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Trust in the Lord: the Stages

trustTrust is an incredibly loaded word. It is an integral aspect of our daily physical and spiritual and emotional lives, and as Catholics, we are expected to live our lives according to some aspect of trust. According to Merriam Webster’s Dictionary, trust is “the assured reliance on the character, ability, strength, or truth of someone or something and one in whom confidence is placed.” This reliance is crucial to our spiritual well-being, because without trust in God, our lives are edgy, depressed, and angry. In my view, there are three stages of trust: trust in our parents, trust in ourselves, and trust in God. As parents, we teach our children to trust us. At some point, we must trust ourselves, which is then connected to the ultimate trust in God, which reverts to our trust in our parents. It is quite a remarkable cycle but one we struggle with, nonetheless.

Babies cry for their needs of food and comfort. When a baby cries, the parent immediately tends to his needs. The baby learns to trust that when he or she needs something, the parent will be there with food, a clean diaper, or simply affection. What a parent teaches his child is what the child knows and trusts. My seven year old daughter often prefaces her statements with, “Mama says…” She trusts what I say and what I show her how to do. She relies on me and has faith that I will remain true to her and her needs. I have to model what I want her to believe. She trusts me, so I share my trust in God and my faithfulness to the Sacraments and my moral behavior on a consistent basis, unrelentingly, because I know she is watching.

mom aAn adolescent seems to trust no one, however, really does revert to the child stage in which he trusts his parents. The trick is that we parents have to allow them to trust themselves and the lessons we have taught them. This self-trust is crucial to an individual’s development and the hardest step we have to take as parents. In my experience with my teenaged students, as well as with my teenaged sons, I have discovered that adolescents want rationale and reasoning– those things that go hand in hand with the free will God has bestowed upon us. Adults must allow adolescents to deduce and trust themselves and their own reasoning. We must, and this is crucial, teach them to pray for themselves as well. Asking God for grace and the guidance of the Holy Spirit, modeling what they witness as children, and the reasoning we provide for them as adults, enable young people to trust themselves and their own God-given innate morality and conscience.

“To trust children we must first learn to trust ourselves…and most of us were taught as children that we could not be trusted” (John Holt).

We parents have to trust our children too, because in that, we model that we have trusted ourselves to have instilled the correct values according to God’s Word. We also then teach them to be trustworthy, an important virtue to possess. They will mess up; we all do, and that is okay. God calls us to be faithful, not perfect. We have to able to teach and expect our children to be faithful and faith-filled. That is our job.

thy willProbably the longest and most arduous stage in trust is moving away from merely trusting ourselves to steadfastly trusting in God. We constantly want our own way, but that is not what will bring us to happiness and peace. Following God’s Will for ourselves is what brings contentment and satisfaction. We have to become like a child again, leaning on our parents for guidance. We have to trust God as our father, just like we trusted our own parents: “Mama says…” I need to say to myself, several times a day, “God says…” Not only that, but God has proven to us that He is to be trusted; He sacrificed His own SON, and that son modeled trust in His father in the same way, when He said, “…yet not my will, but yours be done” (Luke 22:42). Just like the adolescent, we have to pray for grace and trust that the Holy Spirit will speak to us. We also have to not chastise ourselves too vehemently when we make mistakes, because we will make mistakes– and often. That is why we trust in the Sacraments, which are God’s outward signs that He is with us. Reconciliation and the Eucharist, in particular, remind us of the trust we have in our heavenly Father and more proof of His love and trust in us.

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight” (Proverbs 35-6).

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7 Quick Takes Catechism Doctrine Faith Formation Holy Days of Obligation Ink Slingers Kerri Mass Resources Sacraments Sacred Scripture

7 Quick Takes Friday, No. 18: Catholic Catechesis

Let’s have a little catechtical fun for this installment of 7 Quick Takes!! I asked the other ink slingers to help me identify 7 things that all Catholics should know and I got some great responses. I also know that this list could be much longer than 7, so feel free to add to the list in the comments. One thing we are focusing on with this list is that it is for Catholics. It is not for Protestants who have questions regarding why we believe something or why we do the things we do. In many ways, this should be a review for all of us of basic Catholic beliefs or a way to learn a bit more about the beliefs we take for granted or haven’t given much thought to.

