October 6th, 2019
27th Sunday in Ordinary Time
“If you have faith the size of this mustard seed, you would say to this mulberry tree, ‘Be uprooted and planted in the sea,’ and it would obey you.”
The Baptistry (Part 2)
Continued from September 22…
In addition to the baptismal font, there are several other important objects kept in the baptistry. Most importantly are the Paschal Candle, the baptismal candle, the oil of catechumens, and the oil of chrism.
The Paschal candle, also called the Easter candle, is symbolic of Christ—the light of the world. This candle itself has great symbolism. A new Paschal candle is lit each year at the Easter Vigil. It is lit outside the church from the Easter fire, and is then processed into the church as the priest or deacon calls out “the light of Christ”. As the candle enters the church, all the lights are off, and so this candle alone gives light to the building. This is symbolic of Jesus Christ coming to our world darkened by sin and enlightening it by his grace and his promise of resurrection from the dead.
The baptismal candle is lit during the Rite of Baptism from the Paschal candle and given to the parents and godparents as a symbol of faith in Jesus Christ being given to the individual who is baptized. As the Rite of Baptism says: “Parents and godparents, this light is entrusted to you to be kept burning brightly. This child of yours has been enlightened by Christ. He is to walk always as a child of the light. May he keep the flame of faith alive in his heart. When the Lord comes, may he go out to meet him with all the saints in the heavenly kingdom.”
During the Easter Vigil, after the Paschal candle enters the church, all those present in the church hold candles and light them from the Paschal candle. These candles are a reminder of the candle they were given at their baptism, and the faith we now have in Christ.
There are two oils used during baptism. The first is the oil of catechumens. This oil is put on the chest of the individual and is symbolic of God’s strength being given to the person. The second oil is the oil of chrism. Chrism is a very special oil which is used for consecrating people and objects. In this case, as the Rite of Baptism says, the individual who has been baptized is consecrated with the “chrism of salvation. As Christ was anointed Priest, Prophet, and King, so may you live always as a member of his body, sharing everlasting life”.
Of course, the most significant part of baptism is the water. We use water every day for two things: for washing and for life. In other words, we need to drink water to live, and we need water to be clean. Very beautifully, the sacraments are physical rituals that bring about a spiritual effect. So, when I pour water over a child’s head for baptism, while I am not trying to give them physical life or physically clean them, I am rather giving them spiritual life and spiritual cleansing. In other words, the sacrament of baptism brings about in the soul the effects that water brings about naturally in us physically.
As a conclusion, it is important to remember that baptism must always be understood as connected with faith. As St. Paul declared to his jailer in Philippi: “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved, you and your household”. Then “at once”, the passage continues, “he and all his household were baptized”. Faith and baptism go hand in hand. Just as faith would be incomplete without seeking baptism, so too baptism without a living faith would be empty. As the Catechism says, “Baptism is the source of that new life in Christ from which the entire Christian life springs forth”, and “faith must grow after Baptism”.
May our faith in the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit continue to grow, and may the name of Jesus Christ be proclaimed to the ends of the earth for the salvation of all!
You are in my daily prayers.
God bless you,