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Arkansas Catholic
Litlte Rock, Arkansas
December 4, 1970     Arkansas Catholic
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December 4, 1970

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THE GUARDIAN, DECEMBER 4, 1970 PAGE 6 ! New Stress on First Sacrament Baptism Anniversary Celebrations Lend Emphasis to Rite's Significance By Father Joseph M. Champlin ALTHOUGH there are fewer religious medals being seen around today, there is a definite upswing in the sales of baptismal and other types of candles, writes Father Joseph M. Champlin in his accompanying article. In swimming pools or at the beach these days, one sees fewer men with Catholic religious medals hanging about their necks. Our churches have taken on a simpler style, almost stark and barren for some, with only one or two statues, few paintings or mosaics, and only the plain beauty of straight colors or unpainted sur- faces to decorate an interior. We make a sign of the cross less often in public. Holy water fonts for home or school have practically disappeared. I am not arguing here for or against this trend to discard tra- ditional signs and ritualistic ges- tures associated withCatholicism. I only note these quite obvious facts. It is interesting, however, to observe that in the "secular" world around us, especially among the young, symbols and "sacred rites" abound. The Woodstock festival had them, Volkswagens bear them on their bodies, con- temporary movies are filled with them. One Roman Catholic sign or symbol not in decline is the baptismal candle presented to parents at a child's initiation into the Church. Officials for firms producing these items tell me sales have increased over re- cent months and parish priests frequently comment on how pleased people are with this personal candle given to them during the ceremony. The clergy, of course, hope the gift not only will teach child and parents about the sac- Christian Freedom and Scandal By Fr. Walter M. Abbott, S.J. When you have read the first seven chapters of Paul's First Letter to the Corinthians, you can profitably review them to put  together some facts about the authority of Paul's teaching on moral questions. You will see better, now, that he regarded Jesus as the source of his authority; that he cites the Lord's own words when hecando so in handling a matter for which there is a command; that he gives scme commands which he ob- viously means to be binding even though he does not, or cannot, cite a saying of the Lord; that he gives many counsels and, though they are clearly not bind- ing as commands are, he is sure they too come with the help of the Holy Spriit, "the Sprit sent by God, that we may know all that God has given us" (2:12). The counsel or advice Paul gives, as he sees it, is connect- ed with understanding the gifts God has given people. "Each one has the special gift that God has given him, one man this gift, another man that" (7:7). This comment, made in connection with the topic of celibacy and marriage, applies surely on a much wider scale. Understanding itself is a spec- tal gift from God, as Paul indicates when he says about his advice that a widow does better if she re- mains unmarried: "That is my opinion, and I think that I too have God's Sprit" (7:40). The source of Paul's author- ity for both command and coun- sel is two-fold: Jesus and the Spirit. Whether he lays down a law or simply states apreference between two good things, Paul al- ways speaks as an apostle, made such by Jesus, and an apostle assisted by the promis- ed and given Spirit. Both com- mands and counsels, in his mind, have a connection with the fact of the Christian's union with Christ. AN EXAMPLE Look, for example, at the next three chapters, 8, 9, and 10, on "the matter of food offered to idols." The Corinthian Chris- finns had written to ask if they could accept invitations from pagan friends to eat with them in a temple or to eat food from a pagan temple in the homes of friends, and if they could buy in the market the meat that was left over from pagan temple sac- rifices. The whole business may seem remote and insignificant today. You have to remember that the Christians of Corinth in Paul's day were a barely visible min- ority in the pagan metropolis. Numerically they were probably not even as visible as Protes- tants in Spain or Catholics in 'Scandinavia. That comparison may be useful in other ways as you read chapters 8, 9, and 10. More important than what Paul says about the questions is the revelation of the principles be- hind his thinking, in 8:3, for example, he says, "the man who loves God is known by him." In the context, Paul means he doesn't care how many people in Corinth think they have special know- ledge; what matters is God's gift by