I have been struck in the last 24-hours by two things: (1) a rather odd conversation with a catechist, about their situation. The priest had recently ‘received’ 3 teenageers into the church, one of whom had been a candidate for baptism – and had ‘only confirmed’ them. When asked about the one who should have been baptised, the catechist was told ‘ Oh, I mixed some water in with the oil’!….. Well, I did say it was odd, and really too complex and puzzling to unpick here in the blog! So just hold on to that one. The second thing (2) is an article in this week’s Tablet (16 March, Parish Practice, Kevin McGinnell) ‘Out of the Living Stream’, which is a wonderful description of the symbolism of water as ‘an agent of the divine’, as a powerful elemental force, both destructive and life-giving, and the way in which water is used in Scripture, ‘from creation, the flood, the Red Sea liberation, the life-giving medicinal waters of the temple stream (Ezekiel), the waters of Jesus’ Baptism, the stormy waters he calms, the water that slakes the Samaritan woman’s thirst forever, the water and blood that flows from Jesus’ side, the river of life in Revelation.’
So in this last couple of weeks of Lent, before the Easter Vigil, what does the Rite itself suggest in terms of preparation? The next RCIA Network e-newsletter will pose a question about Holy Saturday and what you might do in the immediate preparation(RCIA 172-197). But in this week, maybe, as Pope Emeritus Benedict suggests, have a look at the meaning of the signs – ‘the goal of which is not just greater knowledge, but deeper participation.’ Have a look at WATER!
- How are we going to communicate the mystery of being ‘born again’, in the way we baptise and use water? Whether using a jug or going for total immersion, how can we let the symbol of water, as life-giving, re-birth, speak most effectively?
- What is the value and symbolism of water? Explore this together with your elect: why do we need water, what is water, how do we use it, what happens when we dont have it...draw on the experience of ‘baptism as believed, lived, celebrated’ – the difference it makes in the lives of your candidates for reception, and yourselves!
- What does scripture say (see RCIA 427 Blessing of the Water for a whistle-stop reminder)
- If you are feeling courageous, it’s not too late to borrow or rent a portable baptismal pool – yes, it is possible!
Most importantly, let’s try and be more aware of our own baptism – the quantum leap into new life in Christ, who gives us all the energy for living daily as fully, deeply, compassionately, as we are created to.