So, here are 7 things we have identified as things that all Catholics should know, with appropriate references and links to further reading. Enjoy!!

–1–

Without a doubt, Catholics should know Jesus. He is our Lord and Savior, the second person of the Trinity, sent to earth by God the Father to redeem all of mankind. We need to have a relationship with Jesus. I was recently at a lecture given by a wonderful priest. He said something that really stuck with me. He said that just to know who Christ is on an intellectual level and what the teachings of the Church are is not enough. If it were, Heaven would be full of lots of very smart people. What we need is a relationship with Jesus, really get to know Him, spend time with Him, talk to Him, and listen to Him. How do we do this?

Spend time in Adoration. See the Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC) paragraph 2628. Also check out this page from the USCCB on Adoration with many additional links. And check out this great explanation from EWTN on perpetual adoration.

Read Scripture. St. Jerome is quoted as saying: “Ignorance of Scripture is ignorance of Christ.” There’s not much I can add to that.

Its also important here to remind us all that Jesus Christ is both fully man and fully divine. He has both a Divine Nature and a Human Nature. Read more about Jesus as true God and true man in CCC 464-469.

–2–

Every Catholic should know that the Eucharist (the consecrated bread and wine) is the Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity of Jesus. It is not merely symbolic of the Last Supper, it is truly Jesus’ body and blood. Under the two species of the Eucharist, the bread and the wine, Jesus is fully present. For this reason, you can receive Jesus in the Eucharist under either species or both depending on what is available to you. You can also choose to receive under just one and not the other.

For more in depth reading, check out CCC 1333 as well as many of the paragraphs following. Also just look up “Eucharist” in the index and follow the references, there are LOTS of places it is discussed.

Check out this Catholic Answers tract for more on what the early Church Fathers said about the Real Presence.

And do you know the term transubstantiation? You should. For a quick definition check out this link. For a much fuller explanation, NewAdvent.org has a great page devoted to the Real Presence including a section on transubstantiation.

–3–

Yes, we must know Jesus, but we must also know God. God as one God in three Divine persons: Father, Son and Holy Spirit. God as Father and Creator of all. Without God there is nothing. Again, the Catechism is a great source for understanding more about God and the Trinity. Belief in the Trinity is what defines us as Christians.

Start learning more about God at CCC 1 and go from there. Seriously, paragraph 1. Another place to read is CCC 238-240.

The One True God (Catholic Answers tract)

New Advent has this list of articles all devoted to God. Go check them out.

–4–

As Catholics, we believe that the Church of Christ is the Catholic Church. Jesus established the Church as His bride with Himself as the bridegroom. We proclaim this every time we profess the Creed at Mass: I believe in one, holy, catholic, and apostolic Church.

You can start at CCC 748 for the section entitled “I Believe in the Holy Catholic Church.” For more specific paragraphs: CCC 796 explains the unity of Christ and the Church, CCC 830 begins the section “The Church is Catholic,” and CCC 857-865 explains the apostolic nature of the Church.

–5–

Can you name all seven of the sacraments? Do you know what makes them sacraments? Do you know what it means that something is a sacrament? If you’re like me, you know it but can’t articulate it. Here’s the quick definition for you:

A sacrament is an outward, visible sign instituted by Jesus Christ that gives the grace it signifies. (see CCC 1084)

This link from AmericanCatholic.org provides a good summary of the sacraments as well as a bit on each individual sacrament.

This article by Peter Kreeft appeared just recently on Integrated Catholic Life. It’s a good explanation on why we need the sacraments.

–6–

As Catholics we are obligated to attend Mass every Sunday and every Holy Day of Obligation. This is the first precept of the Church. See CCC 2042.

See here for a list of Holy Days of Obligation in the United States.

–7–

Did you know that the phrase “Roman Catholic” was originally used by Protestants as a pejorative phrase? Catholics in the west, where Protestantism flourished, eventually adopted it for themselves. As a result, we often equate “Roman Catholic” with what is really considered “Latin Catholic” since most western Catholics are part of the Latin Rite of the Church. Really, “Roman” would refer to any group of Catholics that is in communion with the Pope, the Bishop of Rome. There are many different rites in the Catholic Church. Who says the Church isn’t diverse!? No way! We are incredibly diverse. EWTNs website contains this great explanation of what a Catholic Rite is, what makes a community a church, and a brief explanation of each of the individual rites.

