Browse by Topic: Baptism

Br. Bradley Thomas Elliott, O.P.'s picture

Who is Jesus?

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On 13 June 2012, I gave the Dominican Forum presentation at St. Dominic's Parish in Eagle Rock California. The topic of the talk entitled, "Who is Jesus?" was on the nature of Jesus Christ as true God and true man and the importance and centrality of this teaching for the Christian faith. 

Starting from Scripture and moving through the Catechism of the Catholic Church, I attempted to illustrate in a straight-forward and easy to digest fashion what the Church understands about the nature of Jesus Christ and how she has articulated that understanding throughout the centuries.

Br. Chris Brannan, O.P.'s picture

The Labor Pains of our New Birth

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Br. Chris' preaching on 1 Peter 1:3-5, for Vespers on Sunday, February 19, 2012.

Br. Michael James Rivera, O.P.'s picture

The power of the Holy Spirit to make us new

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The following reflection is based on a talk I gave at a retreat for a group of college students and young adults, while on my pastoral year at St. Catherine of Siena Newman Center in Salt Lake City. It has been edited down from its original version.

In Sunday’s reading from the letter to the Romans, St. Paul says, “You are not in the flesh, on the contrary, you are in the spirit, if only the Spirit of God dwells in you” (Romans 8:9). In this case, when St. Paul refers to “the flesh,” he is talking about a person who still lives with the stain of original sin. As Catholics, we believe that in the Sacrament of Baptism that stain is washed away. Thus we receive a new name, a new heart open to God, and a new spirit — God’s spirit dwelling within us instead of the spirit of this world.

 

While reflecting on the power of the Holy Spirit to transform us and make us new, I came across a homily by St. John Chrysostom, based on a passage from 1 Kings 18:1-40, when the prophet Elijah takes on the priests of Baal. Let’s take a moment to read it now… With these holy words in mind, let’s listen to what Chrysostom says: “Imagine in your mind’s eye, if you will, Elijah and the vast crowd standing around him and the sacrifice lying upon the stone altar. All the rest are still, hushed into deep silence. The prophet alone is praying. Suddenly fire falls from the skies on to the offering. It is marvelous; it is charged with bewilderment. Turn, then, from that scene to our present rites, and you will see not only marvelous things, but things that transcend all terror. The priest stands bringing down, not fire, but the Holy Spirit. And he offers prayers at length, not that some flame lit from above may consume the offerings, but that grace may fall on the sacrifice through that prayer, set alight the souls of all, and make them appear brighter than silver refined in the fire.”

 

For some reason, I don’t think most people relate this awe-inspiring image to what happens when we celebrate the Sacraments. Maybe they’ve just become too accustomed to witnessing the mysteries. They don’t look beyond what they can see to the reality that is taking place — the Holy Spirit descending like fire to envelop and transform: the one being baptized, the gifts of bread and wine which become the Body and Blood of Christ, the man who is ordained a holy priest of God. Maybe if we approached all the Sacraments this way, with the eyes of faith, we would have a greater sense of reverence and wonder at what we are so privileged to take part in. But it’s not just the Sacraments that we should view in this way. The Spirit of God, which dwells in each baptized person is always at work, often in ways we don’t even recognize and thus take for granted. Take a moment to think about it: When is the last time you noticed the Holy Spirit acting in your life? When is the last time you thanked God for transforming you?