Baptism

3 years on

3 years ago today, I was baptised, confirmed, and received first communion in the Catholic Church. In the time since then, I guess I’ve become something quite strange.

Back then, I was certainly keen to be Catholic. I devoured everything I could find about the Church: theology, apologetics, writings of Saints etc.. Perhaps I was falling in love with the Church, and wanted to know every little thing about her.

Now, I love the Church in a much deeper way. I no longer desire to know about the Church, but to be ever more fully immersed in her.

And why love the Church? Because in the Church I have found Jesus. In the Church I receive Jesus. In the Church, I am united to Jesus.

Three years ago, I loved God. But in the three years since then, I have come to love God intimately. He is close to me, always. He is not only my friend, but also my food, and I find Him in my flesh and in my heart. 

In fact, I find Him in my wounds, even in my sins. He shares all my wounds on the cross. He touches them, and identifies with them, in His love. He gives them His life whenever I surrender them to Him. He lives in my wounds.

Back then, I was an enthusiastic convert. I was much more careful with expressing my faith, but it was my joy, and the foundation of my life. But now, I feel I’m a crazy Catholic. It’s no longer just the foundation, it is my life. I told a friend I was just getting back from a Church thing, and she laughed and said I am a Church thing. 

Still, I may be getting crazy, but I’m not a Saint by a long shot (just ask my friends). But God is merciful love, and He ‘welcomes sinners, and eats with them’ [Lk15:2]. My love of God is deepening, but only by His goodness. 

I should mention the 3 places that have really formed me in these 3 years. The first is the Catholic society at my university. These are the people who formed me. We have shared our lives, in the life of God. At times, they have been Christ for me. They are my family. 

The second is a Youth 2000 retreat in Walsingham last summer, and the third is the World Youth Day in Krakow last summer. At these events, I found God’s love and mercy for me, in such a powerful way that I don’t think I’ve been the same since.

Honestly, I feel like I’ve grown so much in these years, that I’ve become a whole new person multiple times, but only by becoming more myself. Like I’ve doubled in size every year.

So I say THANK YOU to God and to everyone who has been a channel for God in my life, and I look forward to the future, seeing what God has in store for me. Please pray for me.

God bless you! 

Lent and baptism

‘In those days Jesus came from Nazareth of Galilee and was baptised by John in the Jordan. And just as he was coming up out of the water, he saw the heavens torn apart and the Spirit descending like a dove on him.’
Mark 1:9-10 (emphasis mine)

Recently, these words, ‘torn apart’ rang a bell for me, and I realised this moment is linked to the moment when Jesus died,

‘And the curtain of the temple was torn in two, from top to bottom.’
Mark 15:38

In these two moments, God’s presence is released into the world in a new and irrevocable way. The Kingdom of Heaven is bursting out.

We should also link Jesus’ baptism to when the Israelites were submerged in the Reed Sea, and passed through to freedom from Egypt. Then they came to their 40 years Lent in the desert. Then they were baptised again, passing through the river Jordan to enter the Promised Land. They were entering the Kingdom of God.

Baptism liberates from sin, and is a being buried with and raised in Christ. So the Israelites must be washed, surrendering to the Lord, and receiving from Him their life and salvation. Then they go through the wilderness living off of the bread from heaven, to be humbled, and learn their dependence on God: ‘that one does not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of the Lord.’ In this time, they go on dying to themselves, learning to live off of God. Then they must once more be baptised in the Jordan to enter their promised rest. I believe this second baptism is death: Jesus’ death on the cross and our deaths in him.

Lent is living out our baptism. For Noah and his family, their baptism and lent were simultaneous. We die to self to live in Christ each day, taking up our crosses and following him to death and resurrection. Then at the end of lent, we celebrate Jesus’ resurrection from the dead, and enter, purified by this time of death, into the new life he has opened up for us. On Easter day, Catechumens are baptised, to show that we are baptised into the resurrected life, opened up to us by the saviour.

By baptism into Christ we are liberated. Our death is offered to God, and we are given divine life. By lent, we enter more deeply into our own death, weakness, and sin, in order to more consciously and thoroughly offer it to God, and receive in these His grace. We are made ready to enter anew into the Kingdom of God, and particularly for our final entry at the hour of our death.

Lent is exactly what the Church needs, because it’s exactly what the world needs the Church to be: God’s people dying to self, dying to the world and its futile ways, and living the life of the resurrection in Christ. We desperately need to be submerged in the spirit of Lent, so that we may be saturated with the mystery of Easter Sunday.

God bless you!

March 16th

The date’s been set: March 16th. It’s very exciting and frightening.
On this day, I will be baptised into the body of Christ, and receive confirmation, and my first communion. It will be the biggest day of my life so far.
It’s funny to think about afterwards. Everything will be the same, and yet everything will be different. I feel like I should get a uniform or a badge or something, to show my identity as a Catholic, a redeemed child of God, a member of the one, holy, Catholic and apostolic Church. But their won’t be any.
After my baptism, I will be a new creation in Christ, and if I am transformed so, then all creation will be transformed to me also. Being born again, I will be new to the world, and the world will be new to me. I imagine it will be like a light is switched on, and all is bright.
In confirmation, I will be sealed with the Holy Spirit, and I have no idea what this will be like. It’s extremely exciting. God’s Spirit will live in me.
And then I will have my first communion. This is the bit that’s blowing my mind. When I’ve been thinking about my baptism, and how I plan to celebrate its anniversary each year, I think each time, “and I’ll make sure to take communion on the day”, then realise I’ll be taking communion like a real Catholic! I’ll be one of them! Those people who stand up and queue, eat and drink the holiest thing in existence, then come back to sit or kneel, praying to the God they’ve just eaten. I will eat his flesh, and drink his blood, and he will live in me, and I in him. This will be the biggest change, as I will get to eat the medicine of immortality at mass.
I find the Eucharist a bit terrifying. It’s so holy and mysterious. I suspect the apostles were a bit terrified at the last supper too, when Jesus told them to eat his body, and drink his blood.
The 16th of March 2014 will arguably be the turning point of my life history, just as the thirty or so years about 0 AD were the turning point in all of human history. In many ways, everything was the same. But everything was different; the rules had changed forever; the new covenant had begun.

Please pray for me!
God bless you.