paper stating that I was validly baptized, it has been decided that I will be conditionally baptized. What troubles me is that I was told I would not need to attend First Reconciliation prior to the Easter Vigil. And from what I can tell, they expect to conditionally baptize me AT the Easter Vigil Mass. From what I've read, this is contrary to the way it's supposed to be done.

For one, if my first baptism was valid, then I think this conditional baptism will have no effect, which means, I will still have sin on my soul and should not partake in communion until I have gone to reconciliation. (If this takes place at Easter Vigil, I won't have TIME to go to reconciliation beforehand!) I have also read that conditional baptisms are to take place in private. When I talked to my RCIA Director about this, she seemed surprised. She is bringing the following questions to the parish priest:

What are the effects of a conditional baptism if the first baptism WAS valid? (I believe I know the answer but I wanted the RCIA Director to ask since she wasn't sure.)

Does the conditional baptism need to be done in private prior to the Easter Vigil Mass?

Is reconciliation required before (or after) the conditional baptism and prior to receiving First Communion?

Based on what I've read, I should be going to reconciliation BEFORE First Communion. Some say I should receive a conditional absolution. Some say there is no such thing.

I'm a bit confused by everything at this point. I am 99.9% certain that my first baptism was valid and I would not be comfortable NOT going to reconciliation. If I am told something that conflicts with this, I'm going to make an appointment to meet with the parish priest.

It seems the RCIA Director doesn't have a clear understanding of the National Statutes for RCIA. It also seems, according to these statutes that while I'm permitted to go through RCIA, I could actually have been received into the Church at any time since I have lived my life as a Christian and have an understanding of Catholic teaching etc. I have also read that there are certain rites I am not, as a baptized Christian, supposed to be doing in the same way that catechumens are, such as the scrutinies. My RCIA Director talks of these things as if we will all be doing the same thing. I'm not sure, at this point, if I should just go with the flow and follow their directions or what?

At this point, I certainly don't mind waiting until Easter, since I believe the anticipation has been good for my growth, but I don't want to be taking part in the aspects of certain rites that are supposed to be reserved for those who are unbaptized... and actually, I'm not even sure if there ARE any in my class who are not baptized already. I supposed I'm just going to have to talk with the RCIA Director about what I've read... but I have a feeling that anything I say will be trumped.

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Monday, November 27, 2006

Salvation through baptism?

First off, it is the teaching of the Church that those who are not baptized are not automatically damned... This would include those who die for the faith, who are preparing to be baptized or those of other faith traditions, who have a saving faith but do not understand the necessity of baptism:

CCC 1258 The Church has always held the firm conviction that those who suffer death for the sake of the faith without having received Baptism are baptized by their death for and with Christ. This Baptism of blood, like the desire for Baptism, brings about the fruits of Baptism without being a sacrament.

CCC 1259 For catechumens who die before their Baptism, their explicit desire to receive it, together with repentance for their sins, and charity, assures them the salvation that they were not able to receive through the sacrament.

CCC 1260 "Since Christ died for all, and since all men are in fact called to one and the same destiny, which is divine, we must hold that the Holy Spirit offers to all the possibility of being made partakers, in a way known to God, of the Paschal mystery." 62 Every man who is ignorant of the Gospel of Christ and of his Church, but seeks the truth and does the will of God in accordance with his understanding of it, can be saved. It may be supposed that such persons would have desired Baptism explicitly if they had known its necessity.

CCC 1261 As regards children who have died without Baptism, the Church can only entrust them to the mercy of God, as she does in her funeral rites for them. Indeed, the great mercy of God who desires that all men should be saved, and Jesus' tenderness toward children which caused him to say: "Let the children come to me, do not hinder them," 63 allow us to hope that there is a way of salvation for children who have died without Baptism. All the more urgent is the Church's call not to prevent little children coming to Christ through the gift of holy Baptism.

Of course, all of this is a bit pointless if baptismal regeneration is false. So let's take a look at what the Bible says about it and what early Christians thought about it.

Another thing I noticed is that this website only quotes PARTS of paragraphs of the catechism. Doing such makes it much easier to take things out of context... but what I'll do is quote them as it is written on their website and then give a response.

The website quotes the catechism [1257]: "The Lord himself affirms that Baptism is necessary for salvation."

This claim is true. Jesus said in John 3:5, "I tell you the truth, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless he is born of water and the Spirit."

Additional verses show that baptism is not merely a symbol but that it actually does something.