Also, while I don’t normally use this particular website as a resource, I do like that in this case there are links out to the various Catholic Rites in the list. So check out this article to learn more about the various Catholic rites.

As Latin Rite Catholics, we may be the largest group of Catholics, but we are by no means the only Catholics around. I assume we have plenty of blog readers who are members of other rites in the Church (say hi and let us know in the comments). In many ways, we need to choose our words carefully when it comes to identifying ourselves with our particular rite. Otherwise, were all just simply Catholics.

I hope this Quick Takes installment was interesting and informative, or at least a review. We’d love to see what else you would add to this list. (I know there could be many, many more!!) While you think about it, don’t forget to also go visit Jen at Conversion Diary to check out many more Quick Takes posts from around the blogosphere.

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Domestic Church Faith Formation Ink Slingers Michelle Parenting Spiritual Growth Vocations

God, Our Father

There is nothing more terrifying than realizing your child is missing.  You go to look and he’s gone.  You look high and low and that panic starts to set in.   You call; you search; you try to hold back the tears.  Still, he’s nowhere in sight.  You begin to pray, “Please Lord, please let him be ok! Please let me find him.  Please, I will never forgive myself if something has happened to him! He’s so little Lord!”

As much as there is no greater fear when we lose that child, there is no greater joy than when we find him!  We hold him close and thank God that he is ok and that he is safe in our arms.  When we are finally settled we allow ourselves to think of the things that “could” have happened and we pray a prayer of thanksgiving that none of them did.

It took 20 years of parenting before I experienced having a child go “missing”.  The problem was we didn’t know he was “missing” at all!  We thought he was safe inside with his siblings watching him.  I was in the bedroom cleaning when the doorbell rang and our neighbor informed us that Jake, just barely walking, had made his way outside and was playing with the lawn mower.  My heart beat wildly as I went out to get him.  Not only was he playing with the lawn mower but he had toddled past a very full kids’ pool that was sitting on our driveway.  I picked him up and hugged him close.  I thanked my neighbor and told him it was the first time I had ever “lost” one of my kids.  He said, “Oh! It’s ok.  It happens!”  I sighed, close to crying and told him, “No, it’s not ok.  So many things could have happened to him.”  My heart was so happy he was ok but my mind was racing thinking of all the things that could have happened to a little one outside alone.

I often wonder if that is how God feels about us.  While we are prepared for much of the “adult” world… working, paying bills, grocery shopping, getting kids to where they need to be, et cetera, most of us are still just young children, barely toddling, in the ways of the spiritual world.  Does God panic like I did thinking of all the things that could happen to us while we make our way through this big world if we aren’t firmly holding His hand?

When we strike out on our own, without God holding our hand, we are like my toddler Jake.  We are exposed to dangers that, without proper guidance, could seriously hurt us… physically and more importantly, spiritually.  God, the ever present parent, doesn’t want that for us.  He wants us to turn to Him for guidance.  He wants to protect us.  He feels like we do with our own children.  He hurts when we hurt.  He worries over us and He only wants what is good for us.

Just as our children eventually grow and learn, we do as well.  God allows us to both succeed and fail so that we grow in mind and spirit.  He knows that success and failure, good times and bad, will help form us into the people He hopes we become.   How we use the experiences can benefit us tremendously.  However, if we are trying on our own we may not incorporate those lessons into our lives the way we should.  We need guidance.  We need a hand to hold.  We need God.

God provides us His hand in various ways. He gives us Himself through the Scriptures, through the Church, through prayer, and most importantly in Holy Eucharist at Mass. But He is a wise father who knows we often need someone present that we touch, can call on the phone, or physically hold our hand.  Many times He presents us with holy men and women in our lives to help guide us as well.  It may be a devout priest, a wise spiritual director, or a friend who lives his/her life in a way that magnifies the Lord in all they do. He knows that we, like our toddlers, need a lot of instruction to stay on the safe path in this dangerous world.

God is such an amazing father.  He is with us from the very beginning, holding our hands, guiding and protecting.  Sometimes we squirm from His protection and face the dangerous world alone.  I have no doubt that when we return God’s heart is so full of love and relief that all He can do is hug us close and cry over our safe return.   We have a perfect role model for our own parenting.  When our children wander from us, when we feel they are lost, when they are facing the world alone we only have to look at our own Father and know that He has faced the same fears that we face.  He knows the worry, the distress, and the fear but He also knows the relief and the joy when we return to Him.

