Archive for category Baptism

Who is the Preborn Christ?

This ministry is committed to developing and promoting devotion to the Preborn Christ and it begins with answering the question:  Who is the Preborn Christ?

 

In obvious terms, the Preborn Christ is Jesus during His nine months in the womb of His mother, Mary.  This time in the womb is often related to His Incarnation as a whole.  Yet the experience Jesus had within the womb is not pondered as the intimate source for prayer and meditation that it truly is.  As scripture concurs, with the account of “The Visitation (when Mary went to visit her cousin, Elizabeth), we are told that Elizabeth’s baby, St. John the Baptist, acknowledged Him and “leapt with joy.”

 

Also, in order to explore more deeply whom the Preborn Christ is, we must consider the Sacrament of Baptism – both its purpose and effect.  Sin has orphaned us and death will orphan many of us.  It is through Baptism that we are adopted by God as our Father.    This adoption also makes us brothers and sisters of Jesus and of each other.  This is emphasized by Jesus when He instructed us to pray to God as He does, “Our Father, who art in heaven….”

 

However, Christ does not stop there.  As temples of the Holy Spirit not built by human hands, Jesus has sent us His Holy Spirit to reside within us. We are bound together with the same spirit, and as the many we form a single body of Christ.  Jesus is Christ’s head and we are Christ’s body.  We, the body of Christ, share in the divine life of Jesus and the Holy Trinity, and in the tri-fold mission of Jesus as priest, prophet, and king.  If we live and die in the Lord, then we are co-heirs of the Kingdom as the body of Christ with Jesus as our head.  It is through His people, living The Way that the Incarnation of Christ is on-going.

Who is the Preborn Christ?

He is Jesus and us.  As Caryll Houselander cites in The Wood of the Cradle, Wood of the Cross, it is the salvation of each of us for we are each destined to be ‘another Christ’ in this world.  Houselander continues, “Jesus is not content in living a human life, He lives every human life.”  His call for each of us to be ‘another Christ’ in this world is what He meant in His Great Commission, “…make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.“Matthew 28:19

Man Becomes Temple and Body

The Crucifixion of Jesus Christ is well documented in the Bible, many events recorded can become lost despite their extraordinary importance to Christ’s action and message.  One finds one such an occurrence described in all three of the synoptic Gospels of Matthew, Mark and Luke, the tearing of the temple veil.[1]

 

The veil the three refer to is the veil within the Holy of Holies of the Temple.  The Holy of Holies was the holiest space within the Temple and contained the  Ark of the Covenant that held the two sets of tablets upon which the Ten Commandments were written, Aaron’s rod, a jar of Massa and a copy of the Torah.  With heavy, tall veils, the Holy of Holies was separated from the rest of the Temple.  Comprised of two chambers, one chamber preceded the final chamber containing the Ark.  Only the high priest of the year could enter the Holy of Holies and only on the Day of Atonement.  It is in the Holy of Holies that the Priest would offer sacrifice for the sins of the community committed over the previous year.  It is in the Holy of Holies that Zechariah learned that his elderly wife would conceive a child, John the Baptist.  It was also where Zechariah expressed doubt that his elderly wife could conceive.   In answer to his doubt, Zechariah then lost his voice until John the Baptist was born and Presented in the Temple when he was named as John.

 

No other place equaled the Holy of Holies in holiness.  This space received the greatest of reverence by the Jewish people.   Just of the Ark alone, a soldier of David’s died instantly upon an unauthorized touching of the Ark when he made the effort to prevent the Ark’s fall to the ground.  There was simply no place that received such high reverence as the Holy of Holies.

 

It is with such an understanding that we can begin to recognize the sense of alarm and maybe even scandal that this veil of the Holy of Holies tore by itself from top to bottom at the same time that Jesus, the condemned blasphemer, died.

 

Some scholars have suggested that this tearing of the veil was an omen of the Temple’s destruction by the Romans in 60 AD.  Rev. Charles Emmanuel McCarthy, a Melkite priest of the Catholic Church, espouses that the torn veil is God’s manner of opening the graces of the Holy of Holies to the whole world.  It serves a s a symbol that the Temple is no longer needed as God is and Man are now reconciled.  Man, each man and woman, are each now Temple to Our Lord.  The Holy Spirit and Jesus want to dwell within each man and woman and for each to share in the body and divine life of God.  We are each Temple who can carry God within and through His Way we serve as members of Christ’s body with Jesus as our head.

 

Rev. McCarthy cites further that such an understanding makes it very clear that each human person, as Temple of the Lord and as member of the Body of Christ, is due at least as much reverence as the Holy of Holies received.  Any spiritual, verbal or physical attack on another person is desecration of God’s Temple and must be taken as that serious.



