Monday, April 9, 2012

Baptism at Blessed Sacrament

By Danielle Hetzel
This is the first of a series about Baptism at Blessed Sacrament.

My husband and I are preparing to have our first child baptized at Blessed Sacrament sometime this summer. In getting ready for this important step in our lives, we are learning about the sacrament at Blessed Sacrament and worldwide. It is an important rite that all in the Church should come to understand and appreciate.
Photo courtesy of simonella_virus on Flickr
The sacrament of Baptism is an integral and renewing part of the Church. According to the Catechism of the Catholic Church, "Holy Baptism is the basis of the whole Christian life, the gateway to life in the Spirit…and the door which gives access to the other sacraments" (CCC 1213). By being baptized, a person is reborn and freed from sin.

The community of believers forms an important part of this sacrament. By receiving a new member, free of original sin, all in the community benefit. "Baptism is the sacrament of faith. But faith needs the community of believers. It is only within the faith of the Church that each of the faithful can believe"(CCC 1253). The baptized are not just being presented to God, but also to the Catholic community at the parish and throughout the world.

The Catechism also highlights Christ’s teaching of the necessity of baptism for salvation: “The Lord himself affirms that Baptism is necessary for salvation. (“Amen, amen, I say to you, no one can see the kingdom of God without being born from above” (John 3:5))…The Church does not know of any means other than Baptism that assures entry into eternal beatitude; this is why she takes care not to neglect the mission she has received from the Lord to see that all who can be baptized are ‘reborn of water and the Spirit.’ God has bound salvation to the sacrament of Baptism, but he himself is not bound by his sacraments” (CCC 1257).

Here we will focus on infant baptisms, as the steps for adults are different. In our Church community, there are multiple steps to take to prepare for baptism. My advice is to start early! First, call the Parish office (703-998-6100). They will send you the paperwork you will need to fill out, can give you information on classes (discussed below), and answer any questions you have. “Parents are obliged to see to it that infants are baptized within the first weeks after birth” (Canon, no. 867,§ 1).

The parents of the child take a two-hour class to learn about Baptism and the commitment they are going to be making as Catholic parents. This class is offered one Sunday a month at Blessed Sacrament. My husband and I are scheduled to attend in April, so I will provide updates on the class and our status after that.

Godparents, at least one of whom must be a practicing Catholic in good standing, are also an important part of the baptism process. They take the same Baptism class as the parents to be fully immersed in the process. This requirement can be fulfilled at any Catholic Church. In our case, we have Godparents in California and Michigan, and both were able to make arrangements with their church without any difficulties. From our experience, it seems pretty standard for parishes to offer the class on a monthly basis. Written proof of this class, along with a packet of paperwork, must be submitted to Blessed Sacrament by the parents. At that point, the family is ready from an administrative standpoint for the sacrament of Baptism.

Baptisms are held twice a month - once on a Saturday and once on a Sunday. We are still working on getting the required paperwork together to pick a date. Please join me as I continue to go through the process and learn more about the sacrament of Baptism at Blessed Sacrament.
My husband and I celebrating our "babymoon" in Hawaii in February.

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Easter Sunday - Christ the Lord is Risen Today! Alleluia!

Today on Easter Sunday, throngs of parishioners gathered in Blessed Sacrament Church to celebrate Jesus’ Resurrection from the dead.

In his homily, Father Anthony Killian preached to an overflowing church about the significance of Easter – the opportunity to begin a clean slate, the chance to strengthen one’s faith through daily prayer and regular Mass attendance and the gift of eternal life after death.

The psalm from today’s Easter Sunday Mass proclaims, “This is the day the Lord has made. Let us rejoice and be glad!” It is truly a day to rejoice and be glad about the many wonderful works that God has done for his people through Christ. Rejoice and be glad!

I shall not die, but live, and declare the works of the LORD.
— Psalm 118:17

Happy Easter to you and yours!

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Holy Saturday - Blessing of the Easter Food

     In keeping with a Catholic custom traditional in many Eastern European countries, the blessing of the Easter food was held in the daily chapel at 2:00 p.m. at Blessed Sacrament. Beautifully decorated baskets brought to the church by single people, couples or families were placed in front of the altar. The baskets held various Easter foods, such as eggs or bread, or even items to be used on the Easter table like a candle or flowers. After the blessing by Father Dyer, families took their basket home to enjoy for their Easter meal on Sunday.

Friday, April 6, 2012

Good Friday - "Behold the Wood of the Cross..."

       At the 3:00 p.m. liturgy at Blessed Sacrament on Good Friday, the church was filled and the Passion from the Gospel of John was read.  Father Rich Dyer said in his homily that it is from the cross that all of the sacraments come forth.  While there is a certain sadness on Good Friday, there is also joy because it was through the cross that Jesus was victorious and triumphed over sin and death.  Father Dyer noted, “His whole purpose was to save every one of us."
Following the homily was the ancient practice of the Veneration of the Cross as people come forward one by one to kiss the crucifix in a humble act of honoring the Lord's cross.  May we always be thankful for the gift of Christ’s Passion and death on Good Friday.
  "Behold the wood of the cross on which hung the Savior of the World.  Come, let us worship."

Holy Thursday

On Holy Thursday the Church commemorates the Last Supper of Jesus Christ with his apostles in the upper room the night before his saving passion and death on the cross.  Gathering with the Twelve to eat the Passover meal together, Jesus gives to the Church the sacrament of the Eucharist and the priesthood this night.  "This is my body...this is my blood...Do this in remembrance of me."

 At a bilingual Mass at 7:30 p.m. Blessed Sacrament Parish, Father Killian noted that by instituting the Eucharist and the priesthood together Jesus shows us that he is truly Emmanuel, God with us.  Through the Holy Eucharist, he binds us to himself and to one another.  Both the Eucharist and the priesthood will remain until the end of time when Christ comes again.

"Lord, you who permit us to enjoy in this life the Supper instituted by your Son, grant us to share also the heavenly banquet in your Kingdom, through Jesus Christ, our Lord." (Prayer after Communion, Holy Thursday)

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Palm Sunday

            Today on Palm Sunday, the first day of Holy Week, the Church celebrates Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem as he is praised by crowds waving palm branches as they would greet someone who has achieved a political or military victory, yet he is the suffering Servant, the Prince of Peace. Blessed Sacrament parishioners and visitors filled the church for the 5:00 p.m. Vigil Mass on Saturday, March 31. In the First Reading from Isaiah, we can recognize Jesus as the servant of the Lord who has opened his ears completely to God’s will, Fr. Killian noted in the homily.
           The Gospel reading from Saint Mark highlights how Jesus knew everything that would happen to him, yet he remains undeterred out of love for God the Father and he is confident God is with him. Out of love, humility and obedience, Jesus embraces his Passion in order to bring about the salvation of the world and to show that he loves the Father and has come to do the Father’s will.

"Jesus' entry into Jerusalem manifested the coming of the kingdom that the King-Messiah was going to accomplish by the Passover of his Death and Resurrection. It is with the celebration of that entry on Palm Sunday that the Church's liturgy solemnly opens Holy Week" (Catechism of the Catholic Church, 560).

            May we in our lives follow Christ’s model of humility and obedience, trusting in God’s providential plan for our lives, always open to the will of God.