Thank you God for your ever-loving presence in our lives.  Thank you for being a Father who loves us no matter what.  Thank You for Your guidance.  Thank You for welcoming us back into Your arms when we wander from their safety and protection.  Keep us close to You always.

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Alessandra Apologetics Catechism Doctrine Faith Formation Prayer Sacred Scripture

Catholicism 101: The Unity and Trinity of God

We bless ourselves daily, “in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost.”  These words came from the twentieth chapter of the Gospel of Matthew, verse nineteen (Matthew 29:19).  This is what is called the Unity and Trinity of God.

 

The image below (black & white) helps us to get some idea of the Blessed Trinity.  I placed a ring around the triangle in this picture to show that the Trinity, perfectly made, does not have a beginning or an end; just like a ring is a symbol of unity.  {A similar union is found in Holy Matrimony between husband, wife, and God.  Those of you married, every time you look at your wedding ring, think of that!}  God told us that in Himself there are three distinct (really different) Persons; the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost.  Each one is God almighty.  This is why we call each of them Divine.  Yet they are not three Gods.  None is older, nor greater than the other.  The three Divine Persons are one and the same God.  To our little minds this truth is a mystery (a truth we cannot fully understand).  There are many natural mysteries about things we can naturally know, such as electricity, radio, and magnetism.  But since God revealed the knowledge of the Blessed Trinity to us, we call it a supernatural mystery.  The three Persons of God are equal to the other as they have the exact same perfections or qualities, as knowledge, goodness and beauty as the other.  They are three in one.

I would like you to think of an apple, one apple has three parts:  the core where the seeds are found, the meat which we eat for nourishment, and the peal which protects the apple’s “meat”.  The core is the God the Spirit, Holy Ghost which plants seeds in our hearts, minds, and souls daily.  The meat is God the Son, Jesus Christ, most especially in the Holy Eucharist who feeds our souls and gives us nourishment.  The peal is God the Father, who protects us and watches over us daily.  (this little analogy can be found in a children’s book about the Holy Trinity called “3 in 1” by author, Joanne Marxhausen.

We cannot talk about the Trinity and end this post without discussing a saint known for his love for the Blessed Trinity, Saint Patrick whose feast we celebrate on the 17th of March (a day when everyone suddenly becomes Irish, even non-Catholics).  Though Scottish by birth (gasp!), the Lord called Patrick to bring the Gospel of Christ to the people of Ireland.  He did this and became a Bishop around the year 433 AD.  Here he explained to the Irish people, particularly the unbelievers, in very simple terms, what the Blessed Trinity was all about by using a shamrock.  Patrick would hold up a shamrock and challenge them by asking, “Is it one leaf or three?” “It is both one leaf and three,” was their reply.   So he would conclude, “and so it is with God!”  One shamrock leaf, with three parts…a simple concept again, three in one.  Here is an excerpt from his book, entitled Confessions regarding the Trinity:

“For there is no other God, nor ever was before, nor shall be hereafter, but God the Father, unbegotten and without beginning, in whom all things began, whose are all things, as we have been taught; and his son Jesus Christ, who manifestly always existed with the Father, before the beginning of time in the spirit with the Father, indescribably begotten before all things, and all things visible and invisible were made by him. He was made man, conquered death and was received into Heaven, to the Father who gave him all power over every name in Heaven and on Earth and in Hell, so that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord and God, in whom we believe. And we look to his imminent coming again, the judge of the living and the dead, who will render to each according to his deeds. And he poured out his Holy Spirit on us in abundance, the gift and pledge of immortality, which makes the believers and the obedient into sons of God and co-heirs of Christ who is revealed, and we worship one God in the Trinity of holy name.”

Saint Patrick is one of many examples of Tradition passed down to us about the Truth of the Blessed Trinity.  Now lets turn to Sacred Scripture where we find several passages about this Unity.  Even in the Old Testament we can find a passage where God is referred to as more than one:  In Genesis 1:26, “And God said, Let Us make man in Our image, after Our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the Earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the Earth.”  Then in Genesis 3:22, “And the LORD God said, Behold, the man is become as one of Us, to know good and evil.”  In Isaiah 48:16 we also find reference to God being spoken of as three in one: “Come ye near unto Me, hear ye this; I have not spoken in secret from The Beginning; from the time that it was, there am I: and now the LORD GOD, and His Spirit, hath sent Me.”

