Sunday, January 9, 2011

The First Baptist

This Sunday, the Church celebrates the Feast of Our Lord's Baptism. This particular celebration commemorates Jesus presenting himself to John the Baptist at the Jordan River. The story is told in the Gospels of Matthew, Mark and Luke (Matthew 3:13-17; Mark 1:9-11; Luke 3:21-22).
Baptism is necessary for salvation (CCC 1257). The baptized person then lives out their vocation by vital participation in the holy liturgy of the Church and exercising his or her baptismal priesthood by the witness of a holy life and practical charity (CCC 1273).
"I baptize you in the name of the Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Dude."
 Baptism imprints a character on our souls and makes us responsible not only as creatures but as DIVINE creatures. We are sons and daughters of God. However, over the past forty or so years, the sacrament of Baptism has become almost a point of revolution. With the word "priesthood" associated with the word "common" in conjunction with Baptism, there was a sense that everyone was suddenly on par with the ordained priest!
Priests and non-priests in the universal gesture of handholding and prayer face making.

This was certainly not the intention of the Second Vatican Council. The ordained priesthood and the common priesthood of the faithful are two distinct vocations. I believe those distinctions are becoming more clear over time.
However, architecture in the Church began to reflect the "common priesthood" of "all us folks" over the sacrificial priesthood of Christ. Namely, fonts for baptism grew larger while altars of sacrifice, in size and meaning, grew smaller.
A baptismal font with a cross slippery slide
What our churches say in architecture and design preaches to us. John the Baptizer, the great voice in the desert, was humble enough to know that Christ was the Lamb of God. He deemed himself unworthy to untie even the sandal straps of Jesus' shoes! A far cry from some quarters of the Church that think themselves on par with Jesus or at least "bffs" of the Lord.
Pay attention to your church and other churches, what object is given precedence? Is it the altar? Is it the baptismal font? Is the pastor the center of the show? Is the choir the main thing? Baptism tells us to "decrease while Christ increases". When we take the Eucharist, we take on fully the Lord. And for this, we are Baptized.

And for your spiritual edification, since it was the 80's that birthed the font-astic explotion, I give you, my production of "Hot Tub Time Machine: Liturgical Edit"-