T  Matthew 27:51;  Mark 15:38; and Luke 23:45

 

The Wholeness of a Person

From First Communion classes,  Catholics learn that the Eucharist is the whole of Christ Sacramentally.  Through Consecration, the substance of the bread was destroyed and has

supernaturally become Jesus Christ.  It is not a matter of sensory perception as all that remains of the bread is its accidents which we sense while the substance has been destroyed.  This is a matter of faith.  That faith may often be best described as an acceptance of this teaching as true until a personal relationship with Jesus is perceived by the faithful.

 

Catholics are also taught that a single speck of the Eucharist, once separated from the whole in itself becomes the whole of Jesus Christ.  This may be as difficult a teaching as the transubstantiation that takes place during the Sacrament of Consecration where the bread is destroyed and the substance is now Jesus Christ.

 

These teachings form a firm foundation for the Catholic to then recognize the totality of a human being, a person in the form of a single cell, a zygote.  From the conception, be it through the joining of a sperm and an egg or twinning through cell division, that resulting single human cell can be wholly different from a single human cell from the skin or other organ.  The former single human cell is the total person, whereas the skin cell is a mere part of a person.  The recognition that an entire person can be contained within the form of a single cell is analogous to the single speck of Eucharist that is in substance the whole of Jesus Christ.  When it comes to God, things are ever more wonderful than the earthly analogy that gives us the glimpse into the reality of God.

 

Considering the treatment that the preborn human person receives throughout the world, one can ponder which maybe more challenging: Imparting the teaching of Catholic Church of the Eucharist or of teaching the wholeness of a person that comprises the person’s first body of a single cell?

Feast of St. John the Baptist

“He must increase; I must decrease,” John 3:30 was declared by John the Baptist during his final testimony before his incarceration and later beheading. Contained within these words is a clear expectation that the role of John the Baptist was to lessen while Jesus stepped forward to center stage. This is exactly what happened, especially so with his imprisonment and beheading. John the Baptist is recognized as the dividing line between the Old and New Testaments and here gives clear testimony to the fulfillment of the Old Law in Jesus Christ. He, like the Law, would recede and give way to the Spirit’s dominance.

It is also intriguing to note where the Evangelist John placed this statement of John the Baptist. Leading up to this statement of John the Baptist, the Evangelist records the Baptism of Jesus, the selection of His first Disciples, His attendance and miracle at the Wedding of Cana, the Cleansing of the Temple and the conversation between Nicodemus and Jesus on the spiritual re-birth in Christ. In parallel, we are called to seek union with the Holy Spirit that we may conceive of Christ, be cleansed for growth, and be formed into Christ in order to birth or manifest Him in this world and birth ourselves into eternal life with Jesus.

Let’s not be afraid or neglectful in asking St. John the Baptist to intercede for our reception of the Preborn Christ who has the power to change our lives and teach us how to love another.

Pleae Note: I have had technical issues with the site for the past two days and have finally resolved them. This is why, not wanting to miss noting on of John the Baptist’s contribution to the Preborn Christ devotion, this was posted late

Responding to the Call of Love

By Patrick A. O’Donnell

When I kneel in prayer,
I am without the use of my feet
as you, Jesus, suffered in the womb.
When I fold my hands in prayer,
I am without the use of my hands
as you, Jesus, suffered in the womb.
When I silently pray,
I am without the use of my voice
as you, Jesus, the very Word of God,
remained silent in the womb for nine months.
When I close my eyes to pray,
I am without the use of my sight
as you, Jesus, suffered in the womb.

When I kneel in prayer,
I am without the use of my feet
as you, Jesus, endured while nailed to the Cross.
When I fold my hands in prayer,
I am without the use of my hands
as you, Jesus, endured while nailed to the Cross.
When I silently pray,
I am without the use of my voice
while I hear you speak your consoling Last Words of
abandonment, forgiveness and love.
When I close my eyes to pray,
I am without the use of my sight
as you, Jesus, endured after you uttered, “It is finished,” and
gave up your ghost.

When I kneel in prayer,
I am surrendering my feet to you, Jesus,
in the Eucharist.
When I fold my hands in prayer,
I am surrendering the use of my hands to you, Jesus,
in the Eucharist.
When I silently pray,
I am surrendering the use of my voice to you, Jesus,
in the Eucharist.
When I close my eyes to pray,
I am surrendering the use of my sight to you, Jesus,
in the Eucharist.

Jesus, my body becomes
your tabernacle.
Jesus, my body becomes
your monstrance.
Jesus, my body becomes your body,
purchased at the price of your blood,
and becomes “another Christ”.

© 2011 Patrick A. O’Donnell

Consequences of and Healing from Sin

For all human beings, the following consequences of sin (beginning with Original Sin) are the following:
1. confusion of the intellect;
2. malice of will;
3. disordered passions and appetites; and
4. weakness, sickness and death.

We are all fortunate to have the Sacraments of Baptism and Confirmation which is when we receive from the Gifts of the Holy Spirit that remedy our maladies from Original Sin and all sin. The Gifts and their effect are as following:
1. Prudence addresses our confusion of the intellect;
2. Justice addresses our malice of will;
3. Temperance addresses our disordered passions and appetites; and
4. Fortitude addresses our weakness, sickness and death.