When it comes to the equality of the three Persons, in Sacred Scripture we find more passages.  In reference to God the Father, we turn to Isaiah 63:16, “Doubtless Thou art our Father, though Abraham be ignorant of us, and Israel acknowledge us not: Thou, O LORD, art our Father, our Redeemer; Thy Name is from Everlasting.”  Then in the New Testament in the Gospel of John 6:27, “Labour not for the meat which perisheth, but for that meat which endureth unto Everlasting Life, which the Son of Man shall give unto you: for Him hath God the Father sealed.”   God the Son, Jesus Christ, was referred to in Isaiah 9:6, “For unto us a Child is born, unto us a Son is given: and the government shall be upon His shoulder: and His Name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The Mighty God, The Everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.”  Then again we find this mention in Jesus’ own words found in the Gospel of John, Chapter 10, verses 27-36, “My sheep hear My Voice, and I know them, and they follow Me: and I give unto them Eternal Life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of My hand.  My Father, which gave them Me, is greater than all; and no man is able to pluck them out of My Father’s hand.  I and My Father are One.  Then the Jews took up stones again to stone Him.  Jesus answered them, Many good works have I shewed you from My Father; for which of those works do ye stone Me?  The Jews answered Him, saying, For a good work we stone Thee not; but for blasphemy; and because that Thou, being a man, makest Thyself God.  Jesus answered them, Is it not written in your Law, I said, Ye are gods?  If He called them gods, unto whom the Word of God came, and the Scripture cannot be broken; say ye of Him, Whom the Father hath sanctified, and sent into the world, Thou blasphemest; because I said, I am the Son of God?”

In reference to the Holy Ghost, we also find in Scripture several passages beginning with Genesis 1:2 when the Lord is describing Creation, “And the Earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters.”  In the beautiful Psalms, Chapter 139, verses seven through ten, “Whither shall I go from Thy Spirit? or whither shall I flee from Thy presence?  If I ascend up into Heaven, Thou art there: if I make my bed in Hell, behold, Thou art there.  If I take the wings of the morning, and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea; even there shall Thy hand lead me, and Thy right hand shall hold me.”  In the Acts of the Apostles, Saint Paul tells us in Chapter five, Verses three and four, “But Peter said, Ananias, why hath Satan filled thine heart to lie to the Holy Ghost… thou hast not lied unto men, but unto God.”

Now I know what you are thinking “but what about Pentecost?”   Well it’s simple the Father sent the Son, who sent forth His Spirit, the Holy Ghost, at Pentecost.  For this we turn to John, the Beloved, in his Gospel.  The ever popular John 3:16, “For God so loved the world, that He gave His Only Begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have Everlasting Life.”  Then in Chapter 20, Verse 21, “Then said Jesus to them again, Peace be unto you: as My Father hath sent Me, even so send I you.”  Then we find that God the Son sends His Spirit in the same Gospel of John, “But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, Whom the Father will send in My Name, He shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you” (14:26).  “But when the Comforter is come, Whom I will send unto you from the Father, even the Spirit of Truth, which proceedeth from the Father, He shall testify of Me” (15:26). “Nevertheless I tell you the Truth; It is expedient for you that I go away: for if I go not away, the Comforter will not come unto you; but if I depart, I will send Him unto you” (16:7).

To the doubting Apostle Thomas, Jesus said that those who do not actually see and fully understand a truth which God teaches are more blessed if they believe in it, than those who believe only after they see and understand it.  It is an act of Faith.  We believe many facts of history because we have the word of good men for them.  BUT it really is much easier for us to firmly believe in the mystery of the Blessed Trinity.  Why so?  Basically because this Truth of our Catholic Faith, the Unity and Trinity of God as the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, is once again revealed to us in both Sacred Scripture and Tradition.