1 Peter 3:21
21 and this water symbolizes baptism that now saves you also—not the removal of dirt from the body but the pledge of a good conscience toward God. It saves you by the resurrection of Jesus Christ,

Acts 2:38
38 Peter replied, "Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.

Acts 22:16
16 And now what are you waiting for? Get up, be baptized and wash your sins away, calling on his name.'

In the verse above, what washes sin away if not baptism?

Romans 6:3-4
3 Or don't you know that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? 4We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life.

This does not sound like it's merely symbolic but that it also raises us from the dead and gives us new life.

Colossians 2:11-12
11 In him you were also circumcised, in the putting off of the sinful nature, not with a circumcision done by the hands of men but with the circumcision done by Christ, 12having been buried with him in baptism and raised with him through your faith in the power of God, who raised him from the dead.

Titus 3:5
5 he saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit,

1 Corinthians 6:11
11 And that is what some of you were. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.

What other "washing" is there other than baptism?

Hebrews 10:22
22 let us draw near to God with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water.

Early Christians also believed in baptismal regeneration. I can quote MANY of them but for the sake of this response, I'll only use a few. Let me know if you want more.

Justin Martyr
"As many as are persuaded and believe that what we [Christians] teach and say is true, and undertake to be able to live accordingly . . . are brought by us where there is water, and are regenerated in the same manner in which we were ourselves regenerated. For, in the name of God, the Father and Lord of the universe, and of our Savior Jesus Christ, and of the Holy Spirit, they then receive the washing with water. For Christ also said, 'Except you be born again, you shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven' [John 3:3]" ( First Apology 61 [A.D. 151]).

"Happy is our sacrament of water, in that, by washing away the sins of our early blindness, we are set free and admitted into eternal life. . . . [But] a viper of the [Gnostic] Cainite heresy, lately conversant in this quarter, has carried away a great number with her most venomous doctrine, making it her first aim to destroy baptism-which is quite in accordance with nature, for vipers and asps . . . themselves generally do live in arid and waterless places. But we, little fishes after the example of our [Great] Fish, Jesus Christ, are born in water, nor have we safety in any other way than by permanently abiding in water. So that most monstrous creature, who had no right to teach even sound doctrine, knew full well how to kill the little fishes-by taking them away from the water!" ( Baptism 1 [A.D. 203]).

"Without baptism, salvation is attainable by none" (ibid., 12).

Cyril of Jerusalem
"If any man does not receive baptism, he does not have salvation. The only exception is the martyrs, who even without water will receive the kingdom.
. . . For the Savior calls martyrdom a baptism, saying, 'Can you drink the cup which I drink and be baptized with the baptism with which I am to be baptized [Mark 10:38]?' Indeed, the martyrs too confess, by being made a spectacle to the world, both to angels and to men [1 Cor. 4:9]" ( Catechetical Lectures 3:10 [A.D. 350]).

In addition, Martin Luther even believed in baptismal regeneration.

In his Large Catechism (1529), Luther writes:

Expressed in the simplest form, the power, the effect, the benefit, the fruit and the purpose of baptism is to save. No one is baptized that he may become a prince, but, as the words declare [of Mark 16:16], that he may be saved. But to be saved, we know very well, is to be delivered from sin, death, and Satan, and to enter Christ's kingdom and live forever with him . . . Through the Word, baptism receives the power to become the washing of regeneration, as St. Paul calls it in Titus 3:5 . . . Faith clings to the water and believes it to be baptism which effects pure salvation and life . . .

When sin and conscience oppress us . . . you may say: It is a fact that I am baptized, but, being baptized, I have the promise that I shall be saved and obtain eternal life for both soul and body . . . Hence, no greater jewel can adorn our body or soul than baptism; for through it perfect holiness and salvation become accessible to us . . .

(From ed. by Augsburg Publishing House, Minneapolis: 1935, sections 223-224,230, pages 162, 165)

The Bible makes this claim all over the place. Why is it that Protestants today deny this? If baptism IS merely a symbol, why would we bother with it at all? And why would Protestants care if it were by immersion or sprinkling like they so often like to debate? I believe that God is very clear on this issue.

Of course, it also must be understood that without the work of the Holy Spirit through baptism, it would have no saving effect. The water itself does not save but the work of the Holy Spirit in the act of baptism, which we do in obedience to our Lord, cleanses us of sin and makes us new in Christ. With this, it cannot be forgotten that without the shedding of Christ's blood on the cross, we would not be saved at all. God's grace is given to us through baptism because of Christ's work on the cross.


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