Because each of us do sin, along with our Acts of Contrition, it is helpful to ask anew for the Gifts of the Holy Spirit each day. Such a prayer could be as follows:
Come Holy Spirit,
I pray for the graces to heal and overcome all consequences of sin.
I pray for the grace of Prudence to resolve all confusion of my intellect.
I pray for the grace of Justice to extinguish malice of my will.
I pray for the grace of Temperance to balance my disordered passions and appetites.
I pray for the grace of Fortitude to overcome my weakness, sickness, and death.
Come Holy Spirit, help me live in these graces of virtue that you so readily
supply when called on in order that I may live the life that fulfills my true
nature as created by God the Father and redeemed by Jesus Christ. Amen.

As each sin affects all of Creation, you may also consider expanding the scope of this prayer to include all peoples, not yourself alone.

Spiritual Adoption Leads us to Divine Life

Saint Gregory of Nyssa once wrote: “Man, as a being, is of no account; he is dust, grass, vanity. But once he is adopted by the God of the universe as a son, he becomes part of the family of that Being, whose excellence and greatness no one can see, hear or understand. What words, thoughts or flight of the spirit can praise the superabundance of this grace? Man surpasses his nature: mortal, he becomes immortal; perishable, he becomes imperishable; fleeting, he becomes eternal; human, he becomes divine”.

The importance of our adoption by the Father through the Sacrament of Baptism can not be overstated. It is our salvation, the hope and means of eternal life for each of us. This is made possible and certain for the faithful by means of Jesus sharing our human life through His assuming human flesh in the womb of Mary and beginning as a single cell person. Jesus claims solidarity with us all and shares the Divine life of the Trinity with each of us.

Who is the Preborn Christ?

Third in a Three-Part Series

Any one of us who are Baptized may find it difficult to believe that we are truly adopted by God the Father as his children. It is reasonable to ask for proof of this dimension of Baptism. This proof that one reasonably asks for is cited in Scripture as available to each of us. “As proof that you are children, God sent the spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying out, “Abba, Father!” So you are no longer a slave but a child.” Gal 4:6-7

How do we ourselves hear our hearts, crying out, “Abba, Father!”?  The process is much the same for each of us, silence, prayer, listening, and waiting. Find a quiet place to sit, maybe in church. While in this quiet place, wait while listening for God. Ponder the Scripture that calls us to, “Be still and know that I am God.” Psalm 46:10 Each of us is capable of hearing Him if we are willing to set so much in our life aside for say thirty minutes a day. While sitting, wait and listen. Offer to God the prayer, “Speak, for your servant is listening.” 1 Samuel 3:10 Ponder this scripture and what it means that God is willing and wants to speak to each of us. God wants to hear us speak to him. God wants a relationship with each of us. God is truly present and close to each of us.
One final point for this writing, we must be ready to hear what He has to say to us, even if it is something we may not want to hear. We are to take counsel and courage in our Baptismal adoption by God as his children, his beloved sons and daughters. We are to, in the words of Christ Himself, “Be not afraid.” Luke 2:10 and 12:4.  Truly realizing the fullness of our adoption will give us the courage to do as he asks, to share in Christ’s life.

Who is the Preborn Christ?

First of a Three-Part Series

This ministry is committed to developing and promoting devotion to the Preborn Christ and it begins with answering the question: Who is the Preborn Christ?

In obvious terms, the Preborn Christ is Jesus during His nine months in the womb of His mother, Mary. This time in the womb, is often related to His Incarnation as a whole. Yet the experience Jesus had within the womb is not often pondered as the intimate source for prayer and meditation that it truly is. As scripture concurs, with the account of “The Visitation” (when Mary went to visit her cousin, Elizabeth), we are told that Elizabeth’s baby, St. John the Baptist, acknowledged Him and “leapt with joy” within the womb.

Also, in order to explore more deeply who the Preborn Christ is, we must consider the Sacrament of Baptism – both its purpose and effect. Sin has orphaned us and death will orphan many of us. It is through Baptism that we are adopted by God as our Father. This adoption also makes us brothers and sisters of Jesus and of each other. This is emphasized by Jesus when He instructed us to pray to God as He does, “Our Father, who art in heaven….”

However, Christ does not stop there. As temples of the Holy Spirit not built by human hands, Jesus has sent us His Holy Spirit to reside within us. We are bound together with this same Spirit and the many of us form a single body of Christ. Jesus is Christ’s head and we are Christ’s body. We, the body of Christ, share in the divine life of Jesus and the Holy Trinity, and in the tri-fold mission of Jesus as priest, prophet, and king. If we live and die in the Lord, then we are co-heirs of the Kingdom as the body of Christ with Jesus as our head. It is through His people, living The Way, that the Incarnation of Christ is on-going.