 

If you missed the first of this series, Catholicism 101, you can find it here: The Purpose of Man’s Existance

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The Gift of Baptism

I was raised by a mother who understood love best in giving and receiving gifts.  Each treasure was meticulously chosen, prepared, and, at the perfect time, presented as a satin ribbon-crowned objet d’art.  She did this to demonstrate to that person that they were prized above any sacrifice it took to bring the gift to them.  Indeed, to receive a gift from my mother was a special thing, and I still remember the radiant look on her face as she waited for me to unwrap that which she had given so generously.  To her, giving a gift meant you had thought about that person and what would really make them happy.  She was just as joyful in receiving, exclaiming how lovely and thoughtful the giver was after carefully unwrapping their gift so as not to tear the paper even the slightest bit.

Now that I am grown and a mother myself, I appreciate my mother’s generosity even more.  I take every opportunity to bless my children with gifts, not because they have earned them, but because I love them and it makes me happy to see them smile.  I want to share every good and wonderful thing with my little ones.  If human parents in their fallen state derive such pleasure from giving to their children, how much more does our Heavenly Father delight in the gifts He offers to us?

Recently, I received a beautiful gift in God’s perfect timing – a son.  My fourth child was born at home on a quiet Saturday afternoon after an intense two-and-a-half hour labor.  He was immediately welcomed by three awestruck siblings who rejoiced over the arrival of their new playmate.  This little man was showered with gifts from the beginning – he had his own bed, his own blankets and toys, and his own clothes neatly hung and folded in the room he would share with his brother.  Every person in the family had sacrificed and contributed in preparing a place for him.  I had endured the discomforts of pregnancy and the pain of childbirth in order to give this child the best birth possible and the most peaceful start in life.  All of this we did because we loved him.  It was our gift to him.  For two blissful hours, we all basked in the joy of this new life, this blessed gift from God.

And then, he got sick.

He was not breathing right.  As we rushed to the hospital, the midwife in the back seat holding oxygen to my baby’s face, I did the only three things I could think of: I prayed for God to heal my son, I asked my friends to storm Heaven on his behalf, and I called a priest. If you are a person of faith, you will understand why I did the first two, but perhaps not the third, unless, of course, you are Catholic. My son was ill, and as his mother, I wanted him to have everything that is good.  I wanted him to have the best, and the best that I could give was a share in the promise of eternal life with God.

When God established the covenant with Abraham, He created a family.  For two thousand years, circumcision served as the sign of their familial bond.  The promises given to faithful Abraham were extended to his children.  So it was in the early Church, which took Jesus at His word and “let the little children come”  and did not hinder them.  It was understood that the Kingdom belonged to them as well as to adults, not because of their faith, but because of their parents’ faith.  Entire households were baptized based on the faith of one member. My husband and I are Christians.  We know this because we know we were baptized.  Our parents stood up for us and vowed to reject Satan and all his works and empty promises.  To be a Christian means to have faith in Christ, to believe His promises.  Jesus’ promises are not empty, but full of life.  He is the one who baptizes through the minister of baptism.  Baptism is not about what we do for Christ, but what He does for us.  It is His gift to us, given freely.  It cannot be earned, only accepted.  I accepted it for my child.

I have friends and even family who do not understand my pain in those hours I waited for my child to be baptized.  Yes, the hospital staff had to make sure he was “stable” and I wanted that, but I was desperate for my son to receive the Holy Spirit.  I could not rest until he was claimed for Christ and given our family name.  Just as earthly fathers bestow their names upon their children, so Our Heavenly Father gives us His name as we are claimed for Him.  Once the water was poured over his head, grace poured into his soul, and the Name spoken over him, “I baptize you in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit,” God gave me another lovely gift: peace.  My child was in God’s hands and I would praise Him no matter the outcome.

My son survived.  We brought him home almost one week from the day he joined our family and God’s family, the Church.  The graces he received at his baptism flowed not only into him, but into his parents and godparents, turning all of our hearts even more toward Our Heavenly Father.  God really is a loving Father.  He delights in the gifts He gives us.  What a beautiful gift we have in His Church and in the Sacraments, those “outward signs of inward grace.”  A sign points beyond itself, and so do the sacraments point beyond us, beyond this life to the next.  They help us not only to glimpse Heaven, but to have a piece of it here on Earth.  My mother taught me how to receive a gift joyfully. I will teach my children to accept God’s gifts in the same manner: with happy hearts.