Fr. Bloomfield's Blog

I am a Roman Catholic Priest of the Archdiocese of Detroit, currently assigned to Divine Child Parish in Dearborn, Michigan. When I manage to keep the page updated, hopefully something interesting can be found here!

Sunday, May 21, 2006

Faith Seeking Understanding for May 14, 2006

Today, May 14, is my first anniversary of priestly ordination; it is almost impossible to believe that a year has already passed. God has blessed me in so many ways during this year, and I am thoroughly grateful for the opportunity and grace to serve His Church as a priest. This weekend, however, I rejoice in a special way, as I baptize my nephew, Maximilian Patrick Ortega, in Palo Alto, California, where my sister and brother-in-law currently live.

As I have been reflecting on the sacrament of baptism, particularly after the Easter Vigil, but also in preparation for my nephew’s baptism, the marvelous generosity of God continues to astound me. We often speak of God’s goodness, of His mercy, and of His grace, but thinking about exactly what happens in baptism can bring us to a new and deeper level of faith. Today’s Scripture readings also speak powerfully of God’s grace and of the importance of baptism as the first sacrament, the sacrament of entrance into His family. As we celebrate Mother’s Day, as well, we recall the joy of our Mother, the Church, as she welcomes new children through this marvelous Sacrament.

Our Lord says: “I am the vine, you are the branches. Whoever remains in me and I in him will bear much fruit, because without me you can do nothing” (Jn. 15:5). Baptism grafts us onto the true vine of Christ. By the free gift of God’s grace, “Baptism takes away original sin, all personal sins and all punishment due to sin. It makes the baptized person a participant in the divine life of the Trinity through sanctifying grace, the grace of justification which incorporates one into Christ and into his Church.” This isn’t all; baptism also “gives one a share in the priesthood of Christ and provides the basis for communion with all Christians.” Finally, “it bestows the theological virtues [Faith, Hope, and Love] and the gifts of the Holy Spirit [Wisdom, Understanding, Counsel, Fortitude, Knowledge, Piety, and Fear of the Lord]. A baptized person belongs forever to Christ. He is marked with the indelible seal of Christ (character)” (Compendium, q. 263).

All of these effects are brought about, not through our own effort, but simply because the Father loves us and has given us His Son and His Spirit, in Whom we are baptized. This is clearly shown when parents share their faith with their children who are quite young. Such generosity clearly demonstrates God’s boundless love for each of us, who are welcomed into His family from the baptismal font. Whether we consider the image to be a flock of sheep (from last Sunday) or the vine (this Sunday), we know that our vocation is to belong to Christ. He has redeemed us, and He desires us so much that he has given us the Sacraments to share in His own divine life. Baptism is the entrance to that life.

In baptism, we become adopted sons and daughters of God, “partakers of the divine nature,” and co-heirs with Christ to the Kingdom. The baptized person also becomes a temple of the Holy Spirit, Who dwells within him and continually renews his life (cf. Catechism, para. 1265 ff.). Pondering these graces, we might think they are outlandish or extravagant; they seem to be too much, and often our experiences seem to contradict this truth. Often, during trials and temptations, we feel more like outsiders than the sheep belonging to the Good Shepherd; when sufferings arise, we feel like we have been pruned from Christ’s vine, and cast into the fire.

St. John comforts the early Church (and us as well) with his letter: “Those who keep his commandments remain in him, and he in them, and the way we know that he remains in us is from the Spirit he gave us.” Even though it is difficult, especially in our world, St. John encourages us, “Children, let us love not in word or speech but in deed and truth.” We have an immense confidence in God, and in the grace that He gave each of us in baptism, and in the life He continues to pour out through the Sacraments of the Church. We know that we are members of His Body, called to the Divine life, and the Banquet of Eternal Life. He is always faithful to His promises.

May God bless all mothers today, in a special way, as we honor their sacrifices and love. Thank you for your witness and fidelity!