which a man can truly love God and therefore be approved by God. St. Augustine would la- ter write, "Love God and do what you wish," meaning the same thing Paul says here: that if you operate according to the love God gives you, you will do what is right and you will want to do what is right. Look at 8:6, where Paul says there is "only one Lord, Jesus Christ, through whom all things SEE FREEDOM ON PAGE 7 rament's meaning but also may help father and mother in the Christian formation of a son or daughter. The revised rite ex- plicitly mentions this and places a serious educational responsi- bility upon those who bring in- fants to the saving waters for baptism. TRUE MEANING "To fulfill the true meaning of the sacrament, children must later be formed in the faith in which they have been baptized. The foundation of this formation will be the sacrament itself, which they have already receiv- ed. Christian formation, which is their due, seeks to lead them gradually to learn God's plan in Christ, so that they may ulti- mately accept for themselves the faith in which they have been baptized" (no. 3). "After baptism it is the re- sponsibility of the parents, in their gratitude to God and in fidelity to the duty they have un- dertaken, to enable the child to know God, whose adopted child it has become, to receive con- firmation, and to participate in the holy eucharist, in this duty they are to be helped by the parish priest by suitable means" (no. 5, section 5). The Will and Baumer Candle Company (Syracuse, Ne w York 132201) has printed a leaflet, "The Light of Christ," to accom- pany their baptismal candle. It could prove helpful to parents in the later and gradual Christian education of children. The six- page publication outlines parental responsibility, sketches the meaning of initiation, the paschal mystery and the baptismal candle, and suggests an anniversary ser- vice for the renewal of those vows made in a baby's name by the parents. Like other similar businesses, Will and Banmer man- ufactures a special candle for baptism and a companion box with space for the names of those involved in the ceremony and the date of the sacrament's admin- istration. A "Light of Christ" leaflet naturally goes along with each set, but the company would be happy to mail free single copies on request andwill supplyquantity amounts at the cost of printing to priests or others who might find them useful. ANNIVERSARY RITE The baptismal anniversary ser- vice takes place in a home, pre- sumably at the main meal and with the special candle lighted either for the entire dinner or only during the actual ceremony. An annual invitation to godpar- ents, when possible, obviously would heighten the occasion. R could be a way to tell godpar- ents silently but rather power- fully, how important they are in the eyes of the family and the child. A reading of one, two or more pertinent selections from the Bible starts the rite, sets the mood, speaks to those present about the sacrament and high- lights God's presence at the ceremony through his leaflet lists the and New Testament cluded in our official baptism. After some and a period of silent tion, the father or someone the family (termed leader) the repetition of vows withl following or some words. (I will name the tized person Mary for simplicity.) "Some time ago we Mary for baptism. By water the Holy Spirit she receive gift of new life from love. On our part we have it our constant care to Mary up in the practice faith. We have tried to see the divine life which kept from the poison of si might grow always stroag Mary's heart. We share a c men faith, the faith of and it was in this faith MaP] baptized. At that time we jected sin and professed ou: in Christ Jesus. Now Mary, are older and you! makes you ready to responsibility, we ask renew the vows of your oW tism." RENEW PROMISES If the child is not old to profess these promiSes, parents and godparents do his or her name. The formula involved that jectton of evil Jesus which took time earlier at a church try before the ing with water. Next, the leader says: you have renewed the your baptism. You child of God, for so You in confirmation you the fullness of God's Holy Communion you will banquet of Christ's sacrifice ing God your Father in the of the Church. In your all of us, sharing a ship, now pray together words our Lord gave us The Lord's Prayer multiple blessing by er with an "Amen" by sent concludes this se; Such a simple ceremOnY not necessarily solve for every difficulty in the training of a child nor the infant's acceptance at adulthood. But it tate efforts and fix the date of baptism in everyone's mind. DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: 1. What does the symbolize? 2. What are the proce be followed in a . versary service? ) 1970 NC Newa Service